Featured YouTube Numismatic Misinformation: What You Need To Know

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by 1916D10C, Jan 7, 2019.

  1. 1916D10C

    1916D10C Key Date Mercs are Life! 1916-D/1921-D/1921

    To all the folks on CoinTalk, to those lurking who are not even registered, and especially to those who have become interested in the hobby of Numismatics through YouTube Videos,

    We all know about how Youtubers are posting videos to make money from views, ads and audience. There is a large population of YouTubers posting such videos on various topics of Numismatics. We seem to have had an enormous influx of enthusiastic newbies in the past few years coming into the hobby and joining CoinTalk after watching YouTube videos, often ones promising that one can get rich finding certain coins in circulation. I have no problem with new folks in this hobby, we were all new at one point, and we need more folks in this hobby. What I DO have a problem with is absolute nobody's, with zero experience in the field, posting videos with clickbait titles and downright false claims that mislead and start new folks off in the field with unrealistic perceptions and expectations. Some of these YouTubers are downright PREYING on the younger crowds and the uninformed. There is a common pattern with the self proclaimed experts and their videos, and in this thread I am going to attempt to address the pattern and the most common innaccuracies that I have seen.

    Below is a list of some of the general examples of mendacious claims I have witnessed while browsing YouTube, and I will address the key takeaways from each and every one below as a separate point. I have also attached to this post several examples of the types of bogus and concocted videos I am referring to.

    A. False information and misleading statements about errors, types of errors, and their values.

    This is by far, in my experience, the most commonly seen form of misinformation that is rampantly and furiously disseminated on YouTube. Flashy, all capital letter titles claiming certain errors are worth thousands, or even millions (yes you read that right, millions) of dollars grace a flamboyant, expertly constructed thumbnail. Typically the errors displayed in the videos are minor errors that the poster has found, and often is followed by claims that they are worth large sums. Other videos, however, sometimes are put together almost entirely with photos of certain well known errors, such as the 1955 Doubled Die Obverse Lincoln Cent, taken off of Google images or Numismatic websites. The poster then narrates the video and discusses the errors in detail and quotes values, and often shares questionable Numismatic sites to "learn more". Often, the poster will indicate through verbal clues that he has never owned, examined, or even seen such Coins in-hand under a loupe.

    The key takeaway here for the less experienced to understand is when they come across such a video, that, as with anything of value, not all error coins are equal. Remember the United States mint makes millions of coins each year, and errors are certain to slip under the radar of quality control. Common minor errors, including, but not limited to, die breaks, chips, cracks, machine doubling, and lamination, unless extremely dramatic or of a rare variety, are often only worth a small premium over face value.

    B. Sweeping claims that a certain date of coin (often a commonly seen date) is worth large sums of money.

    Many of us have seen it. Someone posts a video in similar fashion as described in point 'A', example: "YOUR 1958-D PENNY CAN BE WORTH FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!" The narrator then goes on to elaborate and displays a slabbed coin in an incredibly lofty grade and state of preservation, such as MS68, and instructs viewers to check their change because they could be sitting on $50K.

    The key takeaway here to the newer folks, is that it is next to impossible to find any true rarity in circulation, be it a condition rarity such as an MS68 Kennedy Half, or equally unlikely, to find a high profile, documented rarity, such as a 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent. You are far more likely to hit the jackpot on the 6 spot Powerball. Condition rarities are just that: A coin not normally seen in such a high state of preservation. Out of millions of coins made, only a small handful, usually less than 20 or so, survive in such a state. A slight trace of circulation, the slightest blemish on such a coin will bring it back to the value of a common coin. This is where investing in a Red Book will assist you in accurately determining estimated values of coins.

    C. Videos intended to educate folks about Coin grading.

    I have seen videos constructed entirely of photos of coins pulled from Google, and the narrator then reads a description of said photos, and thus "teaches" the audience how to grade a certain series of coins. While this can be helpful regarding circulated coins, it is completely worthless in the controversial world of Mint State Coin grading. The best way to learn how to grade coins is by looking at as many as you possibly can in-hand, and most Numismatists are constantly learning this art. If you want a book that definitively and explicitly describes coin grading from a fresh and modern perspective, and written by a respected individual within the hobby, invest in "The Art And Science of Grading Coins" by Jason Poe. I can guarantee it is far more factual and educational than any YouTube video you will ever watch.

    D. Videos highlighting prominent Numismatic rarities, and implying it is possible to find one in circulation, such as The 1894-S Barber Dime, and 1913 Liberty Nickel.

    The key takeaway here should be pretty obvious by now if you have read this far. As similarly discussed in point 'B'-- Your chances of finding an 1894-S Barber Dime in your change or in rolls are pretty close to nil, even with the few not accounted for. The 1913 Nickels are all in private hands.

    E. Videos explaining different methods on how to clean Coins.

    The Key takeaway here is that under no circumstances should a beginner attempt to clean their coins, especially not using the "household chemical" methods as displayed in many YouTube Videos. Cleaning and conservation of coins is a risky venture, even for advanced Numismatists. For a newer collector, it is incredibly easy to destroy any value a Coin has through inexperienced cleaning attempts.

    F. Coin Roll Hunting videos, giving a skewed representation and implying it is easy for one to get rich and make money by finding Silver, errors, and rarities in rolls and circulation.

    This is another extremely common type of video that gives new folks unrealistic expectations about this side hobby of sorts from serious, conventional Numismatics. Again, flashy titles with fancy thumbnails suck the intrigued newbie in, and the videos are often filled with promises that one can make good money through roll hunting and can find rarities, errors, etc.

    The key takeaways here for the less informed, is that while Silver, errors, and rarities can and do still exist and float around in circulation, it is far from easy to find them. You may go to the bank and purchase a box of halves, nickels, pennies, etc, and you might find a few Silver coins, but it is highly unlikely that you will happen to get a box with hundreds of Silver coins or an error worth thousands. What most of these YouTubers fail to show in their videos, is the amount of work required to Coin Roll Hunt. Trips to the bank, dumping thousands of dollars in coins, and often, searching through box after skunk box to beat the odds and get a handful of Silver coins. It can be fun, but know your odds.

    G. Live Streams of prominent YouTubers Coin Roll Hunting and selling groups of rolls to subscribers, and whatever is found in that group is sent to the buyer.

    This is one point not exactly about misinformation, but how some prominent YouTubers often use their channels to prey on their younger and uninformed crowds. Not all YouTubers do this, but I know of several who do. Pretty much, the racket works like this: The creator of the channel will schedule and broadcast live streams of themselves Coin Roll Hunting to their audiences, and then will set aside groups in various numbers of machine wrapped rolls. The host will then announce that if subscribers send them a predetermined fee via Patreon or Paypal, and pay for the groups of coin rolls, they will open the rolls and send them what is found in the rolls. Usually the fees are $15-$20. It is effectively a new spin on the old eBay "unsearched roll" scam, combined with a vibe akin to that of gambling. The reason why I say this is a racket is because I've watched such feeds, and many younger folks and people that don't know any better throw their money at these people, to only get a mere fraction of their value back from the coins.

    List of the most common and egregious channels that I have witnessed broadcasting Numismatic misinformation:

    Couch Collectibles








    Stack attack




    In conclusion, as ambassadors to this exciting and fulfilling hobby, it is our duty to the newer and younger folks to root out and curb the rampant misinformation and dispell the false, misleading information about Numismatics being spread all over the internet, and particularly on YouTube. I hope this post serves as a warning to all who read it, to take any information not from trusted sources with a grain of salt.

    If anybody else has anything to add, comments, critiques, etc, please share it in a reply.


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    Last edited: Jan 7, 2019
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  3. paddyman98

    paddyman98 No Common Cents! Supporter

    I agree with everything you have said!
    Also.. All the garbage damaged coins listed on ebay and etsy! Some sellers obviously know nothing about true Mint Errors and list stuff such as Missing clad layers on both sides when it is just Environmental Damage. The sad part about these coins is that people actually bid on them.. Bidiots :bucktooth:
  4. 1916D10C

    1916D10C Key Date Mercs are Life! 1916-D/1921-D/1921

    I know exactly what you mean about Etsy. I saw a worn, AG3 1823 Dime listed as an 1822 on there.
    Tim Lackie Jr likes this.
  5. ldhair

    ldhair Clean Supporter

    I sometimes wish YouTube was not even out there, when it comes to coins. I guess it brings folks to the hobby but wonder how many actually stick with it after getting the bad news about the treasure they just found.

    Some of the new members don't take the truth very well. I admire the ones that do and continue to learn here. Great thread.
  6. ldhair

    ldhair Clean Supporter

    I'll watch for a nice 1822 at Fun. If I see something, I'll get the contact info. for you. Tough coin to find without problems.
    cwcotto, Tim Lackie Jr and 1916D10C like this.
  7. 1916D10C

    1916D10C Key Date Mercs are Life! 1916-D/1921-D/1921

    Thanks for the feedback, Idhair. I agree with you 100%. It is frightening to put myself in the shoes of a new collector now and think of how confusing and daunting all the conflicting information must be. I'm far from an expert, and I'm still learning, but I feel lucky YouTube was not nearly as popular when I was just starting out.
  8. 1916D10C

    1916D10C Key Date Mercs are Life! 1916-D/1921-D/1921

    I greatly appreciate that!!
    Tim Lackie Jr likes this.
  9. baseball21

    baseball21 Well-Known Member

    There definitely is a lot of junk on there that needs to get weeded through for it to be a useful resource, unfortunately that really describes most coin sources.

    To me though things like YouTube and some of these other social media platforms are vastly underutilized and under promoted. PCGS has put some real good stuff on there which most seem to be aware of. Some dealers have done well with it as well.

    But how many people knew that Coin World has a YouTube channel?

    This will probably make @V. Kurt Bellman cringe but how many people knew that the ANA has a YouTube channel?

    That's just to name a few if people know what to look for. There is a lot of untapped potential with these types of sites and better advertising from the legitimate sources could also help draw away from the nonsense.

    As a side note it would also help if some of the legitimate videos featured people with better personalities that seemed to want to be there. It's painful watching videos that have the personality of a rock. You don't have to be a Vegas entertainer but the best teachers are always ones that can keep someones attention.

    Very true, some are also the same types making the misleading videos trying to push something onto their "fans" or just trolls as well.
    Cheech9712, Bayern, frankjg and 3 others like this.
  10. Inspector43

    Inspector43 70 Year Collector

    Coin World has some responsibility here. They don't screen their advertisers as well as they should. They have allowed advertising of "First Strike" coins knowing quite well that the attribute doesn't mean anything, is misleading and is nothing but a marketing tool. I'm sure there are others, but, I dropped them because of such things and not able to search.
    Bayern and 1916D10C like this.
  11. cpm9ball

    cpm9ball Cannot Re-Member

    It's not necessary for me to repeat what others have already said here. Suffice it to say that I have been calling it BoobTube for many, many years.

    1916D10C and Inspector43 like this.
  12. CoinBlazer

    CoinBlazer Professional Teenager

    I would like to mention the possibility that when a Youtuber is unwrapping some rolls, It is possible that they constructed those rolls and add the rare coins in the roll, off camera
    Inspector43, Bayern, jafo50 and 2 others like this.
  13. baseball21

    baseball21 Well-Known Member

    Without question some of the roll hunting videos do that.
    Inspector43 and 1916D10C like this.
  14. V. Kurt Bellman

    V. Kurt Bellman Yes, I'm blunt! Get over your "feeeeelings".

    This is the ANA's lame attempt to "be relevant to young collectors" and I disagree with it. We SHOULD BE making the young collectors relevant to the hobby, and not the other way around. It's the difference between pandering and educating.
  15. willieboyd2

    willieboyd2 First Class Poster

    I am shocked SHOCKED that there is humbuggery and chicancery going on here!

    VDB, JPeace$, Maxfli and 4 others like this.
  16. baseball21

    baseball21 Well-Known Member

    If that channel page is how they think they will get young collectors they are more out of touch than even I thought. I really hope they do not legitimately think that channel is how they will bring in young collectors.

    In general though your approach would never work. Ignoring new avenues and ventures to hold onto old ways is always a failing attempt. Using digital media to educate and get people interested is no more pandering than someone saying we shouldn't use this fancy radio machine to reach people they should have to adjust to our ways, or we shouldn't be pandering with this new color printing or printing in general we were just fine before written word.

    That said we can agree that their videos are not good at all. They probably are doing more harm than good with them if they won't put in more effort they would likely be better off not putting any up at all.

    I've seen dry college lectures about constitutional law that seem like rock concerts in comparison.
  17. V. Kurt Bellman

    V. Kurt Bellman Yes, I'm blunt! Get over your "feeeeelings".

    Can you give me the links to the constitutional law lectures? Now you're talking MY language!
    1916D10C likes this.
  18. V. Kurt Bellman

    V. Kurt Bellman Yes, I'm blunt! Get over your "feeeeelings".

    Yeah, after all, the Eastern Orthodox Church went out of business long ago, right? [Hint: It's the church in which I was married.]

    Lesson: OFTEN the old ways remain the best ways. The new ways are often poor substitutes, as in online numismatics.
    1916D10C likes this.
  19. baseball21

    baseball21 Well-Known Member

    If they were online I would have. All lectures getting put online happened after I graduated from grad school. Truth be told I actually did find them interesting.
    1916D10C likes this.
  20. V. Kurt Bellman

    V. Kurt Bellman Yes, I'm blunt! Get over your "feeeeelings".

    Stanford seems to be leading the field in this. Hardly surprising - if you're not going to have robust content delivery networks there, where are you?
    1916D10C likes this.
  21. baseball21

    baseball21 Well-Known Member

    Have to disagree. Change for the shake of change yes.

    When it comes to education and trying to get people interested in what you want, ALL venues should be utilized and done so properly. Certain entities in the hobby have realized the value of this and others are getting left behind (some faster than others) because they have't.

    You can educate and draw interest in a lot of ways. Relying entirely on clubs or shows is going to get even uglier for those entities in the next decade or two. There is a place for all methods in the hobby but to ignore online ones that are global and can potentially reach 100s of millions of people or more just because it is new is penny wise dollar foolish.

    A single online video can reach more people than every show of the year combined and do so much faster. You can end up with millions of views in a year, the biggest shows won't even sniff that.

    The other thing though is that at this point it's not just young(er) people using the internet. Plenty of people of "collecting" age do as well that may not be able to afford to travel to a show, not want to for health reasons, or just don't feel comfortable ect.

    While seeing things in person is always better it is not always practical. Furthermore, while GTG threads which I dislike for many of the same reasons there is a lot that can be learned online.

    If someone wants numismatics to be a small elitist community (which some clearly do) than stick to the old ways. If someone really wants to see the hobby shared with others and grow more than it has embrace technology which has been around for decades now.

    The internet was the best thing that happened to the hobby in a long time.
    Cindy Cooper, JickyD, Bayern and 3 others like this.
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