■ How can I tell if my gold coin has been cleaned or has original toning?
There are several factors to be considered. Judge the age and consistency of the color, its depth and evenness. The underlying luster should be undisturbed and in a perfect cartwheel pattern, this being especially visible about the obverse stars. Look for hairlines or other imperfections that may indicate the coin was cleaned at some time in its past.
■ There have been many instances of money hoarding, but why would someone start collecting simply to collect? (Comparatively, antiques make sense because of changes in style and family heirlooms, but coins would seem harder due to uncertain economies.)
Why people collect is an age-old question to which we may not have a definitive answer. Psychologists that subscribe to Freudian perspectives suggest collectors are fulfilling their need to own “an object of desire.” While most coin collectors can place a financial value on their collection (not always correct) the collecting rather than the value is usually the reason to collect. I gave a talk on selling your collection years ago. Then American Numismatic Association President Stephen R. Taylor joked that the thought of selling was the most morbid thing to which he had ever listened. Why collect coins? Why not?
■ What is the difference between collecting and hoarding?
A collector organizes, maintains, and has an orderliness to his “habit.” Ask any collector to find a specific coin in his collection, and that collector can likely find it methodically. The collector may have cataloged and sorted what he has. Hoarders likely have no idea what they have, just that they have lots of it and are still looking for more. Consider this to be the view of a non-professional. Perhaps a reader who is a psychologist can explain this better than can I.
■ Are there varieties of the 1776-1976 Bicentennial quarter to be collected?
Unlike on the Eisenhower dollar of the same date, the varieties appearing on the quarter are not well pronounced. There are a number of doubled die varieties, all of which are minor. A 1776-1976-D doubled die reverse coin was certified, then sold for significant money in 2007. At least one variety shows a die crack on Washington’s bust just above the date.
■ Can you explain what errors I should look for on the 2009 Lincoln cents?
James A. Porter’s book, An Introduction to 2009 Lincoln Cent Errors, can explain a lot more than can I in the space provided here. In general, watch for doubled die varieties of any of the four reverse cents of 2009. The doubling may be on either the obverse or the reverse. There are additional errors as well.
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