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




Coin Buying Tips & Top Blog!

Thank you! Thoreson Numismatic has just been named by Feedspot as a top Internet Blog.


Everyday people come into the shop with a novelty coin that they believe is valuable, only to be turned away disappointed.  A good example would be the U.S. Presidential or the Sacagawea Dollar, commonly referred to as the “Golden Dollar” because some people believe the coins contain gold; therefore they are happy to pay a healthy premium to own them. Unfortunately, these coins do not contain gold and are basically made of copper.  The U.S. Treasury is currently bloated with the dollar coins because of the government’s ongoing failing attempts to replace dollar bills with coins.

Fact or Fiction?  Some national ads on TV and radio are legitimate and offer coins at reasonable prices.  Unfortunately, many collectors find the wrong company, and a countless number of people are paying for novelty and worthless numismatic items.  I have seen laminated coins that are basically a sticker placed on a regular circulated coin, a so-called gold bar that is simply a box shaped like a bar that contains common Presidential dollars, common quarters and half dollars that are gold plated, and many other examples of world coins and medals that are made with virtually worthless metal, yet people are willing to pay a premium to own these examples.

Please be mindful of modern coins that are certified and are offered at prices that may not have the liquidity you might expect.  A common sales pitch is that “a coin is limited in the quantity available,” or “is perfect,” or “is one of the first ones released over a specific span of time,” or “released within a month of issue” for example.   I am not criticizing this type of collecting, but want to caution consumers to be mindful of the fact that in the short term, if the coin is liquidated or sold, the secondary market may not support the large premiums paid versus the same type of coin purchased direct from the U.S. Mint.  My company mails off modern gold and silver coins for certification and roughly finds that 20 to 50 percent come back with a 70 or perfect grade. It is possible to get modern coins graded as perfect without paying a premium over issue price, except for a grading fee. Have questions or want to get more information?  Feel free to stop by the shop during our regular business hours in Turlock at 118 West Main or call (209) 668-3682 and ask for Troy.

Recommendations given to the U.S. Mint

Recently, I was invited to the U.S. Mint Numismatic forum in Washington D.C.   The event took place October 17, 2018 and only a select few of the Nations leading Numismatists and Dealers were invited.  These are my recommendation given to Mint officials that day.   Please follow me on Instagram at thoresonnumismatics

2018 Coin Recommendations By Troy Thoreson

Inspire youth with educational incentives.

Develop a system of educational credits that can be implemented in schools across the nation with coins being used as an incentive for study in areas like History and Social Science.

Start in elementary school and give coins and/or medals, along with educational credit towards grade scores and rewards for: reading, national competitions, homework completion, extra credit assignments, students who exceed State testing standards, and original research.

Finish the “America the Beautiful” series with 60 Coins.

My recommendation includes adding four more quarters to the series and ending the collection in December 2021. Adding these quarters in 2021 will therefore match all previous years that released five quarters, ending the series with 60 different coins. Concluding the set with 60 quarters will add symmetry to the collection.

My motivation to promote this idea is the Pinnacles National Park. Ironically, I volunteered to take a group of 8th graders to Nevada Falls in Yosemite. The previous year I had taken a group to Pinnacles National Park; which the students liked better. It was then that I realized a push was needed to get more national parks added to the list of quarters. Inspiration from our National Parks is easy to find across America and should be celebrated to the fullest.

Mint a Restrike of the 2009 Proof Silver Eagles.

Restrike a 2009 American Silver Eagle in proof condition in 2019 as a 10 year anniversary of the 2009 coin never struck. There is no public record of it ever being minted in proof condition. Restriking proof coin dates did happen in the 1800’s and restriking the 2009 Proof Silver Eagle is an interesting opportunity that should be explored. A very limited quantity of 50,000 is recommended. If a success, then please consider also producing a 2009-W and 2010-W special edition Unc Silver American Eagles. Adding these coins will make it possible to complete a year set of both these series and can play a big part in collector interest. Everyone wants to complete a set!

Only use Capital letters on coin legends.

Use standard capital letters when spelling out “United States of America” on a coin. Especially, the U in “United” should be a standard capital U and not any other letter configuration that can be confused with a lowercase letter.

Place coin dates only on obverse.

It is highly recommended that coin dates (the date a coin is minted) be located on the obverse of a coin, not the edge. This recommendation comes from email correspondence I had with David Bower in August of 2018. I have also personally experienced collector confusion with people believing they have an error coin without a date, not realizing the date is on the edge. For example, the Presidential dollars and Sacagawea dollars from 2009-date. The less confusion the easier is it to collect.

Publish mintage with coin sales information.

The serious coin collector and dealer wants transparent information, not only on how many coins were sold, but how many coins were minted along with the disposition of minted coins not sold. Currently, the best information given is perceived to be only how many units were sold. I believe overall sales will improve over time if more information is given as to these numbers.

Better define coin set ending sales date.

Collectors and dealers like to plan for the future. I believe sales of future coins are diminished when coins that do not sell out continue to be available on the U.S. Mint website in the next or future years. I recommend the Mint end all sales within the year of production.

Make coin set continuity and symmetry a priority.

A good symmetrical set also makes it possible to plan out a goal for collecting. And this is not to say you can not have special editions or create a rarity that may actually be good for a series, but ending a set with one coin for a particular year when all other years had five should be avoided. Example: “America the Beautiful” series with one quarter (instead of 5) in 2021 (see recommendation).

Creative Designs: Discourage building or portrait coin designs.

Discourage coin designs with portraits of people or buildings. It is much better to show objects in action. For example, instead of featuring a portrait of Mark Twain, reenact a scene of one of his stories. Susan B. Anthony, imagine a scene from the underground railroad. Inspire the youth of America with scenes of the actions that made people great.

Connect coin designs with the past.

Use coin designs to bridge generations from the past and future.

2052 – Tree Series: Celebrating 400 years of the first coins made in colonial America. 2052 Tree design series including the Willow, Oak, and Pine. Allow members of the public to mint a very limited production of the Willow Tree on an original old minting press by having the public experience the minting process.

2064 – 200 years of the first coin with the words ‘In God We Trust’. Heavy commemoratives running through the 200 year anniversary of the Civil War leading up to this coin being the last.

2069 – Space Series: Extra High Relief Apollo coins

The Future: Mint Quantum Solis coin for Generation Space. – In development – Consult with Troy Thoreson

Troy Thoreson, Senior Numismatics and President
Thoreson Numismatics, an Auc Pro company, 118 West Main Street, Turlock, CA 95380 209.668.3682