Where to Find Great Coin Deals (Part 1) August 17 2013
Like many hobbies, coin collecting has its share of great stories. I've heard tale after tale of a friend or fellow collector who found the perfect coin by complete and total accident. Sometimes it's a silver dollar used as part of a purchase at a fast-food restaurant. Or maybe it's a Walking Liberty half dollar that turned up in your grocery store change.
But how do you put yourself in a position to find those coins? While it may seem like dumb luck, there are certain strategies you can take to improve your chances of hunting down rare coins in general circulation. I've decided to write down a list of the 10 best places/strategies for cherrypicking those hidden treasures.
1. Your local bank
Where better to look than a place that stores thousands and thousands of coins? If you have been banking at one particular institution for a while, they probably won't mind informing you when new rolls of coins are delivered. That allows you to come in at a regular time and either take out a few rolls, or swap some that you had out before with some that you haven't had a chance to look at yet. You might be surprised at the old coins you find hidden away in rolls. Whether it's wheat cents, silver war nickels, or silver half dollars (the most common find), there are plenty of great coins just waiting for you to take them out of the bank vaults.
2. Anywhere with a cash register
Cashiers have tons of coins pass through their hands on a daily basis. If you've got a friend who works at a movie theater, grocery store, convenience store, etc, ask them to keep an eye out for old coins. They can set aside any coin that's out of the ordinary and let you exchange your own change for it later. If you don't have any cashier friends, make some! A charming smile and a $20-bill handshake is a great way to make a new friend who will be happy to keep an eye out for old silver coins.
3. Coin Star machines
These machines, which allow customers to turn their change into cash or gift cards, are found in many grocery stores around the nation. Coin Star machines will automatically reject any coins that don't fit the weight requirements of modern copper-nickel coins, which means many old silver coins end up in the reject pile. Ask a grocery store manager what happens to those rejects. Chances are they get thrown away but another $20 handshake might see them end up in your pocket.
This one would seem like a logical place to look for older coins, the type with some collector value. When people fall into financial straits, many times the first thing to go is grandpa's old coin collection. As a result, pawn shops are often full of a wide variety of coins. Unlike coin dealers, pawnshop owners don't necessarily have a lot of knowledge about how much coins are worth. While some pawnshop owners will do their best to research and properly price every coin that enters their shop, many won't be willing to invest the time and effort. It's quite possible to find rare gold and silver coins at pawnshops for a fraction of the price you might expect to pay for them at a coin store.
5. Garage sales
If you are the garage sale type, you know that these sales are filled with an even more eclectic assortment of items than pawnshops. There's everything under the sun, from old fishing gear to bicycles and piles and piles of old clothes that people are always trying to get rid of. In the chaos of consumer detritus one can occasionally find the odd coin collection. When you come across such a find, you often have a treasure or two in front of you for a very low price. And if the price isn't low enough, haggle! Keep an eye on the classified section of your newspaper for garage or estate sale ads that mention coins. You might just find a 1933 St. Gaudens Double Eagle next to that creepy set of dolls.
That concludes Part 1 of my blog on hunting down great coin deals. Part 2 to come soon!