US Coins

Prices out of reach?

Images courtesy of Q. David Bowers.Frederick G. Stark’s Philadelphia Mint visit on Oct. 14, 1828, likely included witnessing production of such coins as this 1828 Classic Head cent and this 1828 Capped Bust half dollar.

Images courtesy of Q. David Bowers.

Recently I engaged in an exchange of emails with D.S., a highly successful dealer in the Midwest. He read my recent Coin World article about the appeal of collecting obsolete bank notes of the era 1782 to 1866. I had suggested that great rarities can be obtained inexpensively, and that every note has a story to tell.

D.S. commented, in part:

“I have enjoyed reading your articles on obsolete bank notes. It’s nice to read about other true collectors of these wonderful pieces of history! At age 19 I started collecting the rare obsolete and National Bank notes the small town in which I have lived all my life. Dealers and collectors alike told me, ‘They are too rare for a young collector to find, and afford should one come along.’ Well I chose not to listen to them, and this October, at age 26 I finished my collection! I am now the second collector to have one each of the obsolete notes, and the ONLY collector to have the complete run of obsolete and National notes.”

I thanked D.S. for his nice words, engendering this reply:

“The coin business has been good to me. This year I was able to buy a house with a few acres. This is due to the public’s interest in bullion. However I am growing tired of the bullion market, and other areas of the coin market such as the new five-coin set of American Eagles (which I did not buy). I find myself daydreaming about the days when silver was $5 and gold $250 per ounce or so and people just collected for fun. Those were wonderful days and I hope they return! Looking up the ‘spot’ price and having to hurry to ‘flip’ a group of coins before the price falls gets old fast! Reading your articles and books takes me back to the days when coins were for collecting — for fun! Yes, I still re-read your books, over and over! Take care.”

Take heed! Many wonderful areas in numismatics beckon with scarcities and rarities available at very affordable prices.

Investigate a niche specialty! Tokens. Medals. Or investigate a federal series that is not “hot” now (1892 to 1954 silver commemoratives in grades such as Mint State 63 and MS-64 come to mind). Enjoy!

And, I enjoy my set of 50 State quarter dollars — they cost less than a dollar each in gem Mint State!

I could mention 101 other fascinating specialties.

Q. David Bowers is chairman emeritus of Stack’s Bowers Galleries and numismatic director of Whitman Publishing LLC. He can be reached at his private email,, or at Q. David Bowers, LLC, Box 1804, Wolfeboro, NH 03894.

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