Coins....my new adventure

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RobinMitchell
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Coins....my new adventure

#1 Unread post by RobinMitchell » Mon Nov 10, 2014 3:32 am

This started out with a small inheritance and one sibling (that would be me, age 45) volunteering to handle the sale or equal distribution of the collection.....with ZERO knowledge of coins. I know how to spend them, and that's about all. I prefer hobbies of a more physical variety...camping, fishing, wood-working, home repair, being a mom, and I always thought coins sounded boring. I have definitely changed my thinking. However, the ultimate goal is still to sell the collection and split the money four ways. None of my siblings are interested in the coins themselves or their sentimental value after having belonged to two previous generations, and I don't have the capital to buy them all out. Nor would I want to. While the coins and interwoven history are fascinating, and while I will probably carry around a loupe for the rest of my life to examine random coins, I have no desire to become a collector.

Of course the first amateur thing I did was to call a dealer who offered a free appraisal to offer a purchase price. He had to go through all of the tubs of proof and mint sets, rolls, folders, and coin flips, and it took him 2 hours. Having heard that some dealers can be unscrupulous, I sat with him the whole time and got a little thrill whenever he got excited about this or that rare coin. After he made us an offer, I was encouraged by a family member to really get to know what we have in the collection before making a rash decision to sell the lot to one buyer. Boy am I glad I did. But the more I keep digging, the more I realize there's so much more to learn in order to do this right!

Originally I bought a Coin Digest (CD), a Red Book (RB), some white cotton gloves, and a 3-loupe set and dove right in like a true amateur. I started with a simple inventory to verify what was on the spreadsheet that came with the collection, and I used the CD as my starting point because that's what my dad had been using before he passed away. I made the mistake of starting to look up close at coins in the sets and rolls using the 30x loupe. I've had bad eyes my whole life, so to be able to see that kind of detail was wonderful! I was instantly hooked, and the more coins I looked at, the more I wanted to see! (Oxidized? Mercury dimes are my favorite....see pic with little red heart near the motto)

If I came across a really nice coin, I checked the CD out of curiosity. At some point, I decided to look in the RB, only to realize that CD uses EF40 and RB uses XF40, and I had no idea which one was the standard, what the grades meant, or whether or not either of these books should actually be used to inventory and grade such a collection! I thought I could begin a new, more detailed inventory and grade and value as I went along, using only the 9 grades listed in either book. Because the coins weren't sorted by type, it was incredibly time-consuming, and since I had inconsistent guidance, the end of the project was starting to stretch out away from me like the bedroom door at the end of the hall in Poltergeist! I can just imagine my siblings tapping their fingers, waiting for a check.

I finally sorted everything by type and removed everything that wasn't a US coin (paper and foreign currency, casino tokens, military payment certificates, and some small family heirlooms). I still didn't know the difference between mint, uncirculated and proof, and once I learned, I further separated the types by mint/uncirculated, proof and circulated sets, rolls and individual coins. But I still didn't really know what I was doing.

I just learned last Friday that mint and proof sets can also have errors and real gems, so I started looking, only to discover that varieties of individual coins are only listed on the individual coin pages, NOT on the mint and proof set pages. Today I discovered PhotoGrade and learned that there are 42 grades listed on the PCGS website! Being the annoying perfectionist that I am, I'm not satisfied with my 9 grades and will be starting all over. Are there more than 42? Does an error coin in a mint set raise the value of the set?

Here's what I need:
Besides Google, is there a good resource for die, planchet and strike errors with pictures? The CD has a great list of 445 classes, but only show a few pictures. RB doesn't have a comprehensive section on errors, as only 10 categories are listed. I've found a few errors that appear to be something more than common damage, but I want to see a pic to make sure. Can anyone look at the Mercury dime pic and tell me what the marks on the face are from?

If I think I might have coins I want graded and slabbed, who would I trust to tell me whether or not the coins really are as nice as I think they are? Do I send them directly to a grading service or do I have to go through a local dealer? Is it expensive?

What if I have a really nice coin that's part of a set (Whitman blue folders)? I keep reading that the coin is worth more in the set, but do people really buy sets in these folders?

Anyway, I love these forums, and I hope I haven't annoyed anyone with my amateur questions. I hope to learn as much as I can so that I have a quality inventory to show to a potential buyer. Any tips, tricks or lessons learned are welcome and appreciated. Thanks much!
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Re: Coins....my new adventure

#2 Unread post by Daniel » Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:53 am

No problems on the questions and thanks for sharing your story, but you have yourself in a dilemma. You have to split this collection four ways and no one is going to be satisfied with what they get, from what you wrote, because they're always going to think the dealer took them or you passed up on a rare and valuable coin in the collection that you didn't identify.

My advice would have been to get three or four appraisals, then look through for errors and the high dollar varieties, then separate the key dates and grade condition rarities like uncirculated type coins then take the rest of the silver and sell it at ebay. You're value is going to be in the key dates and uncirculated type coins, and check a the values here for coins, dates and mints that are worth something in about uncirculated http://coinauctionshelp.com/United_Stat ... uides.html

You're Mercury Dime is a better grade than mostly found but the marks might be damage, but it might still be worth selling by itself at ebay or in a facebook group. Plus the mint mark makes a difference in value on coins, so what mint mark is the Mercury?

There's actually 70 different grades and it would be a waste of time trying to sort them by grade or to even attempt at grading these coins beyond uncirculated and circulated unless the coin is a key date (low mintage). Since you're not collecting and have no desire then it would also be time consuming and costly to submit the coins to a grading service. Here's a guide to the different grades http://coinauctionshelp.com/Coin_Grading_Guide.html

So many reasons why submitting to a grading service might cost too much money and here's a few: PCGS and NGC you need a membership then you still pay grading fees, then no guarantee they will come back the grade you think, no guarantee they will sell for the value they list them at. You can use ANACS since they only charge grading fees but then no guarantee the coins will be the grade you think, most of the time they're not the grade you think, and ANACS graded coins sell for less than PCGS and NGC graded coins. Plus it's going to take you over a month to get your coins back.

Also EF and EX mean the same thing Extremely Fine and no price guide or grading service uses all 70 grades nor can you put a value on each and every grade of 1-70, it's not worth trying.

I am trying to be as honest and helpful as possible and I've been doing this all my life. I have seen what money can do to families and been involved with estate sells and buying hundreds of coins collections in my 44 years. You can trust what I tell you.

So since you have went through these coins and picked out what you think are the "goodies" then you should post images and lists or send them to me in a PM. I can give you some advice but grading is going to be subjective when you get over the MS60 grades. Mint errors are only rare when they're dramatic, and with varieties we need clear and large images.

We have a nice group of members here and will help as much as we can.

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Re: Coins....my new adventure

#3 Unread post by Paul » Mon Nov 10, 2014 9:44 am

:agree: d here. it's going to be complicated for you.....but, you seem "smarter than the average bear", just by reading your post.....& will not be cash in your pocket overnight, or quickly, if you want to realize the 'full potential' of the collection. as d mentioned, there are a few people here, that, when you ask a question, you might not like the answer, but it will be a NO B.S. OPINION.....i've been at this for over 44 years also, collecting,.....& there are quite a few 'shady' characters out there. keep in mind, whenever money is involved, the "no-goods" will be out looking for you. unfortunately, this is just what it has become.

may i ask if you know the experience level of the 'collector(s)' of this collection?....& are there "more" of, "quantity wise", a certain coin type??....i.e., proof sets, cents, halfs, dollars....so on. i ask that second question, to see if maybe they 'specialized' (concentrated) in 1 type, or area, of collecting. like me, i'm a flying eagle & indian cent die variety (error) specialist. i can attribute (confirm) all types of error coinage,... but like a doctor, i am most studied in those specific areas.

"SELLING" coins, does have some hard & fast rules you must follow...& those you will learn, ask here, hopefully without making many costly mistakes.
just 1 example....if your selling on-line, having a accurate, nice clean image is important

i could keep typing forever, & throw so much at you, it would only 'koin-fuse', or discourage you (don't let that happen), so i think best, to handle your questions as they come up.

when you make posts here....include a obverse & reverse "full coin" picture (there might be something i need to see, or not see, somewhere else on the coin), if you can, "point out" what your asking about, & give a brief description of "what you see"....plz
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Re: Coins....my new adventure

#4 Unread post by RobinMitchell » Mon Nov 10, 2014 11:51 pm

You two are AWESOME! Wow, thank you so much!

Daniel - 1918-D, sorry. No pic of the reverse on this one (yet). I had actually taken a short break from the inventory and was only admiring the obverse rainbow colors...amazing! In that moment, the year and mintmark meant nothing to me. I just thought it was pretty. I'll have to ask the sibs if I can keep it. I'm kind of attached, and they're not really as impatient as I made them out to be. None of them need the money, and they know I have their best interest at heart. Plus they know I'm having fun. I don't anticipate any family problems. They understand that just the melt value of the junk silver is worth almost as much as the offer we got for the whole collection (or at least it was before silver went down even more), so they're very supportive of my efforts.

70 grades....gasp! I don't mind the grading....I just want to know that I'm being as accurate as possible. It's an OCD thing. Maybe I'll just use the 42 on the PCGS site and the pics on PhotoGrade and coinauctionshelp. That's a lot better than only 9 grades and at least I'll feel like I can more closely represent the condition.

I'll definitely be posting more once I get an SD card for my camera. I have a clipped planchet or two and some other nice finds, and you guys have already helped me on a couple others, so I will definitely be back. Thank you so much!

PAHL - thanks for the compliment! I probably know enough to be dangerous. Regarding my grandfather's experience, I'm really not sure. I don't remember him ever looking at coins when I was little, and there were very sad family issues that affected all of our relationships as I was growing up. I imagine he might have started collecting when my dad was young, perhaps as a way to connect with him, but since he also had old paper currency (including an 1864 Confederate note) and foreign coins (circa WWII), he could have been collecting his whole life. I'm fairly certain my dad was never interested, and I can only guess that he probably just spread out the weight in tubs when he packed up the collection with the rest of my grandfather's estate. All types, years and sets were mixed together with no apparent rationale.

As I got into the detailed inventory, I noticed larger quantities of things like 1964 quarters or 1939 nickels, so I had to educate myself on the reasons. I think he knew what he was looking for, but he didn't seem to have any specialties. There are 41 blue Whitman books (penny through dollar), mostly complete other than a couple of rarities, a few rolls of uncirculated coins from random years (haven't looked closely at those dates yet either), and a very heavy briefcase of individual coins in flips that include much older coins from each type (I think 1819 is the oldest..a Matron head...and some flips are marked UNC). He had all mint sets from '63-'83 and proof sets from 1943-1983 with many years missing. All of the sets he bought directly from the mint are still in the original government packaging, though they've all been opened. The older sets with no packaging he must have picked up somewhere...1943 wartime cents, 1953, 1957, etc. He also has a strange, unlabeled slab I'm calling a Liberty set....1847 Braided Hair, 1906 Indian Head, 1865 3-cent, 1883 Liberty nickel (not very good condition), and a 1926 Standing Liberty quarter. The other four coins are in fine or extra fine condition. Any significance to these five coins being grouped together? Or is this just something random?

Something I forgot to mention....there are a lot of coins in rolls and books that my dad had labeled "junk" silver. I've suggested to my siblings that we hold onto this until silver goes back up so I think that's the plan. Naturally, I will examine every coin in every type to make sure we're not "junking" a gem. That's where I'm having the most fun. The 37 mixed rolls of Wheat Ears are calling....I just learned about BIE yesterday too!

That's about all for now. To both of you...I really appreciate all of your advice and will definitely take it to heart. And I promise not to get discouraged. I'm completely fascinated and am happy to have a winter project and a friendly place to share my finds. Thanks so much for spending your time helping educate late bloomers like me! :)

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Re: Coins....my new adventure

#5 Unread post by RobinMitchell » Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:18 am

I should probably also mention that there's nothing above a dollar in the collection. Not sure why. There were also 44 rolls of Mercury dimes and a bunch of half dollars that were on the spreadsheet but didn't show up in the collection, so it's possible my dad may have sold a bunch in early 2008 before silver crashed. He was working on the inventory in the 2006-2009 time frame, so that would make sense if he was watching silver prices. I'm only bummed about the dimes because I really enjoy looking at those. That would have been hours of ocular bliss. :)

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Re: Coins....my new adventure

#6 Unread post by Daniel » Tue Nov 11, 2014 7:48 am

Glad you're having fun, I do the same thing each time my dad buys a collections. It's been a while but your story has me excited. As far as the unlabeled slab is concerned, often small type and year sets where put together and this might have been a small copper coin type set. No significance in how they're packaged but still good coins. Also he might have kept 1939 because of a special date in his life but if they're 1939-S then it's because they're a lower mintage nickel and are worth a little more than the other two 39' mints.

Plus there's some varieties to look for and here's my list and some values http://coinauctionshelp.com/Jefferson_N ... Guide.html

If you want to know how much you might sell a coin for and in the same condition that you have, I suggest looking at ebay sold listings for their value. It's a better indicator of the trends since most price guides sample already graded and slabbed coins.

I am looking forward to seeing some of these coins and I am decent at grading by images. You're 1918-D Mercury Dime looks around about uncirculated or AU50 but those marks might be from a staple so that's some minor damage. It could sell for an average of $25 at ebay depending on how pleasing the toning is and here's the Ebay Sold Listings

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Re: Coins....my new adventure

#7 Unread post by Paul » Tue Nov 11, 2014 8:55 am

RobinMitchell wrote:You two are AWESOME! Wow, thank you so much!

Daniel - 1918-D, sorry. No pic of the reverse on this one (yet). I had actually taken a short break from the inventory and was only admiring the obverse rainbow colors...amazing! In that moment, the year and mintmark meant nothing to me. I just thought it was pretty. I'll have to ask the sibs if I can keep it. I'm kind of attached, and they're not really as impatient as I made them out to be. None of them need the money, and they know I have their best interest at heart. Plus they know I'm having fun. I don't anticipate any family problems. They understand that just the melt value of the junk silver is worth almost as much as the offer we got for the whole collection (or at least it was before silver went down even more), so they're very supportive of my efforts.

70 grades....gasp! I don't mind the grading....I just want to know that I'm being as accurate as possible. It's an OCD thing. Maybe I'll just use the 42 on the PCGS site and the pics on PhotoGrade and coinauctionshelp. That's a lot better than only 9 grades and at least I'll feel like I can more closely represent the condition.

I'll definitely be posting more once I get an SD card for my camera. I have a clipped planchet or two and some other nice finds, and you guys have already helped me on a couple others, so I will definitely be back. Thank you so much!

PAHL - thanks for the compliment! I probably know enough to be dangerous. Regarding my grandfather's experience, I'm really not sure. I don't remember him ever looking at coins when I was little, and there were very sad family issues that affected all of our relationships as I was growing up. I imagine he might have started collecting when my dad was young, perhaps as a way to connect with him, but since he also had old paper currency (including an 1864 Confederate note) and foreign coins (circa WWII), he could have been collecting his whole life. I'm fairly certain my dad was never interested, and I can only guess that he probably just spread out the weight in tubs when he packed up the collection with the rest of my grandfather's estate. All types, years and sets were mixed together with no apparent rationale.

As I got into the detailed inventory, I noticed larger quantities of things like 1964 quarters or 1939 nickels, so I had to educate myself on the reasons. I think he knew what he was looking for, but he didn't seem to have any specialties. There are 41 blue Whitman books (penny through dollar), mostly complete other than a couple of rarities, a few rolls of uncirculated coins from random years (haven't looked closely at those dates yet either), and a very heavy briefcase of individual coins in flips that include much older coins from each type (I think 1819 is the oldest..a Matron head...and some flips are marked UNC). He had all mint sets from '63-'83 and proof sets from 1943-1983 with many years missing. All of the sets he bought directly from the mint are still in the original government packaging, though they've all been opened. The older sets with no packaging he must have picked up somewhere...1943 wartime cents, 1953, 1957, etc. He also has a strange, unlabeled slab I'm calling a Liberty set....1847 Braided Hair, 1906 Indian Head, 1865 3-cent, 1883 Liberty nickel (not very good condition), and a 1926 Standing Liberty quarter. The other four coins are in fine or extra fine condition. Any significance to these five coins being grouped together? Or is this just something random?

Something I forgot to mention....there are a lot of coins in rolls and books that my dad had labeled "junk" silver. I've suggested to my siblings that we hold onto this until silver goes back up so I think that's the plan. Naturally, I will examine every coin in every type to make sure we're not "junking" a gem. That's where I'm having the most fun. The 37 mixed rolls of Wheat Ears are calling....I just learned about BIE yesterday too!

That's about all for now. To both of you...I really appreciate all of your advice and will definitely take it to heart. And I promise not to get discouraged. I'm completely fascinated and am happy to have a winter project and a friendly place to share my finds. Thanks so much for spending your time helping educate late bloomers like me! :)
when searching LC's (lincoln cents), you will find certain dates have do/will have more common mint errors like the "BIE", which are small 'die chips', or "fills" in the lettering on LIBERTY & the DATE....'56 & '57, are dates where these were very common.
examples:
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Re: Coins....my new adventure

#8 Unread post by RobinMitchell » Sat Nov 15, 2014 6:56 pm

Thanks again guys! :yourock:

I'm very excited too. I have to tear myself away because it's addictive. Thanks for the tips and resources! I'm so glad it's the weekend so I can play. :)

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