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While colorized coins that have been painted after leaving the mint really aren’t worth anything in the numismatic sense, they are artistic.
Colorized coins are a type of novelty coin and should be viewed less as investments and, instead, as a way of enjoying a different type of coin art.
What Are Colorized Coins?
In case the word ‘colorized’ is throwing you off, the term refers to coins which have been painted.
Though some official world mints are making colorized coins, most of the colorized coins you’ve seen are those which have been painted after leaving the mint.
Perhaps the most common types of painted coins you’ll find are:
While the coins themselves are real, the painted images on these coins were crafted by a private person or company after the coins left the United States Mint.
Colorized Coins Struck By Official Mints
Though most of the colorized coins you’ve probably seen are simply after-mint products of regular coins painted by artists, there are some painted coins which have been struck by official mints and are intentionally colored by the government mints.
Here’s a quick look at a few of these official colorized coins:
- Canada has issued a few colorized coins, including a 2006 Breast Cancer awareness coin with a pink ribbon painted in the center of a 25-cent coin.
- Malawi issued a set of 12 Zodiac coins, each with a beautifully painted image of each of the 12 Zodiac signs.
- Russia has a issued silver 2010 1 Ruble coins with a colorized design of a modern jet plane and another with a biplane.
These coins can be found in the stores of many coin dealers who handle foreign coins.
Buying Colorized Coins
Finding colorized coins is easy — any stop by the Home Shopping Network or ShopNBC websites will easily land you on a page or ad showing colorized coins. Flipping through magazines is another quick way to find advertisements for colorized coins.
When shopping for colorized coins, always remember:
- Coins painted after they have left the U.S. Mint aren’t rare
- Colorized coins don’t generally make good investments
However, if you still like colorized coins for their artistic quality or beauty, then by all means check out some of the colorized coins on the market. Many are well done and do possess the markings of some real artistic touch.
Collecting Colorized Coins
Most of the colorized coins advertised feature sets of coins painted to some theme. Probably the most common ‘sets’ of colorized coins package the 50 States Quarters.
Among the most common individual colorized coins are American Silver Eagles.
Collecting colorized coins is a project done according to your own tastes and goals.
Most people who buy colorized coins will buy them on the basis of designs which they find personally appealing.
Building a collection of colorized coins may be done with a theme in mind. For example:
- You might build a patriotic-themed colorized coin collection, featuring coins donning red, white, and blue.
- A collection of a set of colorized 50 States Quarters is a popular undertaking.
- Many people collect colorized coins honoring presidents or other famous and important people.
Are Colorized Coins Legal?
While altering United States coinage is illegal for the purposes of deceiving or committing fraud, the act of painting a coin for art is essentially legal… as long as you don’t try passing off colorized coins as money!
My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I'm a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and have won multiple awards from the NLG for my work as a coin journalist. I'm also the editor at CDN Publishing (a trusted source for the price of U.S. rare coins), editor at the Florida United Numismatists Club (FUN Topics magazine), and author of Images of America: The United States Mint in Philadelphia (a book that explores the colorful history of the Philadelphia Mint). I've contributed hundreds of articles for various coin publications including COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin Values, and CoinWeek. I've also authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins — and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!