Coin collecting is one thing. Coin grading is entirely another. You can collect coins willy-nilly just for the fun of it, but you certainly cannot grade coins however you choose. To become a good coin grader, you need to study. The following types of books will help you get started. You can buy these books online and from most national book stores.
Coin Grading of American Coins
Most of the coins that you will encounter in your numismatic travels will be American coins. Many of these coins are either out of circulation, or someone has held onto them decades past when the U.S. Treasury has removed them from circulation. If a coin is almost twice as old as you are, you may not be able to recognize it. In that case, you will definitely need a book that covers all coins minted from the time of the American Revolution to the present.
Recognizing Counterfeit Coins
Counterfeit coins are common. Before you risk buying a coin that seems like it would be worth thousands of dollars, check it against the information in a book on counterfeit coins. It is very easy to alter existing coins to look like rare coins if you have an electroplating kit, so you have to be very careful. A book on this subject matter will show you how.
Special and Limited Edition Coins
Every so often, the U.S. Treasury has minted coins for a special occasion or as limited edition coins. These include the Lady Liberty and Dwight D. Eisenhower silver dollars and half-dollars. Numerous other short-lived coins were minted as well. If you want to collect these coins, you need to make sure that you can first recognize what they are, and then grade them according to year, minting house, etc.
Commemorative coins are different from special and limited edition coins. Most commemorative coins never go into circulation, although they do have face value and could be spent as money if someone wanted to spend them. They often have electroplated colors over the top of nickel, gold or silver. If they are solid silver or solid gold, they may be worth a little more than face value, but only this type of book can tell you.
If you find that you really want to go global with your hobby, you should learn all you can about international coins and international coin grading. You can find some really valuable gems if you know where to look. Since every country that exists has minted its own money for centuries, you are sure to expand your collection dramatically by searching different parts of the globe.
Once you find an ancient coin, you need a guide that will tell you what it is worth, since it will be quite rusty and difficult to distinguish. Grading becomes a challenge with really old coins. Yet, you may enjoy the challenge if you have mastered coin grading of modern American coins.
Coins of Ancient Civilizations
Rome conquered thousands of miles of land and territories, and even attempted to invade England a few times. As such, you may one day get very lucky and discover an old Roman coin. If that happens, you will want to make sure that your coin grading skills are almost at a master's level. There are plenty of books that show what these ancient coins look like, and what civilizations they belong to. Even the Ottoman and Asian Empires had coins that are still surfacing after centuries. They are rare treasures worth studying just in case you find one, or someone you meet in your travels asks you to identify and grade it.
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