Old Pueblo Coin – Tucson, AZ

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QOTD Should I clean my coins?

Should I clean my coins? The quick answer is always “no”.

A lot of people who are new to coins think they are doing good to get some ”dirt” off the coin by taking a jewelry cloth to it or putting some chemical on it. Although this can add ”shine” to the coin, that does not add value. It actually detracts from the collector value.  Once you alter the original surface and luster, or the patina on a coin a collector will value it less. They prefer a ”dull” but original coin to a shiny one.

Think of it like art. There are professionals who can ”restore” a piece of artwork without damaging it, but you or I would never dare try to clean or restore artwork. The same is true of coins. They can be professionally restored, but when the average person tries to help them they often will do more harm than good. We have seen $100 coins turned into $10 coins really fast because someone was ”only wiping the dirt off”. If you want to keep your coins valuable, then keep them in the original condition. This is true of many collectibles, so before you clean anything, have them evaluated.

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QOTD – Highest Possible Grade

QOTD – Question of the day. Real Questions asked by customers.

“What is the highest grade possible on a coin”.

Coins can be graded verbally (Good, Very Fine et al) or by number (4, 20 et al). Based on the number grades the highest possible grade is “70”.  The verbal grade would be ”perfect”. On modern coins you will find coins graded Mint State or Proof 70. On older coins, like the Morgan silver dollar it is unusual to see coins graded higher than MS66.  It can be fun trying to find ‘perfect’ coins. Many collectors put together a Type Set. In a type set the goal is to get one example of each type of coin. For example, one Morgan dollar, one Peace dollar, one Eisenhower dollar. Most collectors will try to find the most common date coins in the highest grade possible. Others have preferred to put together a set with the rarest possible coins. For Example, 1893 -S Morgan $1, 1928 Peace $1. Some unconventional, and possibly disturbed collectors will try to find the lowest possible grade coins they can find!

Whatever grade coin you are looking for, and for more information on coin collecting give us a call 520-881-7200 or stop by our central Tucson location at 4255 E Speedway (85712).

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Coins 101 Indian Head Cent 1859-1909

After the Flying Eagle cent James Longacre was called on again, and this time created the Indian Cent. It was first issued in 1859, with a laurel wreath on the reverse. This design was only for one year. Starting in 1860 the coin had a new reverse with a shield added at the top of the wreath (and a new wreath style too).

The first 5 1/2  years the coin was produced of 88% copper, 12% nickel and were thick, like the Flying Eagle Cent. Before the first nickel 5 cent piece came out in 1866 this coins were often called ”nickels” or ”nicks”. Midway through 1864 the coins were made thin, like today’s cent, and the purity was changed to 95% copper and 5% alloy.

The design and composition stayed the same from 1865-1909. There was the addition of the mint mark in 1908 as the San Francisco mint struck it’s first cents. The mint mark is at 6 O’clock on the reverse of the coin.

Indian Cents from the mid 1880s and newer are very affordable, mostly costing a dollar or two in average condition. There are several more rare dates including the 1877 and the 1909-S. These rare dates are several hundreds of dollars in low grade.

The Indian cent has it’s name from the depiction of Liberty wearing a Native American Headdress. The design has stood up to the test of time.

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JFK and his Half Dollar

John Kennedy was the 35th president of the United states. Today (November 22, 2013) marks the 50th anniversary of the fateful day he was assassinated. The day is not lost in the realm of coins. In fact it created a coin we still have today- the Kennedy half dollar.

About 3 days after the assassination Mint Director Eva Adams called Chief Engraver Gilroy Roberts and instructed him to start looking into designs for a US coin with John F Kennedy’s visage on it. On December 10th President Johnson issued a press release recommending passage of a bill before congress, and on December 30th the congress passed the law issuing the Kennedy half dollar. During that short window Chief Engraver Gilroy Roberts and his staff worked behind the scenes to get a design ready, even before they knew what denomination it would be on. They had the widow, Mrs. Kennedy approve of the design before the law was even passed.kennedy

On January 2nd, 1964 proof dies were delivered and the mint presses started on a coin that we still have today. Coins started to reach circulation around the end of March. Mass hoarding of the coins was taking place. Many people sought them for the historical significance. Others were grabbing them up as silver prices started to rise. Over 425 million of the coins were produced, over 4 times as many as the year before.

Not only did the Kennedy half dollar replace the Franklin half, it also was the final year the US mint put 90% pure silver into the coins. Silver quality was reduced to 40% purity in the half dollar from 1965-1970. Since 1971 there has been no silver in circulating half dollars. Today the Kennedy half dollar’s value is based on the current silver market. With silver around $20 per ounce, the half dollar has about $7.25 of silver in each coin.

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Coins 101 The Flying Eagle Cent

The Flying Eagle cent was a transitional coin. It was the stepping stone from the large cent to the Indian head cent. It was only produced for circulation for two years, 1857 and 1858. It is the same diameter as our current cent, but is about twice the thickness. It was a big step down in size. The previous cent (“large cent”) was 27.5 mm in size and the Flying Eagle cent is 19mm.

James Longacre designed the coin, as well as the Indian Cent. The name of the coin comes from the design. It has an eagle in flight on the front with the legend “United States of America”. The back of the coin has a wreath and says “ONE CENT” in the middle. Well worn examples of the Flying Eagle Cent start at about $20. Middle grades range from $75 to $100. An uncirculated example exceeds the $400 price barrier.


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