Coin King Jonathan Danch

Hampton’s Jonathan “Jed” Danch is well-known for his backyard fire pit gatherings. He is renowned in other circles as a numismatist with extensive knowledge of rare coins. Hand him any coin, and he can spend an hour talking about it. Years ago, working as an appraiser, collector and dealer, he and a few partners opened Rare Coins of New Hampshire in a bank building in Milford. Appraisals are free, by the way.

Jonathan Danch holds a small fortune in one-ounce gold and silver American Eagle coins.

Photo by David Mendelsohn

In his own words:

  • When I was about 12 years old, my grandfather introduced me to coins and stamps. I began to fill up those blue “Whitman Folders,” placing a particular coin in the slot designated for denomination, mint mark and year.
  • Every time I make a purchase, I check my change. I’m looking for any dime, quarter or half dollar that was minted before 1964. These coins are 90 percent pure silver.
  • When holding a coin with potential value, don’t touch the front or back surfaces with your fingers and never attempt to clean a coin. 
  • By cleaning, you are actually scratching the coin’s
  • original surface and substantially degrading its value.
  • Most investors who are attracted to precious metals are concerned about higher interest rates, inflation or an economic meltdown. They want to hold something tangible, something that is easily traded.
  • There are two factors that dictate the value of a rare coin: condition and rarity.
  • Condition is now determined by strict guidelines. Because of this standardization, dealers and collectors can trade on a sight-unseen basis with confidence, perhaps right over the telephone.
  • We use a grading system that [spans] “heavy wear” through “uncirculated” with variations within each category. The ultimate grade would be a Mint State-70 — a perfect coin, which does not exist.
  • Back in the mid-’60s, a friend of mine also began collecting rare coins. He bought a 1909 Lincoln cent, issued to commemorate the centennial of the president’s birth. He may have spent $15. A few years ago, we had that coin independently certified and graded, and it had risen in value to $1,300.
  • Many families end up inheriting serious collections or they may find a jar of vintage coins stored in Grandma’s attic. In either case, they should have them appraised so they know their value and can come up with a strategy.

Commissioned by President Teddy Roosevelt, this $20 “double eagle” gold coin was designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, whose studios, gardens and home are preserved as a US National Park in Cornish. The coin, which is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful ever cast, was minted from 1907 to 1933. Danch says a fairly common 1924 uncirculated mint Saint-Gaudens currently trades from $1,500 to $2,000. A far rarer ‘33 Mint $20 Saint-Gaudens piece sold at public auction for $7.59 million.

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