This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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Several 1815 quarters are known with an “E” stamped into them. Was this done at the Mint?
So far as we know it was, but researchers have searched in vain for a reason for the act. The letters “R,” “E” and “L” are found countermarked on quarters of that date, supposedly by the Mint. One theory is that the letters stand for “Regular,” “Excess” and “Light,” although this theory has not been fully confirmed. If they are a Mint product, they join a very limited number of U.S. coins that had countermarks officially added by the Mint.
Do I need a license to buy or sell coins?
The answer depends on where you live. Some states and cities have licensing laws for retail merchants, and laws lumping coin dealers with pawn shops have been enacted, so you need to check with your local authorities to find out whether you need a license to do business. Some communities have regulations about doing business out of your home, so the safest way is to check first.
How can a dealer charge less than issue price for Mint coins?
This is a periodic complaint from readers who were brought up to believe that coins are government property that have a fixed value. This causes a lot of confusion since it is not based on fact. There is no law forcing anyone to sell a coin at face value, or at the price the Mint charged. Coins are a commodity, like cars or nuts or screws. A car dealer faced with today’s market offers “cash back.” The coin dealer offers the coin at less than he paid for it, even less than face value if he is willing to take a loss to clear out his stock and get his hands on some cash.
I see lots of offers to sell coins but none to buy. Where are the buyers?
Show me a coin dealer who can sell coins without buying them to replenish his stock and I’ll show you a miracle worker. Every dealer sooner or later has to replace the coins that are sold so this is one of the numismatic facts of life. If a dealer runs an ad offering coins, it is implied that he also buys similar coins.
I’ve accumulated a substantial quantity of coins that I’ve picked out of circulation, because they catalog at more than face value, that I want to sell. Where can I find someone to sell them to?
You are not likely to find a ready market for your coins simply because there are thousands of other collectors doing exactly the same thing. Despite your personal estimate of the size of your holdings, there are probably many even large accumulations.
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