Coins Worth a Premium, Part 2

Part 2, This article is continued from the last issue.  Other collections will contain receipts for coins that were purchased from reputable dealers and auction houses and may contain a library of reference books.  There is also the collector who is essentially collecting and accumulating coins.  This may be a low budget collector who is fishing for coins in everyday change.   It can be the person placing mail orders from private coin companies. If this is the case, then it’s always a good idea to bring examples into the shop to do a price check.

Below is a general list of coins worth a premium.

Wheat Cents made from 1958 and before (Note:  Memorial cents from 1959 to 1981 are copper). Cents made in 1982 can be copper if they have a weight of 3.1 grams.  Zinc coins made in 1982 of a weight of 2.5 grams. As of October 2019, copper cents from 1959 to 1982 are restricted by law not to be melted or exported, therefore, there is no solid secondary market for the copper value of these coins.

War Nickels dated 1942 to 1945.  1942 is a transition year so look for the large P or S letter above the Monticello on the reverse.  Mint marks for War Nickels can include P,D,S, which include Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco.  War nickels contain silver.

Any nickel dated 1938 and before, plus 1939-D or 1950-D nickels.  Uncirculated coins may be worth saving, or if in sets, please get them checked out before taking them to the bank.  As of the end of September 2019, any box of nickels ($100 face value) had a melt value of approximately $85. It is currently against the law to melt or export clad nickels, but it may be worth saving all nickels for future gain.

For a complete list of coin values,  I recommend: A Guide Book of United States Coins, aka Red Book, A Handbook of United States, aka Blue Book by R. S. Yeoman.

This article will be continued in the next issue.  Thoreson Numismatics is located at 118 West Main Street, in Turlock California.  Please call Troy with any questions at 209-668-3682.

Coins Worth a Premium, Part 1

Which coins are worth a premium? Do you have a batch of old coins? Stop! Do not take them to the bank. I wrote this article to help anyone identify the most common premium coins. I have looked through thousands of accumulations and coin collections and based on my experience, I have written this guide. Let’s get started!

If the collection or accumulation is part of an estate, many times just dividing up the coins will turn out to be inequitable simply because one coin of the same type may be worth multiples of a similar coin. As a general rule, never clean coins. Please do not attempt to wipe a coin, dip it in chemicals, brush off, or touch surfaces with your fingers.

If your goal is to eventually get the coins evaluated, do some research before handling and trying to organize. Keep coins and paper currency safe, which includes keeping away from moisture and environments with volatile temperatures.

Accumulation: Accumulation of coins (I will interchange the words coins and currency) are typically saved because they were different from the current circulating examples, brought back from military service, world change from a trip, or saved for silver content.

Accumulations can include coins, currency, tokens, medals, or anything that looks like a coin or paper money. Typically, the older the accumulation, the greater probability of rarities. Geographic regions can play a role in rarities, such as, early San Francisco minted or pioneer fractional coins from California dated during early America or Gold Rush era.

Collections: A common collection will be in blue Whitman folder albums. More
advanced collections will be in Dansco Albums or other albums that have slides and
pages that show both sides of the coin. Within the last 35 years, collections may include certified coins by PCGS or NGC.

This article will be continued in the next issue. Thoreson Numismatics is located at 118 West Main Street, in Turlock California. Please call Troy with any questions at 209-668-3682.

Five Tips for Coin Collecting

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


Collecting Lincoln Cents

Most of us who collect coins first started with Lincoln Cents. Many reading this today may have an old blue Whitman coin album lying around. Lots of 1941-1958 albums are full when they come in the shop, with most of the coins being in used condition. A used 1941-1958 set is more or less a novelty item in used condition. We sell a used complete set of coins from 1941-1958 for under $10. An uncirculated set must be evaluated to determine price.

Many aren’t so lucky when it comes to completing the 1909-1940 set, as this set is typically missing the rarities. The early rare dates include the 1909-S VDB, 1909-S, 1914-D, 1922 Plain (generally there is no space for this coin), and the 1931-S. Few full 1909-1940 blue Whitman album, punch in type, has ever come in the shop with the correct coins filled in every hole. The main reason for this is that many rare coins are now certified and/or housed in better quality albums. Dansco makes the most popular premium album for the modern collector and the album offers protection for both sides of a coin. It is interesting to note that there are collectors that do crack out certified coins and stick the certification label on the back page of their album. I cannot recommend cracking out any coin from a certification holder; but it does come down to personal preference when it comes to enjoying a coin collection. For those thinking of completing a Lincoln set or starting a new one I am available to consult on the effort and strongly advise getting started. A nice set of Lincolns can be put together depending on major varieties for a few thousand. For fun, blue Whitman albums can still be purchased for a few dollars and modern coins can be collected from change on the cheap

By Troy Thoreson

Collect a Coin Set

I have noticed an increase new collectors coming into the shop filling want lists. What are people coin collecting these days? It seems all coin sets are in play, including Morgan Dollars, Franklin Half Dollars, Lincoln Cents, Mercury Dimes, and even Proof Sets.

Most are looking to simply fill holes in their coin albums by skipping high quality coins and rare dates. For the Morgan Dollar series, 1878-1904, 1921, this means collecting one coin from each year, therefore skipping, rare mintmarks and any coin dating 1893 and 1895.

Lincoln Cents, it goes without saying most collectors are missing four coins, the 1909-S VDB, 1909-S, 1914-D, and 1931-S. For those serious collectors the 1922 Plain is also missing.   For the advanced collector the matte proof cents from 1909 to 1916 are a continuous challenge. High-end 1955 and 1972 double die cents remain elusive.

Mercury or winged Liberty dimes are becoming popular because most can be collected at a bargain price.   Only three coins stop the, any condition, collection from being quickly completed.   The semi keys include the two coins minted in 1921. The key is the 1916-D which can cost hundreds for a worn out example and over a thousand for a fine or better example. An extremely fine or better set could take years to complete and will cost thousands.

Franklin Half dollars have always been popular for the discerning collector. This set is not difficult to complete in low grade, but most collector look for uncirculated example and some want gem coins with full bell lines, which can cost a pretty penny. And yes, I know that the U.S. does not mint pennies, only cents. Does that make sense even though they cost around two cents to make?

Proof Sets are special sets produced by the U.S. Mint every year and represent a high quality example of each business strike coin. They come in special packaging and clad sets have sold in the $30 range for the last few years. Many proof sets are currently valued at bargain prices and some are four dollars in the shop! A 2006 proof set is only $10 and had an original issue of price of around $20.

Please remember to NEVER clean your coins!   Also please be aware of cheap Chinese counterfeits flooding the market. These fakes contain no silver and are underweight.

For more information on collector or selling your coins please come by the shop at our Turlock location.   By Troy Thoreson