Thursday, May 8, 2008

Buying, Selling and Collecting Coins

Coin collecting has been a hobby for many centuries in the world. Here in the United States it really didn’t become an actual hobby until about 1857 when the large size cent pieces were discontinued. When the discontinuance was announced many people had the foresight to gather a coin of each over-sized piece while they were still in circulation and wha-la, coin collecting was in.
The production of coins are made at factories that are referred to as “mints”. The first mint was established in Philadelphia in 1792. The first coins ever made in the US were half-dimes in 1792. The one-cent and half-cent pieces came next, made on a hand-operated press in 1793.
Other mints were established but were considered branch mints. The mint marks are important to collectors because there are not as many coins produced at those locations as at the main mint in Philadelphia.
The branch mints are “C” for Charlotte, North Carolina (on gold coins only). “CC” for Carson City, NV, “D” for Denver, Colorado, (there was also a “D” from 1838 to 1861 for gold coins produced at Dahlonega, GA). “O” for New Orleans, LA, “P” for Philadelphia, PA and “S” for San Francisco, CA. There is also a mint in West Point, New York where gold and silver coins are made. The proof sets have a “W” mint mark.

Being the main branch, coins from Philadelphia did not have a mint mark, however during 1942-1945 the “P” was added to the coin and in 1979 it was added to the Susan B. Anthony. Currently the “P” is once again in use on all coins produced in Philadelphia except for the penny. During 1965-1967 the coinage act of 1965 prohibited mint marks on any coins produced.
In addition to mint marks most coins have distinguishing marks all their own. Coin value is increased when such factors as age, limited circulation, placement of the marks and condition is considered.
If coin collecting is your hobby there are so many books and guides on the subject. There are also many clubs and coin shops. Many collectors and business’s are willing to trade their valuable coins for your valuable coins.

To get a true sense of coins, the history and how they are made the US Mint in Denver offers tours. The tour is a very interesting and educational for families of all ages. The tour is free but you must make reservations in advance and if you are 18 or older you must show ID and are subject to a security clearance to be able to participate in the tour. There are also a lot of strict rules, no pictures, cell phones, purses, or baby diaper bags. It just best to go in empty handed, leave everything locked in your car.
If you buy to resell and come across some old coins, I strongly advise going to the library and getting a book on coins, there are plenty of books on this subject. If you educate yourself you will definitely be surprised at the value of some of these coins and what people are willing to pay for them.

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