Cybercoins' FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. I have an old dime (or quarter, or penny) -- is it worth anything?
  2. I have an Indian cent that looks pretty excellent to me -- what is its condition in collectors' terms?
  3. I have a Lincoln "wheat" cent that looks pretty excellent to me -- what is its condition in collectors' terms?
  4. I have a penny that looks like it was made from silver or steel -- it is dated 1943. Is this the really valuable one I heard about on the radio?
  5. I have a nickel with a big "V" on the back that looks pretty excellent to me -- what is its condition in collectors' terms?
  6. I have a nickel with an Indian on the front and a buffalo on the back that looks pretty excellent to me -- what is its condition in collectors' terms?
  7. I have a Jefferson nickel made between 1942 and 1945; the color on it looks strange and it just doesn't feel like a regular nickel. Do I have something good?
  8. I have a dime made between 1892 and 1916 (Barber or Liberty Head) -- where do I find the mint marks and what are the grades in collectors' terms?
  9. I found a strange dime -- one the front is something that looks like a head with a wing coming out the ear. On the back is something that looks like a cross between an ax and a bundle of sticks. What is it worth?
  10. I have a half dollar made between 1916 and 1947 (Walking Liberty) -- where do I find the mint marks and what are the grades in collectors' terms?
  11. I have a bag (or large bottle) of the special Bicentennial coins we used back in 1976; what are they worth?
  12. Where are the mint marks on Morgan and Peace silver dollars and how do I judge their condition?
  13. What is the difference between a mint set and a proof set?
  14. I heard something about some states' quarters having the backs upside-down and that they are going for thousands of dollars. As we say here in Pittsburgh, what's up with that?
  15. What is the difference between a coin, a medal, and a token?
  16. What decides how much you will pay me for my coin? How much you will sell it for?
  17. What's wrong with "free" appraisals? Why can't you answer all my questions for free?
  18. My (insert the name of a family member or friend) is a big history fan -- got any gift ideas?
  19. I have a coin with two heads (or tails) that both look perfect. I looked at the edge and cannot see any kind of seam. Have I found something valuable?
  20. I have $1,000 (or $100 or whatever amount) to invest in coins -- which ones should I buy?
  21. I need a list of all the valuable Lincoln pennies, or Morgan dollars, or all the valuable U.S. coins. Where can I find one online? I want to hunt for rare coins at yard sales; can you send me a list of what I should be looking for?
  22. I need a gift from a particular year to celebrate an anniversary or birthday -- got anything?
  23. I need a gift for someone who likes angels - or soccer, birds, trains, famous African-Americans, ships, anything else -- got any ideas?
  24. I emailed Cybercoins and I got a great answer -- but it came from an AOL (or Nauticom or some other) account. Was the response from you or is someone stealing your email?
  25. I ordered (or emailed or called) Cybercoins and everyone was so nice -- so friendly. Thanks for all your help. What's up with you guys?

 



I have an old dime (or quarter, or penny) -- is it worth anything?

If nothing else, all United States coins are worth their face value. All the coins we have ever made are still "legal tender" and perfectly good to spend, even things like two-cent pieces from the 1860s.

But I know what you really mean is: can you get enough for your old coin to quit your day job? Probably not, but you may be able to get a nice night out on the town if you ask yourself (and find the answers to) a few simple questions.

What is your coin made of? If it is a pre-1964 dollar, half, quarter, dime, or half dime it is made of silver and worth at least the value of that silver. As I write this in late 1999, that is a little over three times the face value -- 10 silver dimes will bring you $3.00 at any honest coin shop. Some nickels (those made during WW II) and some other coins have a silver value as well, so maybe a less expensive guide book (like the "Bluebook" by R.S. Yeoman might come in handy; we have back issues for sale and even the newest ones are less than $10.00) to check what metal content your coins have may come in handy.

What is the mint mark on your coin? On Lincoln pennies, the mint mark is just under the date and easy to see. On Peace dollars, it is off to the side under the word "ONE." Most series of coins have a mint mark (or many) and sometimes it seems like every series put it in a different spot. Having a copy of the Bluebook comes in handy for finding all these mint marks as well. Why are they important? Well, during some years one mint may have made a lot fewer coins than the other mints. That makes them harder to find and more valuable to own. For example, in 1909 we made both Indian Head and Lincoln cents. Of the 1909 Indian Head cents, we made them at both Philadelphia (plain, or no mint mark) and San Francisco (with a "S" mint mark). In Philadelphia, we made 14,370,645 Indian Head cents. In San Francisco, we only made 309,000 Indian Head cents. The 1909 Indian Head in plain sells for about $2.00 in the lowest collectable condition; the "S" ones start at $220.00! Big difference for one little letter -- the "S" mint mark. Learn where to find the mint mark; it will be worth your time.

What is the condition of your coin? To be a certain grade, you have to be able to see specific things on the coin. For a Lincoln cent to be "fine," you must be able to see all the lines in the heads of the wheat stalks but they can show some wear. For a Buffalo nickel to be "fine," three-quarters of the horn must show. If all the horn shows on a Buffalo nickel, it is at least "very fine." Here again, a good guidebook will give you a start knowing this. In real estate, they talk "location, location, location." In coins, it is "condition, condition, condition." A 1922 Lincoln cent in "good" sells for about $300.00, in "fine" it goes about $415.00 and in "extra fine" the price is about $1,250.00! If it is uncirculated, the value starts at $5,200.00 and can go up as far as $60,000.00

As you can see, just the very basics take a little reading and a little time. Knowledge is power, and we want our customers to be as powerful as possible. The more you know about your coins, the more you will know for a fact that what we offer you for your coins is fair and what we charge for our coins is also fair. But you cannot do this without at least one or two books.

The "Bluebook" is also called the Handbook of United States Coins and is by R. S. Yeoman.

Another good book is the "Redbook," A Guide Book of United States Coins, also by R. S. Yeoman.

PHOTOGRADE Coin Grading Guide, by James Ruddy, is also very good to have. It shows pictures of each of the grades instead of just giving written descriptions.

We offer all three for sale and the price of each is around $10.00, or check in your local library to see if they have copies available. Either way, be sure to educate (and empower) yourself.

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I have an Indian cent that looks pretty excellent to me -- what is its condition in collectors’ terms?


Grading coins is a science that takes training and years of practice. We cannot teach you exact grading here, but we can get you close. The specific things you first look for on Indian cents are:

Very Good - at least three letters of the word LIBERTY in the band of the Indian’s headdress will be visible

Fine - all of LIBERTY must be visible but some wear is allowed

Very Fine - just the slightest wear can be seen on the word LIBERTY

Extra Fine - LIBERTY and all other details will be sharp with just slight wear on the ends of the ribbons

There are many grades above the XF condition as well, but these are the average grades.

There are several very good books that we have for sale that show pictures and give detailed descriptions.

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I have a Lincoln "wheat" cent that looks pretty excellent to me -- what is its condition in collectors’ terms?

Grading coins is a science that takes training and years of practice. We cannot teach you exact grading here, but we can get you close. The specific things you first look for on Lincoln cents are:

Very Good - half of the lines in the upper wheat heads will show

Fine - wheat lines worn but visible

Very Fine - no wear on the wheat heads and the cheek and jaw lines are worn but clearly separate

Extra Fine - only the slightest signs of wear: all details are visible and sharp

There are many grades above the XF condition as well, but these are the average grades.

There are several very good books that we have for sale that show pictures and give detailed descriptions.

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I have a penny that looks like it was made from silver or steel -- it is dated 1943. Is this the really valuable one I heard about on the radio?

Yes and no - you may have heard something about it in the news, but what you heard was wrong. Give me a little space here for a history lesson.

In 1943, copper was needed for the war effort. The mint tried to use steel as a substitute and they made millions of them. To be exact, 684,628,670 in Philadelphia, 217,660,000 in Denver, and 191,550,000 in San Francisco. This is a whole lot of pennies by anyone's standards and in the condition we usually see them they are worth - a penny! Yeppers, face value and nothing much more.

What sparked the news stories, except they got it almost all wrong, was the fact that someone (a mint employee) back in 1943 slipped a couple of copper/bronze planchets (the disc of metal a coin is made from) through the presses, making a couple of 1943 cents from copper. I believe about 5 have been found and confirmed in all the years since 1943 -- these few go for really big money.

So - you just happen to have a 1943 penny that looks to be made from copper; should you still go to work Monday morning or is it time to retire? I think I would get up and go to work. Lots of things can happen to make a steel penny look like it was made from copper, from being plated for use in a good luck charm to contact with chemicals in the environment. First thing to do is check it with a magnet, if it sticks, it is a plated steel cent. If it doesn't stick to a magnet, the odds are still much better that it is a fake or an altered coin than the real thing. You are going to have to invest some money to have it authenticated. You will probably lose your investment because it will probably be a fake, but it may be worth the shot. Authentication will cost at least $30.00 but less than $100.00.

The 1944 pennies? We went back to copper. It seems that the steel was really tough on the machinery at the mint - so bad that they got permission to go back to copper even over the protests of the Defense Department. But guess what? Someone slipped a couple of steel planchets through the machinery in 1944, making just a couple of 1944 steel cents. Oh, well, such is life and why even I look at my pocket change now and again. You never know when you could just be the lucky "one in a million."

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I have a nickel with a big "V" on the back that looks pretty excellent to me -- what is its condition in collectors’ terms?

Grading coins is a science that takes training and years of practice. We cannot teach you exact grading here, but we can get you close. The specific things you first look for on Liberty Head (1883-1912) nickels are:

Very Good - at least three letters of the word LIBERTY in the headband are legible

Fine - all letters of LIBERTY show

Very Fine - LIBERTY is bold, even the letter "L"

Extra Fine - LIBERTY is bold and you can see the corn grains on the ear at the bottom of the reverse; the side with the big "V"

There are many grades above the XF condition as well, but these are the average grades.

There are several very good books that we have for sale that show pictures and give detailed descriptions.

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I have a nickel with an Indian on the front and a buffalo on the back that looks pretty excellent to me -- what is its condition in collectors’ terms?

Grading coins is a science that takes training and years of practice. We cannot teach you exact grading here, but we can get you close. The specific things you first look for on Indian Head (or as some call them, Buffalo) nickels are:

Very Good - at least half of the horn shows

Fine - at least three-quarters of the horn shows

Very Fine - full horn shows, but the Indian’s cheekbone is worn

Extra Fine - only a slight amount of wear shows and that is on the Indian’s hair ribbon

There are many grades above the XF condition as well, but these are the average grades.

There are several very good books that we have for sale that show pictures and give detailed descriptions.

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I have a Jefferson nickel made between 1942 and 1945; the color on it looks strange and it just doesn't feel like a regular nickel. Do I have something good?

You have something good, but not great. During WW II, our need for certain metals (like copper and nickel) caused the mint to do some things they would not usually do. In pennies, in 1943, they used steel instead of copper. For the entire war, they put silver in the nickels. The silver (the overall content is 35%) was combined with manganese to replace nickel needed for the war effort. The silver gives it a very different look and some people claim, a different feel.

If you have jars and jars of nickels and you want to scan them quickly for the silver ones, it is very easy. Look on the reverse just over the dome of Monticello. Do you see a fairly big letter "P," "D," or "S" there? If you do, it's silver and worth about 15 cents. If not, it is a plain old nickel.

OK, it's not a lot of money, but it beats a nickel!

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I have a dime made between 1892 and 1916 (Barber or Liberty Head) -- where do I find the mint marks and what are the grades in collectors’ terms?

The mint mark, if there is one, is on the back below the wreath and to be exact, below the bow.

Grading coins is a science that takes training and years of practice. We cannot teach you exact grading here, but we can get you close. The specific things you first look for on Barber dimes are:

Very Good - at least three letters of the word LIBERTY in the headband are visible

Fine - all of LIBERTY is visible but some of the letters are weak

Very Fine - all the letters of LIBERTY are plain and only show some light, even wear

Extra Fine - all of LIBERTY is sharp and distinct and the edges of the headband are distinct

There are many grades above the XF condition as well, but these are the average grades.

The above descriptions for the Barber dime also applies to the Barber quarter and Barber half dollar.

There are several very good books that we have for sale that show pictures and give detailed descriptions.

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I found a strange dime -- one the front is something that looks like a head with a wing coming out the ear. On the back is something that looks like a cross between an ax and a bundle of sticks. What is it worth?

That is a Mercury dime and it was made between 1916 and 1945. It is called that because people think the head looks like that of the Greek god, Mercury (like in the FTD logo). Actually, it isn’t him, it is meant to be "Liberty." The wings are meant to represent "liberty of thought," one of our basic freedoms.

There are some very good years/mints in this series. To find the mint mark, look on the back just after the word ONE; if there is a mint mark, that is where it will be.

The rough requirements of the different grades are:

Very Good - you can see at least half of the sticks in the bundle on the back

Fine - all the sticks can be seen but the diagonal bands are worn nearly flat

Very Fine - the two crossing diagonal bands show wear

Extra Fine - the diagonal bands show only slight wear and the braids and hair before the ear show clearly

There are many grades above the XF condition as well, but these are the average grades.

There are several very good books that we have for sale that show pictures and give detailed descriptions.

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I have a half dollar made between 1916 and 1947 (Walking Liberty) -- where do I find the mint marks and what are the grades in collectors’ terms?

The mint mark, if there is one, can actually be in one of two places. In 1916 and 1917, some of the coins made have the mint mark on the front under IN GOD WE TRUST. On all others, it is on the back at about 8 o’clock under the "bush and sticks" and close to the rim.

Grading coins is a science that takes training and years of practice. We cannot teach you exact grading here, but we can get you close. The specific things you first look for on Walking Liberty halves are:

Very Good - the motto is defined and about half the skirt lines at the left are clear

Fine - all the skirt lines are evident but worn. Details in the sandal below the motto are clear

Very Fine - all skirt lines are clear and sharp including the leg area. A little wear on the breast and right arm is permissible

Extra Fine - all skirt lines are bold

There are many grades above the XF condition as well, but these are the average grades.

There are several very good books that we have for sale that show pictures and give detailed descriptions.

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I have a bag (or large bottle) of the special Bicentennial coins we used back in 1976; what are they worth?
They are worth their face value with a very few exceptions I will mention toward the end of this note. Those coins replaced our regular coins during the Bicentennial and were actually made for two years, which is why you never see quarters dated 1975 or 1976. We just made the "1776-1976" ones for those two years.

In quarters, we made more than 1,600,000,000 coins.
In the half dollar, more than 500,000,000 coins.
Of the dollar, more than 220,000,000 coins

Sometimes it seems as if every living person in the world has saved a bag of these coins just waiting for them to be worth big bucks. We have had people bring in Polar Water bottles of the darn things. They aren’t worth more than the face value; we use them for change. Go ahead and spend them. Unless....

Like any rule, there are a few exceptions. We did make a lower number of these coins from silver (look at the edge - if any copper shows it is a plain old clad) to appeal to collectors and investors. Those do have silver value. We made proof sets, those will be in the mint holders and have a small collectors interest. There were also mint errors - factory "goof-ups" by the mint. A fun one to look for is the rotated reverses; to see a good explanation of what to look for on these coins, see our explanation about the "States quarters" being upside down.

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Where are the mint marks on Morgan and Peace silver dollars and how do I judge their condition?

An 1879 dollar has a base value of $5.00, unless it is a "CC" dollar (made at Carson City, Nevada). Then the price goes to about $50.00.

Most Peace dollars start at about $5.00 as well. But the 1928 without a mint mark ("plain" and made in Philadelphia) begins at about $70.00.

This makes the first step in knowing the value of your coins knowing where to find the mint mark.

Morgan dollars (1878-1921, with an eagle on the back that has his wings spread) have the mint mark, when present, on the back below the wreath but above the letters "DO" in the word "DOLLAR." On Peace dollars (1921-1935 with the eagle standing on a rock with his wings folded) the mint mark, when present, is on the back below the word "ONE."

The mint mark, or even the lack of a mint mark, tells you exactly where a particular coin was made.
Those without a mint mark, what a collector calls "plain," were made in Philadelphia.
CC is for Carson City, Nevada
S is for San Francisco, California
D is for Denver, Colorado
O is for New Orleans, Louisiana

Condition is a lot harder to answer. Grading any coin takes training and experience, with dollars it is even tougher. No series inspire the amount of arguments over grades like the Morgan and Peace dollars. IN ROUGH TERMS

A Morgan grades as:

Very Fine - 2/3 of the hairlines show and the ear is well defined. Some of the feathers on the eagle’s breast can be worn

Extra Fine - all hairlines are visible and the ear is bold. The eagle’s feathers are all plain but a slight wear on the breast and wing tips is permissible.

A Peace grades as:

Very Fine - the hair over the eye is worn, some of the hair over the ear is well defined, some of the eagle’s feathers on the top and outside edge of the right wing will show wear.

Extra Fine - hairlines over the eye and ear are strong but slightly worn, all wing feathers are visible but the top and outside edge can be faint.

There are many grades above the XF condition as well, but these are the average grades.

There are several very good books that we have for sale that show pictures and give detailed descriptions.

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What is the difference between a mint set and a proof set?

Mint sets are made by the government and have one of each coin made from each mint in uncirculated condition. They are regular "business strikes" (just normal coins) that are packaged by the mint and sold to collectors. If we made pennies at two mints in that year, the mint set will have two pennies; one of each. If we made three dimes (P, D and S), there will be one of each of them.

Proof sets are very different because the coins are not "business strikes"; they are specially prepared and made. The dies that stamp the coins are polished to a mirror finish. The planchets, the discs of metal the coins are made from, are polished to a mirror finish. The resulting coin is almost more than perfect; it almost looks like art.

In addition to proof sets and mint sets, there are also (in some years) more than one kind of proof set. Some years, the coins that would usually be made from "clad" (like the dimes, quarters, and half dollars in 1976) would be made in silver for special "silver proof sets." These are usually more valuable due to the value of the metal. Some years also have "Prestige Sets," proof sets that include commemorative coins in addition to the regular coins; all in specially prepared "proof" form.

The United States isn’t the only country to make proof and mint sets. Actually, most countries have made them for the past 20 years or more. So if you want a "ready made collection" of German (or British or Liberian) coins from any given year, a proof or mint set could be a way to go.

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I heard something about some states’ quarters having the backs upside-down and that they are going for thousands of dollars. As we say here in Pittsburgh, what’s up with that?

This is another case where radio talk-show hosts and news reporters did a bad job of reporting a story. What is being discussed is called a "rotated reverse." Every series of coin has rotated reverse errors - some more than others. In large cents, they are pretty common - rotated reverse Buffalo nickels are a little harder to find. A rotated reverse happens when a die "turns" a little in the press so that the pair of dies are not perfectly aligned.

If you take a state’s quarter, or any U.S. coin, and hold it in front of you with the obverse "right side up"; you turn the coin to the back from the top and bottom (flip it north and south) the reverse image should be "right side up." If you turn it side-to-side (east for west) it should be upside down. If it is not, if it is out of alignment any amount, you have a rotated reverse. If it is rotated any significant amount from 90% to 180%, you will probably get a premium for that coin.

How much? It depends on the coin, its condition, the popularity of the series, and lots of other things. Right now, rotated states’ quarters in MS63 or more are going for under $100.00 and some dealer have them for as low as $35.00. Even so, pretty good return for a quarter.

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What is the difference between a coin, a medal, and a token?

Start to answer that question around any good-sized group of numismatists and you may just start a fight.
Questions like:
Is wampum really a form of coin?
Are "patterns" coins?
Are Civil War patriotic tokens really tokens or are they medals?
and lots of other questions can really become a good deal like a debate between different political parties.

As a general rule of thumb, the following descriptions fit as "working definitions."

Coins are made by governments (or rulers) to be used in making change, paying taxes, and carrying on business. Usually they are made of a metal with a "worth" of its own , but they can be made of almost anything. They have a specific "face value," a rate at which they are meant to be valued, and that face value is not always marked on the coin or honored in practice.

Tokens are like coins in the respect that they were intended to circulate like coins and usually have a "face value," but they are made by individuals (not governments) and could rarely be used for taxes and other "official government functions."

Medals are just pieces of metal made to show an image, honor a person or event, or celebrate an idea. They do not have a value other than the worth of the metal they are made from other than what a collector is willing to pay "in coin" to own a particular one.

So, why all the fights? That seems simple enough.

Well, few Civil War tokens have a "face value." They were made to the standards of a regular U.S. cent and were used as cents (circulated like the coins) so most people figure "two out of three ain’t bad" and leave it at that. But some purists don’t, and they pass on them as just being "advertising and patriotic" medals.

Commemorative coins - like the U.S. Columbian half-dollar or the United States Black Patriots dollar - are considered by some to be more a "medal" than a "coin." They are made by the government and have a face value - but when they were made, they were made for collectors to collect rather than to be used as coins.

New Jersey colonial coppers were made by the "State" of New Jersey and could be used for taxes, in New Jersey, but almost everyone considers it to be a token rather than a coin.

I offer this to illustrate a problem some of you have when communicating with us. People who use our message board and email us are usually looking for a "black and white" answer and sometimes the best we can offer is a "usually," or "normally" or "often." For this we apologize, but sometimes it just cannot be avoided.

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What decides how much you will pay me for my coin? How much you will sell it for?

The second part is actually the easiest to understand. There are "dealer price lists," reference books, and other resources we have available to set a "market price" for a coin or almost anything else; we keep thousands of books like that in our "shop" library just for that purpose. Only about once out of every 200,000 "things" we offer for sale do we have to fall back on a "hunch" for our price. Sometimes we are not the cheapest but we are almost never the most expensive; the money we invest in books allows us to be fair in what we sell.

The first part, what we pay, is more a skill than a science. It comes down to several things:

For some rare coins, we may pay as much as 90% of our "selling" price when we buy them from you. We can sell them in a matter of weeks, with almost no effort, and we do not have any examples of them on hand.
Common coins, we may only pay 50% for or even less. Some, like well circulated (worn) common date Lincoln cents we may try not to buy. We already have buckets of them, more than we can sell in the next five years, and we may have to "wholesale" them to a charity or use them for change just to get rid of them.

What we want to do, though, is to give you the most we can and still make money. Unlike a department store or grocery, we cannot call a warehouse or a factory and order more "stock." The only way we have anything to sell is to buy it from you. If we DO NOT deal with you fairly and give you the best value possible, you won’t sell any other things to us in the future and you will not recommend us to your friends - and we go out of business.

That is why it seems like we are a little more difficult to sell your coins to than some other places; ones that give "free appraisals" or just tell you "ship us your collection." We have specific procedures not for our benefit, but for yours. Anything rare, anything valuable, anything special in your coins, we want you to be aware of it and we want to pay you accordingly.

We are good at what we do. We have been around for over 35 years and have now been in this business for "two generations." We have attracted some of the best experts and specialists as customers and employees. But don’t trust us -- don’t trust anyone! Learn for yourself, get a little knowledge about what you have, look around at our website, your local library and other places. The more you know, the more you will know that Cybercoins is a great place to buy and sell coins.

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What’s wrong with "free" appraisals? Why can’t you answer all my questions for free?
Want to know the truth? I wish we could. But if we did, we would be out of business in less than two years. Giving accurate values - paying you the most we can when we buy your coins - takes a lot of books and a lot of equipment. Forget the computers, the phone lines, the rent, and all the other things like that - we are just talking about the things we may have to use to identify and value your coins.

And that list is just the start.

If we purchase your coins, we can make our profit when we resell them. If we do not purchase your coins, we must charge you for the service of determining their value - the tools and books we use and the time we lose. If you use the information we provide to sell to someone else, and we have not charged you for that investment, we lose a lot of money.

Places that give free appraisals? Something we have learned over the years is that nothing is free. A really good case is silver dollars - especially Morgans. If you take a bag of them into most shops they will just count them and quote you a flat value of so much per dollar; usually $5 to $6. What they will not tell you and not look for themselves until after you leave is that some dollars from some mints sell for $100 or more each! You sell them your coins, walk out the door, and they go through them a second time "to find what they are really worth." They win and you lose. We not only will not do that, we cannot do that. Since we are charging you for a service, determining the value of your coins, we must do that as well as possible or we are in trouble.

We had a gentleman contact us with what he knew was about $25 face value in scrap silver. We explained how we do things - that we charge for the service but return the fee if the coins are sold to us. Since he had already decided to sell to us, he figured he had nothing to lose. He expected to get about $75 for his coins -- we paid him almost $1,000! All of it was just junk silver, except for one little quarter. It was a 1916 Standing Liberty and even in terrible condition it was worth every dollar we paid for it. Most shops would have just paid for the silver and kept the big profit for themselves. Not us, that is why we have been in business as long as we have -- being fair to you and to ourselves.

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My (insert the name of a family member or friend) is a big history fan -- got any gift ideas?

There are a lot of ways to use coins as a unique gift for the history fan in your life. If someone likes German (or Polish, or Russian, or French) history, a coin from the early days of that country could make an excellent present. If they are interested in a specific event, like the American Civil War, a coin or currency gift that was used at the time of the war could get a really big smile. If someone admires a certain figure in history, like Catherine the Great of Russia or Ben Franklin of the United "Colonies," a coin or medal could become a cherished treasure.

And this is where Cybercoins can help you more than most coin businesses: we have a historical researcher on staff! If you ask us for suggestions, we just turn him loose. And whatever information he has based his suggestion on, we can provide to you in writing to go with your purchase. Let me give you a few "condensed" versions here of what we mean.

For someone interested in politics and colonial affairs, we strongly suggest the Woods "Hibernia" coppers. In 1722, William Woods got a patent (official permission) from the King of England to make copper coins for use in Ireland. The King’s mistress seized this document and held it for ransom. By the time that William Woods got the patent back, the Irish Parliament had decided that it just didn’t like these coins and decided that they just would not allow them to be used - even though they had never seen one yet. The Irish threatened to revolt if these coins were put into circulation. The reputation of the coins had become so bad - even unseen - that almost all of them just sat in casks in warehouses. But merchants in the American Colonies weren’t as picky; they needed coins to use in making change and they needed them badly. So most of the casks were remarked as "hardware" and shipped across the Atlantic. So, in a Wood’s "Hibernia" copper you have an Irish coin minted in England that was only used in America. A lot of history for one little coin.

For fans of the American Revolution, we suggest a Spanish Colonial coin such as the 8 Reale coins made in Mexico, Chile, Peru, and the other Spanish American Colonies. England really didn’t allow many coins to be "imported" to their colonies. Usually, the only coins a merchant could find were the Spanish ones that came here because of trade between their colonies and "us." The Spanish 8 Reale (or "Milled Dollar") was so common here that our early paper money specified that it could be redeemed in Spanish Milled Dollars. When change was really tight and an "American" merchant could not find the smaller coins of the Reale series (called "minors), just the 8 Reale coins, they would cut the coin into 8 pieces (like in the pirate "pieces of 8") and each piece was called a "bit." Two bits were a quarter of a Spanish dollar -- what we still call a quarter dollar today. The football cheer "2 bits, 4 bits, 6 bits, a dollar" is counting in Colonial money.

See what we mean? Great gifts and great history combined!

Let us say you are shopping for an American history fan who is really tough to buy for. Want to give him the autograph of someone who lived during the American Revolution? A hand signed autograph of an important merchant or political figure? Then get him a piece of colonial currency! To keep people from making counterfeits (fakes), each real note was hand signed by one or more people - important people whose signatures other merchants would recognize. Some notes were printed by famous people like David Hall - who was an early partner of Ben Franklin in the firm of Hall & Franklin, printers. Each note is a unique piece of history.

Gift ideas? We got a million of them. Just ask.

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I have a coin with two heads (or tails) that both look perfect. I looked at the edge and cannot see any kind of seam. Have I found something valuable?


Probably not. Just because you cannot see the seam doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Machinists (and lots of other people) have access to precision milling machines, epoxies, and other tools to make near-perfect "magician’s coins."

They are called magician’s coins because the most common use of these two headed or tailed coins was in magic tricks. To make one, you take two pennies, mill them to half the thickness of an unstruck planchet, then use solder or one of the new "miracle glues" to put the two "halfs" together. Well made ones are so good that you need 40 power magnification or better to spot the seam.

I saw one made by a machinist, I know because I watched him make it. It was a Lincoln Head on one side and an Indian Head on the other side. I knew beyond a doubt the seam was there, but with my 7 power pocket magnifier, I just could not see it.

Magician’s coins are only worth a buck or two - unless they are made from silver coins and have a higher silver value.

There are real "two headed coins" out there, sort of.

Sometimes a planchet will get "stuck" in the mint and run through the presses twice. They often look two-headed, but you can see a "ghost" (or stronger) image of the reverse on both sides. That is a mint error and very collectible.

Another is called a "mule." In the past, especially the late 1700s and early 1800s, mint workers would sometimes put sets of dies together from "different" coins and make a few novelty strikes for themselves. Usually they would use two totally different coins or tokens such as the front of a cent and the back of a quarter. Sometimes they would make two headed coins. Reference books like "Breen" will sometimes list what coins have "known mules" out there. These are very collectible as well.

But a newer coin like a Washington quarter or Kennedy half being a mule? Probably not.

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I have $1,000 (or $100 or whatever amount) to invest in coins -- which ones should I buy?

Boy - this is like asking someone to pick your wife for you; sometimes that works, but it is a heck of a risk.
Since most of you use the word "invest" I am going to assume that you are looking for the biggest return you can get. If that is the case, there are some general rules you can follow to hedge your bets.

1) Decide what you will enjoy owning. Is your interest in Civil War history? Are you of "German extraction" and would you enjoy owning coins from there? Are you thinking in terms of forming a collection or just an accumulation of coins that may increase in value? Before you even start to acquire coins, you have to have a rough idea where the purchases are going to lead; what you want to accomplish. Mostly because that is going to affect step two.

2) And step two is buy yourself a book or two on what you are planning to buy. If you are just going to buy "investment grade" US coins, the "Redbook" or "Bluebook" will get you started for less than $10.00 each. If you think your investment may end up in the form of a collection of Confederate currency, you will need a copy of "Confederate Currency" by Grover Criswell for about $30.00. Someone "investing" without buying ANY reference books might as well just go to Vegas and shoot craps.

3) Buy the best coins you can afford. As a general rule, a $1,000 coin will show a better return than 10 $100 coins; one $100 coin is better than 10 $10 coins. What is common and low grade today will always be common and low grade in the future. High grade, rare coins will become even more rare and valuable in the future. As a general rule avoid coins with major problems (bad nicks, scratches, or other damage) unless filling a space; you can keep that coin for 1,000 years and the damage will not disappear.

4) Don’t get too many duplicates. A friend of mine bought, over the years, a large quantity of 1909S VDB cents -- more than 50 of them. He got a really nice return on his investment, but he had to work to do it by selling one or two at a time and shopping around for different dealers/customers. His time and travel ate into his "profit." It’s easy to find a person who needs a certain coin, but finding 50 who need the same coin takes a little more effort or requires you giving a better discount.

And the last and most important rule is, if you like something, ignore all the other rules and get it anyway. I have a lot of "common" coins in my collection, years the government just made tons and tons of coins. But I like having "one of each," so who cares? Will I make a great "investment" of them? No -- but that doesn’t matter to me, I just enjoy collecting!

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I need a list of all the valuable Lincoln pennies, or Morgan dollars, or all the valuable U.S. coins. Where can I find one online? I want to hunt for rare coins at yard sales; can you send me a list of what I should be looking for?

You are actually asking for a whole lot of information with that question. The best thing you can do is purchase a copy of the "Bluebook" (The Handbook of United States Coins by R.S. Yeoman, under $10) from us and keep it with you. It will give you rough values and grading standards for every type of United States coin. If you wish, you can read through the book and make up a little notebook of the best possible coins you could find, such as the 1909S VDB and 1922 "plain" Lincoln cents or the 1916 D Mercury dime.

You could also make up such a list for yourself from our website. Read through our pages and make note of the years/coins we charge higher amounts for, or that we do not even list as having in stock. You can also get a rough idea of what different "grades" look like by checking our images.

We have a lot of great information on our site. Between our pages or merchandise, the message board, and our FAQ section here you can learn a lot. But some lists would be so large and take so much time to compile that we just have to suggest that you "buy the book."

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I need a gift from a particular year to celebrate an anniversary or birthday -- got anything?

Consider a year set, a mint set, or a proof set.

Year sets are something we can custom design for any year. We can assemble one of each coin made in that year. They can be circulated or uncirculated depending on the amount you wish to pay; circulated coins are, of course, cheaper. We can do this for most years that the United States has existed. (First check the Mint and Proof set section before requesting a specific year.)

Mint sets are made by the government and have one of each coin made from each mint in uncirculated condition. They are regular "business strikes" (just normal coins) that are packaged by the mint and sold to collectors. If we made pennies at two mints in that year, the mint set will have two pennies; one of each. If we made three dimes (P, D, and S), there will be one of each of them. The ones made since 1959 are very affordable - some years cost as little as $4.00!

Proof sets are very different because the coins are not "business strikes"; they are specially prepared and made. The dies that stamp the coins are polished to a mirror finish. The planchets, the discs of metal the coins are made from, are polished to a mirror finish. The resulting coin is almost more than perfect; it is almost a work of art. Since 1956, they are fairly affordable as well, some years cost as little as $5.00!

In addition to proof sets and mint sets, there are also (in some years) more than one kind of proof set. Some years, the coins that would usually be made from "clad" (like the dimes, quarters, and half dollars in 1976) would be made in silver for special "silver proof sets." These are usually more valuable do to the value of the metal. Some years also have "Prestige Sets", proof sets that include commemorative coins in addition to the regular coins all in specially prepared "proof" form. These special proof sets can cost a little more, but they really make great gifts.

The United States isn’t the only country to make proof and mint sets. And it isn’t the only country we can make up year sets from. Have a special need? Feel free to ask us what we can do for you.

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I need a gift for someone who likes angels - or soccer, birds, trains, famous African-Americans, ships, anything else -- got any ideas?

Most people think to look at silver and bronze medals for their favorite "images" or themes, but some forget to check out coins. If so, you may be missing some great gifts. Almost any image you can think of has been used at one time or another on a circulating coin.

Angels were actually a very popular design from 1400 to 1700 and beyond. All kinds of religious images were popular. Check through our offerings in "Le Shoppe Du Plunder" to see some of the ones we have to offer. There was not as much of a separation between "church and state" back then and some coins were actually issued by the church, so to speak, and motifs like angels (or "the Lamb of Christ") were not uncommon.

Interested in soccer? Between the World Cup and the Olympics, many countries (even the USA) have used the image of a soccer player. Interested in baseball? The U.S. issued a Jackie Robinson coin. Liberia has even made a coin to honor Roberto Clemente.

Like trains? The Marshall Islands has made an entire set of coins with "great trains" on them.

Like with anything else, check out our site. We may just have something. Or ask , we can give you ideas that we have the coins to fill and some that we don’t.

Use the Cybercoins Search Engine to find a specific theme.

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I emailed Cybercoins and I got a great answer -- but it came from an AOL (or Nauticom or some other) account. Was the response from you or is someone stealing your email?

It was almost positively from us - but you can always double check with us here. Sometimes we get too many questions and too many pieces of email to handle all of it during the workday from the shop. When we get swamped, we usually fill orders first and then forward the "routine mail" to ourselves to work on at home, in the evenings.

When we do that, the response will be from our personal accounts rather than the "big bad computer" we have here at the store.

This has led to some confusion and we apologize for that. But we want to answer you as fast as we can and as well as we can. And sometimes that means working from home.

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I ordered (or emailed or called) Cybercoins and everyone was so nice -- so friendly. Thanks for all your help. What's up with you guys?


Thank you for letting us know. It is actually pretty easy for us to be happy and friendly - we work for a pretty great company and a good boss. With a lot of the business being on the Internet, we can "flex time" when we have to. We can forward things electronically to ourselves at home so we don't even have to carry briefcases unless we want to. We have a lot of great customers-- people who understand the Internet and what can (and cannot) be done on it. All that makes it easy.

We also have the luxury of being able to concentrate on what we enjoy and what we are good at. My (Mike of Cybercoins) background is in history and education; I get to answer a lot of your questions, explain things to you, and (the best thing as far as I am concerned) I get to study and manage the coins in the "Le Shoppe Du Plunder" section. When I ask for a copy of an obscure reference work, Brad (the boss here) makes it appear. I hate (and I mean hate) packaging and shipping - I don't understand the USPS and I don't enjoy the work. So I don't have to do any.

Heather loves shipping. She understands the system and can make it work for her benefit. She can package anything. Sometimes I think that if we needed to ship a small building, she would figure a way to do it. If you get a package from us, she handled it. When she needed more shelf space to manage the orders and get them ready to go out, we all dropped everything to get them built. She dislikes dealing with bullion - so she doesn't.

The right people in the right jobs - doing what they enjoy and doing it very well.

Do we have bad days? Sure! Let me tell you about the worst days of this past year. When the news story (in error) came out that the 1943 pennies were worth thousands of dollars, our phones and email went nuts. In the first hour we were here, we got over 40 calls from people with 1943 steel pennies - and every last one knew for sure that they were worth big-time money -- the reporter said so. Even after we would offer to sell them a few thousand for a slight percentage over face value, they knew we were wrong and they were right. And it went on like that -- all day -- for weeks. After the first day, I started answering the phone, "Cybercoins, no the 1943 steel penny isn't worth more than face value unless it is perfect," before the person calling had a chance to say anything. That wasn't the most polite way to start a conversation; I was sorry to be acting like that. But the phone calls were constant and we were all getting frustrated at being told we didn't know what we were talking about. And at not getting any other work done. Like I said, a really bad day.

We try -- we try our best. When we do good work, let us know. But when we do badly, let us know that as well. We have to know something is broken before we can fix it.

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