I received an email the other day from someone who says he has been a collector since 1955.
That is a long time. I hope he has enjoyed it.
The contents of the email give me the opportunity to stand on my soapbox again to make a point that applies to everyone.
He writes, "I have been collecting coins since 1955, especially pennies. I have pennies from 1940 to present. Looking for the best way to sell the coins, but I do not have an idea who and where to go. If you could give me some advice, I'll appreciate it."
The date he chooses, 1940, just happened to be the end date of one of the first Whitman albums I had as a kid. My very first one was for cents 1941 to date.
Obviously, more than 50 years later, a large number of new dates and mintmark have been added to the Lincoln series.
I sent him a reply including the name of a dealer who should be willing to speak with him or communicate with him by email.
However, I did not beat about the bush with the bad news.
"I do not have good news for you. Unless these pennies are in Mint-State-60 and higher grades and are slabbed, they are probably worth mostly face value. The exceptions would be if you have the doubled dies, 1955, 1972, 1983, 1984 and 1995. Even in circulated grades the doubled dies are valuable."
Because he did not tell me what else he might have collected in the last 62 years, I added this:
"Circulated modern silver coins are worth about 12 times face value with scarce dates and Mint State coins worth more.
I hope he has more and will be satisfied with their value.
It is certainly an unhappy possibility that he will be told simply to take his cents to the bank.
But that brings me to my other point.
Every collector, and I do mean every collector, needs to make contact with dealers from time to time.
Collectors need to learn what they will pay for their coins and how to go about selling them.
Sell off some duplicates from time to time, or a set that you've lost interest in.
Do not wait until you need to sell before you begin looking around.
Numismatics is a beautiful hobby. But learn how to end it beautifully before you absolutely have to.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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