Michael Bugeja

Online Coin Auctions

Michael Bugeja

Michael Bugeja, a coin collector since childhood, is a professor at Iowa State University and also a former member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. He is a nationally known author, journalist and educator.

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Always Check Old Capital Holders for Gems

In an April 1, 2016 auction hosted by Proxibid, I bid $6 and won three steel cents in a Capital coin holder. My maximum bid was $30, but the competition wasn't keen for what many buyers believed were common cents.

Smart buyers rely on common sense. They check out old Capital holders for gem coins inside the black or white plastic holders adorned with gold lettering. That was the case here.

I scored a bargain and immediately sent the 1943-D to PCGS where it graded MS66 (although I was hoping for MS67).  

Fortunately for me, auctioneer Sheena Wallace of Auctions by Wallace provides clear photos and several of them, too, on almost every lot. I could tell from the photo of the 1943-D obverse that I had discovered a hidden gem--literally. 

Capital holders are manufactured by Capital Plastics, an Ohio company. It was founded in 1952. Early on the intent was to preserve medals from World War II but soon the company was making molds for all manner of coins.

Often you find dozens of Capital holders in estate auctions whose collections were amassed before third-party grading companies became popular. Even in the 1980s and early 1990s many hobbyists still preferred uncertified coins that they could view raw on occasion. Capital holders have plastic screws that easily come off for such viewing.

Of course, Capital holders are popular to this day. Often hobbyists store inferior coins in them, ones returned from grading companies or that contain flaws, but otherwise are desirable. The key to finding hidden gems is in the estate auction with older holders whose screws bear tell-tale signs of yellowing from decades of storage.

Those are the ones I search for and others overlook.

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