Take the coins pictured in this article, for instance: can you tell which coin is worth over $1,000.00? The answer: they all are -- except for the oldest coin, which is a 1,800-year-old Roman coin. Even though this is the oldest coin pictured by far it only sells for $80.00. Surprised? Most people are.
Coin values 101: basic tips for new collectors
Here are some basic things to understand about coin values, using the examples pictured as a reference guide:
Age doesn’t matter. Coins are very durable, and that means unless they have been purposely destroyed, most coins are still around somewhere. In other words, a coin’s value is never determined based on age alone. The first coin pictured is a 1,800-year-old ancient coin – and while it is fascinating from a historical context, it is much more common than you might expect. Furthermore, collectors don’t focus on ancient coins as much as they do on other types of collectible coins. Then again, there are some very rare and expensive ancient coins on the market as well.
Popularity is key. The Lincoln Cent, pictured, is a very common coin in general. However, it also ranks among the most popular collectors’ series – and because the 1909-S VDB has the lowest mintage of that series with just 484,000 minted pieces, it is therefore a highly valued coin. Mintage, like age, is not a sole determining factor, however. There are some coins with very low mintage, but no active collector base. If there are only 1,000 minted pieces of something but only 900 collectors who want one, then that coin will not have great value on the market.
“Mint condition” matters. The next coin you see is an 1890-CC (Carson City) Silver Dollar in gem un-circulated condition. This coin has a mintage of over two million pieces, making it a relatively common piece. However, only a small number of coins of this date have maintained such a high-grade condition. This makes them very valuable despite their high mintage.
Precious metals add value: Next you will see a one-ounce Gold Eagle. This piece is also very common; but despite being a mass-produced bullion coin, it is very valuable because of the precious metals value of gold. Compare this Gold Eagle with the 100-year-old $20 gold piece pictured hereafter. If commonly circulated, this coin might also bear value purely based on its gold content. Unlike the Gold Eagle, however, it could also have value that greatly exceeds the gold value if it is a rare date within the series or in very high-grade condition.
I hope this column has helped you gain a basic understanding of how rare coins derive their value. Additional research can make the process easier and infinitely fascinating for enthusiastic collectors; but it is always best to have a professional evaluate your coin collection to ensure both accurate information and lasting enjoyment. To learn more, request information about a coin or start your own collection, visit our experienced