You see coin specials everywhere – online, magazines, TV, mail outs and even 40,000 feet in the air through airline catalogs.
More recent coin commercialization has changed the landscape for coin dealers and collectors, making buying decisions more complex. Where should you spend your money?
Making everything more complex, especially for new collectors, are the broadening products containing coins that have undergone "post-mintage" changes.
More coins than ever are being changed after they’re minted by the government
What? In the drive to seek further profits, coins that have already been produced by government mints are commercially painted or layered in different metals. Why? So they standout with a glitzy flash. These colorful coins are then sold at higher premiums.
Let’s cover the general description for each type of altered coin we’re talking about here.
- Colorized. These are coins that have been painted with an enamel finish or a holographic affect. Common coins you’ll see colorized are American Silver Eagles and the 50 State Quarters. No U.S. Mint has ever produced a coin that has been colorized.
- Layered. Many times you’ll see layered coins advertised as "limited edition" coins. Typically, the coins are covered in an extremely thin (nearly worthless) coating of gold or platinum and sold for a premium. A common practice is to offer the 50 State Quarters, which are silver in color, and layer them in gold.
What’s the real value of these altered coins?
For experienced coin collectors or numismatists, a coin that has been artificially altered in any way immediately loses its value. You’ll find it very difficult to sell such coins to numismatists.
They’re typically purest when it comes to collecting and thoughts of altering a coin in such an artificial way just doesn’t "compute". For them, it’d be like spray painting the exterior of a brand new home or a new piece of furniture.
In point of fact, you won’t see colorized or layered coins in reputable coin price guides or coin-only auctions. Yet, there are tons of ads showcasing these altered coins. They must be selling, right?
Yes… the first time. But trying to resell these coins is another story…
Colorized and layered coins as novelty items and gifts
You’ll see many coin dealers, who naturally also collect coins, sell colorized and layered coins. Why, when they likely wouldn’t place them in their own collections? Because they DO sell to many first time buyers and they can make money for those who know how to sell them.
As a novelty item they have their place. Even serious collectors will tell you that colorized or layered coins can generate "a lot of talk". Many coin collectors will have purchased at least one of these coins in their life out of inexperience, curiosity or to use as a conversation piece.
Also, although they’re far from rare or valuable, colorized and layered coins can make an interesting gift. For most, they’re better than a pair of socks…
For experienced collectors, such a gift may not have monetary value. But that doesn’t mean the gift, given by someone special, won’t have great personal value just like any other gift.
For those who have never or are very new to collecting, receiving colorized or layered coins can actually generate interest in a new hobby. That’s another positive.
Well then, are colorized and layered coins worth it?
In the end, you don’t have to be a purest to collect coins. Collect what makes you happy. If you like colorized or layered coins, collect them.
And what makes you happy is likely to make someone else just as happy. You MAY just be able to make some money – above what you paid – by selling your collection later.
HOWEVER, realize it is possible to enjoy coin collecting while also building a collection that’ll be valuable and easier to sell down the road. At least during this day and age, that’s much less likely to happen with colorized or layered coins.
If you have doubts and collect coins like these, try selling a few of them. This will give you a feel for the market. If you’re able to sell them with little effort and you make at least what you paid, great!