Buying and Selling Collectibles: Coin Collections

About the hobby of collecting, buying, and selling old and used items for fun and profit, in this case coin collections.

Coins. Ancient coins need not be gold or silver to have substantial value. Most Imperial Roman bronzes, those struck by the Emperors, are worth under $20, but there are exceptions. A bronze sestertius struck by Claudius (41-54 A.D.) with the figure of Liberty on the reverse and inscribed Libertas Avqvsta S.C., brings up to $250. A sestertius of Titus (79-81 A.D.) with standing portrait of the god Aeternitas on the reverse, inscribed Aeternit Avq S.C., is worth $600.

Prices of ancient silver coins can go very high. A silver stater from the city of Metapontum (550-480 B.C.) is worth $1,000. An ear of barley is pictured on the obverse. A tetradrachm (4-drachm piece) from Catania (461-430 B.C.) is priced at $3,000. One side carries a portrait of Apollo, the other a charioteer in a quadriga or 4-horse carriage.

Are worthwhile coins still found in pocket change? No more "oldies" are in circulation, but "goodies" occasionally turn up. Most recent rarity was the 1972 double-die Lincoln cent, which looks like a double exposure. Its value is around $110 uncirculated. A double-die variety occurred on the 1955 Lincoln cent, too. It's worth $385 uncirculated; even an ordinary specimen with the luster gone brings $160. (In numismatic jargon, "uncirculated" doesn't stand for "never circulated." It means the coin is just as bright and fresh as if it hadn't been circulated.)

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