If you're looking to build a coin collection, you might not know where to start. There are many types of coins. There are gold coins, bullion, silver coins, and non-precious metals. Then is the question of design. Coin designs change over time. A good collection will showcase coins from a hundred years ago, not just the current mints line.
This guide is designed for the beginner who doesn't have unlimited funds. This last point is important. Some coins may sell for tens of thousands of dollars. There are even instances of coins being auctioned for over a million dollars.
Here are the coins that should be the building block of your collection. As always, try and get the coin in the best condition. It is better to have a coin in near mint condition than several coins in poor or good condition.
Morgan Silver Dollar
The Morgan silver dollar is one of the most popular coins in the collecting world. Collectors love it because it straddles the 19th and 20th century. It was minted from 1878 until 1904. It existed in a time when coin money still dominated everyday transaction. Dollar coins are no longer commonly used, so these coins are also beautiful relics from a time when coins still held sway in daily commerce. The coins were minted in Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Carson City.
Morgan silver dollars are also popular because you can get one in excellent condition without spending hundreds of dollars. There are some years that are very rare, and they can fetch thousands of dollars, but the common dates are very affordable.
Buffalo Head Nickel
This nickel is also sometimes referred to as an Indian head nickel. It features a portrait of Native American on the front of the coin and an engraving of a buffalo on the reverse. This coin was the replacement for the very popular Barber dime. The Barber dime featured a Greek inspired design of Liberty.
The sculptor James Earle Fraser designed the new nickle. He incorporated the iconic American imagery of a Native American and the roaming buffalo. The nickle was a huge success. Fraser said he did not use a particular Indian chief as a model, however he had done portraits of many chiefs, including the Lakota chief Iron Tail. Many believe Iron Tail to be the primary inspiration. The nickle was in circulation from 1913 until 1938.
This coin was copper and nickel. It is very affordable. You should avoid the nickels that are sold as "good" or "very good" and look for those that are at least ms-63 or better. The lower quality coins tend to have the feathers of the headdress worn off. Here is an example of a coin that was in heavy circulation and shows the wear and distress. You should look for coins where the features are clear, sharp, and defined.
The Mercury dime is ninety percent silver and was minted from 1916 until 1945. It is one of the last examples of the classical themed designs that dominated coinage in the early part of the 20th century. The front features a Romanesque depiction of the mythological god Mercury.
The coin remained popular and there was little call for change of design until the death of President Franklin Roosevelt. At that point, the design of the dime was altered to the current Roosevelt design.
For more information, contact American Precious Metals Inc. or a similar company.
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