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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Swapped-out coins in Littleton sets

Over the years, the Littleton Coin Company has sold many sets of silver dollars, with one of the most popular being the New Orleans Silver Collection, depicted above.

While you can still order these sets from the company for $345, hobbyists typically seek older versions of the assembled Uncirculated sets, for the rich toning that occurs from the silver coins residing in the velvet-like casing.

Of the two sets depicted above, the one at top is a swapped-out set, and the one below, which I recently won in an online auction with a bid of $140, is the real deal.

It doesn’t take a numismatic detective to figure out what occurred in the top set, offered in a HiBid.com online auction. Someone removed the beautifully toned coins and replaced them with lower grade untoned dollar coins with the same common dates: 1883-O, 1884-O and 1885-O.

This type of swapping occurs frequently with coin sets, especially Double Mint sets (1947-1958), which we discussed in a previous post . The cardboard holders from the U.S. Mint also are known to tone those coins in rich hues. Unscrupulous sellers take out those toned coins and replace them with untoned, typically dipped ones, full of luster and deception.

To be sure, sellers have a right to swap out coins that they own. But bidders also need to know what to be on the lookout for, especially since few online auctions will state that originally housed coins have been replaced.

The point of this post is two-fold: Be wary whenever placing a bid, and look for older Littleton sets with rainbowed coins in the three-slot holder.

As for me, I will be sending mine in for holdering and may report on the results in a future Coin World blog post.

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