Any advice for a newbie...

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by jeremy_elkins, Mar 15, 2015.

  1. jeremy_elkins

    jeremy_elkins Member

    I love looking for errors on coins, usually pennies and quarters and I had a few questions in regards to the search.

    I've been using a $4 dollar magnifying glass from Walmart. Any suggestions on a better searching tool or brand?

    Why are some errors a big deal as some are not?
    And for my own knowledge, who decides and makes those decisions?

    How should coins be housed? If a makeshift housing, what has worked for you?

    And last but not least.

    What are the ABSOLUTELY DO NOT DO'S when handling, housing, or dealing with coins?

    Thank you all so very much.

    Oh yeah....any coin shows in Southern California Area coming up anytime soon?
    coinman1234 likes this.
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  3. 19Lyds

    19Lyds Member of the United States of Confusion

    Best Answer
    A good Bausch and Lomb 7x - 10x loop should meet your needs. These are available at most any coin store for anywhere up to $40.

    As for error coins, they are classified as major and minor. Usually major error's command the highest premiums. Minor errors, not so much.

    There are many different "types" of error coins which range from being jammed in the coining press (broad strikes) or missing the coining press by a smidge or a lot (off center strikes) to missing part of the planchet (incomplete planchet or "clip") to filled dies and die trial strikes.

    Usually, the larger the coin, the higher the price since errors which command premiums are typically seen without the aid of a loupe and should have been caught at the mint.

    Best advice to offer is do your studying on error coins "before" making a purchase.
    Start you purchases small and DO NOT over commit to some random error coin that you have no idea what it might be.

    There are literally TONS of error coins out there pre-2002. After that date then things start tapering off rapidly.

    Most error coins were pulled from mint sewn bags and/or coin wrapping equipment. The US Mint no longer sells quantities of coins in sewn bags so getting a sewn bag from the bank is pretty much out of the question. These bags would be sent to coin rolling companies and when an error was encountered, they get pulled out and set aside. When enough were accumulated, the rolling companies would then sell these in bulk to error coin dealers.

    Since the early 2000's, the US Mint began shipping large quantities of coin to designating coin rolling companies intwo ton ballista bags. Those companies are private contractors and have been notified by the Treasury Department that if that catch them selling error coins to error coin dealers in any quantity, they'll pull their contracts.

    As you do your studies, you noticve that some years have more error coins than others. For example, 1983 was a big year for off center and clipped Washington Quarters. These are readily available and as such command small premiums. Higher grade errors, like higher grade coins, command higher premiums.

    Join CONECA over at . Its $25 a year and will pout you in touch with some of the leading error coin experts in the world. Tell them I referred you (Lee Lydston). If you're serious about collecting error's, you'll eventually join anyway so might as well get started.

    Good Luck.

    As for Coin Shows in SoCal? There's a big show at Long Beach in early June. Info can be found here:

    Coin World Magazine usually lists out every Coin Show in the country by State. There's a show in Van Nuys on March 29th. 25 Coin Dealers and 29 Tables. No Specifics on whether any error dealers will be there.

    Fred Weinberg, who has been dealing in Error Coins since before time has a shop in Encino California. His web page is:
    and he's at most major coin shows. BUT, his stuff isn't cheap.

    Again Good Luck.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2015
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  4. jeremy_elkins

    jeremy_elkins Member

    Thank you very much. You are awesome.
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  5. coinman1234

    coinman1234 Not a Well-Known Member

    Put all your coins in holders that don't contain PVC, PVC will make the coin look green and slimy. Try to get a small loupe, not a magnifying glass, 10X magnification is the best choice. Only handle UNC and proof coins by the edge and try to put them in a 2X2 holder.

    That is all I can remember, maybe someone else can fill you in with more info. Good luck in the hobby!
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  6. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    Well, Lee didn't leave much for the rest of us to add. :) @coinman1234 makes a good point about PVC (avoid holders that smell like new shower curtains), and about handling coins by the edge.

    There's one other ABSOLUTELY DO NOT DO that I'm surprised nobody's mentioned: DO NOT try to CLEAN anything that you find -- at least, not with any kind of brush, or polish, or acid. Collectors are very particular about this, and they'd rather buy a filthy coin than one that's been brushed, polished, or etched. An improperly cleaned coin is considered "ungradeable", and its value will be much lower as a result.

    If a coin is so dirty that you can't stand it, you can try soaking it in distilled water; if that doesn't work, try soaking it in hardware-store acetone (not nail-polish remover, which contains other ingredients that can damage coins).

    There's a huge amount of information scattered around this site. The search box is your friend. Good luck, and happy hunting!
  7. coinman1234

    coinman1234 Not a Well-Known Member

    How did I forget that one??? Agreed, the most important rule of all.
  8. cpm9ball

    cpm9ball CANNOT RE-MEMBER

    Lee probably wanted to see if you would read his entire post.

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  9. littlehugger

    littlehugger Active Member

    I have been looking, and there are various magnifiers that can be very useful.
    For on the road, you can get a small set of lenses that attach to your glasses and flip down to magnify. My dad used these when working on watches. They are not expensive, small, light, useful and unobtrusive. Mostly, they are hands free.
    At home, there are magnifying lamps. Its a regular extension arm lamp, with a circular bulb and a magnifying lens. They come in anywhere from 1.5X to 8X.
    Another magnifier is an electronic microscope/endoscope. Yeah, sounds expensive, but they sell for $50 on Ebay. Come with a little stand and work with your computer. You can use it as a microscope to see the whole coin, or as an endoscope to make very high magnification images of small areas of a coin.
    As for collecting, I advise starting small, with Lincoln cents, Jefferson nickels and Roosevelt dimes. These are still commonly available in rolls, at your bank, at face value, and you can fill a lot of holes in your albums at very low cost, while you learn. This will occupy you, educate you, and give you a sense of progress, and help avoid expensive beginner mistakes. The Jefferson and Roosevelt are very achievable.
    I suggest you use Dansco albums, or the equivalent. Even with coins from circulation, they display well, and are adequate for all but the highest grade and rarity coins, so you need not spend to upgrade your albums as you upgrade your collection.
    Get some basic supplies. Besides magnifier, get some white cotton gloves, coin tubes, flips, etc.
    Eventually you will decide on a favorite area, and develop that. Find and read collectors literature. Attend shows, ask questions! Learn.
    Whatever you decide to specialize in, Type coins, big silver, old copper, learn it well. Knowledge is your best friend, and protector against fraud.
    Be balanced. Coin collecting is a long term investment. If you overdo it, you may end up selling quickly, at a loss, because you spent too much and could not wait for the investment to mature.
    Make friends and enjoy!
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  10. miedbe7

    miedbe7 Wayward Collector

    If you want some cheap starting material you can get rolls of coins at face value from your bank or stores that don't mind selling them. If you're looking for older material check the ends of the rolls and see what date(s) are showing. That can be a good clue of what is inside (either old, customer wrapped, various coins or a brand-new solid date roll).

    As for storage, another option can be coin tubes if you're gonna be handling a bunch of material. However, any significant find you'd want to put into 2x2s at least or perhaps buy an album with blank pages for the denominations you're searching.

    Good luck with your collection and enjoy the hunt!!

    edit - @littlehugger posted as I was typing and beat me to it :)
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  11. 19Lyds

    19Lyds Member of the United States of Confusion

    Actually, Lee was realizing that his response was getting rather long so he just decided to shut up and let the other folks play.
  12. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    Nonsense. If it had been any shorter, it wouldn't have reached to the end. :)
  13. 19Lyds

    19Lyds Member of the United States of Confusion

    At a recent coin show that was a bit of a drive, I got about 90 miles down the road and realized I'd left both loupe at home! smack.gif

    Like an idiot, I went in and bought the 1st loupe I saw which looked similar to the one I use the most. Something like $24

    I start browsing the bourse and whip out my new loupe, point it in the direction of a coin I wanted to look at and went WTH???

    I'd just bought a 4x Loupe which did me absolutely no good at all. I couldn't see a thing!

    Kinda wasted $24.


    Don't forget your loupe!

    If you decide to buy one because you're too stupid to remember the essentials when going to a Coin Show, test it out "before" you buy it.

    As a side note, getting the wrong loupe can literally give you a headache from eye strain.
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  14. Caleb

    Caleb Active Member

    …… and 19Lyds' head begins to swell …….
  15. BooksB4Coins

    BooksB4Coins Newbieus Sempiterna

    If you value your eyes, do yourself a big favor and buy only quality glass, especially if roll searching or regularly looking at varieties. While it may seem tempting to "save" money now by going cheap, it is just not worth it in the long run.

    Also, cotton gloves (or any gloves for that matter) are not necessary, and in truth have the potential to cause more harm than good.
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  16. mlov43

    mlov43 주화 수집가

    Airtites for any of your important coins.

    Non-polyvinylchloride (PVC plastic) or wooden containers anywhere near your coins (including the box or container you house them in).

    Keep the ambient air-moisture around your coins in storage to a minimum at all times.
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  17. littlehugger

    littlehugger Active Member

    I just added a bunch of proofs to my albums and the gloves were very useful handling them, and the uncirculated coins from mint sets too.
    I have collected forever, and it seems a nice pair of gloves are a far better solution than the sweat, salt, oil, etc, from your hands. Coin tongs also seem rather clumsy, increasing the chances of dropping it and doing actual physical damage.
    I have seen nice older coins on Ebay, whose "toning" looked an awful lot like someone's fingerprints. Even holding by the edge, its easy for those with big hands to have the skin overlap the coins fields.

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  18. BooksB4Coins

    BooksB4Coins Newbieus Sempiterna

    You are, of course, welcome to your opinion, and there certainly is nothing wrong with sharing it. However, while it may seem gloves offer some level of protection over bare fingers, this simply isn't a blanket or absolute fact. As an example: you mention fingerprints. Well, do you not think touching the surfaces of the proof coins (or the uncs for that matter) you mentioned will/can have any negative consequences? I promise you, cotton gloves are more than able to mar/hairline such surfaces. Beyond this though, the main advantage to not wearing gloves is the added dexterity; all that "sweat, salt, oil, etc" from one's fingers are trivial compared to a coin sailing out of one's hands onto the floor because their gloves didn't allow for a secure grip (just another example).

    Just to add to the point using a neutral source, you might find the below PCGS video, starting around the 2:00 mark, interesting.

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  19. mlov43

    mlov43 주화 수집가

    Some here have suggested that instead of using gloves (which some think are not good for coins) people should dip their fingers in acetone before handling coins. Sounds a little rough on the hands.

    I handle my coins with a clean microfiber cloth or by the edge with clean hands (washed with soap and water and dried). Not sure that this is the best way. Lots of opinions here on this topic.
    jeremy_elkins likes this.
  20. Paul M.

    Paul M. Well-Known Member

    I do the same. My raw coins are currently all stored in Air-tites. When removing them from the 2x2's they came in, I would wash my hands first, hold the coin by the edge and place it in the holder's gasket, then use the Mylar window of the 2x2 to push the coin into place in the holder.

    I haven't seen any detectable hairlines or fingerprints result from this handling yet.
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  21. jeremy_elkins

    jeremy_elkins Member

    Thank you.
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