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What is a Morgan Silver Dollar?

More than a century ago in the late 1800’s, the Morgan Silver Dollar helped the United States become one of the world’s great economic powers. It was beloved at home and treasured around the world for its large size and silver weight, and it has remained a collector favorite to this day.

The Morgan Silver Dollar was born out of the discovery of the Comstock Lode in Nevada, which was the greatest silver strike in American history. In 1878 the U.S. Congress passed the Bland-Allison Act, which required the United States Mint to strike new dollar coins with domestic silver, primarily from the Comstock Lode. The coin was first issued later that same year. It was especially popular in the Western states and territories, and it became a symbol of the “Wild West.”

Named after its designer, U.S. Mint engraver George T. Morgan, the Morgan Silver Dollar features a beautiful portrait of Liberty on the front and a dramatic American eagle on the back. Each coin was struck in 90% silver and is so large that it was known as a “cartwheel” in the West. It was the largest United States silver coin of its era made for circulation.

In the early 1900’s, more than half of the entire production of Morgan Silver Dollars were melted by the U.S. government for their silver content, and millions more were melted in later years to take advantage of rising silver prices. Many of those that remained were worn or damaged in circulation. As a result, only a fraction of all Morgan Silver Dollars remain today, and those in uncirculated condition are the most coveted of all.

What is a Mint Mark to a coin collector?

The United States Mint has had several facilities throughout its history, each identified by a unique mint mark. These mint marks are small letters stamped on coins to identify where they were made. Here's a list of the mint marks and the corresponding cities in the United States Mint network:
  • P - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • D - Denver, Colorado
  • S - San Francisco, California
  • CC - Carson City, Nevada
  • W - West Point, New York
  • O - New Orleans, Louisiana
  • C - Charlotte, North Carolina (Historic)
  • D (Historic) - Dahlonega, Georgia
It's worth noting that the Philadelphia mint was the first mint established in the United States, and for a long time, it did not use a mint mark. Modern coins minted in Philadelphia now carry the "P" mint mark, except for the cent. The other mints were established later to accommodate the expansion of the country and the need for coinage. The Carson City, Charlotte, and Dahlonega mints are historic and no longer in operation.

What are the rarest Morgan silver dollars?

Morgan silver dollars, minted from 1878 to 1904 and then again in 1921, are among the most popular and collected coins in the United States. Their value is determined by several factors, including mint year, mint mark, condition, and rarity. Here are some of the rarest and most valuable Morgan silver dollars:

1889-CC The Carson City mint produced fewer Morgan dollars than any other mint, and the 1889-CC is particularly rare, especially in higher grades. It's one of the most sought-after coins by collectors.

1895 "Proof Only" Got one of these? It is worth a small fortune. The 1895 Morgan dollar is known as the "King of the Morgan Dollars" because no business strike coins are known to exist, only proofs. With a reported mintage of only 880 proofs, it's a rare find for any collector.

1884-S The 1884-S is another Morgan dollar that, while not rare in terms of overall mintage, is extremely rare in higher grades. Most of the mintage was circulated, leaving few in uncirculated condition.

1886-O While not as rare in terms of mintage numbers, the 1886-O Morgan dollar is incredibly scarce in high grades. Most were either heavily circulated or poorly struck, making Mint State examples rare.

1892-S While the 1892-S Morgan dollar had a relatively large mintage, high-grade examples are exceedingly rare. Most were circulated heavily, making high-grade specimens a rarity.

1893-OThe New Orleans mint produced fewer Morgan dollars in 1893, making the 1893-O another rare and valuable coin, particularly in higher grades.

1893-S The 1893-S Morgan dollar is the key date of the series, with the lowest mintage of any regular issue at only 100,000 coins. High-grade examples are exceedingly rare and highly prized by collectors.

1894 With one of the lowest mintages for a Morgan dollar at the Philadelphia mint, the 1894 is scarce in all grades and especially rare in higher grades. 1901 The 1901 Morgan dollar from the Philadelphia mint, especially in high grades, is considered rare due to the low survival rate of high-quality coins.

The value of these rare Morgan dollars can vary greatly depending on their condition and the current market demand. Coins graded by reputable grading services in uncirculated condition (MS) can fetch premium prices, often reaching into the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for the rarest in high grades. It's essential for collectors to consult up-to-date price guides or seek appraisals from trusted numismatic professionals to determine the current market value of these rare coins.

Which Morgan silver dollars are worth money?

All authentic Morgan silver dollars are worth money, but some are worth more than others. Morgan dollars were issued by the United States Mint beginning in 1878. The last Morgan dollar was released in 1921. More recently, the Mint began issuing a Morgan dollar in 2021. All pre-1922 Morgan dollars are made of 90% silver and weigh about 26.73 grams, so they have significant value simply for their silver content. Beware of fakes! Morgan dollars weighing 24 or 25 grams are fake.

Here is a list of Morgan dollars that are rare or harder-to-find. Those not listed here are considered to be common.

Which Morgan dollars are key or rare?

  • 1878 CC
  • 1879 CC
  • 1880 CC
  • 1881 CC
  • 1882 CC
  • 1883 CC
  • 1884 CC
  • 1885 CC
  • 1886 S
  • 1888 S
  • 1888 CC Fake!
  • 1889 CC
  • 1890 CC
  • 1891 CC
  • 1892 S
  • 1893
  • 1893 O
  • 1893 S
  • 1894
  • 1894 S
  • 1895
  • 1895 O
  • 1895 S
  • 1896 S
  • 1899
  • 1903 O
  • 1903 S
  • 1904 S

Are old gold teeth worth anything?

It's not unusual to find grandpa's old gold teeth in a drawer when cleaning out the estate. Are gold teeth worth anything? The name DENTAL GOLD is given by dentists to any bridgework or caps made of an alloy of gold. Not many people are familiar with the intricacies of gold use in dentistry, but there are many interesting facets of dental gold and how it functions in the mouth. Today, dentists don't often use gold in their dentistry, but in past years it was quite a common practice.

How pure is dental gold?

Dental gold is usually an alloy consisting of 16 parts gold and 8 parts other metals such as palladium, silver, copper and/or tin. Gold buyers want yellow dental gold, not white or silver.

How can I sell gold teeth and bridgework?

Dental gold is valued by weight, usually gram weight (although some buyers use pennyweight). Thus, the weight of the teeth themselves must be eliminated. To do this, you must remove the teeth from the bridgework or cap. How? Simply take a hammer and smash the tooth until it falls from the gold crown or denture. Use pliers to pull any remaining parts from the gold. Next, weigh the gold pieces on a gram scale and write down the total gold weight you have. With that information, you are ready to contact a buyer.

To calculate the value of your dental gold, consider the following example. You have a gold cap, and it weighs 1 gram. There are 31 grams in a troy ounce, so you have 1/31 of an ounce of gold. But it is not pure gold. It is 16 karat, which is 2/3 pure. For simple math, let's use a per ounce price of $1000 for pure or 24 karat gold (obviously, as of this writing it is much higher). Divide $1000 by 31 to get the value of one gram of pure gold. That gives us a value of $32.25 for one gram of pure gold. Take 2/3 of that to get the value of one gram of 16 karat gold, or $21.29. But nobody will pay you 100% of the gold value, because dealers buy for resale and must make a profit. But, armed with this information and your math skills, you can quickly determine how much your gold buyer is offering.

Remember, a buyer of dental gold is a dealer and is buying wholesale from you with the goal of earning a profit. You will not get the full gold value for your gold teeth. Why not? Because like any business there is a markup between wholesale and retail (or scrap value in the case of dental gold).

Today, fillings are more commonly made of other less expensive and/or cosmetically desirable substances like mercury amalgam or polymer compounds. However, gold is still the strongest and longest lasting material a dentist can use.

NOTE - White metal teeth or bridgework not yellow, isn't worth anything. Only yellow gold dental work is wanted by dealers at this time.

iGuide's Gold Price Guide

Are old buffalo nickels worth anything and who buys them?

If you want to flip large lots of buffalo nickels for a quick profit, the current wholesale price dealers will pay for clean, undamaged buffalo nickels is $10.00 per pound in bulk. Large dealers will take any quantity up to 100,000 coins or 1000 pounds in weight. There are roughly 90 nickels per pound.

Any nickel dated from 1913 to 1938 is a buffalo nickel and is also sometimes called an Indian head nickel. They are called 'buffalo nickels' because they have an image of a standing buffalo on the reverse, or backside of the coin. In 1939, the buffalo nickel was replaced with the Jefferson nickel, which is what we still have, with few changes, today.

Buffalo nickels are very common, but some rare dates are worth dollars, not nickels. However, they are rare for a reason. You could spend a lifetime searching through mountains of of them and never find a rare date. Finding a rare date or mint mark is like winning the lottery.

It is much more profitable to deal in bulk. Buy them whenever you have the chance at flea markets, yard sales, estate sales, then turn around and sell them to a reputable dealer for a profit. This is called 'the art of the flip'. Or do some searching for rare dates, then do the flip.

Whatever you decide to do, just remember that there are lots of dealers who are in the business of buying large lots of common date coins. If you want to know how to find a reputable dealer to sell your buffalo nickels to, JUST ASK IGUIDE.

Unlocking the Value: Are Old Pennies Worth Anything, and Who Buys Them?

Pennies, those small copper coins often overlooked in our pockets and purses, may hold surprising value beyond their nominal worth. Many people wonder if their collection of old pennies is worth anything and who might be interested in purchasing them. Let's delve into the world of numismatics to uncover the potential value of old pennies and explore the market for these historic coins.

There are people who make a very good side hustle out of buying and selling old wheat pennies. They make dollars on the penny (LOL)! They find large lots of old pennies then turn around and sell them for a profit. How much do they get? Usually they can sell them for around $3.50 per pound of old pennies. Penny dealers will buy any quantity up to 100,000 coins or 1000 pounds in weight. You should know that there are roughly 150 pennies per pound.

A wheat penny is any penny dated from 1909 to 1958. They are called "wheat pennies" because they have a sheaf of wheat on the reverse, or backside of the coin. In 1959, the sheaf of wheat was replaced with the Lincoln memorial, which is still on the reverse of our pennies today.

Wheat pennies were produced starting in 1909 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Lincoln's birth. They were first issued on 2 August 1909 and were the first U.S. coins to feature a real person (Abraham Lincoln). As the coins began to circulate, controversy broke out over the letters V.D.B. on the coin, which were located on the bottom of the reverse side and were the initials of the penny's designer, Victor David Brenner. Many people thought that the New York sculptor’s initials did not need to be on the coin or were too prominent. Other people did not understand the meaning behind the initials or their purpose. One of the most valuable of the wheat pennies is a 1909 date with an S mint mark and the VDB initials in prominence. It is called the 1909 SVDB and can sell for as much as $1,000.00 or more in uncirculated 'like new' condition.

Wheat pennies are very common, but some rare dates are worth dollars, not pennies. However, they are rare for a reason. You could spend a lifetime searching through mountains of wheat pennies and never find a rare date. Finding a rare penny is like winning the lottery.

It is much more profitable to deal in bulk. Buy them whenever you have the chance at flea markets, yard sales, estate sales, then turn around and sell them to a reputable penny buyer for a profit.

Understanding the Value

The value of old pennies can vary significantly based on factors such as rarity, condition, and historical significance. While most pennies circulated in the United States are common and hold little numismatic value, certain rare dates, mint marks, and errors can make a penny worth considerably more to collectors.

Rare Dates and Mint Marks

Pennies minted in specific years or bearing unique mint marks are often highly sought after by collectors. For example, the 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent, featuring the initials of designer Victor David Brenner, is considered a numismatic treasure due to its low mintage and historical significance. Similarly, pennies from the early years of the United States Mint, such as the 1793 Chain cent or the 1799 "9 over 8" variety, command premium prices at auction.

Error Coins

Mistakes during the minting process can also lead to valuable error coins. Examples include double strikes, off-center strikes, and die cracks, among others. Collectors are often drawn to these unique specimens due to their rarity and the intriguing stories behind their production.

Condition Matters

In the world of coin collecting, condition is paramount. Coins in pristine, uncirculated condition are highly desirable and can command significant premiums compared to their more worn counterparts. Factors such as luster, surface preservation, and absence of blemishes play crucial roles in determining a coin's grade and, consequently, its value.

The Market for Old Pennies

Numerous avenues exist for selling old pennies, ranging from online marketplaces and auction houses to coin shops and specialized dealers. Collectors and enthusiasts actively seek out these coins to add to their collections or invest in numismatic assets.

Who Buys Old Pennies?

Coin collectors, investors, and dealers are the primary buyers of old pennies. Collectors often pursue specific date and mint mark combinations to complete sets or assemble thematic collections. Investors may view old pennies as tangible assets with potential for appreciation over time, particularly in the case of rare or historically significant specimens. Dealers, meanwhile, buy and sell old pennies as part of their numismatic business, leveraging their expertise to assess value and negotiate transactions.

Conclusion

While not every old penny is worth a fortune, many hold value beyond their face value to collectors and investors alike. By understanding the factors that contribute to a penny's worth and exploring the vibrant market for these historic coins, individuals can unlock the hidden treasures lurking within their coin collections.

Which of the branch mints was the first to coin U.S. cents?

The San Francisco Mint began striking bronze Indian Head cents in 1908.

How may types of small cents are there and what years were they minted?

Flying Eagle  1857-1858
Indian Head  (Copper Nickel, Laurel Reverse)  1859
Indian Head (Copper Nickel, Oak Reverse)  1859
Indian Head  (Bronze)  1860-1864
Indian Head  1864-1909
Lincoln Head  (Wheat Reverse)   1909-1942, 1946-1958
Lincoln Head  (Zinc Plated Steel)  1943
Lincoln Head  (Shell Case Copper)  1944-1945
Lincoln Head  (Memorial Reverse)  1959 to date
Lincoln Head  (Copper Coated Zinc, Memorial Reverse)  1982-2008
Lincoln Head  (Shield Reverse)  2009 to date

Yes or no: were proof cents struck on both bronze and copper-plated zinc planchets in 1982?

No, all 1982 proof cents were struck on bronze planchets. Beginning in 1983 all proof cents were struck on copper plated zinc planchets.

I recently found a naturally dark (not tarnished) Jefferson nickel. What caused the unusual color? Is it valuable?

Off-color Jefferson nickels are not rare, and have been seen in hues ranging from smoky blue through deep purple to black. The natural discoloration is caused by an incorrect alloy mix containing significantly higher amounts of copper. Some collectors like these, as some collectors prefer toned proof coins, and will pay a small premium for them. Usually not, though.

Is it true the Jefferson nickel was designed in open competition outside the Mint?

The design for the Jefferson nickel originated from a completely open competition for a $1000 prize. The winning design was submitted by Felix Schlag, a rather obscure sculptor at the time. His initials "FS" were added below the bust beginning in 1966.

Coin Collector's Q & A: I have a 1944 silver nickel without a mint mark. Is it valuable?

It is a counterfeit, thought to have originated in New Jersey. The counterfeiter evidently prepared his mold from coins of two different dates, using the reverse of a prewar nickel struck at the Philadelphia Mint, thus producing a passable copy of a nonexistent coin.

(Thanks to Steve Frank for the following information)
Wartime nickels, dated 1942-1945, consist of 2 types, Type 1 and Type 2. This is because the federal government decided to change the composition, as nickel was needed in the war effort. The first type, Type 1, were minted through the first part of 1942, and look the same as earlier nickels, and having the same metal composition, the intrinsic value is nil. There is NO mintmark above Monticello on the reverse of Type 1 wartime nickels.

Type 2 wartime nickels were minted beginning in the 2nd part of 1942, and continued through the end of 1945. These contain 35% silver, and NO nickel at all. Type 2 wartime nickels have an intrinsic value based on the current silver price, so even worn examples will be worth approximately 90 cents when silver spot is around $17.

To tell the difference, you must look at the reverse. An oversized mintmark will appear above Monticello on the Type 2 35% silver pieces. The mintmark appearing above Monticello on Type 2 Wartime Nickels can be a “P” (Philadelphia), “D” (Denver), or “S” (San Francisco). This was the first time that the P mintmark was ever used on a coin. Previously, the absence of a mintmark identified a coin as having been minted in Philadelphia. The P and D mintmarks were used in 1942, 1943 and 1944, while P, D and S were used in 1945.

Your 1944 nickel is a “Contemporary Counterfeit”, sometimes called a “Circulating Counterfeit”. These were made by unscrupulous individuals to circulate “Contemporaneously” alongside of genuine pieces as current money. These were NOT made to fool collectors, and are NOT the modern copies we have unfortunately seen become so prevalent in this great hobby.

Although there may have been others, the most famous counterfeit wartime nickels were made by Francis LeRoy Henning in New Jersey. He was caught when he used an earlier reverse to counterfeit 1944 nickels, so no large mintmark is found over Monticello!

There is a very dedicated group of collectors for these, and other old forgeries, and the price of Henning Nickels has varied over the years, with current pricing being around $75, but we have seen them sell for between $60 to $100+.

What is a silver nickel?

The term is applied to the wartime five-cent piece (1942-1945) composted of 56% copper, 35% silver and 9% manganese. Because nickel imparts great strength and corrosion resistance to steel, and because the United States must import most of its nickel, it was decided to reserve the stockpile of that metal normally employed in the production of five-cent pieces for the use of the war industry. To indicate the change of alloy, the mint mark was made larger and placed above the dome of the Monticello, and for the first time the nations's coinage history, the letter "P" was used to designate domestic coins struck at the Philadelphia Mint.

Coin Collector's Dictionary - A Glossary of Terms

Alloy - Coin metal consisting of two or more metals which are melted and mixed together. Example --- the 5 cent nickel is an alloy consisting of 95% copper and 5% nickel.

Alteration -
An illegally changed coin feature (such as date or Mint mark) to make it appear like a more valuable coin. Example --- the 1922 penny is worth 30 times more with the Mint mark "D" than with it. Many 1922-D coins have been unethically altered to remove the Mint mark "D" hoping to sell it to an unknowing buyer.

ANA -
Abbreviation for American Numismatics Association, established in 1891. Largest organization of coin collectors in the world.

Annealing -
The manufacturing process of heating the coin metal (planchet) just before striking. This softens the metal enough to receive the impression.

ANA -
American Numismatic Society.

Bag Mark -
A scratch or ding caused by coins rubbing against each other in a Mint bag. Very common, especially with large heavy silver coins.

Bit -
An old Mexican coin circulated in America during the 1800's. This coin was sometimes divided into sections. A "bit" was one eighth of the coin, two "bits" was one quarter of the coin, therefor USA quarter dollars began to be called "two bits."

Blackbook -
Pocket size price guide and reference book of USA coins. Updated and published annually since 1962.

Blanking -
The manufacturing process of passing the coin metal strip through a punch press to "bang" out the round metal coin blanks (planchets).

Blemish -
A minor nick, mark, dent or discoloration on the coin's surface.

Bluebook -
Handbook of USA coins published annually since 1941. Gives average prices dealers pay for coins.

Broadstrike -
A coin with a larger than normal diameter. This is caused by the coin being struck with the protective collar in place.

Brockage -
A coin error in which one side of the coin has a "mirror image" of the other side. This is caused by the failure of the coin to be automatically ejected from the holder on the coin press.

Bronze -
An alloy metal consisting of copper and tin. Zinc is sometimes included.

Bullion -
Coins produced of high purity metal, such as 999 fine silver or gold coins. Also, blocks of pure gold or silver.

Cast Coin -
A coin manufactured by a process of pouring metal into a mold, rather than die striking.

Quarter Eagle
- A USA $2.50 face value gold coin, minted from 1796 to 1929.

Redbook - A guidebook of USA coins published and updated annually since 1947, Gives average selling prices by dealers for USA coins.

Reeded Edge - Grooved lines that run vertically around the coin. Used on all modern USA coins from dime to dollar to discourage dishonest practice of clipping off part of the metal.


A Beginner's Guide to Collecting Coins

With the billions of U.S. Coins in circulation, it is quite possible  that a very valuable coin could come into your possession. Without realizing it, you might spend an innocent looking penny worth hundreds of dollars or even thousands of dollars. And you'd probably kick yourself for buying a candy bar with coins that later turned out to be worth a fortune. You can prevent this kind of mistake by using this website as your guide and "coin mentor."

To begin with, it's a good idea to understand the factors that make any coin valuable. These are: Scarcity, Condition and Demand. Just because a coin is old does not necessarily mean it is valuable. It's the old story of Supply and Demand. Scarcity (or rarity) is probably the most important factor in determining the value of any coin (see our price guide pages for more on this). Next important factor is Condition. Coins are available in a wide variety of states of preservation, from barely identifiable to crisp, new "uncirculated" condition. A coin, like anything else, is worth more in new condition that in worn condition. Be sure to read our article on Coin Grading. There are terms and criteria used by dealers and collectors in grading condition. The last factor in determining a coin's worth is Demand. In other words, the value of any particular premium quality coin is based upon the number of collectors who want that specific coin.

You are welcome to peruse the information of this site, in our Learning Center and our Price Guide areas. Arm yourself with information. Spend some time here learning about the hobby. Spend some time so you have a good groundwork to build from.

Mint Mark Locations on United States Coins

United States Coins have been issued at several locations, called "Mints", around the United States. A tiny letter, such as D, or S, or CC, is sometimes stamped on the coin to indicate which mint produced the coin. These are called Mint Marks and are a very important part of coin collecting. Sometimes, the mint mark alone determines the value of the coin.

How to find Mint Marks: The coin's Mint mark, if any, is small and difficult to find. The Mint mark  is always a single letter with the exception of the Carson City Mint, which is "CC". The location of the Mint mark varies depending upon the coin design and the coin's date. The chart that follows shows the exact location of the Mint Mark on most older USA coins.

WARNING: When a big price difference depends upon the Mint mark, the coin should be carefully examined for alterations. Mint marks can be changed, added, or removed to defraud collectors.

NOTE: Obverse means the front (heads) of the coin, and Reverse means the back (tails) of the coin.

PENNY  (Indian Head, 1859-1908) ---  Reverse, below wreath
PENNY  (Lincoln Wheat, 1909-1958) ---   Obverse, below date
PENNY  (Lincoln Memorial, 1959-today) ---   Obverse, below date 
THREE CENT (silver) ---  Reverse, at right of C
FIVE CENT NICKEL (Liberty Head) ---  Reverse, at left of cents below dot
FIVE CENT NICKEL (Buffalo) ---  Reverse, below 5 cents
FIVE CENT NICKEL (Buffalo, 1942-1945) ---  Reverse, large mint mark above building
FIVE CENT NICKEL (Jefferson, 1938-1964) ---  Reverse, at right of building
FIVE CENT NICKEL (Jefferson, 1968-today) ---  Obverse, below date
HALF DIME (Liberty Seated) ---  Reverse, above or below bow of wreath
DIME (Liberty Seated) ---  Reverse, Reverse, above or below bow of wreath  
DIME (Barber) ---  Reverse, below wreath
DIME (Mercury) --- Reverse, at right of ONE
DIME (Roosevelt, 1946-1964) ---  Reverse, at left of torch
DIME (Roosevelt, 1968-today) ---  Obverse, above date
TWENTY CENTS  --- Reverse, below eagle
QUARTER (Liberty Seated) --- Reverse, below eagle
QUARTER (Barber) --- Reverse,  below eagle
QUARTER (Standing Liberty) --- Obverse,  at left of date
QUARTER (Washington, 1938-1964) --- Reverse,  below wreath
QUARTER (Washington, 1968-today) --- Obverse,  at right of ribbon
HALF DOLLAR (Capped bust, reeded edge) --- Obverse, above date
HALF DOLLAR (Liberty Seated) ---   Reverse, below eagle
HALF DOLLAR (Barber) ---   Reverse, below eagle
HALF DOLLAR (Liberty Walking, 1916-1917) --- Obverse, below motto
HALF DOLLAR (Liberty Walking, 1917-1947) --- Reverse, below leaves at left
HALF DOLLAR (Franklin) --- Reverse, above yoke of bell     
HALF DOLLAR (Kennedy, 1964) --- Reverse, at left of branch
HALF DOLLAR (Kennedy, 1968-today) --- Obverse, above date
DOLLAR (Eisenhower) --- Obverse, above date 
DOLLAR (Liberty Seated) --- Reverse, below eagle
DOLLAR (Morgan) --- Reverse, below wreath
DOLLAR (Peace) --- Reverse, below eagle
DOLLAR (Susan B. Anthony) --- Obverse, at left of head 
DOLLAR (Trade) --- Reverse, below eagle  
GOLD $2.50 QUARTER EAGLE (Classic Head) --- Obverse, above date
GOLD $2.50 QUARTER EAGLE (Coronet) --- Reverse, below eagle
GOLD $2.50 QUARTER EAGLE (Indian Head) --- Reverse, at left of fasces
GOLD THREE DOLLARS  --- Reverse, below wreath
GOLD $5 HALF EAGLE (Classic Head) --- Obverse, above date
GOLD $5 HALF EAGLE (Coronet, 1839) --- Obverse, above date
GOLD $5 HALF EAGLE (Coronet, 1840-1908) ---  Reverse, below eagle 
GOLD $5 HALF EAGLE (Indian Head) --- Reverse, at left of fasces
GOLD $10 EAGLE (Coronet) --- Reverse, below eagle 
GOLD $10 EAGLE (Indian Head) --- Reverse, at left of fasces
GOLD $20 DOUBLE EAGLE (Coronet) --- Reverse, below eagle 
GOLD $20 DOUBLE EAGLE (St. Gaudens) --- Obverse, above date         
   




























 



How do I grade my coin collection? The iGuide Coin Grading Guide

The descriptions of coin grades that follow are intended to outline the relative condition of coins in various states of preservation. These standards are based on trade practices recommended by The American Numismatic Association to avoid misunderstandings in the buying, selling, and advertising of coins.

When a coin in circulation starts to show signs of wear, only the highest parts of the design are affected. You will note that the highest points of the design become slightly rounded or flattened --- and that very fine details begin to merge together or fade away.

After a coin has been in circulation for a longer time, the entire design and surface will show obvious signs of wear. Most of the high points will lose their sharpness and the original luster will begin to fade. Further circulation will flatten out the sharpness and relief of the entire design. The high points will all begin to merge with the next lower parts of the coin's design.

UNCIRCULATED COIN GRADES

The term UNCIRCULATED, also referred to as MINT STATE, refers to a coin which has never been in circulation. It is UNUSED. Such a coin has no signs of wear from usage whatsoever.

Uncirculated coins can be divided into four major categories:

PERFECT UNCIRCULATED (MS-70). — The finest quality available. Such a coin under 4X magnification will show NO bag marks, lines, clouding, or other evidence of handling or contact with other coins.

GEM UNCIRCULATED (MS-65). — An above average uncirculated coin which may be brilliant or highly toned and has very few bag contact marks or perhaps one or two very light rim marks.

CHOICE UNCIRCULATED (MS-63). — Has some distracting contact marks or blemishes in prime focal areas. Luster may be impaired.

UNCIRCULATED (MS-60). — Refers to a coin which has a moderate number of bag marks on its surface. A few minor edge nicks may be present, although they must not be of a serious nature. Surface may be spotted or lack some luster.


CIRCULATED COIN GRADES

Circulated coins are USED. They have been in circulation, meaning they have been handled, pocketed, and carried, sometimes for decades. As a result, they are worn to one degree or another. Coin collectors have established the following grades for rating just how used a coin actually is:
CHOICE ABOUT UNCIRCULATED-55 (AU-55). Only a small trace of wear is visible on the highest points of the coin. As in the case with other grades here, specific information is listed in the Official ANA Grading Guide under the various types, for wear often occurs in different spots on different designs.

ABOUT UNCIRCULATED-50 (AU-50). Only a small trace of wear is visible on the highest points of the coin. As in the case with other grades here, specific in format.

Choice About Uncirculated-55 (AU-55). With traces of wear on nearly all of the highest areas. At least half of the original mint luster is present.

CHOICE EXTREMELY FINE-45 (EF-45 or XF-45). With light overall wear on the coin's highest points. All design details are very sharp. Mint luster is usually seen only in protected areas of the coin's surface such as between star points and in the letter spaces.

EXTREMELY FINE-40 (EF-40 or XF-40). With only light wear but more extensive than the preceding, still with excellent overall sharpness. Traces of mint luster may still show.

CHOICE VERY FINE-30 (VF-30). With light even wear over the surfaces; design details on the highest points lightly worn, but with all lettering and major features sharp.

VERY FINE-20 (VF-20). As preceding but with moderate edge wear on highest parts.

FINE-12 (F-12). Moderate to considerable even wear. Entire design is bold. All lettering, including the word LIBERTY (on coins with this feature on the shield or head band) visible, but with some weaknesses.

VERY GOOD-8 (VG-8). Well worn. Most fine details such as hair strands, leaf details, and so on are worn nearly smooth. The word LIBERTY if on a shield or headband is only partially visible.

GOOD-4 (G-4). Heavily worn. Major designs visible, but with faintness in areas. Head of liberty, wreath, and other major features visible in outline form without center detail.

ABOUT GOOD-3 (AG-3). Extremely heavily worn with portions of the lettering, date and legends being worn smooth, the date barely readable.

How to Store and Care for your Rare Coins - Tips for Storage and Caring

One of the most common questions collectors ask is, "How do I take care of my coin collection?" How to store and care for your valuable coins is a subject that should be of interest to every beginning coin collector. After all, you can't just toss your coins into an old bottle or cigar box and call it a collection. As a serious numismatist, you should handle each valuable coin in your possession carefully and preserve it in the condition in which you first received it. For example, when examining a coin you should hold it by its edges over a soft surface, In this way should you accidentally drop the coin, no harm will be done. A coin should never be touched or held by its faces,  obverse or reverse, for the oil and acid on one's skin can leave fingerprints and possibly cause damage.

When you choose a method to store your coins, you should find a form that not only protects your coins but also makes them easily accessible and visible to you. The most frequently used method is the familiar Whitman folder. This is the least expensive and easiest method of storing coins as a collection. These folders have die-cut holes in the cardboard, which are labelled with date, mint mark, mintage, and other information. Thus, when you've acquired a particular coin, you simply insert it into the proper hole with a little thumb pressure (use protective gloves when doing this).

The latest and most protective of the Whitman coin holders offers both visibility and protection. The folders have thick cardboard that is just a little thicker than the depth of the coin which it is designed to hold. To hold the coin and protect it from rubbing in the album, clear plastic sides are provided (top and bottom).

Another widely used means of storing individual coins, both for deals and collectors, is known as the 2x2. This is a hinged piece of cardboard, die-cut with a hole of coin size with a thin piece of plastic glued in. A coin is inserted between the layers of cardboard, which is then folded over and stapled or taped shut, thus effectively protecting the coin. Both front and back of the coin are easily viewed.

There are also plastic Lucite hardshell holders, slabs, and a myriad array of other storage devices. A search of the internet will find many retailers of coin storage products. Good luck!

How Can I Tell A Copper Penny from a Zinc Cent?

If your Lincoln Memorial penny has a date before 1982, it is made of 95% copper. If the date is 1983 or later, it is made of 97.5% zinc and plated with a thin copper coating. For pennies minted in 1982, when both copper and zinc cents were made, the safest and best way to tell their composition is to weigh them. Copper pennies weigh 3.11 grams, whereas the zinc pennies weigh only 2.5 grams. Be sure to use a scale that is accurate enough to detect the tenth of a gram (0.10) or better. If you weigh a zinc penny on a scale that can only register full 1 gram increments, the penny will usually display 3 grams, since the scale rounds the 2.5 gram zinc penny upwards to 3. The wrong type of scale can be misleading when you are trying to sort copper and zinc pennies.

How much do American silver coins weigh in grams?

This list gives approximate weights in grams of American silver coins prior to 1964. It is important to note that pre-1964 American silver coins contain 90% silver, not 100%. There are 31.1 grams in a troy ounce. Silver is bought and sold in troy ounces on the commodities markets.



Coin Type Grams
Silver Dollars (pre-1965)   26.7 grams
Half Dollars (pre-1965)      12 grams
Quarters (pre-1965)            5.8 grams
Dimes (pre-1965)               2.5 grams

American Gold Eagles

One Ounce of Gold
Many countries now issue a one ounce bullion coin, to be sold at a very low premium over the intrinsic gold value. The American version is the Eagle.

Krugerrands versus Eagles
Because krugerrands were the first one ounce gold bullion coins to be issued, it is worth comparing gold eagles with krugers.
Krugerrands were first issued in 1967, as one ounce bullion coins. From 1980, they were also produced in fractional sizes of half ounce, quarter ounce, and tenth ounce. Eagles were introduced in 1986, in all four weights except the quarter ounce which was not introduced until 1987

The Eagle Family
Gold Eagles are available in four different sizes and weights, from one ounce to one tenth of an ounce, as detailed below.

Technical Specifications
The following table summarises the specifications of all the sizes.
SizeFace ValueDiameterWeightFineGold Content Gold Content
 US $mm.Grams/1.000GramsTroy Ounces
One Ounce5032.734.0500.91731.1041.0000
Half2527.017.0250.91715.5520.5000
Quarter1022.08.5130.9177.7760.2500
Tenth516.53.4120.9173.1100.1000


Table Notes
The 1/12th of the alloy, or 8.33%, which is not gold, is 5.33% copper and 3% silver. Diameter = Diameter in millimeters.
US $ = US Dollars
mm. = millimeters.
Fine = Millesimal fineness.
Qtr = Quarter.

South African Gold Krugerrands

One Ounce of Gold
The South African Chamber of Mines had an inspired idea to help market South African gold. It was to issue a one ounce bullion coin, to be sold at a very low premium over the intrinsic gold value.

Back in 1967
Krugerrands were first minted and issued in 1967, and have been produced every year since. They have legal tender status in South Africa, which allowed them to be imported into many, but not all, countries without import taxes, duty or VAT.

The Krugerrand Family
Originally only one size was issued, which contained one full troy ounce (31.1035 grams) of fine gold. This was originally known as a Krugerrand, or Kruger, for short. From 1980, three other sizes were introduced, namely a half, quarter, and tenth ounce size. Because of these, the original Krugerrand is sometimes referred to as a "full" or "one ounce" Kruger or Krugerrand, although within the trade, the word Kruger or Krugerrand is understood to be the full sized original one ounce version.

British Investors Missed Out
At the time of the kruger's introduction, it was not legally possible for British residents to acquire bullion gold coins, so that the Krugerrand was almost unknown in Britain until 1971.

Low Premium Over Gold Content
According to the publicity at the time, the Kruger was to be made available to world bullion dealers at a 3% premium over the current gold fix, so that after distribution costs, the coins would be available to investors in quantity at about 4% to 5% over intrinsic gold values, and possibly 10% premium for single pieces.

Higher Premium on Smaller Sizes
The fractional sizes were issued at higher premiums to bullion dealers of 5%, 7%, and 9% respectively. The fractional coins have never been as popular as the full one ounce coins, usually only being purchased as singles, so that in practice, it would usually cost 10% to 15% premium for the half and quarter ounce, and from 20% to 50% premium for the tenth ounce, most of which seem to have been used in jewelry. Most bullion houses do not want the bother of handling small quantities of low value coins

Technical Specifications
The following tables summarize the specifications of all the sizes.
SizeFace ValueWeightFinenessGold Content Gold Content
 RandsGrams/1.000GramsTroy Ounces
Full1033.9305.91731.1041.0000
Half516.9653.91715.5520.5000
Quarter2.58.4826.9177.7760.2500
Tenth13.3931.9173.1100.1000
SizeRemedy (Grams)Min Diameter (mm)Max Diameter (mm)Min Thick (mm)Max Thick (mm)Edge
1 oz+ 0.0732.6132.772.742.84180
1/2 oz+ 0.03526.9327.072.1152.215150
1/4 oz+ 0.0221.9422.061.7881.888140
1/10 oz+ 0.0116.4516.551.251.35115
Table Notes
We understand "remedy" to mean the excess weight which the coins are designed to have to allow for any manufacturing tolerances.
The 1/12th of the alloy which is not gold, is copper.
Min. = minimum.
Max. = maximum.
Diameter. = diameter.
Thick. = thickness.
Edge = number of edge serrations

How much can I get for my modern gold coins?

Many nations mint bullion coins, of which the most famous is probably the gold South African Krugerrand. Although nominally issued as legal tender, these coins' face value as currency is far below that of their value as bullion. For instance, Canada mints a gold bullion coin (the Gold Maple Leaf) at a face value of $50 containing one troy ounce (31.1035 g) of pure 24K gold. Bullion coins' minting by national governments gives them some numismatic value in addition to their bullion value, as well as certifying their purity.

The level of purity varies from issue to issue. 99.9% purity is common. The purest mass-produced bullion coins are in the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf series, which go up to 99.999% purity. Note that a 100% pure bullion is not possible, as absolute purity in extracted and refined metals can only be asymptotically approached. Usually a bullion coin contains a stated quantity (such as one troy ounce) of the slightly-impure alloy; the Krugerrand is unusual in containing one troy ounce of actual gold, with the impurity making the coin heavier than one ounce.

When you go to sell your modern gold coins to a dealer, you will receive a percentage of their full value. You will NOT receive 100% of the value, because dealers must make a profit in order to stay in business. The percentage of full value (called the spot value or spot price) will vary widely from dealer to dealer. Dealeres will offer anywhere from 80% to 90% of the "spot" price for your coins. Obviously, the higher percentage you can get, the better for you.

Another factor you must consider before you start doing the math is the "purity" of the coin you are selling. Not all modern gold coins are pure gold. Most are 24K gold, but some are only 22K. For purposes of simple calculation, we will consider pure 24K gold coins. If a dealer is offering to pay you 90% of spot, here is how to calculate the actual price he is offering:
1. Get the current spot price (from a site like www.metals-quote.com).
2. Multiply that price by the percentage the dealer is offering you.

Let's say the current spot price is $900.00 per ounce and you have a one ounce 24K gold coin for sale. The dealer has offered you 90% of spot for it. Simply multiply $900 X .90 (or $810) to get the price he is actually offering.

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