Organizing your Collection - Appraising Your Coin Collection

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Previous: Identifying Die Varieties
Next: Looking for Rare Dates
Copyright 2015 by Kevin Flynn, All Rights Reserved

Some collectors are very meticulous with the organization of their coin collection. Others collections were simply stored in jars, containers, and other storage devices with coins of different denominations stored together. Some people simply would dump their pocket change into these containers. They might trade now and then for something they found interesting. One collector did this for a period of 60 years and had some very collectable, and a few valuable coins mixed together in large coffee cans.

When coins are mixed together, the first objective is to separate your collection by series and sets. Why would it be important to separate for example 90% silver Walking Liberty half dollars, Franklin half dollars and 1964 Kennedy half dollars? All are 90% silver and would have the same bullion value. The difference of course is that older coins would normally have an higher demand and greater numismatic value as a collectable coin. Mercury dimes are normally worth more than Roosevelt dimes for the same reason. In addition, once you separate the coins, it is much easier to search each series for those rare dates and die varieties as you are focusing only on a select number that apply to that series.

If a large group of mixed coins, first lay a large cloth on where you are going to separate them. Then gently dump the coins in the middle. Start separating the coins by series, starting with the largest silver denominations first as they are easiest to see and pick out. This step can normally be accomplished with the naked eye and does not require a loupe. Obviously if there are gold coins, remove them first. Silver coins are any dime, quarter, half dollar, or dollar from 1964 or before. Other series that contained silver included the Three cent silver coin, Bust and Liberty Seated half dimes; but these will not be seen in most collections that are the result of saved pocket change that will normally be seen.

It is important when searching through these piles, if you see brilliant uncirculated coins (you will know them when you see them), place them aside on a soft surface so as not to scratch or damage them.

Make a separate pile for each series starting with one for Morgan dollars and one for Peace Dollars. For coins in these series, as they are larger and heavier, they are more prone to denting if they are dropped on other coins. Stack them neatly or place them gently on a soft surface. At this stage you are not using a magnifying glass.

Then continue with the half dollars, quarters, and then dimes, keeping each series with each denomination separate. Most pocket-change collections have a pyramid-like number of coins for each denomination with the dollar at the top with the least number of coins, and the cents at the bottom with the most number of coins. The higher the denomination, the lower number of coins as part of the collection. Separating out the larger denominations first on these type of pocket-change collections also is more efficient as the nickel and cents are the most numerous part of the collection, and saving them for last makes it easier to separate. Normally it simply involves scooping into buckets.

For some series, such as the Morgan and Peace Dollars, if there is a large number of coins, I will further separate these by date and mint mark. This is time consuming, but helps when evaluating and identifying any rare dates and die varieties.

Once your collection is separated into their series, then you can move into the next section involving searching for rare dates and die varieties, and also uncirculated coins. By focusing only on one series at a time, it is much easier to use the second half of the book or other resource to understand what to search for.

For proof and mint sets, first order them by type, then within each type order them by date. There are several different types of proof sets including the basic one with one of each coin, there are other sets including prestige, premier, silver combinations, state quarters, silver state quarters, basic coins and silver state quarters and so on. Separate these by type of set first. Then within each type, order the sets by date. The date on most sets should be on the outside, for some, you need to look on the coins. Having the sets separated, greatly helps focus the search on those years which contain die varieties and rare coins that are worth a significant premium. For example, there are several doubled dies on the cent and half dollar on 1971-S proofs. There is a very valuable no-S mint mark found on 1990-S proof cent.

Once everything is organized, it is much easier to catalogue and search.

Previous: Identifying Die Varieties
Next: Looking for Rare Dates
Copyright 2015 by Kevin Flynn, All Rights Reserved

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