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Posts Tagged ‘rarity’

Coin collectors, old and new, as well as many non-collectors, often wonder these days whether the coins in their pocket (or modest collection) are worth more than their face or bullion value.  The following are basic factors that in general influence a coins value.  No rocket science here, just common sense.

How rare is that Lincoln cent I just found in the parking lot?  It’s for sure old because it has the wheat stalks on the reverse and those haven’t been around for almost 50 years.  Ah, my ship has landed….or has it!

People generally realize that the rarer a coin the higher the coins value. Of course the condition of the coin is most often also very important.  The exception to this would be a unique coin, i.e., one of a kind in which case condition takes a back seat.  Additionally, the common belief that the older the coin the greater its value is not always true.  The bottom line is 1) condition, 2) mintage (number produced), and 3) demand.  These are “in general” pretty good criteria to follow when you start to evaluate that parking lot find.  

Is the coin in good condition?  The better the condition the greater the value and thus the more it will bring in the marketplace.   The condition (strike and luster) and eye appeal of a coin contribute heavily to a coins value.  A coin that is in mint state condition could actually be worth a hundred times the same coin in a lower circulated grade.   If you don’t know how to grade coins, find a trustworthly dealer that can help you.  You also have the choice of sending it to a third party grading service such as PCGS or NGC.   But remember, knowledge is power and you want to keep the “knowledge card” in your hand.  The ANA sponsors excellent grading classes during the Summer Seminar Series each July.  The instructors represent the best in the industry.  Inaddition, the way the grading is taught keeps you in tune with the market and thus the ever changing commerical demands of the market.

If the coin is in nice condition the next question is, how many were made.  Is the coin rare or just a common date (which might be the reason you found it where you did) within the series.  Pick up a “RED BOOK” at you local bookstore, or just google “US Coin Mintage” and find out how many were made.  Low mintage usually means a higher price.  If you find a coin with a mintage less that 500,000 you probably  have a very interesting coin in your possession.  However, if they made 50,000,000 million, well, you probably don’t have anything of great value. 

Supply and demand!  In those series that are heavily collected, Indian Head Cents, Lincoln cents, Buffalo Nickels, Liberty Head Dimes, the key dates are always in demand….there just aren’t enough of the low mintage coins to go around and the prices stay high.  However, higher mintage issues cost a fraction of these other key dates and this is even true of the mint state issues. 

What about the idea of age, how old is the coin.  Is an older coin more valuable that a relatively modern issue?  No, just because a coin was made in the 16th century does not mean it is more valuable than a coin made in say 1972 (Lincoln double die).  It goes back to rarity, demand and availability.  There are many 16th century coins that can be purchased for less than a hundred dollars, or even fifty dollars.  There were just a lot of them made and they have surived over time. 

Once again, how many are available and what is the demand.  Those are the two big questions for those of us in the world of collecting.

A Coin is Worth More Than a Coin…When it is RARE and in DEMAND!

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