We had an unusually warm day yesterday and I decided to take the car to the car wash. Once I got there I realized I didn’t have any small bills and inserted a ten dollar bill into the changer, receiving a lot more quarters than I needed. In fact after putting them in my pocket I tilted to the left.
I started putting the quarters in the coin slot but stopped because they just didn’t feel right. I looked at each one and they were extremely light and felt almost like play money. Now I’m pretty sure our coins have been like this for some time but it took a sh#t load of them in my hand to really make me stop and take notice. So what does this have to do with the price of bananas? Absolutely nothing at all but it did get me thinking about what our money is ‘really’ worth and in particular my what my detecting finds are ‘really’ worth. Have I got a nice little nest egg, a rainy day fund or am I just imagining that?
I think many of us who started detecting years ago assume we have a decent sized cache should we need it but realistically we probably don’t. Why? Well first off we’re subject to the law of supply and demand and that changes daily as in the economy and in particular the precious metal market. Next and most important who are we going to sell our finds to? Most likely a coin dealer and it’s only reasonable that he or she needs to make a profit on what they buy, automatically reducing the value of our collection.
Weighing the options….
Now I’ve always been a coin hunter so I know my finds will always be worth face value but what about all that silver? How much are those Mercury dimes worth and what about the Barbers, Seated and the silver Roosies? What about the Indian heads, wheaties and other coppers? I’m aware of the keys and semi-keys and that certain error coins are worth more but do I need to start looking at and each and every one? Given my fondness for sitting on my ass maybe this is the way to go – invest in a good microscope, spend my days going cross-eyed and come up with a realistic value for my finds.
Of course there’s also the metallic value. With silver currently at around $17 an ounce I should be in pretty good stead. Then again could it go higher? I remember well the silver spike in 1980 when the Hunt brothers manipulated the demand and it rose to almost $50 an ounce. I jumped in, made a killing and a two months later the price fell to around $14 (it also spiked in 2012). Could something similar happen again? Is it time to consider selling? Maybe cull the more valuable dates, cash the rest in and buy gold or a few key coins? I am after all a year and half shy of turning 80?
How high will it go?
Books & boxes
Early on I put all my good finds in 2 x 2’s with a notation of grade, where I found them and stored them in coin boxes and like almost every other collector I tried my best to fill coin albums by date. When I look at the 2 x 2’s I’m often reminded of the sites and in some cases I actually remember the moment I dug the coin. Usually it was because it was a larger denomination coin or one that for all intents and purposes shouldn’t have been at that particular site. These 2 x 2’s are in a way souvenirs and the thought of selling them bothers me. On the other hand storing them in a safe and out of sight is hardly inspiring.
Yup, we all did it…
Putting a price on my finds is somewhat daunting. It means looking at each and every coin, reviewing my original assessment (G, F, VF, XF, etc.) and coming up with a current “dealer” price – an extremely time consuming endeavor but the alternative is to take it ‘all’ to a dealer, let him or her put a value on it. I’m not at all comfortable with that. Of course I could leave it to my grandkids to deal with but would they make wise decisions? What to do, what to do…..
“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore” — Yogi Berra