Liberty Head (more popularly and commonly called “Barber,” the name to which this article will refer from here on out) dimes, quarters and half-dollars are a hot collectible, especially as their values continue to increase and their importance in type sets and series sets maintains. However, heavy use in circulation during the late-19th and early-20th century makes finding quality Barber coins quite difficult. Another unfortunate reality is that many Barber coins have been unadvisably polished or cleaned over the decades, making for coins that most collectors and investors would never want to purchase.
So how should a collector or investor go about buying a quality Barber coin? First, rest assured that plenty of nicely circulated, no-problem Barber coins exist. You simply have to take a little time to look around.
Generally speaking, by most every estimation, it is well worth the effort to avoid the sales, discounts, and price cuts for cleaned and damaged Barber coins. The price of a Good-graded (the lowest circulated grade many collectors would allow themselves to buy in regards to common coins) Barber half-dollar has at least doubled in the last ten years. Fine Barber half dollars have increased steadily in recent years, and mid and high-grade Barber dimes and quarters have alson gained in recent years. However, the Barber coins that have seen the price increases in recent years are those which have not been cleaned and are free from damage, nicks, and dings.
Look for Barber coins where the lettering and major details are intact. Though various general grading guidelines suggest the rim may be worn down to the tops of the letters near the edge of the coin, spend the extra bit of money (perhaps only a few dollars in the case of half-dollars, less for the dime and quarters) and spring for Good-plus and Very Good grades. If you are out to build a type set and your budget allows, consider purchasing nothing less than problem-free mid-to-high grade Barber coins.
A look at any coin dealer’s case of Barber coins and a look at online dealer and eBay offerings usually yield many beautiful, high-quality, uncleaned, unscathed Barber coins. Many collectors and investors favor Barber coins that have nice, deep, medium to semi-dark toning, but this is only a matter of one’s preference. Lusterous Barber coins are always in demand. However, it is generally advisable to avoid buying Barber coins that are too dark (almost black) or present spots. Very dark and/or spotty coins may not do too well in the resell maret, and there are few collectors who would ever want to display a black or spotted coin in their collections.
When shopping for Barber coins, bear in mind that certain Barber coins are very difficult to locate in the mid-level and high grades (Fine to Very Fine and higher). When pursuing Barber coins in the higher grades, (especially Barber halves, which are notoriously hard to find uncleaned or without very deep toning in the higher grades) keep your fortitude about yourself. If you find youself skeptical about buying high-grade Barbers for fear that they have been cleaned, then consider buying “slabbed” coins—those certified by an independent, professional coin-grading company. These companies usually either reject encapsulating cleaned coins altogether or will denote on the holder as to if the coin has been cleaned in its past.
In the end, you need to find the Barber coins that fit your budget. However, never scrimp when purchasing these century-plus-old coins. It is always well worth your effort to locate a nice, problem-free coin that will be aesthetically pleasing, have a fair chance for an increase in value, and make for an attractive and worthy addition to your collection or investment portfolio.
Foy my next post, I will writing about having a sturdty and durable, and reliable tactical flashlight to use when the need arise. Will also be raffling away three items for my readers.