Sometimes, reducing everything to money ruins all the fun. Rare coins can be good investments, but they can also be fascinating in their own right. There’s more to coins than money, ironically enough. Some investors fall over themselves trying to find the rarest of all coins so that they can sock away a lot of money in something that cannot be purchased by everyone and anyone. However, some people are just after the coin for its historicity and its collector’s value. Collector’s value can mean the monetary value of a coin, or it can just mean how interesting the coin is to collectors, as well.
Rare coins are oftentimes proof versions. These coins are made especially for collectors. Compared to circulating currency, proof versions have more sophisticated metal work—such as frosting and mirroring—and oftentimes come in sealed slabs with all the paperwork necessary to authenticate them. Among historic coins, these are the most valuable, by far. They’re also the rarest. Even a proof version of a common coin, such as a Morgan silver dollar, can be exceptionally valuable and very hard to find. There are other coins that aren’t proof versions, but that are just as rare.
Sometimes, there is an error in the minting process that results in very rare coins being produced. Usually, these errors are very small and only the types of things that collectors and numismatists would notice, but there are some that are very pronounced and that make the coins exceptionally valuable. A series of pennies struck in the 1950s, for instance, had an error that caused the numbers and letters to be doubled. These are among the most valuable on the market and are exceptionally hard to find. If you’re wondering, it’s always worth it to check the change in your pockets!
Rare coins need to be certified by a numismatic service before you buy. The seller should be willing to do this. It’s rather like having a used car tested for emissions: if it passes, the deal may be a good one; if it doesn’t you’ve lost nothing, as you didn’t buy before you knew for sure. Be sure to ask anyone selling a rare coin to have it certified. With professional coin dealers, this is usually done in advance so that you can be sure that your money is going toward something worthwhile, not something utterly useless.