Coins are monetary currency made of metal. The earliest known coin is the Baode copper shell from the Shang Dynasty, which was circulated more than 3,000 years ago in many places such as ancient Egypt and Greece. Coins have the advantage of convenient use, wear resistance, and long circulation life. In addition to their monetary function, coins also have a very high collection value. The appreciation and collection of coins began in the 14th century, when an active money market was developed. At that time, coin collecting was a hobby of the more privileged classes, which earned it the moniker "the king's hobby." The most famous collector of coins in the 14th century was Petrarch, an Italian poet and scholar. Other distinguished coin collectors include: Emperor Maximilian, Pope Boniface VIII of the Roman Empire, Ferdinand I, Louis XIV and Henry IV of France, and from Brandenburg, Elector Joachim II, who established the Berlin Coin Cabinet.
In the 20th century, coin collections became more organized and popular. Coin conferences, exhibitions, and a network of professional dealers emerged and developed. Identification and price guidelines became available, as well as a formal coin grading system.
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I used the Mearto authentication service to develop a history of a family owned piece with little to no provenance, except being owned by my family for 65 years. They came back with a 20 page extensive report and included a full page bibliography for reference. The “Stylistic Observations” section of the report was most enlightening comparing my piece to the original, which was on public display in the 1940’s.
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The authentication report we received from Mearto was very well researched and written, as well as detailed and comprehensive. From an examination of the artist's signature to a discussion of the figural representations in the work, Mearto's art specialists took the time to explain in non-technical terms their findings. Professional, responsive, and kind are just a few words to describe their communication throughout the process-- definitely money well spent!
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Here are a few steps that you can take at home to determine the value of your coin collection:
The Liberty Head nickel was surrounded in controversy from its beginning. The first nickels produced in 1883 did not have the word ‘cents’ incised on them. Some people gold-plated them and tried to pass them off as five-dollar gold pieces. The mint quickly added the denominations to the reverse of the coin. Coin dealer B. Max Mehl of Fort Worth, Texas, spent a fortune on advertising to entice people to search their pocket change for valuable 1913 Liberty Head nickels. He offered to pay the princely sum of 50 dollars per coin. This created a lot of hype and demand and that has never diminished over the years. One was auctioned for more than $3.7 million in 2010.
Just like the 1916 doubled die obverse Buffalo nickel, this coin was also the result of sloppy workmanship at the United States Mint. It is obvious that there is a numeral 7 lurking underneath the last digit in the date. Most examples of this coin circulated for almost 15 years until Paul M. Lange of Rochester, New York offered an example for sale in an auction in March 1930. Therefore, uncirculated examples in pristine condition are few and far between and regularly fetch six-figure prices at auction.
There are a number of factors that numismatists (coin experts) consider when determining the value of a coin, including:
The aesthetics or eye appeal of the coin
Coloration of the coin
The luster of the coin
Damage the coin may have due to exposure to the elements or use.
Physical damage includes, but is not limited to:
Effects of improper cleaning
Strike - This is the term used to describe the process of stamping a coin with a design. A well-struck coin is one whose design elements have been brought out entirely without any errors or defects. Well-struck coins are usually more valuable than poorly struck coins though as mentioned earlier, certain strike errors may help increase the value of a coin.
Content - Some coins are more valuable than others purely because of their composition. Many coins minted before the Great Depression were minted from silver and gold, and these coins have proven to be much more valuable than their copper, bronze and steel counterparts.
Design - The design plays a significant role in the value of a coin. In fact, many numismatists consider the overall aesthetic value of a coin the most important determinant of value. For example, the Liberty Head “V” nickel and the Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle are both coins that are valuable not only because of their rarity and age, but also because of the beauty of their designs. Examples of both coins have sold for over $1 million in the last ten years.