Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Big, Fat Libertarian Moment; Nerd Edition

I'm a weak-ass coin collector.

I suppose my grandfather is to blame for it. I remember years ago someone asked him what he'd do if he had a time machine. Being an accountant, his reply was eminently sensible:

"Go back to 1964 and buy as many quarters as I could carry."

"Why?" You might ask. Well, it's quite simple. That was the last year quarters were made of silver rather than cheaper metals. A roll of 1964 quarters is intrinsically worth more than a roll of 2006 quarters for example.

Anyways, I never meant to be a coin collector. Frankly, I'm unmoved by their artistic merits and the whole act of determining the grade of a coin, let alone finding someone to appraise what you have really seems like a load of trouble to go through when you're talking about pocket change.

But I appreciate that silver is valuable...and I handle an awful lot of change so...

So some time ago, I started keeping an eye out for older change and grabbing it when I could. The other day I went online to check it's value.

From a collectors perspective, it's value is extremely limited. At best, I'd be looking at a return of little more than pennies on the dollar. Turns out no collectors are all that excited about the coin pictured above, especially if it's been through the wringer of a thousand pockets and cash registers.

But the silver value...Oh my...The silver value that my grandfather so excellently appreciated...

Yeah, it's something else. According to this site, my collection would be worth about $300 right now.

Understandably, I was thrilled to say the least.

I was substantially less than thrilled when I looked into the matter a bit further.

As it turns out, a law was passed in 2006 making it illegal to melt coins. So with a stroke of a legislative pen, my indisputably legal asset wanted by an indisputably legal market had rapidly devalued.

With some luck, I might get $20.

So here I am, stuck with an asset, that has been weighed and certified by their stamp and now due to...I guess pique on their part?...It's worth comparatively nothing. I'd be better off carving it out of the ground then to ever let a guy at the mint imprint it with an eagle.

UPDATE: Oh neat! This ban on melting coins might only apply to pennies. Doesn't make it any better from a logical perspective but at least my collection hasn't been completely devalued.

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