Coins have been always been a part of our country's history. Prominent people are featured on them. A change of government is sometimes accompanied by a change of currency. The look and feel of these coins reflects the advancements in technology as scientists find more complex metal combinations.
Coins being of historical value is one of the many factors why people collect them. Beauty and variety also contribute to the collector's growing numbers.
To be a collector, you must be aware of how to ascertain the worth of your coins. Who knows, you might just be holding on to a very rare artifact, or one that would cost millions on an auction or bidding.
First step in being a coin collector is to look up literature. You need to be in the know of what coins are available out there, where to get them and how to get them. This is extremely valuable to one who'd see the coins as a form of investment.
You also need to determine four things before you take a coin to your collection. You need to identify them, have them authenticated and examine them for damage. This would be vital points to consider in collection coins.
To identify them, you need to look at your coins very thoroughly and note the shape, the colors, and the writings. You also need to verify which country issued that coin. If there is no denomination on the face of the coins, it's just a token or probably a medal.
Authentic coins should be treasured and prized. They're hard to find, especially if they are rare, limited issues. A lot of fakes and counterfeit coins are available in the market, so beware!
The value of your coin will depend upon its grade. Coin catalogs usually have their own, specific grading guidelines but here's a general list of them.
* Mint State Perfect Uncirculated (MS-70) is an uncirculated coin. It should show no apparent damage and be in top shape. It is considered to be the best quality of coin possible.
* Uncirculated (MS-60) is another uncirculated coin having a few scratches on contact marks and that have lost some of its sheen.
* About Uncirculated (AU-50) is a coin which has evidence of light wear on most parts but still retains at least half of its original sheen.
* Extremely Fine (EF-40) is coin wherein the coin design is lightly worn off but the features can be still distinguished and are still quite sharp.
* Very Fine (VF-20) is another coin wherein some of fine details like hair or eyebrows are mostly worn off. There is evidence of modest wear on some points of the design but all major parts are still clearly etched.
* Very Good (VG-8) is a coin wherein even though the rim is still clearly visible, the design is almost worn off and only few details of it are clear.
* Good (G-4) are coins that are heavily worn but the design and the legend are still visible. Much of the details are gone.
* About Good (AG-3) are coins that are very heavily worn that some of the lettering and the original design are not discernible anymore.
Damaged coins come across frequently in the course of a collector's quest. Most collectors steer off coins that have undergone cleaning or re-polishing. Corroded, scratched and drilled into coins are also a big turn off. Although it's sometimes hard to find one, it's better to find an untampered specimen.
The question on most beginners minds is this: How much do I get paid for a particular coin. The answer is: It varies everywhere. It depends on the qualities of the coin as well as the guide the buyer is using. For a general idea of pricing, here's a quick list.
1. U.S. wheat cents (1958 and earlier) that were in circulation goes for a few cents to 3 dollars each.
2. 1943 "steel pennies are very uncommon and of high value 1943 cents set on a normal bronze planchet. They are tested to determine if it attracts magnets and if so, it is plated using copper. They are sold for 5 to 50 cents if circulated, and up to a dollar or two if not in circulation.
3. Silver dimes, quarter and half dollars from 1964 or earlier are composed of almost 90% silver. So their amount depends on their silver content.
4. Silver dollars from 1935 and up are collector favorites and can be usually be sold for more than their value in silver . The less common the date, the higher the pricing goes.
5. Susan B. Anthony dollars are worth about one dollar.
6. Bicentennial quarters, half and dollars are usually worth what's on their face value.
7. Coins in commemoration of the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana are spotted to cost from $ 5 to $ 30.
8. A coin with two heads, tails or those that have different designs of two coins have no value to collectors because they are coins that have been change to introduce a novelty item.
There are also the kinds of coins that are made by mistake. These are called 'mules' and are often produced because of an error in pairing different dies. Expect rare coins like these to cost a little higher than most.
So with these things in mind, have fun in making your own collection grow. Who knows what part of history you'll discover by finding rare specimens.