There are so many terms out there that are used in describing collectible coins; Mint State, Proof, Ultra Cameo, Reverse Proof, etc.
So what do these things mean?
Here is your hand book to the terms collectors and numismatists commonly use. This is nowhere near a complete list, but it is a great start…
Almost Uncirculated (AU) – This term is used to describe coins that have wear on them from being in general circulation.
Bullion – Bullion is a general term used for any ungraded precious metal. It could be in the form of a coin, round, or bar.
Coin – Something can only be a coin if it is authorized by the government to be legal tender and have a face value stamped on it.
Commemorative – A special coin or medal issued to honor an outstanding person, place or event.
Deep Prooflike (DPL) – This term is used exclusively with circulation issue coins. The fields (background) are deeply mirrored and the devices(elevated areas) are heavily frosted on both sides.
Early Releases (ER) – Coins that are received by NGC (a highly reputable grading facility) or a NGC approved depository within the first 30 days of release.
First Day of Issue (FDI) – Coins that are received by a grading facility within one day of the first release of a new coin issue.
First Releases (FR) – Same as Early Releases
First Strike – Coins that are received by PCGS (a highly reputable grading facility) with the first 30 days of release.
Grade – a coin that has been graded has been sent to a facility where certified Numismatists carefully examine the coin for flaws. They use a grading scale called the Sheldon Scale which goes from 1 to 70. One being nearly unrecognizable and 70 being perfect at 5x magnification.
Incuse –The part of a coin’s design that is pressed into the surface.
Mint State (MS) – Coins struck in the same format as those in circulation.
Proof (PF) – Coins struck in a special format for collectors. These coins usually have very reflective fields (backgrounds) and frosted devices (elevated areas) to create contrast making the images pop.
Reverse Proof – These coins are the exact opposite of the Proof coins. They are still a special format for collectors, but these coins have frosted fields (background) and mirror like devices (elevated areas).
Round – Rounds may look similar to coins but they are not. They are round in shape and are minted by private mints. They are not government authorized legal tender and have no face value printed on them.
Specimen (SP) – This is a strike type that is between a Mint State and a Proof.
Ultra Cameo (UC) – This term only applies to Proof coins. The fields (back ground) are deeply mirrored and the devices (elevated areas) are heavily frosted for bold contrast on both sides of the coin.
The 2017 Australian Dragon and Phoenix 1 oz silver coins were released from the Perth Mint with a limited release of 50,000 coins worldwide.
However, when they were released collectors noticed a mint error on the coins.
In the photo shown here you will see a couple area's circled in red. It appears that in the process two areas were not matte finished on the coin. This leaves them with an almost proof mirror finish instead of the matte background.
The Perth Mint acknowledged the minting error but has no information on how many were made before they corrected it.
You may have one of these error coins and not know it!
Why? Because MintBuilder did have the 2017 Australian Dragon and Phoenix 1 oz Silver Coins for sale.
If you have one, check the coin to see if it is one of the error coins. Error coins are always more valuable! Currently these MS70 Error coins are selling for around $350 - $400.
We have been asked many things throughout the years, but one of the most common questions we get is why do graded coins cost more?
Let's start with the basics.
The value of any silver coin starts with the base Spot Price of silver.
What is the Spot Price of silver?
The spot price of any precious metal is a perceived price in a moment in time for what investors believe a specific quantity of raw metals in paper "contract" is worth.
From there the raw silver needs to be refined (which costs money to do).
Then silver planchets are made out of the purified silver (add another cost).
After that the mints will take the purified silver planchets and turn them into silver coins. This process takes many steps and we can cover that in another article, but for today let's keep it simple. Obviously this too adds cost.
At this point you have a bullion coin.
All the costs that were incurred to get the coin to this point is why bullion costs more than spot.
Now, once a coin has been created by the mint (minted) they are then sold to dealers who may sell the coin as it is or may send these coins off to be graded at a licensed grading facility.
At the grading facility multiple licensed numismatists inspect each coin and give it a grade. The highest grade the coin can receive is a 70.
Once a grade has been finalized the coin is then sonically encapsulated in a museum quality "slab". The slab is a special container that is designed to keep out impurity's and to thwart tampering.
This also adds cost to the final graded coin, however, it is not the final value of the coin.
Once a coin is graded the value of the coin then is amplified by the condition of the coin and it's rarity in the market.
Not all coins are graded, which means there are less coins at this level. Of the coins that are graded not all are awarded the certification of a perfect 70. Collectors desire perfect coins, sealed to preserve their perfection.
The added level of piece of mind that comes with this level of certification, the professional grading proving this coin is the best possible, along with the preservation that this level of encapsulation provides is why graded coins are so much more valuable than their bullion counterparts.
With an ever-widening gap between our income and expenses it has become absolutely vital to have savings, but not just any savings… we need a method to preserve the value of what we save and even give it the opportunity to grow.
Just depositing cash into a bank account is like burning 5 to 10 of every 100 deposited! You can’t overcome the rate of inflation and this causes you to actually lose wealth faster than you can accumulate it.
So what can you do to ensure you are not allowing your hard earned money to silently slip away?
1. Set savings on auto-pilot.
2. Store it in the right places.
Let’s elaborate on both of these points.
Savings on Auto-Pilot
A guy named Harper West published a series of VERY COLORFUL articles that edify the reason savings should be put on auto-pilot. Here are the G-Rated Cliffs Notes of his articles…
Want to really mess with a monkey’s brain?
Scenario 1: If your nice, give the monkey a piece of fruit. Hooray! Monkey is happy.
Scenario 2: If you’re not so nice, give the monkey TWO pieces of fruit, and then take one of them away.
Monkey should be happy, right? I mean, he didn’t even do anything and got a piece of fruit.
But the monkey in the second scenario doesn’t get happy. To the contrary, he is EXTREMELY MAD.
The truth is we all have a monkey in our head.
Monkey wants to:
So what does this have to do with finances?
What if someone gave you $1,000 and then forced you to give $500 to someone else?
Most people would have been a lot happier if they were just given $500, especially if they never even knew the other $500 existed.
So by setting some form of savings to happen automatically you don’t have to consciously give up your money.
Imagine the monkey in your head squaring off against a robot. Robot (the auto-pilot system you have put in place) always does what you tell him. Monkey NEVER does what you tell him.
Who do you want to give your money to first?
Storing it in the Right Places
You could store your money in a bank savings account.
NOT SO FUN FACT: The current rate of inflation (Year over Year) in 2019 is 1.9% and is expected to increase in years to come.
How much is your bank paying you in interest?
According to the FDIC, the average interest rate on savings accounts is 0.09% APY. This is taking consideration both average deposits as well as balances over $100,000. If you don’t have $100,000 sitting in your savings account you are more likely getting 0.02% APY from your traditional bank.
FUN FACT: If you had acquired and kept one MS70 Silver Eagle each month from 1986 through today, you would have 400 coins worth around $1,000,000 (value tabulated using PCGS Silver Eagles Price Guide).
This means that by having as little as one MS70 Silver Eagle on auto-savings you could be earning 7,000% more interest from your savings than the traditional method of just saving it in a bank account.
Think about it…
Even if you considered putting your savings to work for you by using it to purchase property. If you know what you are doing, property is not a bad investment, but with property you’ll have to put forth time and additional money to maintain that property.
Also, it is important to know the property is actually a liability until it sells.
With MS70 Silver Eagles you simply receive them in the mail and store them in a safe place.
MS70 Silver Eagles are also something that can always be sold quick and easy should the situation come up where you need cash now.
The coin industry is a $100 billion dollar industry. This means there is always someone looking to acquire more.
With a little education you will be prepared to close that income vs. expenses gap and put your money to work for you!
Like you, we are always talking to people who are new to the coin industry.
They are excided, but don't know where to start.
Let's start by finding out what they are most excited about.
Are they interested in preserving wealth with silver and gold assets?
Are they interested in collecting limited mintage graded coins?
Everyone falls into one or both of these categories. Sometimes they just don't know it yet.
Here is a quick guide to the differences between the two.
It is a 100% proven fact that the value of government issued currency has decreased. It does not matter if it is the US Dollar, British Pound, Canadian Dollar, Euro or the Australian Dollar. They have all lost value considerably over the years.
In the US, the average price of a dozen eggs is $2.96. Just 5 years ago the price of a dozen eggs was $1.97. That is an increase of 50%. Ten percent per year.
Does your bank give you 10% in interest for saving money with them?
Maybe if you are one of the lucky people you get a 10% raise in income each year, but most people definitely do not.
You don't need luck. You need knowledge.
In 1935 $20 would have bought 47 ounces of silver. Today those 47 ounces would be worth roughly $1,000.
The reason is metals like silver and gold hold their value. If you want to preserve your wealth, the wiser decision is to save it in silver and gold bullion.
Bullion is great for storing wealth, but if you want to take it to the next level collectible coins is the way to go.
Many people collect things for their beauty, rarity and desirability. Collecting coins really is no different aside from the fact that collecting silver and gold coins adds a value that Beanie Babies and stamps will never have. Wealth preserving precious metal content.
In addition to the value of their metal content, collectible numismatics have multiple elements that determine their value and their likelihood of increasing in value over time. These factors include their mintage and condition (grade).
For example, a 1999 Silver Eagle coin contains one ounce of silver. That coin in ungraded, non-preserved form is worth little more than the spot price of one ounce of silver.
If that same 1999 Silver Eagle had been submitted to a reputable grading service like NGC or PCGS, was graded MS70 and encapsulated it would be valued at $22,500 today.
SHOCKED? The reason is because that particular year very few Silver Eagles graded MS70. It's value is based on condition & rarity. Not just it's silver content.
This is an example of why many people choose collectible coins and why the collectable coin industry is over a 100 billion dollar industry.
If you choose to collect numismatics, select coins that have been graded by NGC or PCGS and have been graded as perfect 70's.
It is always an excellent idea to be diverse and collect rare coins as well as bullion. This will ensure you get the most out of your silver and gold savings.