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Some coins had favorite locations

Is there any truth to the story that back when coins were real silver they tended to congregate in certain cities?

They really did. Old records of the Federal Reserve shows that prior to the switch to clad coins, the half dollars collected in New York City and Atlantic City; cents in Pittsburgh and Dallas; quarters in San Antonio, Little Rock and Cincinnati; and both dimes and nickels headed for home in Baltimore, Louisville and Nashville. These cities were the ones likely to return coins to the Fed, rather than just drawing them, and the pattern repeated for many years.

What does it mean when it says “SASE” in a dealer’s ad?

The letters stand for “Self Addressed ,Stamped Envelope.” From long experience I have one piece of advice: Send a long, legal-size envelope, or else a loose stamp. The small envelopes are worthless for most purposes. Most businesses gear mailings to full-size envelopes, so you are only hindering your chances of getting all the information you want if you don’t send the right size envelope.

At a recent coin show I was surprised to see some silver dollars in slabs being offered for $30. The coin alone was worth more than that, so what was going on?

The reason why you find lower grade coins in slabs is that they are mistakes. Someone had the coin, thought he knew how to grade it, and sent it in to get it slabbed. When it came back a lower grade than he expected, he had little recourse but to put it on the market at a bargain price in order to get rid of it. Because slabs have been around for over 30 years now, some prices have simply declined. Few if any collectors would willingly or intentionally pay to have a lower-grade, low-value coin slabbed.

My coin is so rare that I want to walk it through when I have it graded and slabbed.

When it comes to authenticating coins, you will never be allowed to accompany your coin through the process because the grading companies operate under very strict security conditions. They do not allow visitors or anyone else into the grading room. This is as much for your protection as theirs, as they cannot run a security check on everyone who wants to have a coin graded.

You have only one coin you’re worried about, but they may have thousands on the premises, many of them likely to be of more value than your coin. You can get an unofficial opinion by taking the piece to a coin show where one of the grading services is set up.

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This article was originally printed in Numismatic News Express. >> Subscribe today

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• More than 600 issuing locations are represented in the Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1701-1800 .