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Viewpoint: Collector leaving hobby shares advice

By Jim Klein


I recently liquidated my lifetime coin collection at age 77 rather than leave a complicated investment to my daughters, who are neither interested in nor knowledgeable about numismatics. It was a difficult decision for me but one that needed to be made at this time. I leave the hobby with the following suggestions that may aid others who are still collecting coins in their retirement years:

• Get a copy and read the Whitman guidebook entitled, Collecting Coins in Retirement: An Action Guide and Estate Advice for Hobbyists and Their Families, by Tom Billota

• Do not purchase anything from the United States Mint

• The U.S. Mint manufactures coins and commemoratives in such huge quantities that they are essentially worthless

• Personal safety deposit boxes and dealer shelves are overflowing with U.S. Mint items that will never come close to selling at their original issue price

• Do not purchase older, collectible coins that are not certified (raw coins)

• Coin collectors can identify a coin that has been harshly or improperly cleaned

• Coin dealers handle hundreds of coins per day and therefore are experts who can accurately identify coins that have been cleaned, especially those that have been “lightly” cleaned

• 80-85 percent of all older coins have been cleaned at some point in the past

• Dealers will pay only “melt value” for coins that have been cleaned regardless of their age, date or mintmark

• If you want to collect older, numismatic coins, purchase only those that are certified and encapsulated by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation or Professional Coin Grading Service

• An NGC/PCGS certified (encapsulated) coin is proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” as to whether your coin has, or has not, been cleaned

• Because of the strict “no clean standard” employed by most dealers when acquiring large collections, collectors stand a much better chance of preserving or enhancing their investment by purchasing bullion instead of numismatic coins

• The old maxim that collecting numismatic or rare coins will outperform bullion investments is, in most cases, no longer true

• Purchase older and semi-rare numismatic coins fully certified because that is the only sure way to preserve or enhance your investment when it comes time to sell them

This “Viewpoint” was written by Jim Klein, a hobbyist from Edgerton, Wis.

Viewpoint is a forum for the expression of opinion on a variety of numismatic subjects. To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send email to

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