Old Pueblo Coin – Tucson, AZ

The Coin Geek

Archive for 'All'


Statistics. Politicians. Advertising. What do these things have in common? Lying!

Perhaps that is a bit harsh. Would you put coin dealers, mechanics and car dealers in the same group? Most people would. Let’s face it, those reputations are there for a reason. But how do you counter the liars and their lying lies? The  best way is through education. Q: Who is less likely to get ripped off by the mechanic? A: Men, because the shop owner assumes the man has a higher level of knowledge compared to his female counterpart. Q: Who do the mail order and advertisers try to deal with. A: The novice, because they have a lower level of knowledge.

What if you are a novice, how do you stop getting burned?

A great way to spot a bad deal is in the newspaper!

A great way to spot a bad deal is in the newspaper!

There are things to look for in advertising, especially in coins and paper money, that are misleading.

  • “Up To”
  • “Hurry”
  • “Prices Subject to Change”
  • “Actual Prices may vary”
  • “Members of…”

Up to is the catch all you use to give people big dollar signs in their eyes. “I’ll pay up to $2,000,000 for a coin”. That may be true, but what do they normally pay for coins. And what if that coin is worth $4,000,000? Would you sell it for $2M?  In fact the ad we picture was just in the local paper and they say they will pay $100,000 for a 1913 Nickel. Well shoot, ain’t that generous! Except there are two problems. 1) All 5 known specimens are accounted for. 2) The coin is worth $1,000,000+ !

Hurry is a term that all advertisers use. They try to convince you that time is limited or that an item may sell out, or prices may go up (or down depending on the business). One day only! Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

The prices changing line is used in large volumes of print and radio ads. That price sounds great! And then you call and….oops, so sorry, you missed that price, it changed. So in other words, we just told you want you want to hear to get you in the store or to call, and while you are here perhaps we can do some business!

Members of may need some explanation. Businesses use these pay for memberships to prove they are trusted or reliable. The only problem is that anyone can PAY to get the membership and logo. It does not mean they are trustworthy. The other problem is that many of those associations do not actually weed out the bad guys.

Although these ads may not be lying, they are certainly designed to deceive. Be careful who you deal with, and always educate yourself. Also, take time to ask other people who they deal with. Word of mouth is often a good indicator of who you will want to deal with.








Posted in: All, Consumer Awareness

Leave a Comment (0) →

Insurance, Coins and Deductibles

What do you need to have, hate to buy, don’t want to use, but are glad you have it when you need it? No, not an umbrella…insurance!  This post is not an in depth study of insurance practices and coin collecting, but it is a quick reminder to check your policy. Here are some things to check up on.

  • Do I have coverage for my coins
  • What do I need for evidence in case of loss
  • What are my deductibles


Many homeowner and renter policies have some type of coverage for coins or jewelry. That coverage, however, is often very limited in nature. Depending on your coverage it may be $500-$2000. This may cover your needs, if not you may need a special rider on your policy. A rider is additional insurance for items not normally covered.

The next thing to look into is what type of proof of value you need to get to the insurance company. They will need to know what you have and what it is worth. But they will want evidence of value. Some ask for receipts. Others will want an appraisal. Others may ask to physically see what you have.

One more important thing to know is what your deductible is. The deductible is an upfront charge from the insurance company when a claim is made. You pay the deductible to the insurance company and then they settle the rest of the claim. (This is to stop people from filing claims willy nilly). Here is a tricky thing for you to look into, make sure your deductible is the same no matter what type of claim it is. Many policies will have a different deductible for an act of nature versus a burglary. So look at your fine print and ask your agent if there are different deductibles on your policies. You may think you have a $500 deductible, and then when you have a theft find out it is $1500!

Those are some quick pointers that will hopefully help you be prepared. Here’s to making our insurance agents rich and to hoping we never have to make a claim!

Posted in: All, Coins, Education

Leave a Comment (0) →

The Jewelry Myth

solitaireNot all Americans are showy. There are many plain sort of folks out there who don’t need fancy things. But even those plain sort of folks can end up with gold or diamond jewelry through a family member or marriage.  And even though these regular people are not consumed with consumerism, they still fall into the trap of thinking diamond jewelry is very valuable.

Before the yelling starts about me being against the jewelry industry, I’m not. I just find it ironic that the same American people who buy a TV for $700 that is worth $70 in 6 years, or buy a car for $20,000 that is worth $5,000 in ten years, get upset when they find out the ring they bought at Zales for $4500 is only worth $450.

Carat Total Weight is a scam.

Carat Total Weight is a scam.

If you choose to spend $8000 on a ring for your engagement, that is okay. Just remember it is probably only worth 10%-25% of that if you buy it at a national chain jewelry store. The reality is that most of the cost of the ring is the store’s overhead. That is the cost of the building, the labor, taxes, and profit. The wholesale cost of the ring itself is a small percentage of the total cost you are paying. And even a smaller percentage of that is the actual value of the diamonds or the gold. When you buy new, you are also paying for the creation of the ring.

This is why when you buy a ring at a major store they usually have a no return policy. Or they have a policy where they will take the item back IF you spend TWICE as much on a new item. Wow, nothing like losing twice as much money as the first time.

Lot's of Volkswagens

Lot’s of Volkswagens

The jewelry industry has great marketers and marketing strategies. One thing you will see often is a ring listed with a “Ctw” – Carat total weight (or TCW). What they will do is put 20 little five point diamonds in a ring and call it 1 carat, total weight. It sounds good at first, like having 100 single dollar bills gives you $100. But it doesn’t work that way with diamonds. It is more like saying that if you have 10 Volkswagens you have a Maserati. Well my friends, if you have 10 Volkswagens you do not have a Maserati, you have 10 Volkswagens!

Not a bunch of Volkswagens!

Not a bunch of Volkswagens!

Some of you may be wondering what the alternatives to buying at the box stores is, and my answer is to shop pawn shops and second hand stores. You don’t need to know much to get a better deal. The rings pawn shops buy from individuals are mostly of the same quality as those you get at Jared’s, Kay’s or Zales. In fact they were probably bought there originally.

Posted in: All, Consumer Awareness

Leave a Comment (0) →

Arches ATB Quarter

The newest ATB (America the Beautiful) park quarter  has officially been released. The Arches, UT park quarter has one of the more recognizable designs. It is a place that most hikers want to visit and even casual nature fans have an affinity for.arches The park was established in 1929.  It has over 2000 natural stone arches.

Many of the ATB quarters have not been up to the standard you would want for a circulating coin. They are often too busy, or the topic is not recognizable. This coin has a great look to it (especially the special Proof version) and it is easy to recognize as Arches National Park.

You can visit the Park website here.

We expect to have them in inventory in the coming weeks.


Posted in: All, Education, News, Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

Rip Off Artists HSN ( Home Shopping Network )

If you have cable TV you’ve probably run across the Home Shopping Network, or HSN as it is called. They sell just about everything you don’t need and then some! It would be nice if they did your Costco shopping and sent it to you,  but they try to sell things you probably would never buy at Costco. What’s worse is they have gotten into the coin business.


There is nothing that these guys sell that is a good deal. They may sell real coins, which is better than some places, but they sell them at unreal prices. Take a look at this listing from their website.

Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 2.26.36 PM

  • Price- This 1881 S Morgan dollar graded NGC MS63 is priced for 2x to 3x what you can pick them up for in the open market. You can usually find them for $45 to $60.
  • Fake Images- What really galls me … I should be numb to it by now….is that the images used are fake images, just computer generated. They look nothing like the coin you will get, and the holders are also computer generated and not what real NGC holders look like. I’m amazed NGC allows this.
  • Smarmy Marketing – For extra credit points they have a video you can watch where a guy rants for two minutes about how incredible the coin is and a lady is in the back ground just in shock that they can sell the coins for this price. Well, I’m also in shock that they can sell the coins for that price.
  • Targeting the Elderly- Although this is not mentioned in the advertising this company targets the elderly. Mostly they try to get them because they have money, are easy to bully, and occasionally have dementia.

If you have friends or family members that are shopping with HSN please send them this article. This company will continue to do this as long as people fall for their marketing tactics.

Hey HSN stop ripping people off!

Posted in: All, Coins, Consumer Awareness

Leave a Comment (0) →

The “WAR” Nickel

jeffersonpicThomas Jefferson has been on the nickel since 1938, replacing the Buffalo design.  We call it a nickel, although it is technically a 5 cent piece. But over the years the vernacular has taken over and it is safe to say that if you called the coin a ”5 cent piece” instead of a “nickel” you will get a few odd looks.

1938nickelThe term nickel was given to the coin based on the metal composition of the coin. This, however, may also be a misnomer…as the coin is only 25% nickel and 75% Copper.  That is the same composition since 1866, the inception of the nickel ”nickel”, the Shield nickel.

In 1942 the USA needed all the copper and nickel it could get as it ramped up for the war efforts. On October 8, 1942 the first ”war” nickels were produced. The new composition was 56% copper, 35% silver and 9% manganese.  The new composition was used all the way through the 1945 calendar year. This means that both types of nickels were made in 1942.

warnickelAlong with the change in composition the decision was made to move the mint mark to above Monticello on the reverse of the coin. This is one easy way to distinguish the coin from its predecessor.  This was the first coin to have a ”P” mint mark on the coin. Up until that time coins from Philadelphia had no mint mark. The new coins also have a different look to them, both in circulated and uncirculated conditions. The coins are brighter in new condition and are darker in used condition than their nickel counterparts.

The new war nickels were struck at all three mints (Denver, San Francisco, Philadelphia) over the span of 4 years for a total of 11 different issues. The combined mintages for all coins approaches a billion pieces. Today the circulated pieces still trade based on their silver content of 5.6% of an ounce per coin. With the current silver spot price at $19.40 that means each coin has just over $1 in silver in it.

In uncirculated grades the coins can be purchased for $10 each, on average. Gem examples can be more costly. The war nickels make a great collection because they are inexpensive and their are only 11 to complete the set. When you don’t have to worry about your wallet it makes the thrill of the hunt all the more enjoyable.


Their are many collectible varieties for the war nickels. The most popular, as listed in the Red book, are the 1943 (P) 3 over 2 variety, the 1943 P Double Eye and the 1945 P Double Die Reverse.

This variety is hard to identify, as it has a small tail from the bottom of the 3 that heads to the middle of the three. If you look at enough worn out 1943 P nickels you’ll swear they all are this variety! If you can find this variety it is likely to fetch you $25 to $250.


1943 P Double Eye. This one is hard to see….it will come to you….just think about it…. but has a nice return as they trade at $20-$200. The fun part about this variety is you still have a chance to find it, as most dealers won’t have the time or want to go through war nickels for varieties.doubleeye

1945 Double Die Reverse. This is one of my favorites because it is a visible doubling that is not that expensive. You can see the doubling with the naked eye or a 5x loupe. The doubling is most noticeable in the “O” in Monticello and the “S” in cents.  They range in price from $10 to $100.doublemonticello

Posted in: 101, All, Coins, Education

Leave a Comment (0) →

What is MPC?

In 1946, shortly after the end of World War II, US military bases around the world got a whole new type of currency. They are called Military Payment Certificates. It was common, until then, for US enlisted men to get payed in foreign currency. This often created a black market where soldiers preferred trading cigarets  and other physical items instead of currency.



The first series of MPC was numbered 461. This series had 5 cent, 10c, 25c, 50c, $1, $5 and $10 notes. The highest denomination for any series was $20. Most series have similar designs for each denomination, and would change color schemes with each denomination.

MPC were originally printed by the Tudor Press Corporation of Boston and later the Forbes Lithographic Company, also of Boston. It wasn’t until 1964 that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing started printing MPC.

Like any currency, counterfeiting was a concern. To combat the issue Military Payment Certificates were switched out ever 18-24 months. The change over, or C-Day, would happen over night, in a 24 hour period, without warning. The old MPC would no longer be used and the counterfeiters would have to try working on the new ones.mpc1

Despite the fantastic designs, MPC are generally an infrequently collected item. They have a small, but fervent, collector base who meet annually at “MPC Fest”.  What this means as a new collector is that it is an easy series to start collecting and working your way through. Many of the notes can be acquired for less than $10 in decent condition. In fact, the hardest part in many instances is actually finding the notes. This means you can enjoy years of collecting, of enjoying the hunt, without breaking the bank.


Posted in: All, Currency, Education

Leave a Comment (0) →

Have a Plan for Collecting Coins

When you collect things, it is good to have a plan. Going to a coin shop without a plan is a lot like going grocery shopping without a list….when you are hungry.

You first need to know what you want to collect. Sounds silly, I know. But without a grocery list I tend to buy junk I don’t really need and am not happy later when I run out of money and didn’t buy any milk or eggs.  The same is true when you go to a show or a coin shop or even online. You may see something and impulse buy on it. If you buy Morgan dollars, do you only want certain grades? Do you only want to spend a certain amount on each coin? If you take the time to narrow your focus down, you are less likely to want to sell things down the road as a duplicate, (what honey, you bought toilet paper last week?), or a bad buy (I thought those $5 ALF DVD’s would be good viewing for years to come).

To set parameters for your shopping trip you will, of course, need to know your budget. But this goes beyond just looking in your wallet. It involves knowing what the market is for the coins you are looking for. It helps to have a list of the coins you want and price ranges for the grades you find acceptable. I say ranges intentionally. Buying coins is not like going to In-N-Out, where the prices are the same and the food is the same every time. It is a bit more like real estate. No two homes are the same, so you work with comparable pricing. This house had a pool, this one 3 car garage. This coin has less wear, but a rim nick. This coin is uncirculated, but  lacks eye appeal.  Knowing your price ranges will help you to say yes or no to a purchase and be satisfied with the results. This also means knowing what your must have items are. Number of rooms, location, size. What is more important, the grade, the price, the eye appeal?

It takes time to learn what is most important to you in a coin. It takes time to know what the market is. Part of the lesson here is to be in your hobby and you will be satisfied with your hobby. Lazy collectors are unsatisfied collectors. So take the time and have a plan with all your collecting.


Posted in: All, Coins, Education

Leave a Comment (0) →

Coin Collecting at Any Price

One of the great pleasures of collecting coins is that you can collect at any price. If you start off young, you can find deals on world coins for a quarter each, or by the pound. You can collect wheat pennies for 4c each. You can buy paper money for 20c each. As you age and advance your collecting tastes may change, and hopefully your income advances as well. Perhaps you start paying hundreds of dollars for a coin. You may only actively seek out more rare or scarce coins or currency. You can still go to a coin shop and find an inexpensive coin that you had as a kid, or maybe something you’ve never seen before, and get just as excited about spending $5 as you do $500. The enjoyment comes from the hunt, from the mystery, the lesson learned, the art, the history and the camaraderie with other collectors.

Posted in: All, Coins

Leave a Comment (0) →
Page 1 of 3 123