There are vegetables that taste better raw rather than cooked.
There are times when raw coins are more useful than slabbed.
This is not to deny the necessity of the authentication and grading services that issue the slabs
In this day and age of rising numbers of fakes, slabbing services are absolutely vital.
However, another line of defense against fakes is the familiarity of the average collector with coins.
With walls of plastic holders between them and many of their coins, more and more collectors don’t know what a genuine coin should look like.
Collectors need hands-on experience.
Since many banks discourage roll searching, new avenues need to be opened. Besides, current rolls of the higher denominations contain clad coins.
It is important for collectors to know what silver looks like as well.
What’s to be done?
For some collectors, the answer lies in the bullion market.
How about combining silver bullion investments and collector study? It can be done.
Buy rolls or small bags of the available silver coin designs from bullion sellers.
There is nothing like spreading a quantity of circulated coins on a table and taking a look at them.
First you see what the group looks like and which coins jump out at you because they are discolored or more greatly worn.
Then you can examine each individually to see how natural wear looks.
You can test yourself on grading circulated coins. Arrange them in order worst to best.
You can get many designs as bulk silver purchases.
Buy Walking Liberty, Franklin and Kennedy silver half dollars.
Washingtons are probably your only option in quarters, unless you want to see just how worn earlier designs can be and still be recognizable.
Roosevelt and Mercury dimes round out the most likely possibilities for acquisition from bullion dealers.
Make your silver investment do double duty as a teaching aid.
Authenticators can spot coins with the wrong color from a mile away. They can do this because they know what a coin should look like.
Also, as good as fakes can be, many of them once set beside a genuine coin become obvious.
Don’t forget to look at the reeding on the edge.
A coin’s edge can say a lot.
Some modern fakes are old designs struck on newer genuine U.S. silver coins.
Reeding should be checked. It might help give the game away.
Only study can prepare a collector.
Silver coins from the pre-1965 era sold as bullion can help with that study and all the while be that hedge against inflation that investors desire.
Third-party authentication and grading services can do a lot, but collectors should do their part and to learn to defend themselves from fakes.
(P.S.: This was posted late because of computer problems. Sorry)
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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