Your Questions About Storing Junk Silver Coins

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Charles asks…

Any silver coin experts? Mint proof markings?

I bought one of these pieces from a used coin store and want to buy more but i can’t find anything on them…

5 Troy ounces of .999 fine silver with TR proof mark.

The upper face reads LIBERTY with Libertas who bears the torch in her right and what looks like a piece of ivy wreath in her left. 51 stars around the lip no date whatsoever. At the bottom shows the proof marking TR. Reverse reads FIVE TROY OUNCES .999 FINE SILVER with the eagle and 60 stars surrounding the lip. Its got anti-counterfeiting reeding all around the coin except the very bottom.

Weighs in at 155.5 grams. 31.1 grams is one troy ounce.

I’m new to buying silver and i want more data than the Nitric acid test allows. I just wanna to know how to look up the mint/proof or wherever it was made so i can get an idea of what quality silver im dealing with. If not I have to risk it and buy at least 5 more to do accurate water displacement test because weight/acid test isn’t 100% accurate alone. It could still have something foreign inside while still weighing correctly. Maybe 925 sterling or worse.

Justin answers:

It is not a coin, and there are no ‘mint proof markings’.

First of all, any marks on coins that differentiate them from others of the same date and design, as to where they were made, are mint marks, and they have nothing to do with whether a coin is a proof collector coin or a regular-issue circulating coin.

So, TR is not a proof mark. I have no idea what it means. It could be the initials of whoever ‘designed’ the item, or it could mean something else.

What this is…it’s a private-issue silver ’round’, not a coin, which is government-issued money. Being a proof, it was made to sell to collectors at a premium to the value of the silver at the time it was produced. With no date, no one knows when that was. Many ’rounds’ do have dates, many are made that cover all sorts of subjects to make them interesting to collectors. Generic patriotic-themed rounds like this one, many of which ‘sort of’ look like official US coins (on purpose) are all over the place. Most are one ounce. 5 ounces aren’t seen as often, but that doesn’t make them any more valuable, they’re still basically worth only the silver.

As for proving authenticity, you’ll have to rely on any testing you can do. There aren’t going to be any markings that will prove or disprove it. About all you can do is keep checking eBay and Google to see if you can find anything that looks exactly like what you have, and try to find out what private mint made it. There are some who are still around after many years (Northwest Territorial Mint) and others who are out of business now but had good reputations while they were around. But there were fly-by-night outfits who were less reputable, and, of course, there are always the Chinese fakes.

Myself, I don’t fool around with these things. I get my silver by buying pre-1965 US ‘junk silver’ coins.

Joseph asks…

Do I have to legally return the money?? Help!!!! Am I Going to Jail?

Ok so I bought 20 silver panda coins from china, I got a good price. I wanted to make sure they were 100% real so I took me to 3 coin shops, all 3 coin shops said they were 100% real. I had one of the coin shops acid test the silver and it passed. They then offered me $35.00 for each coin, I sold them! I asked them if they would want to buy more and the said hell yes, so I placed another order with china for the same coins, but a way bigger order. When I got the 240 coins in I took them down to the same coin shop and they wrote me a check for over $8,000.00. They dated the check for that day but asked me to wait to cash it till the next day. The next day rolls around so I go to the bank on my lunch break and cash the check. About a hour later the coin shop calls me up and tells me that I need to come and give them the money back because they did more testing and found out they were fake. They said if I don’t they will call the cops and press charges for felony fraud! I already spent a lot of the money, so I don’t have. I took the coins to “experts” so something like this wouldn’t happen! I don’t feel I did anything wrong and I would rather not go to jail for trusting 3 “coin experts”!!!!
I did not take to 240 coin to any other expert other then the one I sold them to. also they don’t even have all the coin left because they sold some to other people but they want a full refund even for the coins they don’t have. I don’t think they pulled a fast one becuase the coins looked the same to me. I did call the cops and they said how do you know they were the same coins.

Justin answers:

By being in business, they are holding themselves out to the public as experts. As experts, they are to exercise due diligence when buying items from the public. Their testing in your presence for the original 20, and acceptance of them based on that testing, is enough to satisfy any court that you didn’t defraud them. They are supposed to be the experts, not you. They aren’t going to find much help from a judge if they come back at you after the fact.

However, it’s a different story on the second, larger batch. These also should have been tested in your presence if they had any doubts, but their argument may be a little stronger if they relied on the first batch (which may have been good for all we know – rip-off artists are famous for sucking you in with a great deal on legit items, a price too good to be true, a price guaranteed to get you to come back for even more, which is when they swindle you). If the store failed to do the testing, it wasn’t smart on their part, but their case may be a little stronger.

But there’s another problem for them. They sold some of what you sold them. They will have a difficult time proving in court that they did not substitute junk for the good coins you sold them.

The bottom line, though, is that this is not a criminal matter. The police will not charge you with a crime, because if they do, they run the very serious risk of a false arrest lawsuit. They will advise the store to file a civil lawsuit against you. And you, not being the expert, and them, being the expert, isn’t going to look very good for them.

Stand your ground. Be prepared to hire a lawyer, but my guess is that the store will back down.

Mark asks…

what are 10 ways to make money?

Justin answers:

1. Do freelance work

Felice Premeau Devine left her lucrative, full-time job two years ago to raise her son. In the interim, she’s picked up writing and editing freelance work and started a blog, where she is able to earn a little cash from advertising.

Nowadays, almost any job can be done on a contract or freelance basis. Check out sites like Sologig, which lead job seekers to contract, consulting, freelance, temp-to-hire and part-time project opportunities in your field.

2. Sell your books

3. Search circulating coinage

Susan Headley, the “guide to coins” on, is a lifetime coin collector who has been boosting her income by searching through circulating coinage for the past six years. In 2008, she made about $2,500 and so far in 2009, she has earned approximately $500 from coins she’s found.

People who search circulating coinage successfully for a side income do so in very large numbers, she says. They buy rolls of coins from banks, typically in whole boxes, and sort through it to find stuff that just doesn’t belong, Headley says. Half dollars, for example, were no longer made from 90 percent silver after 1965, but they still had 40 percent silver in them until 1970; either of these turn a nice profit. Presidential dollar errors can be worth $50 to $5,000 each; uncirculated state quarters can sell from $10 to $50 per roll; and rare error coins can value up to $35,000.

4. Start a “business”

Turn your hobby, skills or expertise into a part-time business. Sites like Jobvana can help you do so by providing you with free tools to market your services and offer specialized skills to those looking for help.

Peter Olson says he built a profile in September 2008 offering to teach guitar lessons. He has since gained two students, earning about $240 extra dollars per month and grossing around $1,000 since he started teaching.

5. Enter local and online sweepstakes

Wendy Limauge has been entering sweepstakes since 1993 and teaching others to win through her Web site, Sweeties Sweeps, since 2002. Though winning sweepstakes rarely provides actual cash, her winnings have consistently provided her and her family with 200 to 300 prizes a year, many of them large items she and her husband couldn’t afford on their incomes alone.

Prizes she has won include three TVs, two of which are flat-screens; a home theatre system; three dishwashers, each won on separate occasions; at least $1,500 in grocery gift certificates; an $18,000 voucher for the vehicle of her choice; a trip to France valued at $25,000; and, in March 2009, she won $5,000 in an instant-win game.

“The Internet has so many options for saving money, getting something for free, winning a prize or earning money from home,” Limauge says. “You just need to find those resources that offer helpful information and point you in the right direction to get you started and keep you motivated.”

6. Give your opinion — and get paid

Linda Childers, a California-based freelance writer, says many of her friends participate in focus groups. Contributing an hour of your time can earn you up to $100, sometimes more. Online surveys, phone surveys and product trials can also earn you anywhere from $5 to $150. Check out Free Paid Surveys or FindFocusGroups.

7. Sell your junk

Terri Jay earns $2,000 – $3,000 per month just by selling junk. On eBay, Jay not only sells stuff she isn’t using; she hits up local thrift stores on 99-cent days, garage sales and tack sales, looking for things of which she knows the value. She says her best sale was for a drink tray from the 70s: She paid 25 cents for it and it sold for $87.

“The trick is to [sell] what you know,” she advises. “Therefore you can list them [at correct prices] so they will get picked up in searches [on eBay].”

8. Join a direct selling company

Direct selling is one of the easiest ways to earn some extra cash, especially if you sell products you love. Avon, for example, allows you start your own business for $10 — your take home depends on your efforts. Some full-time representatives earn six-figure salaries, others own licensed Avon Beauty Centers and many just sell Avon part time around their family’s schedules.

Haizel MacIntyre started her Avon business in June of 2008 to earn supplemental income to her full-time job when her husband was laid off. Since joining Avon, MacIntyre averages $1,800 a month in sales and her husband is helping her run the business. Her Avon earnings help pay the bills, provide extras for her three kids and she is hoping to earn enough to put towards her college tuition when she goes back to school to get her Masters in Social Work.

9. Be a secret shopper

Keen eyes for detail as well as a good memory are really all that it takes to succeed as a secret shopper, says Zippy Sandler, who has been mystery shopping for about 13 years. After registering with a secret shopping company, you are paid to basically go undercover and report on

Ken asks…

What are Rainbow Coins? How do they get that way?

What exactly is a rainbow coin? I’ve read certain things that say they are collectables and are rare and seen other things that say they are something people do to the coin and that it’s nothing special that actually it’s a damaged coins? What is the deal with them?

Also, I most often see these selling as collectibles being Morgan Silver Dollars. Saw one on ebay that’s a quarter. What can you tell me about this coin?

Justin answers:

The coin shown looks like it was toned in the oven and is really to new to have an original tone. Rainbow toned coins are ones that were stored in the old albums that had acids and sulfurs in the paper. Before albums coins were stored in collector cabinets made of wood with velvet glued in. This combination also helped tone the coins. Toning is a natural process that happens to coins and metals except gold. Some are quite beautiful and command a high price but only to the group of collectors that will pay it. The purest collectors call toning damage and will not buy them. They will pay the extra money for natural white coins that are originals. That type of coin was stored with a lot of care. I kind of like both and have some Mercury dimes that are purple and or red that are just amazing but I also have some that are blazing white which are just as amazing. The coin you gave as an example is just junk with some one trying to make a fast buck.

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