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ANA helps us see coins at their best

The United States Mint had three 1933 $20 gold pieces on display at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in August in Philadelphia.

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It is not too often that collectors have a chance to gawk at one, and we should be grateful the Mint is treating the coins like a legacy to be preserved for future generations.

Individual coin dealers also brought a number of historic rarities to the show. Part of the reason for this is a generosity of spirit. But there is hard-headed business sense to showing off rarities at gatherings of coin collectors.

The more widely a coin is known, the higher the price it will likely bring in a future auction.

There are five 1913 Liberty Head nickels. There are now four of the 1854-S $5 gold pieces.

Why do you think the 1913 nickel brought more than twice the price? We can thank B. Max Mehl for that and his relentless promotion of the nickel. His offer to pay $50 for one of these coins during the hard times of the Great Depression inspired more than one individual to search change and get hooked on coin collecting in the process.

It is conceivable that when those of us who grew up in a hobby filled with stories of Mehl and the 1913 nickel have left the scene, then prices of the nickel and the gold $5 will converge.

You even can make the case that the gold $5 eventually should be priced higher than the nickel. There are fewer of these to be purchased.

It is no secret that a good story helps sell a coin for higher prices. All you have to do is look at offers of minor error coins that have clever nicknames to understand this concept.

Philadelphia was a wonderful host city. Both coin gawkers and coin buyers had much to interest them. Most coin collectors would probably define themselves as having both traits.

The best way to become a confident buyer is to examine as many coins as possible. A national convention like Philadelphia is the best place to do this.

No matter how good online photos are, there is no substitute for seeing a genuine coin for yourself.

Next year, the Chicago Coin Club celebrates its 100th anniversary. It will host the ANA convention in Rosemont.

Will it have nearly as many rarities on hand? We will have to wait and see. But I am hopeful. The headlines generated by these coins are invaluable for the hobby and for the individual owners.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News Express. >> Subscribe today

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