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How to Make Money With John Adams Presidential Dollar Coins

This article was written by in Coin Collecting, Investing. 16 comments.


Whenever the US Mint comes up with a new concept for circulating coins, it inspires a new bunch of collectors and investors. That has certainly happened with the Presidential Dollar Series, which began earlier this year.

First impressions of the George Washington $1 coins were luke warm, but then collectors started discovering errors. In some coins mostly originating from northern Florida, the lettering on the edge was missing. Whether intentional or not, the Mint’s lack of quality control helped fuel a frenzy on eBay, in which people were selling error coins for well over face value. In the latest auction to close while writing this post, a certified error coin sold for over $164. Uncertified error coins are fetching over $50 a piece.

Even rolls in which there only *might* be error coins are selling for a slight premium, usually around $30 a roll when the face value is $25.

Ben from Money Smart Life wrote in with a question about the next coin in the Presidential Dollar Series, the John Adams $1 coin:

Being the opportunist I am, I just bought $150 of John Adams dollar coins today. Any suggestions on the best way to sell them on eBay? Should I try and sell all 6 rolls at once or one at a time? Should I sell them right away or hold onto them for a while? Is there any value in breaking apart the roll and selling them individually?

John Adams dollar coinI am still waiting to hear from my bank after putting myself on the waiting list for the John Adams coins, but I’m not expecting to make much money from them. There are a couple of issues that are working against the possibility of making money on John Adams $1s:

* General feeling among collectors seems to be the Adams coin has a nicer design than the Washington, which makes it more collectible. More people will be hoarding the coins, keeping the supply among collectors strong.
* The attention given to the Washington coins, whether about the series itself or about the errors, has inspired more interest among new collectors.
* The Mint has supposedly stepped up its quality control to reduce the number of errors, the main driver behind the frenzy over the Washington dollars.

Despite this, I’ve already started hearing about doubled edge lettering on the John Adams coins. This seems to be a less frequent error than the Washington smooth edge (no lettering), so this coin will probably be the best bet for those looking to make money. But since it is more rare, it’s unlikely that you have one.

I suggested to Ben that he open any rolls he’s not interested in collecting for himself and check for errors. (Here’s a list of known errors on John Adams $1s so far.)

If you do have one of these error coins and want to sell it rather than collect it, I would put it up on eBay as soon as possible for a guaranteed return, as fervor over errors is still strong. If you find more than one and want to make the most of your money, wait in between selling them to catch any short-term price increases that may crop up due to the unpredictable market.

Since the Washington error was so common, it will likely always be available for collectors, and it’s unlikely that there will be much upside to the prices they are fetching now. It’s still too early to see how common the doubled lettering Adams dollar will be.

While this isn’t particular to Adams dollars, if you go through your rolls and find a coin struck through grease at the mint, which is considered by some as an error, you may have some luck making a profit with it on eBay. One recent auction for this type of John Adams $1 sold for $41.

Without the errors, these coins would never be worth much more than face value thanks to the sheer volume of mintage and interest to collectors.

All this being said, you could probably make a small profit on each unopened uncirculated roll by selling them now on eBay, especially if you tend to overcharge for “shipping and handling” like most eBayers. For me, this small profit (maybe $5 a roll) wouldn’t be worth it, plus I would feel like I’m ripping someone off by selling them something they can easily get at their own bank for face value. (On the other hand, perhaps people who are on a waiting list, like me, may be willing to pay a little extra.)

Before getting into selling coins on eBay, it may be worthwhile to lurk the Collectors’ Universe Message Boards. These forums are run by the third party grading service PCGS, and you will quickly learn from some of the best collectors and dealers in the world the right and wrong ways to sell coins on eBay. Watch out for spam with forum members chiming in only to tout their auctions. Mostly, the regulars criticize misleading listings and other scam-like eBay tactics and give great advice to the increasing number of “newbies” who stop by every day.

Updated January 26, 2011 and originally published May 23, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Sun

I got a roll yesterday from my local bank Not that I want to sell them. I collect coins and have got coins from nearly 1000 countries so far. These new dollar coins will also make a nice gift when we go back to China next year.

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avatar Jonathan

This reminds me of baseball cards. Now that everyone seems to be hoarding and aware of possible profit, I don’t know if these will appreciate that much anymore.

My baseball card collection is trailing inflation by a lot :)

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,535 (Platinum)

Jonathan: I agree. After a point, you couldn’t buy and hold newer cards and hope for income down the road just because everything was so common. The printers went so far as to (allegedly) slip errors into production to boost demand. R

emember when there were at least 4 major card printers? Topps, Fleer, Donruss, Score, and Upper Deck just to name a few I remember from the late 80s. I think this turned people off to card collecting — so perhaps some of those cards printed during the “down” period of collecting will eventually have value… But there are other variables, too.

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avatar Hamburger Flipper

If Ihad 6 rolls ($150 face) I’d sell 2 or 3 rolls now for a quick profit and hold the rest for possible (modest) appreciation.

With any new coin “series” which stimulates collector interest, there are always laggards who come late to the party.

Some of the “early” (1999, 2000) state quarters in roll quantities are selling at respectable premiums. Five or ten years from now, the Adams coins may well be in a similar position

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avatar Jonathan

Yup, I remember distinctly when the first Leaf cards came out. $1.50 a pack? No way was I going to pay that. Instead I bought the over-produced Donruss cards, which are worth less than dirt now (and probably resealed wax packs).

The problem with baseball cards was always that the bid/ask spread was like 50%! Anyhow, good memories.

Honestly, I know next to nothing about coin collecting myself. Did those state quarters appreciate faster than inflation?

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avatar Patrick

This is an interesting read. But, I’m not going to buy any of these coins myself. I collected coins as a kid, and now I save one or two (small denomination) coins from every country I travel to.

Remember the Wisconsin quarter a couple years back? I had a friend sell 5 of them on eBay for about $1200. I don’t think they are worth very much now… :)

I collected baseball cards back in the day too. I still buy a pack every now and then, not for profit, mostly for nostalgia and to see how the new cards look. It’s fun. :)

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,535 (Platinum)

Patrick: There are some varieties of the Wisconsin quarter that are still fetching a large premium (Extra Leaf High and Extra Leaf Low). I’m not sure if it’s as much as $1,200, but it could be for certified coins. I’ll have to check eBay when I get a chance.

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avatar Ben

I’ve opened and gone through one roll so far, no errors yet. I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for but the list of known errors on About.com has helped.

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avatar Adam Nash

I’ve been selling Presidential Dollar Coin rolls on eBay since March. There is a modest profit in it, but nothing significant after eBay & PayPal fees.

Since almost anyone can get these, the eBay market quickly and efficiently brings the price down to almost break-even.

I’d tell the person with $150 of rolls to not even bother! Personally sold about $2500 worth of George Washington dollars for a profit of a few hundred dollars, but that is because I used my own blog to drive traffic and get fee refunds from eBay.

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avatar Eric

How can you get fee refunds from ebay? I didn’t quite understand what you meant by that.

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avatar BOB

i THINK INVESTING IN SILVER IS A SMART MOVE. IT HAS GONE UP VERY NICELY IN THE LAST FEW YEARS, WAY BETTER THAN THE STOCK MARKET AVERAGES AND THE LITTLE GUY CAN BUY EASILY. GOOD BET…

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avatar joe

Is there any way to tell the mint (P or D) without busting the roll?

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avatar Laura

I was raking my lawn today and found a coin so i picked it up it had john adams on it and it has the double lettering. It turned brown in color as i dont know how long it has been out in the yard through all the weather conditions but it is one of the error coins. would it still be worth money? I have checked out a few sites and stores are offering for the public to buy these error coins for up to 700.00.

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avatar lazara

i have a dollar coin from john adamas and i want to sell it … yaer is 1797 to 1801

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avatar Alexis Whitmire

I’ve been collecting coins for a while but I have been recently interested in the dollar coins. I was looking at my John Adams and I noticed in your picture up top, that yours seems to have higher cheek bones and slimmer. Mine is very round in the face, why is that?

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avatar Myrna Agbayani

Please let me know where I can go to appraise my old coins/ email me. Thank you.

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