Mail Bag – Why Bother Collecting Modern Coins

Today’s Mail Bag question comes from Randy and it concerns modern coins. Specifically, Randy questions why anyone would collect contemporary coinage given it has little value over face value. Like so many things in this lovely hobby of ours, the answer largely depends on individual collectors and their goals.


I’ve visited your site a few times but I find it kinda useless. All you talk about are modern coins. Why? There is no point in collecting them. All of them are ugly and with only a few exceptions are not worth more than face value. What you should be focused on are the rare coins that make our hobby great instead of wasting people’s time. Why do you never talk about Barber coins or Morgan Dollars? How about a Standing Liberty (Quarter)?


First Randy, thanks for taking time to write in even though you feel USCoinNews is useless. I think your question though deserves a bit of unpacking. Initially, we have to decide what you define as a modern coin? Would a coin from the 1940’s be considered modern? The 1950’s? 60’s? The challenge here is where you want to draw the line. Most collectors and Numismatists consider a modern coin to be anything after 1964. I tend to agree with that definition but you may feel differently.

So let’s assume then that 1964 is the cutoff date. I can hardly disagree that there have been a few coins that have been, shall we say, not the most aesthetically appealing. While I personally like the Kennedy Half Dollar, being honest, it is pretty drab. Same could be said for the Roosevelt Dime but that could be simply because it has not changed in… forever. But equally, I would contend that many of the Native American Dollar series are superb as are the new American Innovation Dollars. The designs of these coins are beautiful in many cases, with powerful imagery and meanings behind that imagery. To lump all modern coins into a blanket statement of being ugly is, in my view, short sighted. There is beauty in many of our modern coins. Some of the Reverse designs of the 50 State Quarter series and American the Beautiful series have been stunning. The American Eagle coins are stunning designs as have been the American Liberty and American Buffalo gold coins. The Westward Journey series of Jefferson Nickels has much appeal for many collectors as did the Bicentennial Lincoln Cents.

The irony of your message though, pointing out the Barber coins. Most collectors, long time and new, consider them to be some of the ugliest coins ever made by the Mint! That made me chuckle.

Beauty in coins is a very individual things and while we can agree in broad strokes on some coins being beautiful or ugly, I have a hard time agree that every coin produced since 1964 is ugly because it is simply not true.

A second point that I would make here is that all coins, including the ones you mentioned, were at one point considered “modern”. At some point, the coins we carry today will not be modern and, in some cases, rise in value. Yes we have a Mint that produces billions of coins a year which doesn’t help those values increase, but they will in some cases. In 100 years, someone somewhere will be looking for a 2020-W American Eagle or a 2020 Reverse Proof Massachusetts American Innovation Dollar. So “modern” can be a little bit of a slippery slope to define as a point of ugliness and worthless.

Third, many collectors are not collecting so much for the investment but for the challenge of the hobby itself. I don’t know about you, but I still get a little smile on my face when I find something interesting in my pocket change. After all, that is how many started collecting. Some people collect for the sake of collecting. That is me to a large extent (although I certainly have investment coins too) and based on reader feedback, the majority of visitors here are of the same mindset.

As to your points about the site, I would simply say don’t visit. As I’ve outlined on the About Page, my mission behind the site not ambiguous.

The focus of the site is to bring news, tips, tricks and information to help collectors who are starting out or seasoned collectors. Generally speaking, there won’t be many posts about ultra rare coins or high priced auction coins. Rather, the focus is on those who enjoy the hobby, for the hobby and not necessarily for investments. About Page

As I general rule, I don’t focus on the ultra rare coins because most collectors simply cannot afford them. Instead, I’d rather focus on and make sure readers are aware of the coins that are available to them now and at a low entry price. That automatically means that I focus more on modern coins. I do this unapologetically as I want the site to be an aid for people to find the beauty not only of modern coins, but of the hobby in general. I do appreciate you offering the suggestion of me changing the site but I’ll kindly decline.

Finally, don’t get me wrong Randy. I love the older coins. As I have shared in the past, the Walking Liberty Half Dollar was one of the first coins that really turned me on to collecting nearly 40 years ago. I love a good, toned Morgan Dollar and I have a soft spot for the Peace Dollar (although many consider it ugly) for sentimental reasons related to my grandfather. But of these coins, many of them are out of the price reach of a large percentage of collectors. If you can afford them, awesome. I genuinely hope that you are able to collect those that you want for your collection. Equally, there are some outstanding sites and resources out there to help you find them, buy them, and learn about them. USCoinNews, it sounds like, isn’t that site and I’m okay with that. I hope you are too.

Thanks for taking the time to write in Randy. All the best on your collection of not-so-modern coinage.

2 thoughts on “Mail Bag – Why Bother Collecting Modern Coins”

  1. I would agree, Clinton as “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Granted there are some real clunkers among modern commemorative coins, but others do look pretty sharp and could have personal meaning to individual collectors.. (Probably people said the same thing at the time about Roman Empire issues.) While as I’ve said before that I think the Mint is producing far, far too much stuff the old standbys–mint & proof sets–do last, even if the bulk of them aren’t worth much beyond what they initially sold for. (Silver proofs are a different story, but that’s a commodities market issue.) That does bring up one other thing: if you have a long set of coins in a series then purchasing modern ones makes sense. After all, the Washington quarters have been clad much longer than they were silver. But I do wish some of the new designs were more imaginative; it say something that the silver Eagles, Palladium bullion and Buffalo gold are just reusing century-old images. Iconic, but surely we can advance on them..


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