Coin Collecting For Dummies, 3rd Edition
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Forty years ago, your spare change might yield all kinds of things: Indian-head cents, buffalo nickels, Mercury dimes, Standing Liberty quarters, Walking Liberty half dollars, and plenty of the more modern silver coins that had been discontinued a few years earlier. These are all but gone, but recent developments have brought all kinds of people back to coin collecting, and budding numismatists are searching their spare change for treasure. Here are some reasons people are getting excited about coin collecting again.

50 State Quarters

In 1999, the U.S. Mint began the 50 State Quarters program, a series of 50 special quarter dollars, each representing an individual state and released in the order in which the states entered the Union. The new coins share a common obverse (coin front); the reverses (coin backs) are chosen from designs submitted by each state. Five new quarters are issued each year. The U.S. Treasury reports that over 100 million Americans are collecting the state quarters, many of them completely new to collecting.

Sacagawea dollar

In what was perhaps the biggest and most expensive advertising campaign ever seen for a new coin, the U.S. Mint introduced a new $1 coin in 2000. The new dollar featured the Native American guide Sacagawea (and her infant son) on the front, and an eagle on the back. To make the coin distinctive, the edge was left flat and plain, and the entire coin was struck from a gold-colored alloy. In a stroke of genius, the U.S. Mint contracted with Wal-Mart stores throughout the country to distribute the new coins in limited quantities. Banks received very few of the coins, creating the false impression that the new coins were rare. In fact, billions of the Sacagawea dollars have been produced and they will never be rare.

New commemorative issues

In 1982, the U.S. Mint began tentatively issuing commemorative coins again. Today, the U.S. Mint has hit its stride, issuing one or more commemorative coins each year in a variety of metals, set combinations, and price levels. New commemorative coins are available in gold, silver, and copper-nickel on subjects that appeal to a broad audience. Each new issue creates excitement among existing collectors and brings new collectors into the hobby.

Error coins

The U.S. Mint is far from perfect. However, as far as numismatics goes, that's a good thing. Few industries have product lines in which the rejected items are more valuable than the perfect ones. In 2000, a number of spectacular error coins stunned the numismatic world. One such error was a coin with the front of a 50 State Quarter and the back of a Sacagawea dollar — the first U.S. coin ever to bear two denominations. Because the two dies differ in diameter, no one believed it was even possible for such an error to exist; in fact, some professionals believe these error coins were made deliberately. The error received tremendous publicity in the national media, causing millions of non-collectors to begin examining their change.

Wheaties

Occasionally, a Wheatie (the Lincoln cent with wheat ears on the back, struck prior to 1959) still shows up in your pocket. As the years go by, they will become rarer.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Neil S. Berman: Neil S. Berman has been an expert numismatist and professional rare coin dealer since 1968. Coming back to the United States from Israel at the end of 1967, he apprenticed to the world-renowned Dutch numismatist and coin auctioneer Hans M. F. Schulman. He incorporated as Neil S. Berman, Inc., in 1968. In 1974, Neil became an associate of Metropolitan Rare Coin Company of New York. For the next several years, he represented Arthur and Donald Kagin of Des Moines, Iowa, then the largest coin dealer in the Midwest, as a purchasing agent. Later he represented Superior Galleries under the Goldbergs, also as a purchasing agent. In 1979, Neil, with his brother Jed, founded First Federal Coin Company, the first East Coast coin company to sell rare coins into IRA, Keogh, and pension plans. From 1983 until 1990, he was the purchasing agent for Asset Services, Inc., the largest coin company serving the financial community. Neil donated his large collection of German and Swiss silver minor coins to the American Numismatic Society (ANS) in 1989. In 1997, he received the American Numismatic Association (ANA) Service Award from ANA President David Ganz. In 2005 and 2006, he was associated again with Superior Galleries of Beverly Hills, this time under the ownership of numismatist Silvano DiGenova.
Neil catalogued the U.S. gold in the 1977 Kagin’s ANA Coin Auction Sale, the first New York coin auction sale in 1981 of Spink and Sons, England’s oldest and largest coin dealer, and a coin auction sale by Superior Rare Coin Galleries of Beverly Hills in 2006.
Neil has been published in Barron’s, Trusts & Estates, The National Law Journal, The Financial Planner, Pensions World, and Executive Jeweler. In 1987, he wrote, with Hans Schulman, The Investor’s Guide to United States Coins, which sold 40,000 copies and received a Numismatic Literary Guild award for Best Investment Book. In 2007, he wrote the second edition of the book with Silvano DiGenova. Neil has just completed a book on rare coin auctions.

Ron Guth: Ron Guth is a jack-of-all-trades and master of one — numismatics. Ron is a certified public accountant (CPA), a licensed auctioneer, and a writer, but the bulk of his time is spent on his true love — coin collecting and dealing. Ron’s battle with coin fever began when he was 12 years old, and he’s never gotten over it. After a decade of collecting, Ron went professional in 1976, when he began working for a local coin shop in Tampa, Florida. In 1978, he partnered with David Goldsmith and purchased the Bay Area Coin Exchange in Tampa. Ron and Dave blasted through the silver boom, and then split up in 1981, when Ron moved to Evansville, Indiana (his wife’s hometown), where he set up shop on First Avenue. In 1984, Ron formed Mid-American Rare Coin Auctions with Jeff Garrett of Lexington, Kentucky. The company quickly established itself as an innovative leader in the industry and, within the first year, became the fifth largest rare coin auction company in America. In 1988, Ron sold his interest in the company, went back to school to finish his bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance, and has since become a numismatic consultant and a major dealer in German coins.
In 1984, Ron won the American Numismatic Association’s Wayte and Olga Raymond and Heath Literary awards. He has written many coin-related articles and is listed as a contributor to several books, including Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States Coins, Krause Publications’s Standard Catalog of German Coins, Roger S. Cohen’s American Half Cents, Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States Half Cents, and others. Ron has served as a numismatic consultant for many rare-coin companies, including major firms such as the Professional Coin Grading Services, Heritage Numismatic Auctions, and Early American History Auctions.

Neil S. Berman: Neil S. Berman has been an expert numismatist and professional rare coin dealer since 1968. Coming back to the United States from Israel at the end of 1967, he apprenticed to the world-renowned Dutch numismatist and coin auctioneer Hans M. F. Schulman. He incorporated as Neil S. Berman, Inc., in 1968. In 1974, Neil became an associate of Metropolitan Rare Coin Company of New York. For the next several years, he represented Arthur and Donald Kagin of Des Moines, Iowa, then the largest coin dealer in the Midwest, as a purchasing agent. Later he represented Superior Galleries under the Goldbergs, also as a purchasing agent. In 1979, Neil, with his brother Jed, founded First Federal Coin Company, the first East Coast coin company to sell rare coins into IRA, Keogh, and pension plans. From 1983 until 1990, he was the purchasing agent for Asset Services, Inc., the largest coin company serving the financial community. Neil donated his large collection of German and Swiss silver minor coins to the American Numismatic Society (ANS) in 1989. In 1997, he received the American Numismatic Association (ANA) Service Award from ANA President David Ganz. In 2005 and 2006, he was associated again with Superior Galleries of Beverly Hills, this time under the ownership of numismatist Silvano DiGenova.
Neil catalogued the U.S. gold in the 1977 Kagin’s ANA Coin Auction Sale, the first New York coin auction sale in 1981 of Spink and Sons, England’s oldest and largest coin dealer, and a coin auction sale by Superior Rare Coin Galleries of Beverly Hills in 2006.
Neil has been published in Barron’s, Trusts & Estates, The National Law Journal, The Financial Planner, Pensions World, and Executive Jeweler. In 1987, he wrote, with Hans Schulman, The Investor’s Guide to United States Coins, which sold 40,000 copies and received a Numismatic Literary Guild award for Best Investment Book. In 2007, he wrote the second edition of the book with Silvano DiGenova. Neil has just completed a book on rare coin auctions.

Ron Guth: Ron Guth is a jack-of-all-trades and master of one — numismatics. Ron is a certified public accountant (CPA), a licensed auctioneer, and a writer, but the bulk of his time is spent on his true love — coin collecting and dealing. Ron’s battle with coin fever began when he was 12 years old, and he’s never gotten over it. After a decade of collecting, Ron went professional in 1976, when he began working for a local coin shop in Tampa, Florida. In 1978, he partnered with David Goldsmith and purchased the Bay Area Coin Exchange in Tampa. Ron and Dave blasted through the silver boom, and then split up in 1981, when Ron moved to Evansville, Indiana (his wife’s hometown), where he set up shop on First Avenue. In 1984, Ron formed Mid-American Rare Coin Auctions with Jeff Garrett of Lexington, Kentucky. The company quickly established itself as an innovative leader in the industry and, within the first year, became the fifth largest rare coin auction company in America. In 1988, Ron sold his interest in the company, went back to school to finish his bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance, and has since become a numismatic consultant and a major dealer in German coins.
In 1984, Ron won the American Numismatic Association’s Wayte and Olga Raymond and Heath Literary awards. He has written many coin-related articles and is listed as a contributor to several books, including Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States Coins, Krause Publications’s Standard Catalog of German Coins, Roger S. Cohen’s American Half Cents, Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States Half Cents, and others. Ron has served as a numismatic consultant for many rare-coin companies, including major firms such as the Professional Coin Grading Services, Heritage Numismatic Auctions, and Early American History Auctions.

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