CHAPTER 1 YOU CAN BE AN EXPERT This is a book on how to become an expert on coins. Expertise on coins can take many forms. It can mean becoming adroit at checking pocket change for coins that will bring you a financial windfall. It also can mean becoming astute at spending money on coins, whether you're reaching into your pocket for one hundred dollars to buy a rare coin, or even reaching deep into your bank account for many thousands of dollars to spend on extremely rare coins in hopes of achieving a profit. Whatever your degree of involvement, this book will make you an expert. And if you become an expert, you can profit from rare coins at every level of involvement, regardless of whether current market conditions are good or bad. At one time or another, possibly without even realizing it, just about everyone thinks about coins as an investment. It happens, for example, when a really old coin turns up in your change or in your travels, or when you get a coin that just doesn't look rightone, for example, on which the date and some of the words are misprinted. Many of us have had this experience. And when it happens, we invariably want to know two things: What's it worth, and will I make more money if I sell it now or later? You don't have to wait for scarce and valuable coins to come along; you can go looking for them. And you can make money by buying and selling scarce coins. Many such coins today are authenticated and graded by independent experts and then encased in special plastic holders. This process assures the buyer that the grade, or level of preservation, is being properly stated by the seller. "Certified" coins change hands readily on nationwide trading networks and greatly enhance the appeal of rare coins to traditional investors. I've come up with simple, easy-to-follow guidelines that will take you step by step through the process of identifying good values at all levels of the coin-buying spectrum. Follow these steps and you'll not only know what to look for, but also what to do with the coins once you have them. Coins go up and down in value frequently; the coin market has peaks and valleys. But I'll show you how to make money in all kinds of marketswhen coins are red-hot and also when prices are in a tailspin. That, after all, is the sign of a real expert: knowing how to thrive whether the coin market is rallying or is in one of its characteristic cyclical downturns. WHY PEOPLE ACQUIRE COINS People save coins for a number of different reasons. Some find them appealing as miniature works of art. Others are intrigued by the rich historical significance they possess. Many simply enjoy the challenge of pursuing something rare, elusive, and valuable. And, not least of all, many are attracted by the marvelous track record rare coins have achieved as good investments. Obviously, a great many people collect rare coins for all these different reasons, to a greater or lesser degree. Finding something valuable is understandably thrilling, and many scarce coins do turn up in ordinary pocket change. I'll furnish a list of such coins in Chapter Two. Realistically, though, many rare coins have to be purchased. Billions of dollars are spent on rare coins every year, and U.S. coins are by far the biggest segment of that market. In large part, that's because Americans account for the single biggest group of collectors in the world, as well as being among the most affluent. But other factors also have a bearing. For one thing, U.S. coins require less in-depth knowledge than ancient coins or international coins from the modern era. For another thing, the U.S. coin market is an easy-entry, easy-exit field with no regulation by the governmentand many entrepreneurs find this appealing. THE COINTravers, Scott A. is the author of 'One-Minute Coin Expert' with ISBN 9780609807477 and ISBN 0609807471.