Coin collectors always have a story about the coin they lost, coins that they either once had but sold and wish they had back, or coins they saw for sale but passed up because they were looking for a better deal – or simply couldn’t afford the coin.
I have had a similar experience.
A 1799 Draped Bust dollar.
Ever since I was a young coin collector, a bright eyed 12-year-old, it had been one of my goals to own an early silver dollar.
Of course, I wanted an 1804 Draped Bust dollar just like nearly every other coin collector, but I knew I’d probably never be able to afford it. So I settled on the idea of owning any early silver dollar (which is summarized as any Flowing Hair or Draped Bust dollar – the former minted from 1794 to 1795, the latter from 1795 to 1804).
About My Lost Coin
In 2010, more than 15 years after I first laid eyes on the goal of obtaining an early American silver dollar, I had finally mustered the funds to purchase a 1799 Draped Bust dollar – one of the most common dates among the early silver dollars. It was slabbed and graded Good-6. Definitely not the most detailed coin in the world but with deeply original color and only a couple minor rim nicks, it was a desirable type coin with nothing worse than a lot of honest wear.
Months passed, and like so many Americans, I was faced with the prospect of having to sell a few belongings to make ends meet. Reluctantly, I wound up selling the coin. I hated doing that. After all, that Bust dollar represented more than just a time-worn relic minted during the 18th century. It was one of my earliest coin collecting goals realized. But, life happens and I accepted selling that coin as the responsible thing to do.
Fast forward to the summer of 2011. Lucky enough to have landed a good, full-time job, I decided to fulfill my goal once more of owning an early American silver dollar. Lo and behold, while searching online for a suitable Bust dollar, I found it – the coin I had “lost.” My 1799 Draped Bust dollar, listed online. I knew it was mine, because as it turned out it was listed by the same coin dealer to whom I had sold it months earlier.
I was surprised it hadn’t already been sold, though that’s likely due to the fact that the market for rare U.S. coins is still reeling somewhat from economic conditions that make buying expensive coins tough for many. Unfortunately, the 1799 Draped Bust dollar was listed for nearly $200 more than I had originally paid for it a year earlier, but it was still a reasonable deal. With relatively few other essentially problem-free Draped Bust dollars available at a decent price, I decided to buy back that lost coin.
The expense of feeding your coin collection may play second fiddle to paying the bills, but if somehow you have the chance to buy the coin you always wanted – buy it. You’ll be glad you did. And, if you ever wind up in my shoes, with the chance to buy back the very coin you “lost” for whatever reason – and only for a small markup in price more than you originally paid for it – go for it. Chances are, that same coin will cost you dearly more than a couple-hundred-dollar markup if you have to wait too long.
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!