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.

Rare Coin Prices Continue to Increase!!

Rare Coin Prices Continue to Increase!!

The Eric Newman collection of 1,800 exceptional examples of US rare coins sold at auction this past week for more than $23,000,000! Not bad for a $7,500 investment!!

As a Grand Rapids coin dealer, I was an active bidder for some of these exceptional coins. The bidding was fierce and I was outbid by record prices on nearly every lot. Rare coin prices are STRONG!

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A Reading List for Collecting Rare Coins

A Reading List for Collecting Rare Coins

If you are interested in collecting rare coins, follow the old adage of “buy the book before you buy the coin.”  As a Grand Rapids coin dealer, I know from experience that you can find nice collectable coins in West Michigan that are important, valuable and worth holding for many years.   Like any hobby, though, knowledge is power. You need to buy and read numismatic books and magazines, and gain an understanding of what makes a coin desirable to other collectors.   Acquiring such knowledge before buying expensive coins should help you make better buying decisions and, most likely, help you build a collection that will be easy to sell in the future.

So what books should you buy and read?  By the time you develop specialties, you will know which books to acquire, but there are a few that belong in every numismatic library.  

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Are You New to Coin Collecting?

Are You New to Coin Collecting?

If you happen to be new to coin collecting, welcome to a world that has its own language. Before a new collector can begin to focus on coin values or hunt for rare coins Grand Rapids may be hiding, the collector needs to know some basic numismatic terms.

I addressed important concepts about a coin's appearance, condition, rarity, and ultimately, the value in another blog, "Characteristics of Rare, Collectible, and Valuable Coins" on August 9, 2012. Now let's talk about "Type" coins, commemoratives and proofs, and varieties and errors. Because each of these categories is heavily influenced by Mint marks, and rarity and condition, I have also touched on these here.

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How to Care for Your Coin Collection

How to Care for Your Coin Collection

Because we are a Grand Rapids coin dealer, local clients often ask us what affects coin valuation. Condition of a coin is particularly important--condition is often affected by how a coin is stored over long periods of time.   If you’re new to collecting coins, be careful how you care for your collection. To protect your investment, and to maintain the appearance of your collection, we recommend some basic practices for handling, cleaning, and long-term storage.

Handling

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Investing in Gold - What are my options?

Investing in Gold - What are my options?

Buying gold as an investment might seem pretty straightforward until you begin to consider all your options.  Gold comes in many forms and values vary accordingly.  Perhaps more importantly, future values are dependent upon the form of gold you own, and whether gold prices are trending up or down at any given future time.  Let me explain.

First, you may invest in physical gold or in gold contracts.  While you can buy gold contracts, gold futures, gold stocks and other paper investments, for purposes of this discussion, we will focus on physical gold.  This is gold you take possession of and put away in a safe place.

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Enjoy the “Hunt” for Nice Coins!

Enjoy the “Hunt” for Nice Coins!

Coin collectors come from all walks of life, but one thing nearly all have in common is that they love the hunt. With some knowledge of coin collecting and coin values in their pocket, experienced collectors enjoy searching for “great coin collection finds” anywhere coins can be found – estate sales, garage sales, antique stores and flea markets. Many also attend local auctions, coin shows and coin shops.  Most collectors have found treasures in such venues, and knowledgeable collectors have likely also found valuable errors and varieties. 

Coin shows are fun because you can visit a good number of dealers on the same day.  You may have a first-hand opportunity to see a whole variety of coins. Because many dealers specialize in a certain type of coinage, you may find an expert on your particular interest. If you are a treasure hunter, you may find a dealer with coins of particular interest to you, but who lacks the specialized knowledge for that series.  Your expertise can lead to “cherry picking” valuable 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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The Extraordinary Eric Newman and His Extraordinary Favorite Coin

Numismatists dream of owning the rarest and most desirable coins—perhaps an 1804 Silver Dollar, or just one of five known 1913 Liberty Nickels.  This Grand Rapids coin dealer is no exception!  Just imagine owning an 1804 Silver Dollar, AND all five 1913 Liberty Nickels!   As a foremost U.S. numismatist and numismatic scholar, centenarian Eric P. Newman has owned all of these, and many more.   Which of these noted rarities was his favorite? Answer: None!

Mr. Newman’s favorite coin is the gold 1792 George Washington President “pattern coin,” privately made by Obadiah Westwood at his mint in Birmingham, England, from dies engraved by John Gregory Hancock.   This one-of-a-kind numismatic treasure is part of the two percent of Mr. Newman’s collection on display at The Newman Money Museum in St. Louis*. 

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How to Begin a Coin Collecting Hobby

If you’re reading this, you must have at least a passing interest in collecting coins.  So how does this happen?   First, you likely have the collector gene… that little thing inside that makes us crave certain things that we find interesting and give us the treasure hunter mentality.   Collectibles can be beautiful, ugly, unusual, rare, valuable, historical, or just plain interesting to the collector.   Some collectors specialize in the most unusual minor niche, while others hoard almost anything they find.   But what all collectors have in common is a passion about their personal interest, and they spend untold hours engaged in their hobby.   If you’re new to coins, what brought you here?   Did you find an unusual coin in circulation?   Did a family member leave you part of their coin collection?  Do you hope to profitably invest in something that provides educational enjoyment?    Do you collect in antiques—and often see coins that may be collectable?  Did you learn about coins from your grandfather or when you were a Boy Scout or Girl Scout?   Whatever the reason, have fun nurturing your new-found hobby.Here are a few tips to get you started.    1.    Buy books. Study before spending significant money to purchase coins.   Get a basic knowledge of what makes a coin rare and/or valuable.  Learn about grading coins, and how to tell the difference between nice original examples and cleaned coins.   Understand the basics of detecting counterfeits.   Knowledge is power, and is in the “DNA” of most avid collectors.   If you know at least as much as other collectors about the coins you collect, you will build a wonderful and likely valuable collection.       2.    Start with a modest budget.  Having a budget will likely cause you to study possible purchases more closely before making the buying decision.  Research builds knowledge, and choices will include in far fewer mistakes.       3.    Know in advance if you are collecting for the interest of the hobby or with a potential profit motive.   Most advanced collectors do both.   A beginning coin collector can find many different, interesting coins in circulation and enjoy the search, but should understand that the potential appreciation in value of circulated coins is quite limited.       4.    Join online coin collector forums and join in the conversation.  Learn to take good photos of your coins and post those photos online.   Experienced collectors are an exceptional source of knowledge.   They love to demonstrate their knowledge by answering the questions of “Newbies.”   Don’t be afraid to ask… it’s a free education.      5.    Learn how and where to store coins to keep them safe and protected from environmental damage.   Keep in proper holders and store in a dry steady temperature location.    6.    Have the proper tools to look at and handle coins.   Use 3-5 power magnifying glass and a 10x loop for closer examination.   Hold coins by the rim to avoid fingerprints and oils.   Use a soft cloth to place coin on when examining.   Avoid cleaning coins… most attempts severely damage the coin surface and devalue the coin.      7.    Consider specializing. With US coins, you can specialize in many different ways… collect a specific series of coins such as Lincoln Cents, “Type” Coins (one example of every type of coin), errors and varieties, attractively toned coins, coins from one specific year, and on and on.   Pick what interests you, and pursue it with pleasure.     8.    If you want to eventually profit from you coin collection, regardless of your budget, buy the highest quality coin you can afford.   One high grade Lincoln Cent will likely appreciate in value far more that many heavily circulated examples.   If you want to fill albums with all dates and mint marks, consider silver dimes, quarters, halves and silver dollars.   Even in circulated condition, as silver values rise, silver coin values also rise.     9.    Find places to browse for coins to learn more and to add to your collection. Shop online but make certain you are only buying from sellers who offer a ”no-questions asked” 14 day refund policy.   Visit coin shows and take time getting to know the dealers.  Visit coin shops and again, take time to get to know the dealer… many are great, some not so much.       10.    Finally, after you have begun to purchase coins, also try selling them.   The best way to really know the value of coins is to sell coins.  You can sell to dealers, online via coin forums or auction sites, or sell at your local coin clubs or shows. Understand that dealers must make a profit to stay in business.Most important, have fun.  Coin collecting is a hobby that can provide years of fun, and hopefully a profit.  Remember, most other hobbies cost lots of money over the years and, other than the fun, there is no profit to be had.   With coins, you can have all the fun and build real value over the years.   We love to talk coins so, along the way, if you need help and advice, let us know.  Mullen Coins is a Grand Rapids-based coin dealer. We are happy to help anyone who is learning about the fascinating hobby and investment opportunities presented by coin collecting.

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Treasure Hunting for Valuable Coins

 

 

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Coin Values – Change is the Only Constant

Coin Values – Change is the Only Constant

 

The old adage “change is the only constant” applies to the coin market. And January and February 2013 has seen some significant changes. We saw the first coin to top $10,000,000 in auction… the famed 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar from the Cardinal Collection. This seems to have generated a great deal of confidence in the increasing value of the great numismatic rarities. Expectations are very high for the final sale price of the Walton example of the 1913 Liberty Nickel scheduled for auction in late April. Other high six- and seven-figure coins are “hot.”

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The Fly-In Club

The Fly-In Club


Tell me if you think this is a forgivable mistake.

 

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Personality Traits of Coin Collectors

In sniffing around on the Internet, I discovered a wild assortment of opinions, and very little empirical research about the personality traits of a typical coin collector. Here is what I did find:

 

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Introduction to Coin Grading


The ABCs of Coin Grading

 

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Rare Coin Auction Prices Soaring Cardinal Collection Dollar over 10 Million at Auction

Rare Coin Auction Prices Soaring Cardinal Collection Dollar over 10 Million at Auction

 

Record Set by First Year United State Silver Dollar- 1913 Nickel Up Next!

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A Grand Rapids Coin Dealer's Perspective on The Trillion Dollar Coin

Coin collecting intersects with a number of other interests - art and design, history, geography, and politics, to name a few. Lately the "trillion dollar coin" controversy has been the main discussion where politics and collecting collide. Recently the Treasury and the Federal Reserve both have indicated that a trillion dollar coin will not be produced. However, as a Grand Rapids coin dealer, we view this improbable political battle as a chance to delve into the numismatic feasibility of the trillion dollar coin.

For those who may have missed the debate, the short history is that some bloggers advanced an idea that, should Congress refuse to raise the debt ceiling, the president could erase the national debt by authorizing the Treasury to create a trillion dollar coin as legal tender. The idea initially sounded preposterous to many, but the media and politicians began to investigate, and sure enough, there appeared to be a legal loophole that would allow such a banana republic strategy to be enacted.

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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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Fun at Orlando’s F.U.N. Show, as in Florida United Numismatists

Guest Blogger:     Katherine Mullen came on board in 2012 to manage the business side of Mullen Coins. Ride along as she learns the basics of numismatics. Last week, we worked at the F.U.N. Show in Orlando. For a fun show, it was a lot of work!  Dealers rightfully trumpeted the Show’s success—booth activity was very high, the aisles were jammed at times, and the auction of most of the finest numismatic specimens returned spectacular results. Check out this link: Legend Numismatics’ enthusiasm is contagious! http://www.coinweek.com/market-reports/legend-numismatics-2013-fun-show-market-report.

That’s the business perspective. Here is what a novice would have noticed. There was a 180-degree opposite mix of folks entering the Convention Center. One group had buff, hot bodies in the coolest clothes, part of the National Surfing Convention. The other group…well…we couldn’t have been mistaken for surfers.

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There’s a numismatic novice in the house…

Guest Blogger:     Katherine Mullen came on board in 2012 to manage the business side of Mullen Coins. Ride along as she learns the basics of numismatics. January 14, 2013nu·mis·mat·ics  (nü-məz-ˈma-tiks): The study or collection of coins, paper currency, and medals.Pat Mullen is Mullen Coins’ numismatic expert.

As the business component of Mullen Coins in Grand Rapids, I am not expected to know about the finer points of coins and currency. My role is to be the bean counter, marketer, phone answerer. I have also asked an awful lot of questions since joining the business last year.

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Bullion Takes Center Stage – Part 2

2012 American Eagle Gold Proof Reverse

Today we continue our discussion of bullion as an investment strategy. As a Grand Rapids coin dealer, we can provide some thoughts on what affects the prices of precious metals, although of course we urge all of our clients to do further research before making a move.Historical Gold PricesGold is the most popular precious metal for investment, and as we stated earlier, historically gold has performed very well in slow economies. In fact, adjusted for inflation, the all time highest price of gold was in 1980. Since 2000, the gold price has been steadily rising with each year, but we have not yet the all time highest inflation-adjusted price. Historical Silver PricesIn general, historical silver prices have also been rising each year since 2000. There is a bit more fluctuation within the silver prices each year relative to gold prices. For example, in 2008, there was a 136% change in price within the year. The fluctuation within silver prices is related to the fact that the price per ounce is lower, so it is easier for investors to purchase small coin denominations, and to enter and leave the market.What affects the spot prices of precious metals?The prices of precious metals fluctuate by the minute, and are actually affected by many variables at once.

Precious metals, like any commodity, are used in industry and manufacturing, so industrial demand affects spot prices. Demand for jewelry affects spot prices as well.In other respects, precious metals are different than other commodities, and some are affected primarily by sentiment (or demand) more than supply, meaning that investors’ decisions to save or liquidate affect the spot price.The spot prices of precious metals are affected by inflation, and global social and political unrest.And finally, when governments such as China and India decide to invest in bullion, their investment affects the market and spot prices on metals as well. Today, some nations’ central banks are buying gold, which affects the overall price.

Gold: a volatile assetThe gold market is subject to speculation, particularly through the use of futures contracts and derivatives. However, gold's low correlation with other commodity prices and its pricing in relation to fiat currencies during the 2007–2012 global financial crisis suggest that gold behaves more like a currency than a commodity.What’s happening today with bullion?To understand prices and expectations today, we first should look at historical data mentioned previously, and realize that today with bullion, two main market forces are fighting to a standstill. In the United States, the Federal Reserve announced that it will continue quantitative easing until unemployment gets to 6.5%, increasing inflation expectations and making investors interested in buying gold. On the other hand, some indicators also point to a chance at continued recession, so other investors are selling gold.Am I paying too much? If you pay the spot price for a precious metal, you may still wonder if you are entering the market at a good time. For precious metals, the price is what it is. We can only base our decisions to invest on the history of the performance of precious metals, and our confidence in other investment vehicles in this economy.What should I expect from my investment in bullion?Ownership of physical gold or silver means that you possess the asset, or in the case of IRA holding have it in the custody of a holding firm.  While it may rise or drop, it will not zero out. Those who are brave (or foolish) enough to predict the future may be buying or selling at any given time based on their personal portfolios.Where are the precious metals headed?As with any investment, it is not possible to tell with certainty where the market for precious metals is headed. It is reasonable to expect them to continue to be a very effective store of value. Do foreign investors buy a lot of bullion?The governments of China and India, in particular, invest in bullion. Individual investors in foreign countries also tend to invest in gold depending on the stability of their currency. And in certain cultures, such as India, gold is a very popular investment as a store of value.Possible bullion investment strategies:Possible bullion investment strategies include the following:

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

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