What Coins Are Coin Collectors Looking For?
The field of coin collecting and numismatics is constantly changing. The same holds true for collectors and their particular areas of interest. Much like most other fields or industries, the demand for certain items ebbs and flows over time.
Some coin collectors tend to focus on specific coins regardless of the market while others follow trends in the market. While particular interests change over time, there are certain aspects of coin collecting that hold true in any market.
In this piece, we’ll address several areas of coin collecting that will likely apply to you and your situation. Whether new to coin collecting or a grizzled veteran, we hope that you’ll find this information helpful. Additionally, we’ll provide a couple of resources that you may not have previously been aware of.
Type of Coin
The first thing to consider is the type of coin. That is, look at the coin for what it was when it was produced at the mint. Examining the coin, you can find many of these basic elements right away. Others, you may need to do some research or consult with a numismatic expert.
Some example segments of coins from all over the world would be:
· Metal Content
· Mint Location (Mint Mark or attribution)
· Year Minted
· Rarity (i.e., how many were minted or produced in the same location for that same year, or even how many were produced/minted for that specific coin type. Think Morgan Dollar vs. Peace Dollar and Carson City Mint vs. Philadelphia Mint)
· Survivability (some coins were melted down or destroyed making the original mintage numbers obsolete)
Gold vs. Silver
Although several precious metals have been used for minting coins, the most popular have been gold and silver. The question is, are most coin collectors buying gold, silver, or some other precious metal coins? That depends on the collector and their own personal goals and interests, among other things.
A gold coin has a higher intrinsic value per troy ounce than a silver coin. That fact could prompt some collectors of greater means to invest in gold coins over silver and those with smaller budgets to gravitate toward silver coins.
On the other hand, there are other factors to consider, such as those highlighted above, which can contribute toward some silver coins having greater value than gold coins given their details and condition.
While rare, certain type coins that are discovered in uncirculated condition have gone for tens, hundreds, and even millions of dollars at auction over the years. Learn more about selling pre-1933 US gold coins.
Some collectors choose a coin because they appreciate the design features of the coin. For example, the Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle is often referred to as the most beautiful coin ever produced by the U.S. Mint. The $20 St. Gaudens is almost always present in the collection of serious coin collectors, especially if the collector has the financial means to purchase gold over silver coins.
Minting errors happen. You might think that a coin that was improperly minted would be worthless as a collectible coin or even as a coin used for currency in general. However, an error coin has something that the perfectly minted coins lack. Not only do they have character, but they’re rarer and thus more valuable.
The smaller the number of error coins that had a specific minting error, the more valuable each one tends to be. Examples of some of the more popular error coins are 1942 over 41 Mercury dimes, 1955 double die Lincoln cents and 1922 no mint mark Lincoln pennies.
The date of a collectible coin has a considerable impact on its value. In years when the mint produced fewer of a certain coin, that coin’s value is usually greater than coins produced in larger quantities. In addition, the first and last years of a coin’s minting tend to be more popular than the years between, all other aspects and details being equal.
In fact, the date of coins is so important that we’ve published a Rare Coin Guide, which can be found here. The guide provides a list of better date coins by type of coin and is a good resource; especially for individuals that have inherited a coin collection and are interested in identifying the more valuable coins from the collection.
World Coins vs. United States Coins
In general, there are more U.S. collectors looking for United States coins than world coins. For one thing, people in the U.S. tend to know more about these coins and have easy access to information about them. Besides that, there are more U.S. coins available to collect in the U.S. than there are world coins.
Yet, that doesn’t mean you won’t find U.S. coin collectors who prefers world coins. For instance, the South African Krugerrand has been a very popular coin in the U.S. for many years. The same goes for Silver Canadian Maple Leaf coins. Proof versions of these coins tend to sell at higher rates than the standard strike versions.
Canadian Maple Leaf coins in both gold and silver have a purity of .9999. The purity is greater than most other pure gold and silver coins, which tend to be .999 fine. Additionally, this is in contrast to many other gold coins, which are 22 karat or are composed of 90% gold content.
This detail is what drives many collectors and investors alike to coins such as the American gold Buffalo; especially U.S. collectors.
Some coins become collectible due to their historical significance. A coin that has been associated with a national or global event may have more appeal to a coin collector who is also a history buff. One such coin is the 1794 Flowing Hair Dollar. This coin was the first dollar coin in U.S. history to be standardized across the country.
In fact, many coin experts believe that this was the first silver dollar coin to come from the U.S. Mint.
In addition, there are coins that relate to a more personal or local history. Many coin collectors simply enjoy going to their coin club and telling the story or history of their coin. An example of a coin with historical significance is a Barber half dollar found in the pocket of a passenger of the Titanic.
Another factor to take into consider are the features of the coin and how they may have changed over time.
What has it been through? What environmental conditions have affected it? How well did the owners preserve it? Has the coin been cleaned or is the rim of the coin damaged?
A numismatic expert can provide approximate answers to these questions after a careful examination of the coin.
The condition of a collectible coin can significantly affect its value. The condition of a coin, especially one that is particularly rare, may be a potential candidate for certification. The two leading third party grading services are NGC and PCGS.
On the other hand, if you are not sure that your coin is worth grading, you can talk to any of your local coin dealers to get their recommendations.
If you do send the coin to a coin grading service, their professional numismatists will assign a grade expressed as a number and a description, such as AU-50 or VF-20. Don’t be discouraged if your coin doesn’t receive a perfect grade. In fact, it’s almost impossible to receive a perfect grade on older type coins that were produced for general circulation.
Natural Eye Appeal
Novice coin collectors or others who are not familiar with collectible coins often make the mistake of thinking that coin collectors are looking for the shiniest coins. However, this isn’t the case. Rather, experienced coin collectors are interested in coins that are high-quality, but unaltered, and that exhibit original mint luster or natural patina.
Therefore, you should never try to clean a coin before you present it to a potential buyer or send it for coin grading. Also, trying to repair or alter a coin is a very bad idea. This is a fraudulent practice, or at best deceptive, and will cause you major problems when the numismatic expert inevitably discovers it.
If you find a coin that is graded by a reputable grading service and that has a special designation or attribution noted on the label, you may have found a very valuable coin. Some special designations identify coins that were in a first strike, first release, first day of issue, or first day of production.
Some coins are particularly interesting because of their provenance, such as being from a shipwreck or coming from a famous coin hoard.
Completing a Collection
For some coin collectors, the goal of investing in individual coins is to complete a collection. They might aim to assemble a collection consisting of one type, one year, or one historical time-period. Or they might want to gather all the coins from one coin designer. The possibilities are nearly endless.
So, if you have a coin that doesn’t seem all that valuable on its own, you may discover that a coin collector is searching for that particular coin to complete their collection.
How to Find Out More about What Coin Collectors Want
Like many people today, you may want to learn more about coins and what coins collectors prefer. You can start by checking out the resources at the American Numismatic Association. This nonprofit organization provides educational resources to help people learn more about coins and coin collecting.
If you want more personal attention and information on your unique coins, a better option may be to look for reliable coin dealers in your area. Try to find dealers who have a numismatic expert on staff and that are known for their customer service.
At Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers, we not only purchase and sell coins, but we help people selling and buying coins understand what their coins are worth and why. We offer expert appraisals and transparent pricing so that you never have to guess why we offered the price we did.
Contact us to find out more about the value of your coins and how we can help you reach your goals.