Free Estimate What Determines a Coin’s Value Grading

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When Coin Collecting many 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 or that it should not form part of your collection.

Please Note: There are at least three values of a coin, the Price the owner thinks his coin is worth, the Price the Red Book or a Pricing Guide lists it at and then most important, the Actual Price that you can sell it for to a dealer, buyer, on eBay or at auction.

Factors Influencing Value

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

  1. Scarcity or rarity is a major determinant of value. As a general matter, 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.
  2. 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 flawless mint state might be worth hundreds times more than the same coin in good condition but which has been circulated.
  3. Many coins have a bullion value determined by the value of the precious metals it contains. A gold, silver or platinum coin does not generally sell for much less than its melt value.
  4. The demand for the particular coin, or how many collectors want it, will also greatly influence coin values. Some coins that are relatively plentiful may command higher prices than scarcer coins because the former are more popular with collectors. For example, there are over 400,000 1916 D dimes in existence as compared to only about 30,000 1798 dimes. However, even though the 1798 dime is much rarer than its 1916D counterpart,  the 1916D coin sells for significantly more. This is because many more people collect early 20th century mercury dimes than dimes from the 1700′s.

Determining a Coin’s Approximate Value

  1. Accurately and properly identify the coin. You can obtain guidance on how to do this by using this site’s Free Coin Pricing Guide
  2. Grade the coin based on your careful observation of its condition. This can be done by referring to this site’s What Determines a Coin’s Value.
  3. Look the coin up in a coin catalog 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. It provides retail prices for United States coins.  It is available in many public libraries and in 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. These volumes are also available in many public libraries.
  4. For more current prices, based on what dealers are actually selling the particular coin for, you should check coin newspapers and magazines or auction sites such as eBay, Heritage, Coin World or Teletrade. These sites provide price comparison for many U.S. coins and some World coins.

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