When is a rare coin not rare? If you are trying to put together a set of coins, let’s say Lincoln cents, and you only want certified coins, you will eventually run into this problem. The rarest coin in the set is the 1909-S VDB. Although it is rare, it is readily available. Go to most any coin show and you’ll have several to choose from. But if you start to fill out your set and you are looking for a 1940’s penny that is certified in the grade you are looking for, good luck! Although Lincoln pennies for the 1940’s are common, they are rarely certified.
This is because most people are smart enough to not spend $30 to get a $5 coin certified. So they are very hard to find. They are in fact, much more rare than a 1909 S VDB! Of course, the coin itself is not more rare than the 1909-S VDB, just the certified version. This takes you to the conversation about which coins to collect certified and which ones to collect raw (or shall we say organic!). Is there a cut off date for each series? Is there a price point at which you only buy a coin certified? There is nothing wrong with buying certified coins, but don’t let the mail order culture scare you away from organic collecting. You may find late night TV guys selling certified coins at big premiums, that doesn’t mean they are worth that price. It also doesn’t mean that you should shy away from raw coins of the same type of coin. The TV guys like to sell modern slabbed coins. They sell coins that do not need to be certified at all…they are not rare coins! Go ahead and go organic with most of your coin collecting. You get to hold, and see your coin completely unencumbered.