The Most Challenging Coins to Collect

March 1st, 2013
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Anyone can assemble a set of State Quarters from circulation, and anyone can stack recently issued silver bullion coins. But how many people have assembled a collection of some of the earliest and scarcest coins ever issued by the United States Mint. Such a challenge exists for those who choose to pursue early quarters. At the original time of issue in the late 18th and early 19th century, the denomination was less utilized since it was too large for use in commerce and since larger denominations were preferred by silver depositors.

The first two series for the denomination make an excellent area for focus. The initial design featured the draped bust of Liberty designed by Robert Scot and based on a sketch by famous portraitist Gilbert Stuart. These coins were issued only briefly from 1796 to 1807, with dates only covering five different years. The 1796 quarter is a major rarity since it used a different reverse design for a single year and had a very low production run. The other dates of 1804-1807 had a different reverse design and were struck in most higher quantities.

Following this early appearance, the next design would not launch until 1815 and would be produced until 1838. These coins featured a rendition of Liberty wearing a cap, along with a new reverse design featuring an eagle with shield, olive branch, and arrows. This series is generally more approachable, but contains some significantly rare varieties for collectors with sharp eyes.

These earliest series of quarters can represent a rewarding and challenging life time pursuit. Over time, assembling a collection of rare and carefully chosen coins has paid great dividends to the conscientious collector!

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Classic Impressions of Liberty

October 3rd, 2012
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The earliest coinage produced within the United States has long held fascination for collectors and students of history alike. Under the Coinage Act of 1792, an official mint was established and specifications were codified for the production of the various denominations. The smallest were struck in copper, followed by larger denominations in silver, and the highest value coins struck in gold. The early silver half dollars hold a particularly interesting story.

The Flowing Hair Half Dollars represented the initial design for the fifty cent piece. First struck in 1794, the coins carried designs created by Robert Scot, who is likewise responsible for most of the other earliest designs. Liberty appears on the obverse as required under law. The reverse contains an image of a bald eagle within a wreath. The denomination is not expressed on either the front or back of the coin, but inscribed on the edge. The coins were struck in a composition of silver and copper and only issued for two years before the design was changed.

A new design came about in 1796 and was also created by Robert Scot, although his images were based on sketches by the famous artist Gilbert Stuart. The new coins would become known as Draped Bust Half Dollars. The obverse featured a portrait of Liberty with her hair lightly bound but flowing with her bust partially draped. Stars appear surrounding with the date at the base of the coin. The reverse contains a heraldic eagle adorned by a shield and clutching arrows and an olive branch. Once again the denomination is expressed on the edge.

These early coins were struck in limited numbers and have a low survival rate. Most of the coins circulated heavily during the era of issue and may have been subject to melting at times when the price of silver rose. Collectors who can acquire even a single specimen of these coins are fortunate to have a classic impression of Liberty and important piece from the history of America.

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Why Barber Dimes Are Popular With Coin Collectors

October 2nd, 2012
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Many coin collectors are fond of Barber dimes because they are relatively easy to locate with the exception of the 1894-S, which is extremely rare. Most beginners will search for coins in Good to Very Good condition while  advanced collectors prefer proofs and coins in mint state grades. Some type collectors are interested in them in order to locate a single example to represent the design within a broader collection.

The coins were first struck in January 1892 and more than 500 million coins were released over the next quarter century. Charles Barber was the Chief Engraver for the Mint and is responsible for this coin’s design. The obverse design features a depiction of Liberty facing to the right and wearing a cap. The initial B is visible on the neck. Barber was successful in designing a coin that the new coin presses could strike with a single blow.

The 1894-S is the most recognized rarity due to its limited mintage and some of the mysteries and stories surrounding its creation and distribution. There were 24 pieces made with just ten in existence today. Theories abound about the whereabouts of the missing coins. Some believe J. Daggert, superintendent of the Mint in San Francisco, gave three to his daughter. Stories say she spent one to buy ice cream and collectors now call it the ice cream specimen. She sold the other two during the 1950s. Modern day collectors are still fascinated with the Barber dimes and the unique history of the series.

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Contemplating Real Estate Investments

September 22nd, 2011
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With the more extreme movements in the stock market over the past decade, some people are considering other investment options. Real estate prices have come down considerably and the opportunities provided by foreclosures and forced sales may provide a good opportunity.

Besides a personal residence, some people will purchase an investment property to increase their exposure to real estate. This property can be rented to a tenant providing a steady stream of revenue, which will pay the mortgage, taxes, maintenance, repairs, and hopefully some income.

Rather than purchasing a property for cash, some will seek an investment property loan. This way, only a down payment is required and then a monthly payment for the term of the loan. Interest rates have fallen considerably in the past few years, making this an attractive option.

Some important considerations when obtaining the loan include whether you will occupy a portion of the property. If the property is owner occupied, it may qualify for a lower rate. Another consideration is the term of the loan, which is usually 15 years or 30 years. A shorter term loan will usually have a better interest rate, but the monthly payment will be higher. Finally, determine whether you would like a fixed or adjustable rate. If you don’t intend to own the property for a long time, an adjustable rate can offer a low rate and lower monthly payment until you sell.

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Precious Metals Investors Face Delay

December 31st, 2009
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For nearly two years the increased demand for physical precious metals investment has left the United States Mint behind the curve in satisfying investor demand. This situation became appearent in 2008, when sales of the popular one ounce silver coins were suspended and then resumed on a rationed basis. A similar suspension and rationing took place for one ounce gold coins later in the year.

The allocation programs continued into 2009, for the first half of the year. The coins were available in unrestricted quantities for several months, suggesting the problem was abating. However, in November another round of suspensions swept through bullion products and the allocation program was resumed.

For next year, the release of the 2010 Silver Eagle has been delayed into mid-January instead of the typical delivery for the new year. The status of the 2010 Gold Eagle has also been delayed. The US Mint is continuing to offer the 2009 dated coins until inventories are depleted. How will the delayed launch of 2010 bullion coins impact demand? In the recent past, when gold or silver coins have been limited or rationed, it has only created even more demand.

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Precious Metals Investment

May 18th, 2009
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Last year’s decline in financial and equity markets has caused many to rethink their diversification strategies. Diversification amidst stocks within different industries provided little protection from a whole scale equity meltdown. One consideration is precious metals investment. This consists of buying metals which are considered stores of value to whether volatility or provide an offset.

The most common investment vehicle would be gold. Gold can be purchased through an ETF, pool account, and of course physical gold coins. The later may provide the greatest piece of mind. Silver is another metal consideration for investment. Although there are numerous industrial uses for the metal, it has also been considered “money” since ancient times. Silver can be purchased as an ETF, bars, pool accounts, and silver coins.

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What happens when your mortgage is transferred?

May 12th, 2009
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The advent of mortgage securitization has brought a new level of complexity to the mortgage servicing industry. Traditionally, most banks serviced the loans that they made to homeowners, meaning they collected the payments, kept track of the balance, and handled collections aspects for late payments. Sometimes these procedures were outsourced to a mortgage servicing company.

Nowadays, loans are no longer predominantly held by the banks that made the original loans. They can be packaged and divided into different groups and sold to other banks or investors. This results in a more complex servicing process. Sometimes the homeowner will need to begin sending payments to a different servicing company. It is important to keep track of what’s happening and make sure your loan balance, and payments are not impacted by a change of servicer.

Mortgage

Debit Card Advantages

May 9th, 2009
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There is a useful alternative to credit cards that you might not be using yet. This is the debit card. Rather than having a revolving credit line, which can carry a balance from month to month, the debit card is directly linked to a checking, savings, or other account. That way, you are limited in your spend to the money that is actually within the account.

Many people are now using the debit card as a financial tool to keep their budgets in check. When spending money on a credit card, one might not be thinking about the amount of the monthly bill that will arrive later on. When spending money debit card, you must monitor the level of funds in your account and moderate your purchases accordingly.

Financial Products

Problem and Failed Banks

May 6th, 2009
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A new phrase entered the vernactular following the unprecedented upheavels in the United States financial system. The so called Problem Bank List is a secret list of banks that have impaired capital positions that might lead to failure of the bank. This list is compiled by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, who oversees and safeguards bank deposits within the United States.

In recent quarters, the problem bank list has swelled to excessive levels as banks face troubles of souring investments and underperforming loans. The last report provided by the FDIC indicated that there were 252 banks contained on the problem bank list. More than one out of ten banks who appear on this list eventually fail, based on historic measures.

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Business Names

April 25th, 2009
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A business name often forms a first impression of the business for a potential customer. If you have a physical store front, it might be in two foot tall letters on the outside of the building. It will be on the uniforms of employees, stationary, receipts, and business cards. If you have a web based business, it might be your website name. It might appear on other websites that link to your and within your internet advertising.

Because of these and many other factors, a business name is very important. If you choose your name hastily or your business undergoes a significant alteration, it might be time for a business name change. There are many factors that you must consider before implementing such a change. From changes to physical infrastructure and items to your business domain name.

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