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.

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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Bullion Takes Center Stage – Part 1

2012 American Eagle Gold Proof Obverse

At Mullen Coins, we have had a lively uptick in bullion sales for investment purposes this year. We’re often asked where gold and silver prices are headed – if we knew with absolute certainty, we’d be living a life of leisure and luxury! As a Grand Rapids coin dealer, one of our services is to help novices understand the fundamentals of investing in gold and silver, although we urge all of our clients to do further research before making a move.

 

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A Grand Rapids Coin Dealer’s Thoughts on Coin of the Year

World Money Fair

Once again it’s the time of year for annual awards – the Oscars, the Golden Globes, and of course Coin of the Year! As your Grand Rapids coin dealer, Mullen Coins will be watching along with the rest of the coin collecting world for the announcement of Krause Publications’ annual Coin of the Year (COTY) for 2011 coins. A fascinating list of nominees has already been announced, and the winners for each category have been announced as well. The overall winner will be revealed February 2, 2013, at the World Money Fair in Berlin.

These carefully juried designs showcase some of the best examples of coin design in the world, competing in ten award categories including best design, most artistic, best contemporary event, most innovative, most inspirational, and most historically significant. In a departure from the past couple of years, there is even an American nominee this year in one of the categories – the Olympic National Park quarter for Most Popular Coin.

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Coin Dealer or Con Dealer

I recently purchased a semi-key date collectable Morgan Dollar for $250, a fair value for the seller. I should be able to sell relatively quickly to a Morgan coin collector looking for a hard-to-find rare date coin.

Here’s the important part: Another coin dealer had offered to pay just $20 (80% of the value of silver content) for the very same coin!

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Creating Your First Type Collection


One of the joys of being a Grand Rapids coin dealer is when new collectors want to talk about different ways to collect coins. Today I’ll focus on type collections. A type collection is one that contains a representative coin of each design variation in a group.  For example, a type collection could cover each type of American quarter, or all coins with an American Indian theme, or world silver dollars with ship designs. The 20th Century American coins type set is a popular choice – interesting and very affordable. Another example would be a complete type set of the historic Kingdom of Hawaii, which can be made with only five coins.

Type collections are a lot of fun, especially for new collectors, because they are:

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Politics in The Mint - Grand Rapids Coin Dealer Discusses 1933 St. Gaudens vs 1974 Aluminum Cent

Politics in The Mint - Grand Rapids Coin Dealer Discusses 1933 St. Gaudens vs 1974 Aluminum Cent

Although the exact details of these coin thefts are not the same, the big picture is the same… significant coins were “lifted.” Ironically, one party realized significant consequences, and the other has suffered none. Is that fair?

In one case, 20 of the 1933 St. Gaudens gold coins destined for melting were stolen from the Mint in 1933, coming into the hands of now-deceased jeweler, Izzy Switt. The US Government sued Mr. Switt’s heirs to recover the remaining 10 coins, valued at millions of dollars each, and won the case in July, 2011.

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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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Pay Attention to Fundamentals When Considering a “Hot Coin” Purchase

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Like all collectibles, certain types of coins tend to get “hot” and are in high demand for a period of time and then they cool off.  What drives these trends?  Pure rarity, trade publication articles, publicity of particular series (Washington Quarter became “hot” when the Statehood Quarter program began), and increase in gold and silver prices.   However, too often “hot” coins are the product of ambitious telemarketers… prices increase short-term and then retreat to pre-promotion prices when the promotion is over.  Read on to learn how Grand Rapids coin collectors can avoid these schemes.

Have you ever watched a coin television show?  Very professional production techniques and a slick pitchman will promote “highly collectable” coins at “bargain prices” that are certain to go up in value as the public recognizes how rare they are.    Unsuspecting collectors looking for quick profits are usually disappointed.  Too often, these “bargain prices” are nearly double the base collector market retail prices.  A buyer, later seeking to sell such items, might find the value to be just 40%-60% of what they paid.   

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Grand Rapids Coin Buyers Beware of Counterfeit Coins

Grand Rapids Coin Buyers Beware of Counterfeit Coins

In my recent post “Hidden Treasures – Rare Coins in Grand Rapids,” I talked about the prudent Michigan State student who scored with his Grand Rapids coin garage sale find. His trove included a very collectible coin – an 1893-S Morgan Dollar. He wisely chose to authenticate his find with a local Grand Rapids coin dealer (Mullen Coins), and the rest is history.

 

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Selling Gold and Sliver Jewlery: Insider tips from local Grand Rapids Coin Dealer

Unlocking value from personal accumulations of gold and silver jewelry is easy to do… if you are armed with the facts, and deal with a reputable gold/silver buyer.

The Facts: (Get even more facts by downloading our free PowerPoint presentation)

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Hidden Treasures - Rare Coins in Grand Rapids

Hidden Treasures - Rare Coins in Grand Rapids
Valuable Coin Found by Michigan College Student

I love the stories I hear from clients who “just got lucky,” and stumbled upon rare coins.   A recent example is the story of a Michigan State University student from Grand Rapids who purchased about 25 silver dollars from a neighbor’s garage sale a few years ago. He paid somewhere between $250-$350 for the group. As the story goes, he held the coins for a few years and finally decided it was time to find out what they were really worth.  

The MSU junior contacted me at Mullen Coins to ask if I could take a look. He also said he had one Morgan Dollar that, according to his research, was potentially quite valuable and he wanted me to help send it to PCGS (Profession Coin Grading Service) for grading and authentication.   While nearly everyone hopes that one of their treasures turns out to be a rare and valuable item, most often the coin turns out to be fairly common.   In this case, the young man was right!   He had a genuine 1893-S Morgan Dollar… the rarest circulation strike of the entire Morgan series and a highly collectible coin.

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Grand Rapids Coin Dealer Tips for New Coin Collectors

Top Ten Do’s:

Study coins and become a knowledgeable collector. Consider subscribing to coin trade journals (Numismatic News and Coin World offer a wealth of detailed information).

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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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Sell your high value coins | Coin Collection Selling Tips | Grand Rapids Coin Dealer Mullen Coins

What are my coins worth?" is the most common first question I get from people who have inherited coin collections and accumulations from relatives. They are not collectors themselves, but assume because Dad or Uncle Joe saved these coins, they must be valuable. And, they could be.  However, because coin values are determined by a wide variety of factors, there is no simple answer. A better question to ask would be, “Who can help me sell my coins for the maximum value?”

Selling a rare coin is akin to selling an antique or fine art. Knowledge is power. A fine antique in original condition and in excellent shape can be very valuable… often many times the value of a lesser condition refinished piece. But if you’re a novice, how do you know if it is original? How do you know what defines “excellent shape?” An expert would need to help you by rendering a professional opinion about your antiques or fine art. Coins are very similar.

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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