Michael Bugeja

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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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Don't Overlook "Missing Halves" Mint Sets

​Many hobbyists collect double mint sets, which the US Mint produced between 1947-58. The coins were housed in cardboard folders often with green flimsy paper glued to one side. The cardboard and paper often cause the coins inside to tone.

I will save a full-blown column on these low-mintage sets for another day. Today we're looking at the remnants of sets with missing halves, which tend to tone in marvelous rainbows and which often are removed from sets and sent in for grading. Here's an example of the type of toning you can find on occasion, commanding premium prices when graded by a top-tier holdering company. (Bottom-tier slabs often house artificially colored coins.)

But this doesn't mean that the other coins in the double mint set are not worth considering. First of all, you will have four or six silver quarters and silver dimes, depending on the year. That's about $20-30 of silver right there.

But there is a big market for toned quarters, too, which sell particularly well on eBay.  Here's a 1958-D quarter of registry-set quality being offered for a whopping $12,508!

There is somewhat of a market for the dimes and a better one for toned cents. But the real money to be made is in the nickel, and not because of toning. Nickels produced in the 1950s that have full steps can bring hundreds of dollars. For instance, a 1958 nickel with full steps is valued at $1,200 in a PCGS holder!

The steps are on the reverse of the coin. Use a magnifier and see if you can see 5 or 6 steps. I have sent a few in for grading this month and will report on the outcome later.

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