Coin Education

How to grade Morgan Dollars for beginners

Morgan Dollars are one of the most popular collector coins ever produced. With a total mintage of 86,730,000 pieces across the board, there isn’t a shortage of Morgan Dollars, though there are some very scarce dates and varieties. These are one of the easier coins to grade, partly due to their large size and fairly routine wear patterns. Here is a simple guide to grading circulated Morgan Dollars: GOOD (G4) A Good or G4 Morgan Dollar will generally have a full rim, full date and most of the detail will be visible.  There may be some letters touching the rim on either side.  Very little hair detail will show on the obverse, and the bottom wing feathers will start to show. VERY GOOD (VG8) A Very Good, or VG8 Morgan Dollar will show a full rim on both sides.  On the obverse more hair de...

How to find out what your coins are worth

Coin pricing is somewhat of an art, and not a true science.  Unlike conventional commodities like gold and silver where you have a somewhat universal spot price to go off of, coins are a whole different beast.  You can find various price guides that may have the same coin in the same condition at all different prices. The price guide of choice for most dealers and collectors alike is called the Greysheet.  The Coin Dealer Newsletter, or “The Greysheet” has been published every week since 1963. Each issue includes all of the latest wholesale market information for actively traded U.S. coins. Prices are tabulated from the most recent sales of the coins.  For over 50 years this has been the standard for pricing for U.S. coins.  While this is the easiest way to obtain U.S. coin pri...

The Three-Legged Buffalo and how to Authenticate

If you collect Buffalo Nickels, then you are aware of the 1937 D three-legged variety.  It is one of the most sought after coins in the series.  To obtain one you could expect to spend from $400 for a coin in good condition to $1500 for a coin in almost uncirculated condition.   Uncirculated specimens start in the $2100 range and go up from there. The three-legged nickels were created when a mint employee tried to repair some heavily clashed dies.  A clashed die occurs when the dies strike against each other without a coin planchet between them.  This caused the design from each die to be struck into the other.  The mint employee tried to fix the dies by polishing out the clashed areas on the die.  In doing so he mistakenly polished out part of the back-front leg just above the hoof.  The ...

Why are 1899-P Morgan Dollars so cheap?

As collectors learn over time while trying to fill holes in their collection, some coins are tougher to find than the mintage or price indicates.  They may not be necessarily rare or expensive coins, but often you just can’t seem to find them out there, or when you do they aren’t in the grade you are looking for.  Often, these are coins that are scarcer than their mintage or price indicates, and therefore undervalued and end up going up in price at some point in the future. Quite the opposite is the 1899-P Morgan Silver Dollar.  With an extremely low mintage of just 330,000 coins, it is one of the lowest mintage Morgan Dollars in existence.  In fact, there are only six Morgan Dollars with a lower mintage!  Here is a list of the top ten lowest mintage Morgan Dollars:   1893...

A few tips to make coin collecting fun for you

Coin collecting is an interesting and fun hobby that dates back hundreds of years. In fact, there are indications that coin collecting dates back to the Roman times around 2,000 years ago! Those that are concerned that coin collecting is dying hobby need not worry. As long as there have been coins, there have been coin collectors. If coins ever cease production some day, it will most likely only make them more valuable and bring more collectors into the hobby as obsolete items often get more interest. Coin collecting should be fun, period. Just like any other hobby, it should be one that adds enjoyment to your life. Unfortunately, there are a couple reasons that coin collectors sometimes can get frustrated with coin collecting and decide to give it up.  Here are just a couple tips to keep ...

Is the coin weakly struck or does it have wear?

For beginning coin collectors, grading a coin can be a very difficult task. There are so many different coins and so many different grades.  Each coin type is usually graded differently, and to make matters tougher, many times the same series of coins are graded differently depending on the year.  Heck, grading can be difficult for advanced collectors as well! There is another confusing and often misunderstood phenomenon in coins, and it’s called weak strikes. Coins that are weakly struck did not receive a full impression from the die, resulting in weak areas of the coin.  The areas of the coin that most often come weakly struck are higher areas of the coin.  For example, in 1921, the first year of the Peace Dollar, often came weakly struck on Miss Liberty’s ear and on the eagl...