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Specialized knowledge?

Some collectors might criticize me for writing about yesterday’s topic. Doesn’t it take specialized knowledge to find the 11th known example of the 1817 “7” over “4” Capped Bust half dollar?

Yes, it does.

Does everyone have that specialized knowledge?

No, they don’t.

But you can learn. That is what this hobby is all about.

But you can become more closely acquainted with less lofty rarities and it still will be to your benefit.

It all boils down to knowing the coins you have chosen to become involved with.

I received a typed letter the other day. The writer told me that he had purchased four Numismatic Guaranty Corporation MS-69 2011(S) silver Eagles.

Then he asked me about value.

“I recently noticed their prices in your price guides. I paid nowhere near that price for them in 2011. What’s the full story on those Eagles. Are they worth $285 each?”

The writer paid nowhere near the listed price because a 2011(S) silver Eagle is not a 2011-S silver Eagle.

These two coins are not the same. A 2011-S silver Eagle as listed in Coin Market is an American Eagle that actually has an “S” mintmark on it.

A 2011(S) silver Eagle is a bullion coins that the grading companies know were struck in San Francisco and attest to that fact on the label. But nowhere on the coin is there an actual “S”mintmark.

Does that seem like we are playing word games?

We’re not. In defense of the price guide, when we write a date like 2011-S or 1969-S, it means there is a mintmark on the coin.

Putting parentheses around a mintmark indicates the coin is known to be made at that mint, but there is no mintmark to indicate that.

This is the kind of information that becomes familiar as you make a deeper acquaintance with your coins.

By the way, we do not list 2011(S) silver Eagles in Coin Market.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."