Modern coins appealing
By Mark Ferguson
COIN VALUES Market Analyst
Describing today's collector of modern
coins in 25 words or less is a challenging if
not impossible task.
We'll use Jefferson 5-cent piece, struck
since 1938, to illustrate how those with an
interest in the same series can take
dramatically different approaches while
pursuing the common goal of building a date
Jefferson 5-cent coins are an ideal area
for low-budget fun, as the vast majority of
dates can be found – Proofs included – for
well less than $10 apiece. By spending a few
dollars at a time, it is possible to obtain
all but a handful of dates in Uncirculated
That thrifty approach certainly appeals to
many collectors, but others want to go for
high-grade "investment quality" pieces with
low grading service population numbers. They
are also willing and able to pay hefty sums
for coins in a series long known for
Take the 1953-D Jefferson 5-cent coin as an
example. A typical Mint State 63 example that
usually lacks a full strike carries a $2 price
tag. The fussy collector of uncertified coins
might dig deep and come up with $5 to purchase
an MS-64 example.
What about the person who is building a
registry set of Jefferson 5-cent coins and is
determined to be No. 1?
According to the Coin Values monthly
price guide, the competitive hobbyist can
count on paying $3,000 for one of the few
1953-D Jefferson 5-cent coin with six full
steps that grades MS-66.
There's more to consider than what number
is listed in a price guide. If two collectors
who are locked in a close and heated battle
for first place both need a certain date in a
specific grade or with features such as full
steps or full bell lines on Franklin half
dollars, previous price quotes could be well
below the eventual sale price for the coin
that clinches the top spot.
Such intense bidding wars for recent issues
would not have taken place a decade ago, but
things have changed.
Whether a person is willing to spend $5 or
$5,000 on a coin, the lesson is clear: Count
the cost before proceeding with the goal of
collecting a specific series.
For those who want to get into the
high-stakes world of certified moderns, an
in-depth knowledge of exactly what is
available and who the major players are is