Coin Collecting

  1. Do Bullion Prices Matter Anymore?

    Do Bullion Prices Matter Anymore?

    Bullion Prices and Numismatic Collectibles For decades, bullion prices have had a profound impact on the prices of rare coins. I first witnessed this in 1979 when gold and silver prices exploded. Gold soared to around $850 per ounce and silver was around $50 per ounce, briefly. Rare coin prices which had been steady for several years exploded as well. Inflation was raging at the time and buyers were lining up for tangible investments.  There was also a sort of gold rush going on as millions lined up at coin shops around the country to sell their gold and silver. This brief episode is one of the most interesting chapters in American numismatics. Overnight, coin dealers around the country were becoming millionaires. The average shop could barely keep pace with the hoards of peop ...
  2. Failure Sometimes Leads to Success

    Failure Sometimes Leads to Success

    Coin collecting is sometimes an exercise in contradiction. Collectors say they want coins that are original with toning, but actually prefer to buy frosty white examples. Collectors and investors are always hoping for their coins to rise in value, but then complain that they have to pay too much when prices rise. The market is full of contradictions, and one of the most interesting examples is how an issue can be completely ignored and then soar when everyone realizes how few were actually minted. Although there are plenty of recent examples, this phenomenon is not new. In 1915 the United States government struck $50 dollar gold coins for the first time. The coins were issued to commemorate the Panama Canal Exposition in San Francisco. The coins are massive, containing 2.5 ounces of gold and are sometimes referred to as “slugs.” Two versions of the coin were made for collectors and those attending the Exposition. These examples were struck in round and octagonal shapes ...
  3. Fresh Coins

    Fresh Coins

    Stars of the FUN Show & Auction I think it can be safely stated that the amazing array of fresh coins offered at this year's FUN auction stole the show! Most high level professionals were astounded by the quality of the coins that crossed the auction block on Platinum night. One dealer related to me that he had a hard time concentrating on the show because he was so focused on developing his strategy for the sale (buying everything was not an option unfortunately). Many of the coins had been off the market for decades. Some were previously unknown to the numismatic community. The star of the night was the spectacular 1907 Rolled Edge Ten Dollar Indian graded PR67 by NGC. The coin was virtually unknown, having been in the possession of the heirs of Frank Leach Jr., the director of ...
  4. Gobrecht Silver Dollars: The Most Understood U.S. Coin

    Gobrecht Silver Dollars: The Most Understood U.S. Coin

    Why I chose the Gobrecht Silver Dollar Series I was recently challenged to write about what I considered to be the most misunderstood U.S. coin. Based on my experience, I chose the Gobrecht Silver Dollar series. At first glance, many would think that this series would be rather simple to understand. The coins are dated 1836, 1838 and 1839. How hard could that be? It is, however, one of the most complicated and least understood of all U.S. coinage issues. Even the most basic reason for the coins existence is questioned by many experts. Many consider this series to be pattern or experimental coinage. This is not true, as more than a thousand 1836 dated coins were struck and many of these clearly entered circulation. Quite a few can be found with extensive wear or damage. This series is indeed very complicated and even most rare coin experts only have a cursory knowledge of them. I will attempt to simplify and explain the many different varia ...
  5. Guarantees in the Coin Market Today

    Guarantees in the Coin Market Today

    Rare coin certification boasts decades of success. One of the foundations of this success is the grading and authentication guarantee. No longer do collectors and investors have to merely accept the word of dealers. Certified rare coins are graded by multiple persons and finalized by world class experts to ensure accuracy and consistency; the system works! It is hard to imagine where the rare coin market would be today without certification - much smaller, to be sure. Because of certification, rare coins are traded with confidence over the internet. Without this innovation, the numismatic market could not flourish and take advantage of such technologies. Other important innovations, such as set registries and population reports, would not be possible either. Numismatic Scandals Across the Globe In the 1980’s, the rare coin market was very different than it is today. Coins were traded uncertified in most cases, and guarantees of authenticity and grade were onl ...
  6. Numismatics and the Current Precious Metals Boom

    Numismatics and the Current Precious Metals Boom

    Precious metals, gold in particular, are in the news almost daily. In the fall of 2011, gold reached a high of just over $1900 per ounce. “How does that metal boom compare to the price explosions and subsequent collapse of 1980?” you may ask. As we know, those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. Let us examine the differences so that we can make better choices going forward.  Behind the Fluctuations Many are astounded that gold has reached incredible new heights and that rare coins have, in many cases, actually fallen. There are many reasons for this phenomenon. First, unlike 1980, rare coin prices are not starting from almost zero. The rare coin market is much more mature than it was at that time. Most importantly, the rare coin market is much broader than just a handful of newly rich dealers who are plowing all of their money into numismatics. In fact, many of today's rare coin dealers are only peripheral players in the prese ...

Latest News

  1. George T. Morgan Biography

    George T. Morgan Biography

    In 1845, George T. Morgan was born in Bilston, Staffordshire, England. During his adolescence and early adulthood, he was educated at the Birmingham Art School, and then was granted a national scholarship to the South Kensington Art School. He continued his education at the South Kensington School for two years where he received numerous awards and prizes. While in England, Morgan was employed by the British Royal Mint in London under J.S. and A.B. Wyon, a family that had produced generations of engravers for the Tower Mint. Morgan was greatly respected in his position as an assistant engraver and would have been positioned nicely to move up in the ranks. However, the Wyon family's long standing relationship with the Tower Mint kept them in employment and their sons employed as well.  Morgan's fate changed when the United States Mint Director, H.R. Linderman, sent a letter to the London Mint Director, Charles W. Fremantle around 1876. Linderman believed a change ne ...
  2. Gold is Money

    Gold is Money

    In July of 2011 Congressman Ron Paul asked Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke a simple question: "Do you think gold is money?" His answer: "No."  For a person like me, who has spent their career studying the history of money since the beginning of civilization, his answer struck me like a brick to the head.  Yet part of me was unsurprised. His answer is part and parcel of the mythology, carefully crafted, to turn bits of official-looking paper into "money" in the minds of the public. To admit to the obvious fact that gold is money would be to admit that the emperor has no clothes. The Gold Standard for the dollar The founders of our nation would be astounded and appalled by Mr. Bernanke's declaration. When they created the dollar, they went to great lengths to define its value in silve ...
  3. Are Coin Shows on the Decline?

    Are Coin Shows on the Decline?

    As a member of the board of governors for the American Numismatic Association, one of the prime responsibilities is to make decisions about ANA conventions. That is no small task given the size and importance of the conventions. The World’s Fair of Money held each summer by the ANA is one of the organization’s largest revenue sources. It is also the face of the organization to its many thousands of members that attend each year. Clubs from around the country hold meetings at these conventions and the educational opportunities offered to attendees are almost endless. Additionally, many millions of dollars worth of rare coins are sold in that short week. I would estimate that sales exceed $100 million dollars during ANA conventions. In short, the importance of the show cannot be overemphasized. Because of all the planning and organization, the ANA is fortunate that its summer convention is usually a roaring succ ...
  4. History of Dates on Coins

    History of Dates on Coins

    Symbols and Rulers on Ancient Coins It is probably hard to imagine, but coins without dates pretty much dominated the ancient world. Symbols and rulers, including deities, took precedence over dates on coins. It seems that coin years or dates on coins were not important to the ancients. They were more interested to know who ruled than in which year a coin was issued. It is in many cases nearly impossible to pinpoint the exact year of issue when it comes to ancient coins without dates. In such instances, one can at best make educated guesses. This can be done by considering any symbols, including Mint marks, and rulers who might feature on a coin. The idea is then to try and match it to any historical records of the time that might exist today. This matchmaking can help to roughly determine the period a coin was issued, especially when a specific coiner’s Mint mark is present. Mint marks were introduced to be able to pinpoint the source when issues aro ...
  5. 2018 Shooting Thalers

    2018 Shooting Thalers

    Shooting Thalers GovMint will soon receive an exciting selection of the 2018 edition of the annual Shooting Thaler silver and gold coins issued by Switzerland, which are released to commemorate the very popular shooting tournaments held there. A thaler, or taler in German, is a silver coin issued between the 15th and 19th centuries that is considered a precursor of the dollar.  Its name comes from the German word tal, which means valley, so a thaler is a person or thing from the valley.  The name itself is an abbreviated form of “Joachimsthaler", a coin from the town of Joachimsthal, in the Kingdom of Bohemia (part of the Czech Republic today) that had silver mines.  The first thalers were struck there in the 1500s.  Swiss shooting thalers are issued to celebrate the annual shooting festivals held in Switzerland, a country where marksmanship is by far the most popular sport and whose people are fervent support ...
  6. Platinum and Palladium Prices in 2018 So Far

    Platinum and Palladium Prices in 2018 So Far

    Platinum and Palladium Prices in 2018 So Far In the precious metals market, many of us tend to focus solely on gold and silver. While the majority of us are aware of platinum and palladium, there are far fewer products on the market made from these metals. The result of this is that we don’t pay as much attention to them. The American Platinum Eagle is an excellent example. These coins are primarily seen as something that’s of interest to collectors as opposed to something for bullion stackers. Remember that these coins were introduced as a bullion series. However, more platinum and palladium products seem to be making their way to the market. Let’s take a look at how these two precious metals have fared in 2018 so far. Platinum Prices in 2018  The spot price of platinum on January 1 ...

Collector Tips

  1. Should I buy bullion or collectibles?

    Should I buy bullion or collectibles?

    Grades In coin collecting, the numerical grade of a coin can be a vital factor in determining its value. However, there is a huge difference in the importance of grading between precious metal coins for the investor market and precious metal coins for the collectible market. To state it in the simplest terms, the condition of a bullion coin is not a factor in the investor market. It's all about the precious metal itself. A coin is silver, gold, or platinum...or it's not. The value is based entirely on its precious metal content, not its numerical grade. Essentially, it's irrelevant whether a coin is in pristine condition or not. For example, the Gold Eagle and Silver Eagle bullion coins from the U.S. Mint are made for the investor market. Gold coins are struck in one-ounce, half-ounce, quarter-ounce, and tenth-ounce sizes, while the silver coin is made only in the one-ounce size. The value of each coin is based solely on its amount of gold or silver ...
  2. Gold is Money

    Gold is Money

    In July of 2011 Congressman Ron Paul asked Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke a simple question: "Do you think gold is money?" His answer: "No."  For a person like me, who has spent their career studying the history of money since the beginning of civilization, his answer struck me like a brick to the head.  Yet part of me was unsurprised. His answer is part and parcel of the mythology, carefully crafted, to turn bits of official-looking paper into "money" in the minds of the public. To admit to the obvious fact that gold is money would be to admit that the emperor has no clothes. The Gold Standard for the dollar The founders of our nation would be astounded and appalled by Mr. Bernanke's declaration. When they created the dollar, they went to great lengths to define its value in silve ...
  3. Should I Collect American or World Coins?

    Should I Collect American or World Coins?

    For generations, most coin collectors in the U.S. focused their energies on American issues. When I started collecting, world coins were a fringe specialty and most of the dealers were retired military many of whom had become interested in world coins while serving overseas. Factors to Consider when Choosing Numismatics Most of the great world coins were sold in the capitols of Europe. Information on world coins was in short supply when I began my numismatic journey. Most relied on standard catalogues with decidedly outdated information. For most American collectors, world coins were of little interest. Of course, this was before the term “globalization” had entered the dictionary. The advent of the Internet has also had a profound impact on the world of coin collecting.  The number of numismatists in the U.S. who focus on American coinage is far larger than those who collect world coins.  Collecting American co ...
  4. How Big is the Counterfeiting Problem?

    How Big is the Counterfeiting Problem?

    The issue of counterfeit coins has been around for a very long time. For years, the numismatic industry has dealt effectively with the problem of counterfeit rare coins. Just to be clear, the issue of counterfeit coins has been around for a very long time. You can read numismatic journals from the 19th century and realize that collectors were dealing with the problem even then. One interesting case involved the extremely rare 1822 Half Eagle. An example was offered in the 1873 sale of the famous Parmelee Collection. The coin was sold and later returned after it was determined that the date had been altered. Several examples of the rare 1804 Bust Dollar that turned up in the late 1800s were also determined to be counterfeits. As long as collectors have been willing to pay a premium for rare coins, there have been unscrupulous individuals trying to take advantage of the unknowing. In the late 1970’s I was working for a large coin company in the Tampa Bay area. My ...
  5. How Do We Grow the Hobby?

    How Do We Grow the Hobby?

    The average age of the ANA membership is 59 years old and rising. This is not a terribly attractive demographic for growth. One only needs to look at what has happened to the interest in stamp collecting to become alarmed for the future of numismatics.  Age is Only a Number Many are concerned about the lack of collecting interest in young people these days. Most are consumed by some sort of electronic media and getting their attention has become much more difficult.  There is no doubt that social media is impacting the behavior of young people in very significant ways. The numismatic community cannot beat social media, so it will have to join them. In the future, any strategy to attract young people will need to include all forms of electronic media. The internet is an obvious channel, but no stone should be left unturned in our battle for the attention of young people who may, one day, become coin collectors. The ANA has committed considerable resources ...
  6. What's the Difference Between Precious Metal Coins, Bars, and Rounds?

    What's the Difference Between Precious Metal Coins, Bars, and Rounds?

    Purchasing precious metals can be a smart investment, but it's important to understand exactly what you're buying. Most minted gold and silver comes in three different formats: coins, bars, or rounds. There is something unique about each one, so it’s important to know the difference and find a solid stacking strategy that makes sense for you. Gold and Silver Coins  While most currency in the world is made from common metals such as nickel and copper, sovereign governments also create currency made from precious metals. While each piece is assigned a low face value, its intrinsic value is much higher. As you can guess, these types of coins aren't used in daily circulation, but are instead stacked by investors or acquired by collectors. The intrinsic value of this type of bullion coin is based on the coin's precious metal content. Take the ...