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Coin prices vary for many reasons

I recently attempted to price coins in specific grades I planned to purchase. I found different prices depending on whether the coin was certified or not, and by whom it was certified. Can you explain these differences?

Prices do indeed vary from raw to slabbed to most popular slabs. You can add who is selling the coin to factors that affect prices; if the coin is being sold over the counter, at a coin show, or online; and the negotiation skills of both the buyer and seller to the mix of variables you are witnessing. Coins are not like stocks where the price of 100 shares is the same for all lots of 100 shares at the moment in time of the transaction. Published pricing books, newsletters and pull-out sections offer a guide to what a price should be rather than an absolute for that reason.

I am trying to figure out how the eighth digit in a $2 bill I have was printed being significantly lower than the other seven digits. The last “2” on the right serial number is visually lower than all of the other digits. The note is a [Series] 2003 $2 bill.

This is a serial number alignment error. The serial numbers are meant to automatically change on a rotating disc as the notes are printed. In this situation the “dial” on which the numerals appear didn’t fully rotate, just as you might have seen on the speedometer on an older model car. The value of such a note is determined in part by the note’s condition.

I understand someone was convicted of making illegal silver composition Liberty Dollars several years ago. Can you give details of what happened?

Bernard von Nothaus, previously the owner of the Royal Hawaiian Mint, was successfully prosecuted for trying to circulate Liberty Dollar silver medallions in 2011. According to the FBI, Von NotHaus was found guilty of “making coins resembling U.S. coins; issuing, passing, selling, and possessing Liberty Dollar coins; issuing and passing Liberty Dollar coins intended for use as current money; and conspiring against the United States.”

Was there a difference between what Von Nothaus issued and similar privately issued currencies?

From what I can understand the Von Nothaus “money” was different from other recently circulated so-called private currencies in that he used the dollar sign; applied the words dollar, USA, Liberty, and Trust in God; and designs too similar to those on U.S. currency. There are other privately issued currencies now in limited use, but none resemble our federal money so closely.

How can I tell if a coin is a mint-produced clipping error, or if someone clipped the coin outside the mint?

The metal flow of the nearby surface is towards the clip on a genuine error coin. There is likely weakly struck detail near the clipped area, while most clips themselves are curved. Does the clipped area have the same curvature as is the curvature on any other coin of this denomination?

I recently encountered a token marked as being Comic Coin #5 with what I would term a risqué legend [not appropriate to be published here]. Can you tell me anything about it?

Your token is from a series of likely six so-called comic coins with what at the time (the late 1950s or early 1960s) were considered to be provocative dirty jokes with associated graphics. These tokens were minted by Anillo Industries in Orange, Calif. “Comic Coins” was trademarked on Feb. 5, 1965, by National Sanitary Labs, at that time located in Chicago. The trademark expired in 1987.

Am I correct in thinking all modern graded commemorative coins would be either a Proof-69 or Proof-70 when they are still in the original government packaging?

Due to modern minting technology it is unusual to find a coin that cannot be certified as a Proof-68 to 70. Original government packaging rather than encapsulation by a third-party certification service will in some cases make a difference in values. Because of the large differences in prices between 68 and 70, it pays to get the coin slabbed rather than making assumptions if you hope to sell it someday.

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• The Standard Catalog of United States Paper Money is the only annual guide that provides complete coverage of U.S. currency with today’s market prices.