Rare coins more than pocket change

Holding a 1794 Liberty dollar in your hand is seductive.

The weight of the silver feels substantial - so unlike today’s coins, much less a debit or credit card. The Liberty dollar transports you to the era of George Washington’s presidency, the founding of the first U.S. bank and the Whiskey Rebellion.

And then there’s the price tag: $7,000 at Main Street Coin’s gallery in Fairfield.

“You buy coins because you love them,” says Mike Dickmann, gallery co-owner. “For 40 bucks, you can buy history.”

In fact, the market for investing in rare coins has been building since 1999, when the U.S. Mint sparked new interest in coin collectibles by issuing the first state commemorative quarters.

That’s when Paul Burns of Hamilton began amassing his $40,000 collection of Benjamin Franklin half-dollars, Peace dollars, proof Indian Head cents and paper currency.

“I collected coins as a child,” says Burns, who is 43. “State quarters helped bring that back.”

Other factors sparking the boom, experts say, are the Internet’s impact on sales and knowledge; recent low interest rates; and a loosening of once-strict grading values for coins.

This month, a rare 1913 Liberty Head nickel sold for $4.15 million in New Hampshire. In April, the world gold coin collection of the late Louis Eliasberg, a Baltimore financier, set several records when it was auctioned in New York for more than $10 million.

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Category - Informative
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