What’s my coin worth?

We usually get this type of phone call every week.  Sometimes we might say “Hold the coin up to the phone so we can look at it”!  All kidding aside, the best way to appraise a coin or collectible is by seeing it.  An exception to this would be a type of coin which is a modern day coin.  Typically they have no precious metal content and unless they are uncirculated or a proof coin, they can be spent.

Older coinage and especially rare coins need to be seen in order to be properly graded.  Most of the general public do not understand coin grading and if a coin looks “shiny” it’s in excellent condition.  In the current edition of The Official Red Book older coins are listed in as many as eight grades!  Sometimes there is a slight difference in prices and in others a larger difference.

In addition to the grade of a coin, another consideration is the mint mark.  This could make a large difference in the value of most coins.  All told, for an accurate value, let a coin expert look at your coins.  A customer had some old baseball cards and wanted a value on them.  They were described to us as being in real nice condition.  When the collection came in, the cards were glued in an album.  While they looked nice, they had no collector value in that condition.

When were silver coins minted?

U.S. coinage minted in 1964 and earlier are approximately 90% silver.  Three cent silver pieces and other type coins, dimes, quarters, half-dollars and dollars dated 1964 or earlier are silver coins.  Jefferson nickels minted from 1942 to 1945 are Wartime Silver Alloy coins and contain 35% silver.  The Kennedy half-dollar from 1965 to 1970 contains 40% silver.


Don’t forget Proof Sets and Mint Sets dated 1964 or earlier contain silver coins.  Starting in 1992, a silver proof set was available for sale from the U.S. Mint are real nice collectibles.

What is a “slabbed” coin?

A slabbed coin is a coin that has been graded by a third party grading service.  The leading three coin graders are NGC (National Guaranty Company), PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service) and ANACS (American Numismatic Association Certification Service).  The coin is sent in to one of these companies and a fee is paid.  The coin is authenticated as being genuine, a number grade from 3 to 70 is usually assigned and the coin is encased in a hard plastic holder.  When purchasing rare and expensive pieces some customers will only purchase a coin that has been certified.

What is a proof coin?

Some folks think a proof coin is a grade or condition.  Not true, a proof coin speaks to how the coin was produced.  Proof coins are struck for collectors by the Mint using specially polished dies and planchets (the blank piece of metal on which a coin design is stamped).  Proof coins should show a very reflective field and the design will show more detail than a coin intended for circulation.  All told, Proof coins typically look real nice and display well.


What should I clean my coins with?

NOTHING!   It is always best to not clean your coins.  One exception would be if the coin has been dug from the ground.  You can use soap and water (no scrub brushes) to remove the dirt.  If you have a rare coin and want it to be cleaned  professionally, the coin graders mentioned above offer restorative services for an additional fee.