Collecting coins is not about the money ... really

MEQUON - Spend some time with rare coin dealer Andrew Kimmel, and you will quickly get the impression that all work and no play does not apply to his choice of career. Actually, bring along a couple of children when you go to meet him and it might appear to be playtime for Kimmel. It’s hard to tell who is having more fun, the kids who leave his office with a bag full of coins or Kimmel.

“I like to give the kids coins because it gets them excited about numismatics,” Kimmel said of the study of rare coins. Kimmel decided at age 9 that he wanted to be a coin dealer. “When I was growing up, there were one or two dealers who always found time to talk to me one-on-one.”

Kimmel’s business, Paragon Numismatics, is located in Mequon. He started the business in 1987 when he was a junior at UW-Madison. He has now been in the coin business for 20 years and can often be found scouring national auctions and trade conventions for rare finds.

“It’s great fun, (but) the challenge is to find enough material to make a living,” Kimmel said. “The fun part is not knowing what is going to walk in the door.”

Though people may have valuable coins at home, Kimmel cautions against those who think a coin is valuable just because it is old.

“What determines the value of a coin is not the age,” he said. “If age determined value, rocks would be valuable. What determines value is the condition and the rarity of the coin.”

According to Kimmel, there are three different kinds of coin rarity: Absolute rarity, low survival and condition rarity. While people with quality collections represent less than 1 percent of collectors, occasionally Kimmel will have someone come in with a highly valuable coin they stumbled across while doing some cleaning around the house.

“The main thing that drives my business is that I have to be honest with my customers,” he said. “People come in with no conception of the value of their coins. There is no substitute for integrity.”

One of the things that Kimmel likes to do is educate his customers on better coin collecting. For children or adults who want to get started on a coin collection, Kimmel said all you really need is a high-quality magnifying glass, a copy of “A Guide Book of United States Coins” by R.S. Yeoman and a good lamplight complete with a 100-watt bulb.

“If you get these three things, you are ahead of 95 percent or more of the collectors,” he said.

Kimmel said one common misconception about coin collecting is the notion that proof sets are valuable. Though some of the early proof sets can be worth thousands of dollars, most of the sets produced after 1960 are worth less than their original base price. As for state quarters, Kimmel feels kids should go ahead and collect them, because finding these collections 20 years from now could get them back into the hobby.

(via GM Today)

Category - Coin collecting
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