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Foreign Currency and Coins - World Coin Guide Price

October 20th, 2011 Coins

A Global Collection

If you want a coin collecting project that will keep you busy your entire life, try collecting coins from around the world. Think of all the possibilities! The most diligent collectors have one coin from each denomination from one or more countries, from every single year! If this is daunting, other options for country coin collections include:

  • Collect by year
  • Collect different mint marks
  • Collect coins with different types of dies used
  • Collect error coins
  • Collect coins from a certain period (i.e. Victorian England)

Start by choosing a country that interests you. It’s easy to start your collection with modern coins. As you delve into the country’s coin history, you’ll find places online (as well as specialty shops and dealers) where you can find older coins. Celebrate your mission by taking a trip to this country to collect even more coins! Since people in a country don’t think twice about the money they carry in their pockets, you might be able to find some valuable coins on your trip, rather than paying a premium for them online or in a store! Expand your collection out over time (go back as far as you can with a country’s currency) or geography (start with Poland and expand to the rest of Europe). In just a few years, your collection will start to look like the World Bank!

A Little Piece of History: 5 Reasons Collecting Old World Coins is Great

The exciting thing about collecting world coins from a time long gone is the possibilities they hold. The little coins in your collection have seen events you can only dream of. Here are five reasons you should collect ancient coins from around the world.

  1. Someone great may have touched the same coin. If your coin is from Ancient Greece, Socrates or Plato might have used it.
  2. Every coin tells a story. By researching what was going on in a country when the coin was minted, you can almost experience history! While someone paid for a newspaper in France in the early 1800s, Napoleon was busy nearby with his Napoleonic Wars.
  3. Ancient coins are more affordable than you think. Just because they’re old doesn’t mean they cost an arm and a leg. According to a website called Getting Started with Ancient Coins, an “1,800-year-old Roman coin in extra fine condition typically costs just $25.”
  4. You’ll be one of a kind. It’s a lot easier to collect modern coins than ancient coins. That means the market is less crowded, and you will have an easier time finding coins to add to your collection!
  5. The Internet makes it easy. With a world of information at your fingertips, you have no excuse not to get started collecting ancient coins from around the world right now!

Beware of eBay Currency Scams

Coin collectors love eBay. And why not? It’s a great resource to find coins from around the world they otherwise would not be able to add to their collections. But like any other online site, there is fraud on eBay. Some people, just to make a quick buck, will sell coins fraudulently, making you the victim. Here are some of the current scams:

  • Overgrading
  • Misleading descriptions
  • Deceptive photographs
  • Counterfeit coins
  • Not shipping the product
Overgrading simply refers to the fact that the seller rates the coin at a higher grade than it should be graded. This is easy to do with deceptive or vague photographs. Some sellers will even use a photograph of a completely different coin than they one they sell you!

Here are ways you can avoid becoming an eBay fraud victim:

  1. Check the feedback. If currency collecting takes you to eBay, do your homework on a seller before bidding. Check how long the seller has been an eBay member (new members should send up a red flag), and read the feedback he or she has received from prior sales. Multiple negative comments should warn you away from bidding on the seller’s items.
  2. Look out for hijackers. Sometimes scammers hijack a perfectly good person’s eBay account for fraudulent purposes. If the seller asks for payments to be sent to a different address or email account from the one listed with the eBay account, be leery.
  3. Save photos. In the event that what you get isn’t what the seller promised with photos for the auction, have the ammunition you need to prove your case. Many scammers delete the images after the auction is over so there is no evidence they didn’t supply what they said they would.

Check Your Currency List Twice

If you want to start collecting coins from around the world, you need the proper resources. There are books of all sorts on currency. But with currency styles changing so frequently, as well as more countries converting to the Euro, your best bet is an online currency list. With a currency list online, you can keep up with the latest issues of coins worldwide (many countries issue new coins faster than books can keep up with), as well as their value and places you can buy and sell your coins.

Online currency lists offer comprehensive lists of coins, both current and historic. In some lists, there are links that take you to other sites where you can learn more about the currency and coin history. These lists are useful for both collectors and travelers. If you plan on visiting another country, you can watch the exchange rates online and see when they’re most favorable. You can also familiarize yourself with the different coins and bills so that while you’re paying your taxi on your trip to Egypt you don’t overpay!

Coin Auctions

A great place to buy foreign currency and local coins is a coin auction. For auctions, you have two options: physical auctions and online auctions.

See, Touch and Feel
Attending an auction in person allows you to not only see a coin up close and personal before bidding on it, but you also have the opportunity to share and learn with fellow numismatists. This may be a rare occasion for you to meet other people that share your passion and knowledge of coins.

Auctions are held at convention centers around the country throughout the year, and companies like Bowers and Merena participate, offering a variety of rare and foreign currency coins to add to your collection. Many even offer pre-auction bidding online.

Get Connected
The easier option, if you’re not set on seeing the coin in person before bidding, is online auctioning. There are handfuls of websites dedicated to auctioning coins, including:

eBay, of course, isn’t dedicated to auctioning coins, but it is still a valuable resource when searching for coins. Often, people who have found coins in an attic or who have inherited them may post coins on eBay without knowing the value of what they have. You have the opportunity to find some real gems.

Don’t Be the Victim of Foreign Currency Trading Scams

While it’s perfectly legal for options contracts and foreign currency futures to be traded on a U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) approved exchange or board, there are scams out there that claim to trade foreign currencies at a great benefit to you. Beware.

  1. Does it sound too good to be true? Enough said. If someone contacts you about a “great” foreign currency contract, also known as “forex,” and tells you it’s your opportunity to get rich overnight, don’t believe it. Also be wary if you are contacted after coming into a large sum of money. These con artists prey on retirees and heirs to large fortunes.
  2. Do they guarantee big profits? You know that investing is risky, and you may or may not make any money on a given investment. No one can guarantee how much you will earn with an investment.
  3. Do they ask for cash transferred online? If you’re not familiar with a company, don’t send any money online, or by mail. Online transactions, while easy on your part, can be virtually impossible to track in the case of fraud, and you’ll likely never see your money again.
  4. What’s the company’s track record? If you’re still curious about the investment opportunity, do as much due diligence on the company as possible. Finding them reluctant to give you any history? Red flag. Don’t rely just on what a website or brochure tells you: that’s just propaganda they created. Look on message boards to see if anyone else has dealt with the company before.

How to Buy and Sell Coins Without Getting Ripped Off

As a coin collector, from time to time, you will want to buy or sell coins. There are some disreputable dealers and sellers out there, so how can you be sure you won’t pay too much or sell for too little?

Educate yourself. There are numerous world coin price guides available, both in book and online forms. Some of the most popular include:

  • eBay. Because eBay works as an auction does, a coin will sell for what the market deems it is worth. If you are looking for a rare coin from the 1800s, of which there are only 10 known in existence, you’re probably not the only person looking for one! You will pay more for a coin that is rare and in higher demand.
  • A Guide to United States Coins, or Red Book. This book is a great resource for information about a coin, as well as its history. It’s not the best indicator of price, as price changes more often than the book is updated.
  • U.S. Coin Digest. This is a publication specifically designed to serve as a pricing guide. Refer to it before speaking to a dealer you don’t know.
Any of these resources, as well as dozens of websites online, can help you determine the approximate value of your coin. There will be some variance, depending on the buyer or seller’s needs. Go into your transaction armed with information so you won’t be taken advantage of.

Money Makes the World Go ‘Round

While you are accustomed to green bills and shiny silver quarters, not every culture has used the same type of currency. For instance, did you know in 2000 B.C. Egypt, people used cowrie shells as currency? No matter what kind of item is used as currency, it always serves the same purposes:

  • A form of exchange
  • Measures the worth of assets
  • Represents a value
There have been a few types of money over time:

Commodity Money
Depending on what is available in an area, cultures have used a wide variety of assets to serve as currency, including:

  • Cattle
  • Pearls
  • Whale teeth
  • Feathers
  • Stones
  • Tea
While these items were useful in their own right (a 15th century farmer might sell some of his land in exchange for cattle he can breed or feed his family with), a great change occurred when currency started in the form of coins and paper bills.

Coins and Paper Money
Imagine making the shift from understanding the value of currency in something you could eat or use to having to use seemingly worthless coins or paper as money. These tangible items became symbols for a value.

Electronic Money
Today, more people use debit or credit cards to pay for transactions. Cash is an endangered species, and technology may eventually make it obsolete.

To Clean or Not to Clean

In the coin and currency collecting world, it’s a well known fact that it’s bad to clean your coin collection. Or is it? While some methods of cleaning can remove marks that properly identify a coin’s grade and worth, there are some methods that can enhance your coin’s beauty without compromising its value.

Before you start scrubbing, research each method below to determine if it is appropriate for your coin and its surface:

  • Soak in soapy water
  • Use acetone
  • Dip in E-Z-Est Coin Cleaner
For rare world coins:
  • Soak in olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar
  • Rub with a toothbrush or copper brush
  • Scrape with dental tools
If you overdo your cleaning, i.e. use an abrasive cleaner or steel wool, you may scratch the surface, rendering your coin worth only the metal it is made of. If you do this and think about fill in scratches with substances like epoxy or reengraving detail that you have obliterated, don’t. Experts in coins will be able to tell you’ve botched a coin, so there’s no getting past them.

If cleaning your coins is too daunting for you, not to worry. There are services you can locate online that will do the work for you. You simply ship the coin to them and pay a fee, and they will have the coin returned to you in its original pristine condition!

Where to Buy Foreign Currency

Whether you need to buy foreign currency for travel or just for your world coin collection, there are two primary ways to buy it:

  • Online
  • In other countries
Today, buying a Norwegian Kroner or an Israel New Sheqel is as easy as clicking a button. Banks, credit cards and currency exchange websites all sell currency online. By using a bank or credit card, eCheck, or PayPal account, you can buy foreign currency from virtually any country and have it shipped to your home.

When making an online transaction, you should always use a familiar company such as a well known bank or credit card companyto protect yourself from fraud. Check the exchange rates and buy when they are favorable. Some companies offer currency price protection plans, which allow you to sell back leftover currency (if you’re traveling) at the rate you paid for a small fee, usually $10. If the price goes up and you’re left with money you don’t need at the end of your trip, this can be a good deal.

While Traveling
The most exciting way to buy foreign currency is to buy it where it comes from! Buying Maltan Lira while in Malta makes a much better memory than buying it online. And, you’re likely to get a better exchange rate if you buy in the country (and you won’t have to pay shipping fees).

Keep in mind that the best exchange rates can be gotten at banks and ATMs. There are dozens of currency exchange stands in any given country, but they usually charge a premium for exchanging your dollars for local cash.

If you’re a collector, keep one of each coin denomination to take home and add to your collection!