Steve: One of our callers started us off here. We’re going to talk about coins. At Westchester Gold and Diamonds, we do buy a lot of coins. We buy collections, we buy individual coins.
The one thing that will happen constantly is people will come in and say, “I’ve got these coins; don’t even try to rip me off, because I’ve already looked them up on the internet.”
I’ll go, “Okay.”
They’ll show me a silver dollar and say, “What are you paying for this?”
I’ll tell them, “Right now, we’re paying $27 for that, because that’s a common date silver dollar.”
“Oh, no it’s not! I looked it up on the internet. These are selling for $2,000.”
You just kind of look at them and try and be civil. You try and hold your tongue. Usually, what I’ll do is walk in the back and pull out 30 or 40 of them, the same particular date.
I’ll put them on the counter and say, “If you’d like to give me $29 a piece, you could take all of these and sell them on the internet for $2,000 each.”
They’ll kind of look at you with a quizzical look and go, “Well, why are you being so generous?”
I’ll go, “Because whatever you looked up wasn’t that particular coin. If it was that particular date, it was in a different condition than what you have.”
Again, they get that puzzled look on their face and they go, “What do you mean?”
Basically, when we look at coins, a large portion of coins that are out there right now have silver and gold content. Silver is high, gold is high. If you look at the book value, depending on what kind of book you’re looking at, you’ll find that a lot of times the silver content or the gold content is actually worth more than the coin value.
You go, “How is this possible?”
Well, the books were written with a lower silver price or a lower gold price? When silver and gold are both low, then a lot of the coins have what we call a numismatic value.
Numismatic refers to the hobby where people actually collect coins. Someone who deals in coins is a numismatist.
We talk about condition. There’s a scale called the Sheldon scale. This is a sliding scale starting at 1 and going all the way up to 70. It sounds a little complicated, but it’s really not.
It all refers to the condition of your particular coin. When people come in and they have what we call a large cent, a one-cent piece, these were coined all the way from the 1790s into the late 1800s. You can barely make out what it is, but you’ll see a little head on it and you’ll see a portion of the date.
When you flip it over, you might be able to read where it says United States of America. This is in really bad condition. Everything else is pretty worn flat.
People say, “Heck, it’s from the 1800s.”
I can understand that. What you have to understand is there were millions (not hundreds or thousands, but millions) of these coins printed. Because they were unusual or odd, people put them away. They stuck them away because it was something you don’t see every day.
You’ll find that if it’s unusual, if it’s different, whether a person is a real collector or not, they stashed it somewhere. It was handed down over the generations.
I’ve seen people come in with old change purses and things and little notes from Grandma that said, “This is a coin that I got when I was a child. Hold onto it. It will be worth a lot of money.”
When they come in, they find that in that kind of condition it’s worth anywhere from $1 to $5; not a whole lot of money.
That same coin could come in and you are able to see the date and you are able to see all the hairlines and you’d be able to read United States of America on the back side of it, you can see all the detail on it. Now instead of $1 to $5, the coin could be a $25 to $1,000 coin, depending on the condition.
Some of the different categories of conditions that we actually grade coins are, number one, poor condition. This is one you can barely tell is a coin. You’ll have what we call the plainchant, which is a piece of metal they actually stamp a coin on. It could be made out of copper; it could be made out of nickel; it could be made out of silver.
You can barely see any detail or design on it at all; that’s going to be in poor conditions. A lot of times, when you first start collecting coins, you buy a book and it has all these holes in it. The first thing we do is go, “I’m going to get all these holes filled.”
You’ll find that it doesn’t matter what condition that coin is, if it’s in poor condition and you can at least see part of the date, you put it in that hole. You’re no different than maybe your dad was or your mom, your uncle, your grandfather: they had the same idea.
They’re going to fill as many holes up as they can because this is their hobby. They’re not doing it as an investment. They’re doing it because it’s fun.
Back in the 50s, coin collecting was huge, just monstrous. You could go through regular change and pull a lot of good coins from change. We used to go to the bank and get rolls and rolls of pennies and go through them, looking for a 1909 SVDB or a 1931 S penny or a 1932 plain.
Believe it or not, you could actually find some of these coins in everyday change. Nowadays, it’s gotten so commercial, you’re not going to find them.
Occasionally, I have people from the bank who will come in, and some older person was disposing of coins they had laying around. “I’m tired of these silver dollars. They take up so much space.”
They turned them in for $1. They could have come over to the shop and gotten anywhere from $20 to $30 a piece for them, minimum.
If you’ve got stuff like that kicking around, don’t just run to the bank with it. Stop and see us at Westchester Gold and Diamonds. We’re happy to look at that stuff. If it’s good, we’ll tell you.
If it’s not good, you can always take it to the bank.
The next condition after poor is fair condition. This is where you can see a little bit more of the detail.
Then it gets into what we call good condition. Now you can tell it’s a coin. You can tell a little bit of detail. It’s starting to look better and better.
Then we have what we call very good condition. Good to very good is the first category that dealers will look at a coin and it starts to have some collectible value to it.
Unless it’s an extremely rare coin, if it’s not good to very good, it’s not going to have much premium at all, regardless of whether it’s silver or gold. Again, it might have silver and gold content, but very little numismatic value.
We get into find condition. I talked about what we call the Sheldon scale. Basically, what this means is if you have a coin and it’s in at least fine condition and it happens to be a rare coin, you can send it to some of the independent grading companies out there.
The three that are most known by anybody who really deals in coins is going to be PCGS or NGC or ANA. These are the three independent graders that hold more credence than any other company out there.
Since coins have become a big collectible and a big-money collectible, we find there’s a lot of different companies that have pushed up and copied these grading companies.
Why would they do that? Here’s a little lesson on why they would do this: number one, a lot of times people look at these coins, and they might see it on Home Shoppers Club. This is a great example.
They sit there and they say, “These are all silver eagles and it’s a complete set of silver eagle coins. They’re all graded by ICG and they’re all MS70 coins.”
You’re a collector and you’ve looked at stuff and you go, “MS70 is the highest condition you could possibly have, and these coins are all graded MS70, and the set is only $500. I went on the internet and I looked and saw an MS70 in that particular year it it’s selling for $300 by itself. I’m going to buy this. This is a great deal!”
Now you’ve bought the set and your economic standing changed a little bit, and now it’s time to turn around and cash that in. You know that you only paid $500 for this set and it should be worth a lot of money. They probably screwed up when they sold it on television.
They sold 2,000 or 3,000 sets. They didn’t know what they were doing. No, they did know what they were doing, because none of these coins were graded by a recognized company that had any kind of resalable value to them.
That means, when you took it to a dealer, the dealer looked at these coins and said, “These are all graded coins and they’re what we call slabbed, which means they’re encapsulated in a clear plastic holder, and it tells the date and it tells the condition, and it protects the surface of the coin.”
They are now worth about $1 over the silver content.
“What do you mean? You’re crazy! These are MS70s!”
They may be graded MS70 in somebody else’s world, but a coin dealer who is worth his salt is going to say to you, “They’re not graded by PCGS or NGC or ANA.”
In the real coin world, they’re not going to have that MS70 grading because no one will accept the ICTG grading.
All of the sudden, you’re saying to yourself, “He’s trying to rip me off.”
You take it to another dealer and you go, “He’s trying to rip me off!”
It never occurs to the people out there who are not that knowledgeable yet, until they have bought this set and they’ve found out that it’s not the dealers who ripped them off. It was the company on television.
You didn’t do your homework. You didn’t learn enough like I’ve talked about on collectibles. If you’re going to invest any serious money in collectibles, you need to get some information. You need to get some knowledge before you jump in with both feet, because you can hurt in a real hurry, especially in the coin market.
I’m sitting here and saying to you, “MS70.” What am I talking about?
On this scale, it starts from 1-70. When you get to a coin that’s what we call in fine condition, this is the lowest condition you are going to want to get a coin slabbed in. This is called an MS70. The MS stands for Mint State.
What we’re talking about is, if you can visualize a coin coming from the mint and being circulated, put in everybody’s pocket and spent and sold, this is a coin that’s been circulated, so this is going to have a lot of wear and tear on it. This is going to be lower down in the mint state.
Ideally, the MS70 is a coin that is absolutely beautiful, it has no microscopic scratches on it, it’s perfect. The detail is wonderful on it. It’s free of all blemishes. This is an MS70 coin.
That’s pretty hard to find in a coin that has been circulated since the 1920s, but they’re out there.
An MS60 is what we call an uncirculated coin. This coin doesn’t have to be beautiful. It can be ugly, but it’s a coin that when we look at it doesn’t have a whole lot of what we call eye appeal, but all the details are just like it came from the mint.
It could have some scratches on it. These are what we call contact marks. You have to understand, when these coins are printed at the mint, they’re on a conveyor belt. The plainchant, which is the piece of metal they’re stamped on, comes in and goes between two dies, they’re stamped, and it comes back out.
There are thousands and thousands of coins printed at a time, and they’re put in bags and they’re sent to the mints or the banks, wherever, and these coins get scratched up. They don’t have any wear and tear on them. They’re what we call contact marks from other coins.
Back in the early 80s, the mint actually found all sorts of Carson City silver dollars in $1,000 bags in their vaults. They turned around and put these in special boxes and they made them available to the public and they sold them at a premium.
A lot of these coins have appreciated dramatically in value. They are listed as uncirculated coins. What happens is a lot of these coins have scratches. They’re really ugly, but they are uncirculated.
There’s different degrees of uncirculated. An MS60 quality coin is one that hasn’t been circulated, but it’s not particularly pretty. When we say eye appeal, what I mean is, does it look nice?
Does it look pretty? Is it free of blemishes? That sounds pretty cooky, but a lot of coin collectors are cooky. They’re willing to spend their hard-earned money to buy the best they possibly can.
There are different degrees. We get MS61, MS62. When we get to MS63, there’s a dramatic jump from an uncirculated coin to an MS63, which is an uncirculated coin that starts to have nice eye appeal.
Then there’s MS64, which jumps up quite a bit. MS65 is sort of a threshold; this is a really beautiful coin. It’s a rare condition. It’s almost perfect; not quite there.
From 65 we got to 66, 67, 68, 69, into a 70. When you see an MS70 graded coin, this is a perfect coin. That’s a pretty unusual thing. Except what we have now is a lot of dealers who sit there and want to tap this new market where people are touted to put their money from their IRA in coins.
You can actually do this now. There are certain coins you’re allowed to put in your IRA. They’ve got to be graded, most of them have to be proof, but there are some higher-end coins that can be put in there as well.
We have these dealers who buy all these coins brand new from the mint. They turn around and they’ll send 1,000 of these brand new coins that virtually are perfect because they have just come from the mint. They’re not circulated.
The mint prints these are bullion coins. When I say bullion, what I mean is they print what we call silver eagles; they print gold eagles. These coins have no monetary value, other than the value of the silver or gold content in them.
They trade a little bit above their spot gold or spot silver price. What happens is we get a lot of these dealers. When we talk about dealers, we’re talking about fellows who do this for a living. We’re not talking about guys who spend $1,000 or $100,000 on these new coins.
They spend hundreds of thousands of dollars buying these new bullion coins, whether it’s silver or gold, sending them to independent grading companies. Most of them don’t send them to PCGS or NGC or ANA, but the smarter guys do.
If they get an MS69, which is virtually a perfect coin, that’s great, because now they can turn around and sell that to a huge premium to people who don’t realize MS69 in a modern bullion coin means nothing.
I’m going to tell you, probably 98 out of 100 coins that come right from the mint and get sent in to be slabbed and graded are going to be MS69. Not a big deal. Most of them are virtually perfect coins. You might get two of them that come out MS70.
Yeah, there are people who will pay pretty good premiums for these MS70 coins, but again, if they’re graded by PCGS, NGC and ANA, you’re probably going to get a premium on those coins.
If they’re graded by some other company independently, one of the smaller companies, they will not carry that premium. There are going to be companies who call you and say, “We understand you’re a collector.”
Well, you bought something on television, and the guy on television turned around and sold your phone number and your American Express card number to these other companies.
They will tell you that these are great investments. I know people who have bought one or two coins from these companies and the next thing they knew they were on a mailing list. Every month, these companies sent them coins.
A lot of our older people out there don’t realize that you don’t have to pay for those coins. You just have to call your credit card company and say, “They sent me this without me agreeing to buy this from them,” and send it back.
I talk about the fellow who came into the shop, and they had billed his credit card $13,000 for these gold coins he had gotten. They weren’t graded by any of the large companies. They were graded by an independent company. They weren’t the grades they were supposed to be.
When we went through to see what they were worth, they were worth between $5,000 and $6,000 on a good day. He was panicked. “I can’t afford $13,000 for the coins.”
We got on the phone, we called the company, we called the credit card company, stopped payment on it. The coin company gave us a hard time: “You’re not going to send these coins back.”
I said, “Fine. We’ll just keep them. We’ve already cancelled the credit card. You can either give us a return authorization number, or we’ll keep the coins.”
Eventually, they came around and said, “We’re not getting stiffed for our coins, so here’s our authorization number.”
You can do this. I constantly have younger kids coming in; their mom or dad received these coins in the mail. What can they do? You can return those coins.
Collectible coins, the older coins, I’m talking about stuff from the early 1900s and things, if they are slabbed and they’re graded by independent companies other than the three I’ve told you about, they’re not going to bring the same kind of money as what you thought they were.
Again, if you look on the internet, you have to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. If you looked at an MS65 silver dollar and it sold for $2,000 and you walk in with one that’s beat-up, someone’s carried it for years and year, it was a pocket piece, when someone offers you $25 or $27 for it, they’re not ripping you off.
You’re not comparing apples to apples. You’ve got to compare condition to condition, rarity to rarity.
Don’t be fooled by just someone saying, “I’m going to pay you $25 for these silver dollars.”
People bring them all the time into Westchester Gold and Diamonds. We go through them and look for rare dates. There are quite a few rare dates out there in silver dollars.
There aren’t so many rare dates in the more common half-dollars or quarters or nickels or dimes. People will come in with a complete collection and say, “I know it’s worth a lot more money because it’s a complete collection.” Not really.
Out of 70 coins that could be in a collection, only three or four of them are going to have really big premiums on those coins. We’re always happy to look through those and pay a premium for them.
The biggest problem is a lot of people will get on the internet and look at it, and they don’t understand what they’re looking at. Condition is the important. The company, if they happen to be graded, is the most important thing.
If you’re going to invest your hard-earned money and think you’re going to get a coin that will appreciate over a period of time, know what you’re buying, understand the grading system, understand the deal that you’re dealing with.
There are lots of fellows who jumped in and buy gold and silver. Last week they were selling shoes. They look at a book and they go, “This is a rare date. I’m going to get $300 for this coin.” They don’t understand the grading system.
Deal with people who are knowledgeable. Deal with people you can trust, who know what they’re doing. Don’t be afraid to get a couple different prices on your coins. We’re always happy to give you offers on your coins.
Like I said, if we don’t offer enough, take them somewhere else. Shop around and get the best you can. We’ve been doing it for 37 years; we’re not going anywhere. We’re more than happy to give you a free evaluation and cash offer on those things.
I’m Steve Duke, the owner of Westchester Gold and Diamonds. We’re talking a little bit today about coin collecting and grading. If you’ve got questions, please stop in and see us.
Ask for me, Steve Duke. I’m more than happy to sit down and go over what you’ve got, or help you add some coins to your investment portfolio. With that, we’re going to take a quick break and return to Tradio.
We’ve got a caller. Good morning. You’re on Tradio.
Caller: Hello. I was wondering, if I was going to bring some coins in to Westchester, do I need to set up an appointment, or is someone there all the time who can grade it?
Steve: You might want to call. I’m the one who’s going to do the grading for you. I won’t be in there today, but I’ll be there Saturday from 10:30 to 4:00. During the week we’re open from 10:00 to 6:00.
I’m generally there during the week, but it’s such a nice day today, I’m going fishing.
Caller: I’ll go fishing with you.
Steve: Come on down. Bring your coins in Saturday and I’m more than happy to take a look at those. You don’t need an appointment.
Caller: Thank you.
Steve: Thank you. Good morning. You’re on Tradio.
Caller: Good morning. I’ve got one dumb question. I betcha it’s going to be dumb.
Steve: It’s not dumb.
Caller: First of all, good luck fishing. I was out last week and we maybe caught four, but they really weren’t keepers. We tried to stretch them, but they wouldn’t.
The dumb question is, if somebody had two sets of silver serving sets, should those have gone up in value? The answer would probably be, of course.
Steve: The answer would be, if they are sterling, they have gone up.
Caller: They have the proper marks.
Steve: Then they’ve gone up in value. If they’re silver plate, not really. Silver plated stuff, sometimes we’ll buy the set as an object.
Caller: Or the aesthetic value.
Steve: If you stuck your finger in a glass of water, pulled it out and flipped it until it got dry, that’s about how much silver there is on silver plated. That one didn’t go up in value, but if it’s marked sterling, it’s gone up.
Caller: Thank you. I appreciate your show.
Steve: Thank you.
Cohost: You’re talking coins. You always see those commercials for those gold-clad coins for like $9.99 or something like that.
Steve: We have a lot of people come in, and you see these commercials. You don’t really listen. They’re talking their faces off about what historical value it has and they’re going on about how this coin was minted by the US Mint and it’s going up in value.
What people don’t listen to is when they say, “This is 999 gold-clad,” or “29 milliliters of gold clad on this beautiful uncirculated coin.”
People here the word gold, they see this picture on their TV set, and they go, “$9.99?”
“But wait, you can only buy five of these right now!”
They just spent $50 and they bought all this gold! Then they come in eventually and they say, “I’m going to cash in one of my gold coins.”
They bring it in and I’ve got to be the one who says to them, “What you’ve got here is a nice pretty coin, and it’s in a beautiful velvet box. You paid $9.99 and it actually has about zero value. If you play Texas Hold’em you can use it as a card protector. You can use it as a paperweight, but there is really basically no gold content value to those coins.”
Unfortunately, people buy them, again without the knowledge, without realizing what they’re really selling. All I can tell you is, again, there’s nobody out there selling dollar bills for 50 cents. It’s just not going to happen.
If it seems like too good a deal to be true, then it is. They sell millions of those things. It’s amazing how many people come in every week with coins they really though they were cashing in on. They’re spending a lot of money.
They got their friends to buy their five, and they bought five and they thought they were cornering the market with 50 of these things. They really have nothing to show for it, other than 50 Christmas gifts.
We have one more caller. Good morning. You’re on Tradio.
Caller: How you doing, Mr. Lovejoy? I inherited some tiny little carriages with eight horses hooked to them. The carriage is like an inch long. They’re made in England. They’re black. They look like they’re supposed to be silver, but I never tried to polish them or anything.
There’s riders on one side of the horses that are hitched to the cart, and not on the other. The riders and horses are all painted white with red jackets. I was wondering because I don’t know what they are. I’ve had them forever. They’re at least as old as I am, but they are tiny little toys.
Steve: They’re miniatures. A lot of times, if you look on the bottom, sometimes you have to use a magnifying glass, it will probably list the company that made those.
The figures were about two-and-a-half to three inches in length. The set that you have are the miniatures of those particular pieces. They are collectible. They’re cast metal.
If you bring them by, I’ll be happy to take a look at them and see what you’ve got.
Caller: All right. Sounds good. Thank you.
Steve: You’re welcome. Thanks. Good morning. You’re on Tradio.
Caller: Do you have any idea of the value of the Kentucky Derby glasses? I know they cheapened considerably when they went to selling them by the box load. I have some that date back to the 1940s and probably up until about 10 years ago; several of each.
Stuff that I’ve had from the Kentucky Derby like those glasses, the stuff from the 40s is going to be good. The stuff from the 50s starts to trail off. Stuff from the 50s was selling anywhere from $5 to $10 a piece. Stuff from the 40s is probably going to be $10 to $25 a piece.
If you’d like to bring them in, I’d be more than happy to give you some information on them.
Caller: I don’t think I have any going back to the 30s, but I have some from the 40s.
Steve: I think those are probably going to be pretty good for you.
Caller: Thank you very much.
Steve: Thank you. All right, that’s another day here at Tradio. We’re just about out of time. Remember, if you’re looking for something special, please stop by and see us over at Westchester Diamonds and Gold.
Have Questions about your antiques, estate jewelry, collectibles or old treasures?
If you have questions for Steve Duke to answer about your jewelry, antiques or collectibles, just send a photo of the item and your question directly to Steve Duke at WGDiamonds@HotMail.com and Steve will research it for you and you may be contacted to participate in an upcoming Tradio episode. Be sure to include your name, email and phone number along with your question and email it to: WGDiamonds@HotMail.com
Listen to Tradio every Friday at 9 a.m. at 1580 WCCF or live stream with IHeartRadio App
Visit our Website: http://www.westchestergold.com
Westchester Gold and Diamonds is one of the largest buyers of gold, silver, diamonds, Rolex watches, antique and estate jewelry in southwest Florida.
As the premier jewelry store in Port Charlotte since 1974. We do custom design and we are able to duplicate many designs that you may have seen in your travels; often at a fraction of the price.
We accept your old diamonds and jewelry in trade, the same as cash.