By Appointment Only

Selling Rare Coins: Three Factors That You Need to Be Familiar With

Selling Rare Coins
1895 Morgan Silver Dollar

Selling rare coins can oftentimes be much more challenging than selling gold and silver bullion coins, as fewer resources exist for these coins.  Furthermore, there are factors, besides the precious metals value of the coin that impacts its value.  Unless you’re a numismatist, you may not be intimately familiar with these factors.  The purpose of this article is to address the three factors that affect the value of rare coins and how you can maximize the value when you sell your old coins.

The age of a coin is the most obvious contributing factor of the coin’s value, but it is not the most important.  Furthermore, just because a coin is old doesn’t necessarily mean it’s valuable.  For example, many foreign coins from the early 1800’s are only worth a few dollars.  Furthermore, some late 19th century U.S. coins in circulated condition, such as Indian Head pennies and Liberty V nickels are valued at well under $10.  A good rule of thumb is that if your U.S. coin is from the 19th century and contains silver content that the coin is worth more than the precious metals content.

The condition of an old or rare coin is typically more important than the age of the coin.  Very few coins minted from the 1800’s were well preserved, which means that it’s difficult to find a coin in uncirculated condition.  An uncirculated old coin, even if it’s a common date coin, can be rare and fetch a nice premium in the numismatic market.  For example, an uncirculated late 1800’s Indian Head penny or V nickel may be worth many times the value of a circulated condition coin from the same year.  Be especially careful not to touch the face or reverse of an old well preserved coin, as oils from your skin can tarnish the coin; thus reducing its value.

It may come as a surprise to some people, but the age and condition of your old and rare coins isn’t the most important factor in determining their value.  Rather, the mintage, or quantity produced, is the greatest contributing factor.  Some coins, such as the 1895-P Morgan silver dollar, are valued in the five figures, even in circulated condition.  Other highly valued coins in nearly any condition include the 1933 St. Gaudens double eagle, the 1909-s VDB Lincoln cent and the 1916-d Mercury dime, just to name a few.  If you’re unable to confirm the mintage of your rare coins before selling them, don’t be shy about asking the rare coin dealer that you’re working with if you happen to have a key date coin in your possession.

While the three factors highlighted above are the most important factors affecting the value of a rare coin, selecting the right rare coin dealer may be the greatest contributing factor in realizing the full value of your old coins.  Be sure to do your due diligence to confirm that the coin dealer is well established, respected in the industry, has positive reviews from prior customers and is in good standing with the Better Business Bureau.

In summary, three factors determine the value of rare coins, including the age, the condition, and the mintage of the coin, with the mintage being the most important factor.  Obtaining the mintage of your coins in advance of selling rare coins will help you to realize the full value of your coins.  However, selecting the wrong old coin dealer may cost you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.  Keep the above contributing factors in mind and do your due diligence to make sure that you’re doing business with a reputable rare coin dealer.  If you do, you’ll be well on your way to realizing the maximum value of your coins.

Tony Davis
Tony Davis