May 2019 - Week 4 Edition
Properly Submitting Collections for Maximizing Appraisals or Purchase Offers while Minimizing Appraisal Time
We have often been asked by individuals with large coin collections, or inheritors of such coin collections, to appraise those collections or to make an offer. In order to maximize your time and the appraiser/dealer’s time, here are some helpful tips to getting a fair and efficient appraisal.
#1: Never “clean” a coin. It usually reduces its value! Originality is highly valued!
#2: Always prepare or provide a list describing your better silver and gold coins first. “Better” coins include those coins certified by a grading service like PCGS or NGC. These should be listed first. Make this list before mailing your coins or visiting the appraiser/dealer in person. If you have any questions about what are “appropriate coins” to list, call the appraiser/dealer in advance. Take photographs of your coins to document what you sent.
#3: All non-certified silver coins have value but don’t necessarily need to be individually listed. This means silver dimes, quarters and half dollars minted in 1964 and before. They are currently worth about nine times their face value. Thus, 10 dimes are worth about $9. Simply count the number of your silver dimes, quarters and halves and put them in a box or baggy separately. I receive many inquiries regarding this category of coins.
#4: Circulated silver dollars struck from 1878 to 1935 are worth at least $13 for circulated coins, but some mint marks and dates are worth much more. Simply make a count of those on your list. The appraiser will scan for better dates. Uncirculated Morgan and Peace Dollars are worth much more than circulated dollars so do not clean them and package them separately or in rolls of 20.
#5: Any coins in coin holders should be listed separately, while coins in albums can be listed by type of album and how many coins are in the album. For instance, government mint and proof sets should be listed individually by date or as a number for each date, like (5) 1958 proof sets.
#6: Do not send an appraiser/dealer circulated low-denomination coins, such as wheat pennies, Jefferson nickels or well-worn buffalo nickels without getting approval first. Many of these are only worth close to face value. Considering the weight for postage on circulated relatively common pennies and nickels, the costs can be prohibitive.
#7: Once your listing process is complete, select an appraiser/dealer who is an award-winning member, or better yet a board member of leading numismatic organizations like the PNG, ICTA, ANA or NLG. I am a board member of ICTA and NLG and received awards from all four organizations listed above.
Remember, do not mail or drop in on an appraiser/dealer without letting them know first. You want to make sure the expert does not have prior engagements and is available when you arrive.
Finally, if you are dealing with the estate of a relative and your relative did not pay a premium for loose circulated coins, they probably do not have large values. Extremely valuable “error coins” are rare, so don’t get your hopes up on having one of those rarities, unless it is certified.
Also, very rare coins are often counterfeited in China or in the Middle East, like rare 1804 dollars, so if you have one of those it very likely could be counterfeit. For the past three decades I have taught counterfeit detection and at law enforcement seminars. I have seen numerous counterfeit dollars and gold coins of all kinds and I’ve seen mint marks added to many altered coins. Be aware that the counterfeit coin industry has grown exponentially in recent decades. Buyer and seller beware.
Gold Beats Stocks
Gold has been flat in May, but the stock market has been down 5.5% for the month (through May 29), so gold has been relatively stronger than stocks in May. There are four global hot spots that are escalating now: (1) China reneged on their promises, so the “trade war” between the U.S. and China has resumed; (2) The U.S. has sent land, sea and air forces near Iran to stem a credible threat against U.S. forces in the area; (3) The European elections and Brexit crisis have shown the divisions in the European Union (EU) to be greater than ever; and (4) Impeachment talks have escalated in the U.S. House. Putting these four crises together, gold should resume its role as a crisis hedge if these situations escalate further.
Project 20/20 – Finding “Sleeper” Coins Revisited
Last week, I told you a little bit about Project 20/20, which will be a program for enlightened coin accumulation – using a “rifle shot” approach rather than a “shotgun” blast to find undervalued “sleeper” coins.
As I said, we will begin by bringing you highlights of recommendations in the major types of coins we like most – for their sheer beauty, profit potential and historical importance. We’ll highlight the most undervalued coins, starting with $2.50, $3, $5 and $10 Indians and Type II and III Liberty Double Eagles.
Now, I want to bring your attention to a series that is more modern, less rare, but becoming more valuable as time goes by. I’m talking about the American Gold Eagle, authorized by the 1985 Gold Bullion Act, early in Ronald Reagan’s second term. The first coins were minted in 1986 in denominations of $5, $10, $25 and $50, with gold content of 1/10, 1/4, 1/2 and 1 full Troy ounce of gold, respectively.
The obverse features the classical Augustus Saint-Gaudens design on the $20 gold coin commissioned by President Theodore Roosevelt, a full-length Lady Liberty with flowing hair, holding a torch in her right hand and an olive branch in her left with the Capitol building in the left background. The reverse design, by sculptor Miley Tucker Frost, features a male eagle carrying an olive branch flying above a nest with a female eagle and her hatchlings. The 22-karat alloy is the English standard known as “crown gold” (0.9167 fine), alloyed with a small amount of silver and copper to provide more wear-resistant surface.
Some of the early date American Eagle gold coins are becoming scarce, with prices being bid up for mint state 69, lower population $10 and $25 (1/4 and 1/2 ounce) coins. As with any other coin series, it pays to be selective, to use a “rifle” approach rather than a “shotgun” approach. One major statistical screen we use is a coin’s capitalization -- its price per unit times the population report of known coins in that grade.
We will be writing more on all these coins over time, but you can get ahead of the crowd by calling your account representative and asking about the “rifle” approach over the “shotgun” strategy to coin buying.
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