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Numismatic Potpourri



A number of collecting irons in my fire.

Greetings everyone, I pray that summer is going well for you as you plug away at your collecting goals. For me the summer of 2010 is a decidedly slower one than 2009. For the fun of it, I applied several filters to my collecting spreadsheet to discover a few eye-opening statistics. From May 1, 2009 to August 15, 2009, I bought a whopping 36 coins. During the same period this year, I bought 6 coins spending 42% less than last year. Sticking with my 2010 collecting goals is the primary reason for this year?s slowdown. For instance, this year my focus is on upgrades and filling slots in existing sets. These past months, there have been few opportunities for me to upgrade. Furthermore, I am taking my time to populate empty slots in my sets. Last year I started several new sets and worked feverously to populate those sets to compete in the annual awards. Was it worth 42% more in expenditures simply to compete, in some cases yes, in others, eh, maybe? At any rate, I thoroughly enjoyed building each set, especially my 20th Century Type Set.

As of June 1, I renewed my Collector?s Society membership and received my coupon for five free submissions. A few years ago, I had as a goal to have all my raw coins certified by NGC, so yesterday I combined the few coins I had left in my collection with three coins I bought at a coin show and mailed them to NGC today. In total I have eight coins in circulated grades that when graded will populate my US Type Set. My ultimate goal for this set is for every coin to grade VF-20 or higher. 19th Century coins in MS condition can get quite pricey so I am focusing on handsome circulated coins for this set. Even at that, the early coppers in VF will run me a pretty penny and in some cases, I may have to settle for VG.

Speaking of those eight coins, several of them may return with details grades. For instance, I previously sent many of the coins in this lot to NGC to be crossed over from other holders and NGC sent them back to me as no-grades. Others coins I sent raw with the same result. At the time I sent these coins to NGC, NGC had not yet started detail grading. Today all the coins are going back to NGC raw. However, this time I will take any that do not grade in purple label holders and place them into my set anyway. Still, with all this, I do not consider any of these coins to be unattractive. It will be interesting to see if any of the previous results change, I?ll report the results in a journal when they are graded.

One of the skills I hope to improve on is grading. Correctly grading my coins may be the single most important factor in protecting me from being ripped off. Last year I bought a copy of the grading guide entitled, ?Making the grade?. While this book has photos and descriptions on MS grades, I find learning to grade is easier with circulated coins. When I grade a coin using this guide, I typically go to the lowest photograph that clearly does not represent my coin and move up the scale. Getting close can be tricky since there may not be much difference between one grade and the next. However, when I go to the lower picture, I know my coin is one to two grades higher. To get more practice with grading, I have graded each of my eight submissions using this guide before sending the coins off to NGC. I?ll post the findings between my grade and NGC?s in a journal later.

As I stated earlier, my goal this year is to upgrade my existing sets. With a couple of my foreign sets, it is very difficult to find highly graded certified coins. However, I spotted a raw coin for one of my foreign sets on E-Bay displaying a strong strike that clearly looks as if it was struck using fresh dies. The seller in the item description claimed the coin was MS-65, and having examined many coins in the series, I agreed with him. Therefore, I placed my bid using a ?snip? website referred to me by another Collector?s Society member. The snip site placed my bid with six seconds left, and I won the auction. This coin is also on its way to NGC. There is a small caveat to this though in that there is a hairline scratch over the main device on the obverse. This scratch was visible on the listing photo, but I was so impressed with the coin I decided to take a chance. The scratch when the coin is rotated and examined under a loupe in the light is not visible from certain angles, so I hope that it is minor enough for NGC to grade it. I?ll fill you in on the result and post photos when the coin is returned. Until then, happy collecting!




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