What do the markings on a wheat penny mean underneath the date?

Here is a 1941 Wheat Penny with a “D” underneath the date:

 

And a 1924 wheat penny, also with a “D” under the date:

And here is a 1970 penny, NOT A WHEAT, with an “S” under the date:

 

All of those letters are Mint Marks, indicating where the coin was produced.

Mint marks that appear on US coins include:

  • C: Charlotte (Gold only, 1838-1861)
  • CC: Carson City (1870-1893)
  • D: Dahlonega, Georgia (Gold only, 1838-1861)
  • D: Denver (1906 to date; easily distinguishable from Dahlonega because of the different timeframes in which the mints operated)
  • O: New Orleans (1838-1909)
  • P: Philadelphia (Silver “Nickels” 1942-45; Dollar coins 1979 to date; other coins except cents 1980 to date. Although the Philadelphia mint has been operating continuously since 1793, most Philadelphia coins do not have a mintmark)
  • S: San Francisco (1854 to date. Now mints collector coins only. The last circulating coin to bear an ‘S’ mintmark was the 1980-S SBA Dollar)
  • W: West Point (1983 to date; collector coins only)

(This list and a complete history of mint marks available from the Heritage Auctions Website).  Link will open in new tab.

Pennies without any mint mark were produced at the primary production plant (“ US Mint”) in Philadelphia. When collecting pennies, it is typical to have one from each mint for every year.

history of the us mint ans it's coinage, Amazon

History Of The United States Mint and Its Coinage, from Amazon Books

US Coins 2017

A Guide Book of United States Coins 2017: The Official Red Book, Spiralbound Edition, from Amazon Books

Here is my list that I use when going through my Pennies (I put them in a jar at the end of the day, and sort through them every once and a while; sometimes you find some “keepers”)! Tip: If you click on it, the image will open in a new page, and you can print it, to keep near the penny jar!

printable penny watch list

And when you find some collectible pennies, just wipe any dirt off them with  special coin cleaning cloth (an old sock), and put them in a “flip”, coin book or folder.  If you want to get a child or teenager into collecting, you can get them a whole kit from Amazon or eBay.

Pennies are a little more complicated than they seem, for what we know as common pocket change!

And that is why you are reading: “Pocket change Riches”.

I hope you found my point of view enlightening and informative.  Consider sharing it!
The Last Word:

Should I consider coin collecting as part of my retirement strategy?

In my opinion, collectible coins and bullion coins (Silver and Gold) can have a place in your retirement strategy, if you want physical wealth that has to be managed.  The collectible value is frequently much more than just collecting bullion (bulk precious metal).

For example, I like US Morgan Dollars, each one is one ounce of silver, which is   US Currency and (at a minimum) worth the value of the base metal, silver. If you have highly graded coins, they will be worth much more then the value of the the silver. and It can be fun collecting an entire set (years and mintages) of Morgans, or just a few for your modest collection.

Morgan dollars grade example

Morgan Dollar grading guide

 

This Morgan dollar was graded MS (“Mint State”) 69 by NGC, a grading organization. Higher grades command higher values. Morgan Dollar (1878-1921) Value – PCGS Price Guide  , Comprehensive Grading Guide for U.S. Coins (from Amazon)

Another personal favorite of mine to collect are Silver Strike casino coins, which are a $10 casino chips with a silver center (about .6 ounce of silver). Collecting casino memorabilia is fun to me, since I have been to many of the casinos and enjoy displaying the strikes I have won/collected.

Silver Strike Token

 

$10 face value Silver city Casino strike (Casino closed 1999)

Most casinos are not using Silver Strike slot machines, as they are mechanical machines, making them harder to find. I frequently buy them on ebay and Amazon. You can also visit the Silver Strikers Club, which has the latest news on Silver Strikes.

Some coins have no silver or gold (or any precious metal) in them; They may only have collectible value.  Some may have no value at all,  making them good for jewelry or as a memento of your visit to a foreign country.  If you have some bona fide collectibles, WONDERFUL!  If not, well, hold on to them if you enjoy owning them.  Your kids may find pleasure in owning Great grandad’s coins from his trip to Havana.

Another favorite of mine is the Silver Eagle (and Gold Eagle) US Coins. Each are 1 ounce of the base metal and are beautifully minted coins! Here again, I frequently buy them on ebay and Amazon. You may also find them at swap meets, flea markets, and yard sales. Coin dealers usually have many in stock, although they buy at wholesale and sell to you at retail. Learn values and grades, and soon you will become a shrewd buyer!

2016 silver and Gold Eagle coins, available online from  eBay and Amazon.

If you enjoy collecting coins, You will need a safe place to  keep them. Some people keep them in a safe deposit box at their bank, others in a  gun safe, if they have one. Thieves don’t like to run around with hundreds of pounds of metal coins – unless you have rare or extremely valuable coins, crooks may pass them by (or just take the shiny ones).

As a hedge on retirement, coins can be readily converted into cash.  You can easily sell most coins to a dealer or on Ebay. Pawn shops will give you a better value on gold coins (usually smelt or base metal value) than on most jewelry. This means you can use your coins like a retirement plan, cashing them out over your anticipated retirement, or saving them as a reserve fund for unexpected bills.

How To Buy And Sell Gold & Silver PRIVATELY: Must Know Strategies To Keep Your Portfolio Private, Stay In The IRS’s Good Graces, Know Your Tax Requirements, … File The Right Reports, Buy The Right Metal

You can give your coins to your heirs while you are still alive, sharing in your enjoyment and teaching the next generation about coin collecting.  Why wait until the end?  You can even get your children (and Grandchildren) coin collecting sets, and get them in the habit of looking at their pocket change, and putting old and potentially valuable coins in “flips”. I bought my grandson this collecting set on Amazon.

Coin collecting set

To recap:

  • Coins can be part of your retirement strategy. (if you don’t like coins, consider a collectible that you will like).
  • Consider the value of the coin, Base metal and collectible value.
  • You will need to track your purchases and store your coins securely.  Anticipate taxes.
  • Coins can be readily exchanged for cash from multiple sources.
  • You can pass them to your heirs without being deceased (or paying taxes, up to $14,000 in the US). (talk to your accountant).
  • Most important – you can enjoy them while you are alive!

I can’t tell you what to do, but I can tell you what I do – a small portion of my retirement is in coins that I enjoy. some are listed above (Morgans, strikes, Silver Eagles, etc.) and some are pocket change and circulated coins that have a value – above face value – with the possibility of appreciation over time. I have a modest budget for my eclectic coin collection.

If you are seriously thinking about coin collecting as a retirement option, Talk to your financial advisor, attorney, and accountant – and guys like me – to determine if  adding coins to your personal financial assets makes sense. Or you can just start collecting pocket change and the occasional coins you like. That is an easy way to start.

Consider all your options, and enjoy your retirement!

The Last Word:

Niue has a cottage business in funky collectible coins.

Niue coins also available on eBay – note the Star Wars coins! (link opens in new window)

niue coins star warsThese are legal tender on Nuie.

Nuie entry in wikipedia

I hope you found my point of view enlightening and informative.  Please share it with your retiring friends.  What’s in your Pocket?

I have $50,000 to invest. What can I do, other than buy property or stocks?

$50,000 may not buy you a money-making property without a substantial mortgage, which limits your profits and increases your risk if the market drops.  Stocks also carry a lot of volatility, which could make you nervous.

If you don’t need the money right away, consider investing in coins, which have collectible value and smelt value based on the coins composition.  They will never be worth less than the value of the base metal.  For silver coins: U.S. Silver Coin Melt Value Calculator.

American Silver Eagle coin, available on Amazon and Ebay, or your local coin dealer.

Coins can also be a great hobby, and you can give them as gifts and pre-inheritance to your heirs.  You can also tell people that you are training to be a numismatist (coin collector).  Many people carry a “lucky” coin with them, as a talisman of good fortune.

The Morgan silver Dollar, the most collected US Coin. Available on Amazon,

Or on Ebay.

I used silver coins here as an example.  You can get gold coins as well.  with $50k you can get approx. 2000 1 ounce silver coins, or about 40 one ounce gold coins.  If you keep them at home, 2000 coins weigh a lot (approx 125 lbs) and are harder to steal (try running with a pillowcase filled with over a hundred pounds of coins);  you can also diversify more with 2000 coins vs. 40 coins.  4 pounds of gold coins are easier to manage than 2000 silver Eagles. In either case you may need a safe – I got mine on Amazon.

You can also display your coins, and take some pleasure in their acquisition.
A type of coin I enjoy collecting is the Silver Strike, a Casino $10 token that is highly collectible – and most casinos no longer distribute them.  I get them from casino’s I have visited in Las Vegas,  or on EBay.  Newer ones ar clad in silver; older ones have a silver center that is .999 silver, weighing approx. .6 troy ounces.  There are many available from casinos that have been demolished or bought out, making them even more valuable.  Here is the web site of the Silver Strikers Club – Home Page.

Sam’s Town .999 Silver Strike, Many collectors trade them on Ebay.

Aladdin Casino Silver Strike.  The Aladdin has closed, making this a nice piece  of “old” Vegas to have in your collection! (The Aladdin is now Planet Hollywood).  Aladdin Strikes on Ebay.

Coin Collecting supplies and Books on Amazon

Black Silver Strike Display Insert for 12 Silver Strikes Casino Coins (Not Included)

silver strike casino coins and display cases

(they tend to be heavy, so be careful when hanging them on the wall)

Best of Luck – These are just a few options for you – find coins you enjoy and have fun with it!  You can even get coins with Koalas and Elvis! (Links to eBay) Also post a comment letting us know what you did, and how it is working out for you! Repost and share with your investing friends! – Alan

The Last Word: