Where to Find Old Coins November 02 2014

For any new coin collector interested in finding old coins, the variety of options can be overwhelming.  Ebay, coin shops, and coin roll hunting are just a few of the great collectible coin sources out there. But how do you know where's the best place to find old coins?  In this article, I'm going to explain the pros and cons to hunting for coins in each source.  


Buying Coins on eBay

Ebay is easily the largest marketplace for collectible coins.  On the website, you can find everything from old U.S. coins to world coins to silver and gold bullion.  What makes eBay great for coin buyers, is that prices are typically below retail—i.e., what you would expect to pay if you bought from a coin dealer.  That means a lot of great deals can be found.  Another one of eBay's pluses is its enormous selection.  Unless you are interested in a very specific and small niche, odds are you will be able to find whatever you're looking for on eBay.  The main downside to eBay is the obvious disadvantage of buying a coin that you can't see in-hand.  It can be difficult to determine the quality (and even the authenticity) of a coin by only looking at a picture of it, and this problem is compounded by low-quality pictures and dishonest sellers.  If you're a new collector just starting to get into the hobby, I would not recommend diving into the deep end on eBay first thing.  Start out by buying a few cheaper coins, from sellers with high feedback scores (i.e. 99.9 to 100%) and lots of sales.  Once you gain a better understanding of which sellers are trustworthy, and how a picture corresponds to a coin in-hand, then you can start to explore the more expensive and rare collectible coins.  You can also check out our article for more tips on how to navigate eBay as a coin buyer.  


Local Coin Shop

Not comfortable buying online?  Another great place to buy old coins is your local coin shop.  Any decent sized city should have one or two, though it's possible they might be run more as a hybrid jewelry/coin shop.  I always recommend taking a quick glance at the Yelp reviews before checking out a new coin store.  Don't let one or two negative reviews keep you from going, but keep any customer reviews in the back of your mind while examining the shop's selection.  You shouldn't expect to get eBay-level bargains at a typical coin shop, as the costs of running a brick & mortar retail operation have to be incorporated into the coins' prices.  But you should be able to find most types of U.S. coins, and probably some inexpensive world coins as well.


Coin Roll Hunting

This is the best option for finding old coins on a budget.  All you have to do is go to your local bank, and buy a few rolls of coins.  Whenever you find something valuable, replace it with an ordinary coin, and return it to the bank.  The total cost is minimal, and the thrill of the hunt is great fun.  A few valuable coins to look for: silver dimes, quarters, and half dollars from 1964 and before (these coins were produced in 90% silver rather than copper-nickel); Lincoln Wheat cents from 1958 and before, and Kennedy half dollars from 1965-1970 (produced in a 40% silver alloy).  Most coin roll hunters agree that rolls of quarters have been picked over fairly well by now, so you should stick to dimes and half dollars for silver, and penny rolls for Wheat cents.