Tip #1 – NEVER CLEAN COINS. No matter how dark and dingy, never clean a coin! The friction caused by cleaning damages the delicate flow lines originally produced when the coin was first struck. Depending on the severity of the cleaning it will affect the look and value of the coin. That being said if you have already cleaned your coins that does not mean all value is lost.
Tip #2 – Do not turn your old Silver coins to the Bank! Even these days Bank tellers have reported receiving dimes and quarters dated 1964 and before. These have a silver premium and should be taken to a coin shop; this rule also applies to Half Dollars dated 1970 and before.
Tip #3 – If it’s too good to be true – pass on it! People come in the shop daily with their big time bargain only to find out they have a worthless example. The latest example was a 50 Peso Gold coin. The edge lettering on this coin was not centered and the weight was just over ¾ of an oz. The correct gold content alone of a 50 Peso Gold coin is 1.2oz. Clearly, the coin was a counterfeit! In general, fakes are below weight, lack detail, or have an incorrect edge design. Popular coins counterfeited include World Crowns along with Bust, Seated, Morgan, and Peace Dollars.
Tip #4 – Don’t pay a premium for altered modern coinage! Many national ads on TV, radio, and print offer good coins at reasonable prices. Unfortunately, many collectors find the wrong company, and a countless number of people are paying for novelty and virtually worthless numismatic items. I continually see current coinage that has been laminated or plated and then housed in elaborate boxes and presentation cases. The collector pays a premium only to find out later the coins worth face value.
Tip #5 – Pay for a good loop. A high quality 7X loop power will offer a view of the entire surface of a coin, cleaned coins can be spotted easily because the scratching or cleaning will produce lines that streak across the field and portrait. Having a good loop will also help identify corrosion, pits, and other problems a coin may have. A loop is also necessary to see mint errors and to correctly identify varieties or other important attributes like the fullness of bands on a Mercury Dime or Steps on a Nickel.
By Troy Thoreson, President
Thoreson Numismatics, an Auc Pro company
118 West Main Street, Turlock, CA 95380