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Community Voice Responses (3/3/2015)

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From the Feb. 6 Numismatic News E-Newsletter:

Is filling basic coin albums from change now a relic of a bygone age?

Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor Dave Harper.

Short answer — yes, mostly.

The advent of grading services has made coin collecting more esoteric. Younger collectors and newbies starting out may find coin albums affordable and a good entry point into collecting, but as one learns more about coins a collection of circulated coins with varying degrees of wear becomes less satisfying.

Samuel Donovan
Pittsford, N.Y.


The National Park quarters keep one's interest in finding the latest release.

There are several series that make for good album collecting: Lincoln cents, nickels, dimes and quarters are attractive options. State quarters are highly collectible. The National Park quarters keep one’s interest in finding the latest release. Albums remain a great way of introducing new people of any age to collecting.

Timothy Scharr
Aviston, Ill.

It is impossible to find older coins in change anymore. This is what killed true coin collecting. Now you have to buy everything and that “wow” feeling when you got a special coin in change is gone.

David Coleman
Marlboro, N.J.

You can start filling coin albums with Shield cents, the new Jefferson nickels and all of the presidential and first lady dollars from change, but forget about the rest. I started collecting the Canadian twoonies and Calgary Stampede dollars.

I see no U.S. dollars in change and few half dollars. You can get all you want at the bank though. I did get a roll of Walking Liberty half dollars at the bank among 10 rolls. I never see a wheat penny anymore.

Charles Perry
Ada, Okla.

I don’t think there is much interest in the below 55 crowd in filling albums. The zinc pennies from circulation look terrible after a few weeks in circulation and have no value. Uncirculated pennies are good or circulated only if they are kept up with newly issued pennies.

Most people use credit or debit cards and don’t even have change to look through. There is no circulated change of any value anymore. Also, the cheap books are hard to use and the good ones are very expensive. (A good Dansco album for Lincoln pennies costs much more than the pennies are worth).

Some of us old-timers still like filling them. I do try to keep the grandkids’ books up to date, and it does give us something to do occasionally. Of course if there is anything of value the books have to be put away in a safe, and they don’t get the opportunity to spend much time on them.

Now I see that the Buffalo’s in folders are dead (need to be slabbed). I don’t like slabs for low value coins and this is depressing. I wouldn’t put valuable coins in folders.

Allen Johnson
Lansing, Mich.

As far as checking coins from change, it is almost passee.

Approximately 98 percent of my purchases are paid for by credit card. The only cash I give out is for tipping and lottery tickets. Any coins I want must be purchased.

It is beyond my comprehension where the Mint gets rid of all the billions of coins they punch out each year.

A survey of retailers should put to rest the need for the coinage being produced each year. I’m afraid I got into this game too late, 2003.

Frank Monaco
New Smyrna Beach, Fla.

No, David, not for me. It is a wonderful way to enjoy collecting. Looking through rolls, and so many times the thrill of the “hunt” is rewarding. It is very pleasing to open a heavy Dansco album and just thumb the pages and look.

Plus it is an opportunity to add additional sets to give to a youngster that is interested in starting his own collection.

Tom Branch
Point Clear, Ala.

I have found some remarkable coins in my change and don’t plan to quit looking in my change. For example, a 1964-P red 1 cent coin.

William Johnston
San Antonio, Texas

Your statement is true. I have two grandsons whom I’ve encouraged to look through rolls of 1 cent and 5-cent coins. (I have taught them not to use the English word penny). My oldest is 14 and my youngest is 10. They have found numerous repunched and over mintmarks and machine doubling. They are still looking for over dates and double struck. There are willing people on eBay who will buy these finds.

Then, after cashing in, they can buy the tough dates in their folders. These better coins are known now because NN is publishing coins’ error prices in listed the “Coin Market” published the first week of every month. It’s a great publication.

I have done my part in teaching new, young and eager numismatists. I challenge other collectors to do their part. Please write in to NN. Let me read about other people who have done the same. Those who have not, I hope I gave them food for thought, for young collectors are necessary to keep this great hobby alive.

Art Leslie
Scituate, Mass.

We think coin collecting from change is still part of the hobby as far as state quarters program and National Parks quarters. We generally look at the change but rarely find anything of significance.

Tom and Bradley Stinchcombe
Address withheld

No, why would it be? If you like to collect coins and put them aside in special album, then that’s what 95 percent of all normal collectors do! My daughter, who has a Ph.D. and post-doctorate in biochemistry does exactly that! Not for any investment purposes, but for her pleasure. Coin collecting is basically for the fun of the collector, which you don’t seem to understand.

All your news is about exotic gold and silver coins of no interest. Since they are not even circulating, you could just as well go and buy the metal bars, and then you would be a speculator in future options of silver and gold, but never a coins collector!

My daughter still collects from her pocket change the coins missing in her albums. OK, she’s not swapping coins with like-minded persons, so her albums fill rather slowly. I, on the other hand, do a lot of trading and whenever I find a quarter my daughter is missing I ship it to her. We have a lot of fun that way.

By the way, I have 36,000 all different world coins in my collection and I’m a long-time contributor to your catalogs, so I think, I know what a real coin collector is. If I think it’s wise to speculate in the metal market, I do so, but certainly not in artificial “collectors” coins.

Shame on you to even ask the initial question.

Ole Sjoelund
Paris, France

Unless some non-knowledgeable person puts a collectible coin or coins from the bottom of a drawer or a purloined coin collection into use, there is little likelihood today that anything of value can be extracted from change by a savvy numismatist. Thus, for the latter group, the subject is a relic of the distant past.

However, there is still a place for it. Collecting from change into albums is an excellent way of starting youngsters in coin collecting.

After the latter gets going and shows continuing interest, we can donate to them lower grade duplicates resulting from upgrades of our own collections, and they would surely be using those albums.

Jerry Finch
Address withheld

It depends on what your goal is. Every so often, over a two-year period, I would get a roll or two of halves, go through them and spend the rest. I now have a complete set of those issued for circulation, and all are at least AU.

I also put together a set of state quarters and am working on a set of America the Beautiful quarters, all from circulation. Are they of great value? No, but I had fun doing it, and at the very least, they are all worth what I paid for them.

If you just want to get rich, you probably won’t do it that way, but somebody found a 1969-S doubled die recently, just like somebody eventually wins the lottery. It almost certainly won’t be you, but it will happen for someone.

Bill Eckberg
Address withheld

I hope not .I have been doing this since I was a paperboy back in 1960 and am still doing this. I have three grandsons that I am trying to get into collecting. They are still saving state quarters, but have been giving them to me to but in their albums. I hope they will soon start doing that for themselves since the eyesight is also getting old.

Ray Cox
Address withheld

Unfortunately, I’m afraid filling albums with coins from change is now a bygone era. As a kid I used to love filling up a book, but these days it seems like everyone places way too much value on individual coins rather than the fact that you spent who knows how much time and effort to fill the book up.

I’m afraid the third-party grading companies have just about killed off that bygone era and I think its really a shame, especially for the new, young collectors.

Kip Caven
Address withheld

I bought a complete set of Franklin halves back in the ‘90s that I put away for posterity.
More recently I started working on a complete set of Mercury Dimes in a deluxe album. believe it or not I have the tops keys 16-D and 42/41 but am missing a few more common ones.

Hunter? Naturalist? Add this Red Deer coin to your collection today.

Hunter? Naturalist? Add this Red Deer coin to your collection today.

I have also started a set of Flying Eagle and Indian Head cents that I am attempting to assemble, reasonably matched, in XF condition.

But I am far from typical and believe that almost no one does this any more. It does take me back to my roots however.

I am an old-time collector, not to mention an old timer, who only got back into collecting, if that is what you call it, a few years back.

I am also working on a set of elongated cents from the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, but there is no album for these. I am kind of collecting a bunch of stuff from the '33 Fair as I am a Chicagoan and find it interesting. I have a few medals and some memorabilia including a Mickey Mouse pocket knife.

I had a collection of early large cents and some colonials that I sold about 25 years ago when I bought my current residence.

Like I said, I don’t think anyone does this any more.

Michael Chazin
Address withheld

I certainly hope not! That’s a great way to get kids into collecting coins and adults too.
I think that by the sheer volume of really nice Whitman folders that have been coming out, with updated styles and glossy covers, etc… even the U.S. Mint published a coin folder for the America the Beautiful Series. If you can get a nice almost uncirculated coin out of circulation do it. For some reason though, I believe the cents have always had that appeal over other coinage.

Robert S. Matitia

Yes, for older series coins, it is a bygone era to fill books from circulation. Before a decision on whether the cent is pulled from circulation, collect the Lincoln Memorial back cents from rolled coins from the bank. Many medium to upper grades can still be found. Even the change in 2010 on the reverse again can still be ready to be found easily being so new!
Jefferson nickels are a bit more difficult to do. Patience and time can still fill the books (mostly) over time, with minimal getting from a dealers stock. With this in mind, many other finds (wheat cents & wartime nickels) are a pleasant find from time to time as a bonus. Happy hunting everyone.

Gary Kess
Berkel en Rodenrijs, Netherlands

Filling basic coin albums from change is still alive and well but not in the same manner as the past. While filling an album with wheat back cents is much more difficult than when I was young, I have spoken with teenagers who were working on filling albums with Lincoln Memorial cents from pocket change.

This is not limited to cents. My 11 year old niece is looking for 50 State Quarters in pocket change to fill an album. To keep her interest going, I bought an album for the National Parks quarters so she can build another collection.

As a side note, when I gave her the new album she asked about collecting Panda coins because “Pandas are cute.” It looks like my mentoring of a YN has become more expensive!

Scott Barman
Rockville, Md.

During my Navy career, I was posted to stations around the world and had port calls wherever the ships took me. In every country, I would get as many of the local coins as I could, then identify, classify, catalog and place them in my collections. It did not matter if it was the lowly aluminum 1 Yen from Japan, the miniscule 10 Cents from the Netherlands, or the hefty .625 silver 5 Mark from West Germany – they were coins and they were collectable. I even had a special briefcase that contained a wooden drawer to hold hundreds of 2x2s, with a compartment beneath for the tools and supplies.

Twenty-eight countries visited, 28 countries collected, mainly from the junk boxes nowadays.

Fast forward to 2015, the 50th anniversary of clad coinage in the US. For some strange reason, conventional wisdom states that these coins are not worth collecting, and I have no idea why. They are coins and we are collectors, and extensive collections should have been built over the years. Instead, people turn their noses up at them. The 50 States quarters were immensely popular with millions of people collecting each one. By extension, all US clad coinage should receive similar enthusiasm. So my answer to your question is a resounding “NO!” Filling albums from pocket change should not be a relic of a bygone era. Break through that mindset and start filling those albums before an entire era of coinage is lost to indifference.

Bob Fritsch
Nashua, N.H.

I do not think it is possible to fill an album from change. I have access to a lot of change, and I feel the good old days are gone. I am sure you could not fill even the President, Sac and SBA and they are easy to get from the banks. Example 1979-S and 1981-S Type 2 SBA.

Rich Beringer
South Dakota

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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