Determining coin values

Many coin collectors have come across a particular coin from time to time and wondered whether they had something of great value in their possession. This feature describes the main factors influencing a coin's value and provides some guidance in obtaining an estimate of such value. Remember, however, that the mere fact that a coin does not have significant monetary value does not mean that it is not interesting to collectors or that it should not form part of your coin collection.

Factors Influencing Value

The value of a particular coin is influenced or determined primarily by the following four factors:

Scarcity or rarity is a major determinant of coin value. Generally speaking, the rarer a coin the more it is worth. Note that rarity has little to do with the age of a coin. Many one thousand year old Chinese coins often sell for no more than a few dollars because there are a lot of them around, whereas a 1913 Liberty Head Nickel may sell for over $1,000,000 because there are only five known specimens in existence.

The condition or grade of the coin will influence its value. The better the condition a coin is in, the higher will be its assigned grade and the more it will be worth. An uncirculated coin that is in a flawless mint condition might well be worth a few hundred times more than the same coin in good condition, but which has been circulated.

Many coins have a bullion value, determined by the value of the precious metals it contains. A gold, silver or platinum coin will not normally sell for less than its melt value.

The demand for the particular coin, how many collectors want it and how badly they want it will also greatly influence coin values. Some coins that are relatively plentiful, but are more popular with collectors, may command higher prices than scarcer coins. E.g.; there are more than 400,000 1916 D dimes in existence, compared to only about 30,000 1798 dimes. However, even though the 1798 dime is much rarer than the 1916 D, the 1916 D coin sells for significantly more. This is because there are many more people collecting early 20th century mercury dimes than there are collecting dimes from the 1700's.

Accurately and properly identify the coin.

Make a study of all available coin catalogues, both local and overseas publications, to find listed retail selling prices or estimated retail values for your coin. For United States coins, use A Guide Book of United States Coins by R.S. Yeoman, commonly called "The Red Book" by collectors and dealers which provides retail prices for United States coins and is available in many public libraries, major bookstores and coin shops. For World coins, the most widely used guide is a series of volumes called The Standard Catalog of World Coins by Krause and Mishler. Which are also available in most public libraries./p>

For more current actual dealer prices, both buying and selling, you should check coin newspapers, magazines and auction sites such as Coin World, Coin Prices or Teletrade. These sites provide price guides for many United States coins and some World coins.

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