Should You Buy Foreign Coins in Bulk?

Like any post with a title “Should you-” the answer is always: it depends!

Buying foreign coins in bulk sounds like a great idea, you get lots of coins for a relatively small amount or money. Bulk coin sets can run anywhere from $10-$30 per pound! (I would love to get that value of gold and silver.)

Now some people do great buying and selling foreign coins, since most people collect coins from their own country, they are less likely to recognize valuable or rare coins from other countries. Many people find silver or even gold coins in the foreign bins at their local coin shops because no one else recognizes them.

That being said, it is incredibly unlikely you are going to find such a rarety buying bulk foreign coins online. Most of the time, you will be overpaying dramatically for the conveniece of getting hundreds of coins shipped to you.

Let’s talk cons first.

Cons:

1.) Shipping prices!!!

I have both bought and sold on eBay and other online sellers. The real profit killer is shipping (although eBay fees are not fun either). Most of your money spent on bulk coins is simply going to the shipping cost.

2.) 99% of coins will be worthless.

Now, you may find some coins that are interesting to you, but that does not mean they have much value outside of your house. The market for foreign coins is simply too small.

I love seeing foreign coins, I have some I collect, but if I tried to collect coins from every country, I simply would not have enough room in my house! Most coin collectors stick to coins from their own country, or at least a country that resonates with them. Those who collect foreign coins are rare, and usually they go for older foreign coins.

Even if you are very knowledgeable on foreign coins, it is still unlikely you will find anything valuable. Most bulk lots of coins online have already been cherry-picked for the most valuable coins.

Pros:

1.) Lots of coins!

Wooo!

It is really exciting to get a lot of foreign coins! You can keep them in a jar as decoration, or spend time organizing and admiring the different designs.

2.) Great way to learn!

You can look through each one and do lots of research into the coins. It is a great way to learn about other cultures in different time periods.

Since you will get many coins from different countries you can take the time to catalogue them. Find the country of origin, face value, and numismatic value!

Where to buy foreign coins in bulk?

Many different places sell foreign coins in bulk. Ebay is probably the best place to go, as you get the competition from many different sellers.

If you aren’t comfortable buying on eBay, you can also buy bulk foreign coins on Amazon. It will probably be slightly more expensive than eBay, but Amazon is easier to use for many people.

If you are only interested in a different country or time period you can also search buy that specific time and area. While researching for this article I found a few fun niche listings.

Ancient Coins in Bulk

This could be a good way to get your hands on several coins if you are a beginner. Someday you will probably want to buy higher quality coins at better prices, but it is always fun to have a few coins to handle.

(Remember, handling coins is bad for them! Only do so with coins you do mind potentially damaging.)

Final Thoughts

I wouldn’t build a collection around buying bulk foreign coins, but it is a fun way to get your hands on a lot of coins.

Overall, I would saying buying foreign coins is best for beginners, or as gifts for kids. Since kids don’t usually have a great understanding of value, giving them a lot of coins that are interesting to them is a good way to introduce them to coin collecting.


Do you buy foreign coins in bulk? What is your best find yet?

Stop Buying Bulk Coins or Large Coin Sets as Gifts

For the love of god, do NOT buy bulk coins as a gift.

As someone who works at a bank and frequents banks, do not buy bulk coins for someone as a gift! More often than not, that set of 500 uncirculated 2004 nickels will sit in someone’s sock drawer for 3 years until they bring it to the bank to cash it in for much less than it was purchased for.



It may seem fun at first, giving someone dozens or hundreds of coins that you are sure will appreciate in value. I can assure you no matter how fun or neat it is to you, your gift receiver will not be so appreciative. No one wants to have a gift that takes up that much space!

A better option is to buy one or two meaningful (or valuable) items. I think buying silver for a non-collector is a good idea. It is something that takes up much less space than a box of 2,500 uncirculated 2009 pennies. The person is much more likely to hold on to it because of the sentimental value, dollar value, and lack of inconvenience it brings.

Plus, with silver, the receiver can go online and check the rough price easily when (or if) they do decide to get rid of it.

My one exception to this rule would be sets of coins of 50 or less that come in nice containers that you have reason to believe they would actually like. Even then, think carefully about how much space the gift will take in the person’s house. Someone living in a small apartment probably does not want your 12 half-filled Whitman coin folders.

When in doubt, buy a gift with a Certificate of Authenticity!

Not that the certificate of authenticity really has much meaning, but it does mean you are likely buying a single coin with some collector value. It will be easy for the person to price it on eBay or similar sites to find the worth.

If you want more numismatic gift giving ideas, you can check out:

Top 10 Best Gifts for Coin Collectors and What Makes Them Great!


(Thank you for listening to my rant!)

Did you Notice Lady Liberty Disguised on These Two Coins?

Lady Liberty is on more coins than any other person or figure. (With the exception of maybe the Bald Eagle, but it’s a close tie.) In fact, Lady Liberty may be on more coins than you knew. Did you notice lady liberty on these two iconic coins?

Many Interpretations

Lady Liberty is a woman who wears many hats, literally! Many people do not recognize Lady Liberty if she does not have her iconic spiky crown, but Lady Liberty wears more crowns than one.

Lady Liberty has no preordained design, the most iconic depiction is Lady Liberty in the Statue of Liberty, but she has also been seen in many forms.

Lady Liberty is well known on US Coinage. The Peace and Morgan dollars are the best examples of coins we all know to be depicting Lady Liberty.

Well known depictions of Lady Liberty. The Morgan and Peace Dollar Coins.

Everyone knows that Lady Liberty is on both the Peace and Morgan dollars, but if you saw these two women on the street, would you suspect they were the same person? I wouldn’t!

First Hidden Liberty: The Mercury Dime

Mercury Lady Liberty Dime Cutout
Lady Liberty on the Mercury Dime

The Mercury Dime is more accurately known as the “Winged Liberty Head Dime” because this coin is actually depicting Lady Liberty!

Remember what I said about people not recognizing Ms. Liberty if she is not in her spiked crown? On this coin, Lady Liberty is wearing a Phrygian Cap with wings. The Phrygian Cap is another depiction of liberty and the pursuit of liberty, originating from the Roman Goddess Libertas. It was a cap worn by freed slaves in Ancient Rome.

Adolf Weiman, the coin’s designer, added the wings to the Phrygian Cap to depict the liberty of thought. Although the wings have interesting symbolism, they are probably the contributing factor to the idea that this coin depicts Mercury and not Lady Liberty.

Mercury is the Roman god of commerce, he is similar to the Greek god Hermes in . Mercury also wears a winged cap, so it is understandable how these two became confused. (Now that I think about it, adding a God of commerce to coins makes a lot of sense…)

Second Hidden Liberty: The Indian Head Penny

IHP Indian Head Penny Cutout Liberty
Lady Liberty on the Indian Head Penny

I remember this fact blew my mind! I had always assumed the Indian Head Penny (or IHP) depicted a Native American in a headdress, but nope! It is actually Lady Liberty in a Native American Headdress.

The Indian Head Cent was minted from 1859 to 1909 and was designed by James Barton Longacre, the Chief Engraver at the Philadelphia Mint.

Longacre described why he put Lady Liberty in a Native American headdress in an 1858 letter,

“From the copper shores of Lake Superior, to the silver mountains of Potosi from the Ojibwa to the Araucanian, the feathered tiara is as characteristic of the primitive races of our hemisphere, as the turban is of the Asiatic. Nor is there anything in its decorative character, repulsive to the association of Liberty … It is more appropriate than the Phrygian cap, the emblem rather of the emancipated slave, than of the independent freeman, of those who are able to say “we were never in bondage to any man”.

I regard then this emblem of America as a proper and well defined portion of our national inheritance; and having now the opportunity of consecrating it as a memorial of Liberty, ‘our Liberty’, American Liberty; why not use it? One more graceful can scarcely be devised. We have only to determine that it shall be appropriate, and all the world outside of us cannot wrest it from us.”

I am going to save the argument of whether or not Longacre’s intentions were misplaced for another article, but it has been debated in several coin collecting circles whether using the Native American headdress was used to honor Native Americans in the United States or to glory people who were at the same time being oppressed.

The face of Lady Liberty in the penny was based on a statue of Crouching Venus Longacre saw in Philadelphia.

It is interesting that the Indian Head Penny is so often misidentified as depicting a Native American because the Indian Head Penny is one of the most well-known and popular of the older US coins. Of course, it probably does not help that it is always referred to as the “Indian Head Penny”.


Did any of these surprise you? Add a comment below and vote in our poll!

Header American Innovation Dollar Coins Gears

All About the American Innovation $1 Coin Series

The Innovation Series was enacted on January 3rd 2018 the Act reads:

“To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in recognition of American
innovation and significant innovation and pioneering efforts of individuals or
groups from each of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the United
States territories, to promote the importance of innovation in the United States,
the District of Columbia, and the United States territories, and for other purposes.”

If you want to read the full Act that brought this coinage to fruition you can read it here.

A Great Idea On an Underutilized Coin

Once again, the US Mint attempts to make the dollar coin popular. While I love the idea of applauding American Innovation, I am disappointed to see these designs being pushed onto the dollar coins. I doubt these coins will see much use in general circulation.

Even the now-popular Peace and Morgan dollars were not popular from 1878-1935. Where the large dollar coins saw the most use was casinos. Similarly, smaller dollar coins today are usually received as change from parking meters or vending machines. The US population is accustomed to $1 bills and has so far been unwilling to change to dollar coins.

While we are still very new to this series of coins, so far the two most popular have been the Maryland (2020) Hubble Space Telescope Dollar Coin and the Massachusetts (2020) Telephone Dollar Coin.

Notice that none of these coins have people on them, that was intentional! Congress wanted the coins to honor the innovation more than the innovator. The act explicitly states:

PROHIBITION ON CERTAIN REPRESENTATIONS.—No
head and shoulders portrait or bust of any person and
no portrait of a living person may be included in the
design of any coin issued under this subsection.

Will the American Innovation Series Coins Increase in Value?

I could definitely see the American Innovation Series increasing in value in the long term. Currently, these coins have not gained much popularity with collectors or the general population. Even the Reverse Proof Sets (which collectors usually go wild over) have been slow to sell out even with mintage numbers at 50,000.

My prediction that the Innovation Dollar coins will appreciate in value may be optimistic, however. Consider how many dollar coins the US Mint produces and how little they are circulated. In a few decades we may still have innovation dollar coins that have barely been touched.

If you are looking to make a profit off US minted coins, the Innovation Series is probably not the one to bet on, instead focusing on coins with silver value could be a more profitable long-term endeavor.

The Learning Element

I love when a mint decides to incorporate elements on coins to teach people about the country they live in. It’s interesting to travelers and young kids who often spend more time looking at coins.

The benefit of the Innovation Series being on the dollar coins is that most people are not familiar with dollar coins. Since these coins are scarce in everyday transactions people are compelleed to take a better look at dollar coins when they do get them. (It also causes coin forums to be flooded with photos of dollar coins with the caption “What is this worth?!?”)

Release Schedule:

2018

Introductory Coin

2019

Delaware – Classifying the stars
Pennsylvania – Polio vaccine
New Jersey – Light bulb
Georgia – Trustees’ Garden

2020

Connecticut – Gerber variable scale
Massachusetts – Telephone
Maryland – Hubble Space Telescope
South Carolina – Septima Clark

2021

New Hampshire – Home video game system
Virginia – Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
New York – Erie Canal
North Carolina – First public university

2022

Rhode Island
Vermont
Kentucky
Tennessee

2023

Ohio
Louisiana
Indiana
Mississippi

2024

Illinois
Alabama
Maine
Missouri

2025

Arkansas
Michigan
Florida
Texas

2026

Iowa
Wisconsin
California
Minnesota

2027

Oregon
Kansas
West Virginia
Nevada

2028

Nebraska
Colorado
North Dakota
South Dakota

2029

Montana
Washington
Idaho
Wyoming

2030

Utah
Oklahoma
New Mexico
Arizona

2031

Alaska
Hawaii
District of Columbia
Puerto Rico

2032

Guam
American Samoa
U.S. Virgin Islands
Northern Mariana Islands


What do you think of the American Innovation Series? Share your comments below and vote in our poll!

Toned Coins together Head toning vs tarnish

Tarnishing Vs. Toning: What is the Difference?

A quick google search for tarnish defines “lose or cause to lose luster, especially as a result of exposure to air or moisture”. CoinNews describes toning as “the discoloration or light patina that forms on the surface of coins due to oxygen and chemicals in the air acting on the metal”.

Toning and tarnishing both happen from the same process of metal reacting with water, oxygen, and/or chemicals in the air to change the surface of the metal. But for a coin and precious metal collector, when is a coin tarnished and when is it toned?

The Eye of the Beholder

Much of the decision for whether a coin is tarnished lies in the viewer. Some collectors hate any changes in color to pure silver and will refer to any chemical changes as tarnished. Other collectors love toned coins and seek them out.

In general, toned coins will have an even and attractive coloring. Many collectors will refer to the “eye appeal” of a coin. This means that a coin, although tarnished, looks arguably better because of the change in color.

Benjamin Franklin HAlf dollar PCGS 1
A 1958 Benjamin Franklin Half Dollar From PCGS: Toned or Tarnished?

You can artificially tone coins; an experiment I have catalogued several times on American Coin Stash. If you are interested in artificially toning coins you should look at this article, where I toned coins with liver of sulfur gel, or this one where I toned coins with food from my kitchen.

If you hear a collector refer to a coin as ‘tarnished’ they are probably not impressed with the look of the coin. The coin may have uneven coloring, blemishes, fingerprints, or milk spots.

Quick Reference:

  • Tarnishing
    • Unattractive
    • Uneven
    • Fingerprints
    • Blemishes
    • “Milk Spots”
  • Toning
    • Attractive, “Eye Appeal”
    • Nice Colors (blue, purple, rainbow)
    • Can Be Faked

Coin Denomination Matters

Certain coins are more likely to have attractive toning than others. Any coin with a high silver content which was circulated very little is more likely to have an attractive an even toning. Morgan and Peace silver dollars are coins which can often be found with toning. Since they have a high silver content, the silver reacts with oxygen and water often resulting in blue and purple hues. And, since the coins were rarely circulated, the toning comes out even across the coin since there were less hands to interrupt the process.

Toned Morgan Silver Dollar PCGS toning
A Toned 1892 Morgan Silver Dollar From PCGS

Coins that will develop less attractive toning or tarnishing are pennies and nickels. Pennies, composed of copper and zinc, are circulated too much to often have an attractive level of tarnishing on them. Nickels, composed of nickel and copper, usually only darken in color, rarely changing to the blues, purples, and reds people seek out in toned coins.

Not that it is impossible for any coin to develop an attractive tone. I have seen pennies turn really fantastic shades of blue and purple.

Final Thoughts

In the end, whether a coin is toned or tarnished, there is no clear line. Toning has become more popular in recent years which has driven the price of toned coins much higher.

With the increase in popularity, fakes have become more common. It can be hard to spot the different between natural toning, and toning that has been induced in a lab or kitchen. In fact, this is a great debate for collectors, “When does a coin become artificially toned?”

A coin collector could induce toning by leaving a coin in a hot attic for months or years, if done intentionally, does that count as artificial toning?


What do you think about toning? Share a comment below and vote in our poll!

2021 morgan peace silver dollar CC S O Privy Mark

US Mint Begins Release of 2021 Morgan And Peace Silver Dollars

Today was the first day of pre-ordering for the 2021 Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars. At 12PM Eastern Time, the US Mint opened two of the 2021 Morgan Dollars.

The first one to sell out was the 2021 Morgan with a “CC” Privy Mark honoring the Carson City Mint. This Morgan Dollar was not minted in Carson City, but in Philadelphia.

The other coin released today was another Morgan Silver Dollar with an “O” Privy Mark to honor the New Orleans Mint.

Why did the Carson City Mint Dollar Coin sell out first?

Carson City coins are especially rare since the mint was only sporadically open for operation. The mint produced coins from 1870-1885 and from 1889-1893. The Carson City Morgan silver dollar is the first coin minted with a “CC” mark in 128 years.

Keep in mind though, this coin was not minted in Carson City, but minted in Philadelphia and has a privy mark for Carson City. (Also remember that most coins made in Philadelphia have no mint mark.)

Can I still get 2021 Morgan Silver Dollars?

Yes! Here is the release schedule for 2021 Morgan Dollars: Here was the intended release of the 2021 Dollar coins:

2021 Morgan Dollar “O” Privy MarkMay 24, 2021
2021 Morgan Dollar “CC” Privy MarkMay 24, 2021
2021 Morgan Dollar “S” MintJune 1, 2021
2021 Morgan Dollar “D” MintJune 1, 2021
2021 Morgan Dollar (No Mint Mark, Philadelphia P)June 7, 2021
2021 Peace Dollar (No Mint Mark, Philadelphia P)June 7, 2021
Release Schedule for 2021 Morgan and Peace Dollar Coins

*UPDATE*: Read the update below! The US Mint has delayed the pre-orders for the upcoming Morgan and Peace silver dollars!

If you missed the release, don’t worry because you can always try on eBay or another third party seller. Check in with your local coin store to see if they managed to get some to sell.

I expect the two most popular of the series will be the “CC” mint mark and the “S” mint. If you want to order either of those, make sure to be on the website as soon as pre-ordering becomes available to ensure you can grab one.

What is the difference between a mint mark and a privy mark?

A mint mark indicates where a coin was minted, meaning where the coin was produced. A privy mark is meant to honor a certain time or place in history. We call these different names because mint marks help keep track of where coins were from and potential errors.

Privy marks, on the other hand, hold sentimental value and can increase the value of the coin. They do not tell you where a coin was produced or when.

US Mint website keep crashing when trying to buy or pre-order?

If you have tried to buy coins from the US Mint the day they are released you have probably felt the frustration of trying to checkout and having the session timeout due to problems connecting or a “bad gateway” error. These are due to the US Mint website servers not being able to handle the number of people ordering all at once.

Here are my tips to ensure a successful pre-order from USMint.gov:

  • Be ready on time.
    • Coins sell out fast so make sure to be ready as soon as they become available.
  • Have your payment information saved.
    • By creating an account and saving your payment information, you can save time by not having to input your full address and credit card whenever the server times out.
  • Ask friends to help.
    • More people trying increases your odds of getting a coin from pre-ordering. Of course, you may end up with more than one, so make sure you can afford to buy more than one if both you and your friend make it to checkout.
  • Keep trying!
    • It took me 23 minutes before I could get my order into the United States Mint to order the 2021 “O” Morgan Silver Dollar. Thankfully I kept trying, because I was very worried after 15 minutes. Keep refreshing until it says they are sold out!

Other than that, it is mostly luck! Keep your lucky penny or pocket piece handy!

Buy Gold and Silver

Will 2021 Silver Dollars Increase in Value?

Who knows!?

Unfortunately, this will depend not only on the price of silver, but investor interest and scarcity. The mint made 175,000 of each Morgan Silver Dollar and 200,000 of the 2021 Peace Dollars. Although a fairly low mintage, it is nowhere near the scarcest the mint has produced.

Many numismatists I have seen have predicted a short term price increase ranging from $100-$400, and then a stabilizing over the next 3 years as the collector frenzy wanes.

Overall, I wouldn’t purchase a 2021 Silver Dollar if your goal is to profit in a time frame greater than one year. Buy one because you enjoy them and want to be part of the first people to get one!

Those who buy directly from the mint and resell on eBay immediately will probably make a decent profit as collectors experience FOMO due to the perceived scarcity.

Why is there a charge of $4.95 from the US Mint on my card?

You may be surprised to see a charge on your bank statement for $4.95 from the US Mint. Don’t be alarmed!

It will say “Purchase US Min Coin Washington DC Card####” Merchant Name: US Mint Sales-DR.

The US Mint is not charging you extra nor did they charge you the wrong price for the Silver dollars. $4.95 is simply the cost of the US Mint’s budget shipping option. You may see a larger charge from the US Mint depending on what type of shipping you selected at checkout.

Remember, the coins are currently being listed for pre-order, meaning they are not being purchased when you complete your payment. You have simply ordered one from the mint to be shipped to your address once the coins become available.

Update May 27th:

The US mint released an email today announcing that they would delay future pre-orders in order to improve their website. Read the full email here:

Dear Valued Customer, 

The United States Mint is committed to providing the best possible online experience to its customers. The global silver shortage has driven demand for many of our bullion and numismatic products to record heights. This level of demand is felt most acutely by the Mint during the initial product release of numismatic items. Most recently in the pre-order window for 2021 Morgan Dollar with Carson City privy mark (21XC) and New Orleans privy mark (21XD), the extraordinary volume of web traffic caused significant numbers of Mint customers to experience website anomalies that resulted in their inability to complete transactions. 

In the interest of properly rectifying the situation, the Mint is postponing the pre-order windows for the remaining 2021 Morgan and Peace silver dollars that were originally scheduled for June 1 (Morgan Dollars struck at Denver (21XG) and San Francisco (21XF)) and June 7 (Morgan Dollar struck at Philadelphia (21XE) and the Peace Dollar (21XH)). While inconvenient to many, this deliberate delay will give the Mint the time necessary to obtain web traffic management tools to enhance the user experience. As the demand for silver remains greater than the supply, the reality is such that not everyone will be able to purchase a coin. However, we are confident that during the postponement, we will be able to greatly improve on our ability to deliver the utmost positive U.S. Mint experience that our customers deserve. We will announce revised pre-order launch dates as soon as possible. 

Thank you for a being a United States Mint customer.


Did you manage to get one? Share your story of the US Mint website crashing in the comments below!