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Editor’s Pick: Buy the book before you buy the coin

U3136_120px_72dpiI was about 7 years old when my Grandpa showed me an old tin of coins he had stashed under his workbench in the basement. It was filled with pennies.

In a separate container were some fancier cents, at least they looked fancy to a child’s eye. They were Indian Head cents.

That started a shared hobby of sorting the coins, placing them in folders and searching through pocket change every weekend.

Those old folders now sit on my bookshelf, worth more in sentiment than cash. Or at least that’s what I thought until I checked out a price guide.

Numismatic News editor Dave Harper often gives the sage advice, “Buy the book before you buy the coin.” That also means “Buy the book before you sell the coin.”

None of my coins are slabbed, but I have a pretty good idea of their grade. Most are Very Good to Very Fine. No gems for sure. And for sentimental reasons I will never sell them. But I’m as curious as the next person as to their value.

So I picked up the new 2014 U.S. Coin Digest, 12th Edition to get an idea of what my collection might be worth. Frankly, I was impressed. My Grandpa did OK.

It doesn’t matter if you’re new to collecting or you’ve been doing it for 30 years. It’s important to know the value of what you have. Sure, you can take some coins to a dealer, if you want to sell them, or you can send them to a grading company if you think they are truly valuable.

But even then, it’s good to have an idea of the value you have in hand.

I like U.S. Coin Digest because it’s in full color, has lots of different grades listed, is spiral bound so it lays flat when I’m using it, and it has the pricing determined by the market experts at Krause Publications.

So check it out. You can find it at major bookstores or at shopnumismaster.com. Here’s the direct link. The retail price is $17.99, but right now it’s on sale for $12.23. Definitely another good reason to buy the book.

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