Coin Collector Blog

Mullen Coins Collection Blog provides valuable articles and content about coin collections, rare coins, currency, antiquities and interesting reviews of news and events within the numismatic community.
Learn how coin grading works and the basics behind strike, preservation, luster, color, attractiveness, and other ways of determining a coin's condition.

Cleaning Coins Decreases Their Value

cleaning-coins

You may have seen this piece of advice on Mullen Coins’ Evaluations page:

The single biggest mistake you can make as a collector: Cleaning your coins. Your collection will likely be worth much less if the coins have been cleaned! An uncirculated coin that has been cleaned is not longer an uncirculated coin! Please do not clean them! The occasional exception to this rule would be a rare coin in heavily circulated condition that has dirt of PVC... in that case professional restoration might be an option.

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What Is the Difference between a Coin and a Medal?


Coin collecting has come crossover with other hobbies like stamp collecting or antiquing in the sense that these hobbies involve people seeking out everyday items that have managed to increase in value over time, no matter their original value.

When a single coin is minted among thousands, tens of thousands, or millions, the odds that it will become very valuable over time are small. However, as we discussed before, coins can be struck with errors, they can be melted down, or otherwise be lost to time, with the result being that a once common coin becomes very rare. People will pay a great deal of money for rare coins. The same is true for everyday objects, and some of them are very coin-like so they have quite a bit of overlap with coins.

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What Determines the Price for Rare Coins?

What Determines the Price for Rare Coins?

People often wonder why certain coins are so expensive and others are worth very little at all. Is there any rhyme or reason for this and can coin collectors in Grand Rapids and elsewhere predict at what prices specific coins will sell or auction for?

The answer is yes - and no. Like most everything in our economy, price is determined by supply and demand. This is a basic principle of economics. If there is an oversupply of bananas at the store, the store will lower the price in order to get rid of its inventory. In the case of bananas, the price will lower faster because of the short shelf life of the produce, but price can drop (or rise) suddenly for non-perishable goods like coins as well.

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How Do Coin Errors Occur during Minting?

How Do Coin Errors Occur during Minting?

Those unfamiliar with the ins and outs of coin collecting may be surprised to learn that coin errors - mistakes made when coins are minted - often enhance rather than detract from the value of said coin. While flaws that decrease a coin’s attractiveness can also decrease its value, error coins, or flawed coins made in the mint during the coin-making process, are also rare. This is because minting defects happen rarely, particularly with the advent of modern technology. Additionally, most error coins are detected before they are issued into the coinage, and they are recycled and remade in their proper form.

In order to understand why errors occur, it’s useful to understand how coin minting has been done historically and is done now. Here’s a fun primer from the U.S. Mint. A problem in each step of the minting results in a different type of coin error. Here are some of the most common types:

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How to Detect Counterfeits

How to Detect Counterfeits
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As a Grand Rapids coin dealer, we at Mullen Coins have an especially strong interest in the detection of counterfeit and altered coins. In point of fact, anyone who deals with rare coins will develop a basic understanding of how to detect counterfeits, whether out of interest or necessity. If you are considering purchasing a rare date coin, or if you are looking to sell your coins, you may need to pay special attention to authenticity.

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To Be a Better Coin Buyer, Be a Good Coin Seller

To Be a Better Coin Buyer, Be a Good Coin Seller

I urge you to occasionally sell some of your coins—you will become a wiser, more educated collector. [You may also avoid unpleasant surprises when you do decide to sell some or all of your collection.]

Learn from my own story…I started collecting coins as a child.  Like most new collectors, my method was a trip to the bank to get rolls of Lincoln cents to search for better dates to put in my Whitman blue book.   It was a really fun treasure hunt.  I was buying valuable coins at face value!  But I did not sell any.

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What a Difference a Star Makes (1922 Grant Commemorative)

What a Difference a Star Makes (1922 Grant Commemorative)

When it comes to rare coins Grand Rapids (as well as other places across the country) Mullen Coins has many collectors who specialize in early American commemoratives. Indeed, commemoratives have been popular with collectors and history buffs ever since their inception, as we describe in our recent post about “Why Collectors Enjoy Commemoratives.” As an example of what makes commemoratives an interesting specialty, we can take the mystery of the 1922 Grant with Star commemorative silver half.

As the story goes, the Grant commemorative was originally requested by the Ulysses S. Grant Centenary Memorial Association, with the idea of raising funds to erect monuments and coordinate special observances in Ohio for the 100th anniversary of Grant’s birth. Originally, a bill was approved by Congress in 1922 to mint 10,000 gold dollars and up to 250,000 silver half dollars.

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Why Collectors Enjoy Commemoratives

Why Collectors Enjoy Commemoratives

Depending on how you become interested in coin collecting, and where your interest leads you, you may someday find yourself talking to a Grand Rapids coin dealer about U.S. commemoratives. For those not familiar with the term, commemorative coins in the United States are issued to honor people, events, institutions, or places. Commemoratives have developed into a separate class of coins, intended as collector’s items or as an economic investment. They can be either circulating or non-circulating.

Circulating: Technically, there are a few examples of circulating commemoratives that are intended to be used for commerce, and the U.S. Bicentennial Quarter (1975-1976) and the 50 State Quarter (1999-2009) programs serve as prime examples. For these programs, the designs were only issued for a limited time, and were intended to draw some attention to a specific event or person.Non-circulating: In most cases, commemoratives are non-circulating legal tender (NCLT), and are often produced in gold or silver.  The funds raised by the sale of commemoratives have been used to pay for monuments or fund a specific project, as an alternative to raising taxes. For example, the 1925 California Diamond Jubilee half dollar was issued to help fund the state’s celebration, and the famous 1893 Isabella Quarter was issued to help raise funds for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

 

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What Accounts for Differences in Coin Values?

What Accounts for Differences in Coin Values?

One of the fascinating aspects of rare coins is the variation in their values. Whether you’re selling a coin collection or acquiring interesting specimens, you might wonder why Rare Coin A is worth more than Rare Coin B, especially if you are just starting out. Here is some food for thought.

I have two of the same coins from the same date. Why would one be worth more than the other?

First, look for the mint mark… even two coins of the same denomination and date often bear different mint marks.   One could have had a much lower mintage, and possibly worth considerably more. 

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How Do Coin Evaluations Work?

How Do Coin Evaluations Work?

When someone requests an evaluation of his or her rare coins, it is usually for a specific reason – an insurance appraisal, a division of assets, or to learn the value for the purchase or sale of a collection. It’s important to understand the basics of how coin evaluations work to make sure you get a fair valuation and – if you’re planning to sell your coin collection – a fair price.

How do you choose a coin evaluator/appraiser?

Many people who live near a trusted and reputable coin dealer prefer to visit the dealer in person. It is best to arrange your meeting ahead of time so that neither of you is rushed. You’ll want to make sure the dealer handles the type of coins you have, and whether they may be interested in buying your coins.

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Origins of Rare Coin Grading

Origins of Rare Coin Grading

Coin grading, as Kathy Mullen mentioned in “Introduction to Coin Grading”, is the process of determining the grade or condition of a coin, and it’s one of the key factors in determining coin values as a collector's item. The appearance of a coin can be broken down into several key components – strike, surface preservation, luster, coloration, and eye appeal – and then the grade is assigned accordingly based on the overall quality of the piece.

Coin grading has evolved along with the coin collecting hobby over hundreds of years. The earliest systems simply used a one- or two-word description or a letter grade to describe a coin’s condition. Later William H. Sheldon developed a numerical grade scale of 1-70, and although it was originally intended for large cents, collectors found that the system translated well for any type of coin. The current system of grading in the United States combines the letter grade and numerical grade, ranging from a PR-01 (poor coin with an identifiable date) to MS-70 (perfect uncirculated) for regular business strike coins. The system, which is credited to the American Numismatic Association, is detailed in James L. Halperin’s How to Grade U.S. Coins.  

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6 Experienced Coin Collector Favorites

6 Experienced Coin Collector Favorites

Every experienced collector has a favorite coin, and as a Grand Rapids coin dealer, I have had the pleasure of seeing many of them.  While each collector’s personal favorite may not be the most valuable gem in their collection, there is usually a story behind it (as in the case of "The Extraordinary Eric Newman and His Extraordinary Favorite Coin").

As a Grand Rapids coin dealer, I am sometimes asked what the most important coins are for any experienced collector. There are, of course, a number of ways to answer that question, because every collector has different goals.   Instead of focusing on favorite coins, maybe the focus should be on coins that require a bit of collector knowledge.   As is the case with nearly all things, knowledge is power. In the collecting world, powerful knowledge can mean big value. 

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Introduction to Coin Grading


The ABCs of Coin Grading

 

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Circulated vs. Uncirculated Coins

Circulated vs. Uncirculated Coins

Guest Blogger:     Katherine Mullen came on board in 2012 to manage the business side of Mullen Coins. Pat Mullen is Mullen Coins’ numismatist. Ride along as Katherine learns the basics of numismatics. I have always known that uncirculated coins are shinier and have fewer scratches than circulated coins.

Because I started with a large pile of quarters, I found all 50 State Quarters in a few short hours. Not even a collector, I was a little bit proud of myself.

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Quality and Rarity Drive Values for US Coins, Ancient Coins, and US Currency

$10 National Bank Note – The Old Grand Rapids National Bank
1879-CC Morgan Dollar
Arsinoe II, Wife of Ptolemy One-Mina Piece

“Buy the best you can afford” is a sound strategy for collectors of nearly any rarity, but is particularly important with US coins, ancient coins and US currency.   Also, as simple as it sounds, never forget that rarity is of critical importance to long-term value.

Since 2008, the coin market has done well compared to other financial markets.   However, the increase in value of common coins has been driven almost entirely by the increase in gold and silver values.   Common copper and nickel coins have languished or decreased in value while rare coins of high quality have skyrocketed in value.

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Characteristics of rare, collectable, and valuable coins

In this blog post we discuss the key elements that make a coin rare, collectable, and valuable.

Precious Metal – Gold/Silver/Platinum

Specific Dates and Mint Mark (a letter indicating where the coin was made)

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PCGS NGC Michigan State Numismatic Society 

Mullen Coins, LLC, Coin Dealers, Supplies, Grand Rapids, MI

 PMG Authorized DealerWest Michigan Coin Club