Gerald Tebben, a Coin World columnist for more than 30 years, also contributes to Coin World’s Coin Values and edits the Central States Numismatic Society’s journal, The Centinel. He collects coins that tell stories.
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Five sure-five ways to make money in coins: cherrypicking
Here’s my fifth and last sure-fire way to make money in coins.
Check out the first four here:
Cherrypicking. Knowledge is king in collecting. An investor who specializes in a series, especially early coppers, Seated Liberty coins and Morgan dollars, can find rare coins going for a fraction of their value on eBay, in national auctions and in dealer stock on the bourse floor. Knowing varieties and die states can be immediately and immensely profitable.
Years ago, astute collectors maintained personal notebooks detailing rare varieties. For the most part, that’s no longer necessary.
Large cent collectors have William H. Sheldon’s Penny Whimsy and Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of Early US Cents 1793–1814.
Morgan dollar collectors have The Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of Morgan & Peace Dollars by Leroy C. Van Allen and A. George Mallis.
The Cherrypickers' Guide to Rare Die Varieties of United States Coins by Bill Fivaz and J.T. Stanton covers many other denominations.
The trick to cherrypicking is finding value hiding in plain sight.
Rare coins are regularly picked from junk boxes, bourse display cases and even national auctions.
Last year a collector bought the third-known example of a scarce 1794 Liberty Cap, Head of 1794 cent variety (NC-11) unattributed from a dealer’s display case on the floor of the gigantic Whitman Coin & Collectibles Philadelphia Expo.
Fellow Coin World columnist and silver dollar variety expert John Roberts is locally famous in Columbus, Ohio, for plucking a $1,000 VAM variety from a local auction for common-coin money.
In addition to money, successful cherrypicking gives the collector bragging rights. Cherrypicking stories regularly appear in Coin World and online at several websites. Probably of all the ways to make money in rare coins it’s the most fun. And that, at base, is what coin collecting is all about.