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What You Need to Know Before Selling Rare Coins

Selling Rare Coins
1804 Silver Dollar

The rare coin market is a large and popular market, with coins ranging in the tens of dollars to thousands of dollars.  Many questions exist as to what qualifies as a rare coin, how to accurately evaluate the coin’s condition, and what factors affect its value.  This article will address the most common questions surrounding rare coins and will also provide some helpful hints on how to realize the most value when selling rare coins.


What is a Rare Coin

First and foremost, we’ll discuss what a rare coin is and isn’t.  Rare coins are those that are in demand due primarily to their age and scarcity. They are less affected by the prevailing price of gold and silver, which makes the value of these coins more predictable and less subject to wild price fluctuations.  Rare coins are oftentimes old coins that have been out of circulation for a hundred or more years, but that’s not always the case.  Modern issued or special mintage U.S. coins can also be classified as rare coins.  For example, the 2009 St. Gaudens High Relief double eagle, with a mintage of 115,178 coins, and the 1995-W American silver eagle proof coin are modern issued gold and silver coins that sell for substantially more than the precious metals value of the coins.


As mentioned above, the mintage of a coin is one of the primary factors in determining whether or not you have a rare coin.  In the late 1700’s, early 1800’s and even through the late 1800’s, the mintage of coins were often in the tens or hundreds of thousands.  Some mints, in certain years, produced fewer coins for various reasons.  While tens or even hundreds of thousands of coins may sound like a lot, the survivorship of many of these coins is much less due to melting, removal from circulation due to extensive wear, and obsolete coins no longer being used as legal tender.


While having low mintage or relatively few remaining coins is a prerequisite for rare coins, the condition of a rare coin greatly affects its value.  The price difference between poor condition and brilliant uncirculated coins can be in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars.  Oftentimes a rare coin that has been certified by a third party grading service, such as NGC and PCGS will bring a higher value, as a professionally graded coin removes all subjectivity from the equation with respect to the coin’s condition.  The grade of circulated coins ranges from poor to almost uncirculated, while uncirculated coins can receive a grade from MS60- MS70 condition.

How to Sell Rare Coins

Once you’ve determined if you have a rare coin (due to the age, survivorship or mintage of the coin) and have been able to assess the coin’s condition, the next step is to obtain an estimate as to its value.  The coin’s value can be determined, in part, based on the precious metals value of the coin, but the primary determining factor is demand in the marketplace.  As with most commodities, the price for rare coins is driven by supply and demand.  A rare coin dealer, who specializes in old or rare coins, should be able to properly assess the coin, its condition, and arrive at an accurate market value.  Coin dealers that are in good standing with highly regarded third party organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau or the American Numismatic Association, are typically the best options.


In summary, rare coins are those that are in relatively short supply and high demand.  Once you’ve determined if you have a rare coin, confirm the mintage of the coin, assess its condition, and have your coin appraised by a rare coin dealer.  Be sure to properly evaluate potential dealers and don’t rush into selling your rare coins before you’re comfortable with the process.

Tony Davis
Tony Davis
Tony Davis is the owner of Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers, a full service Atlanta based coin and bullion dealer specializing in buying, selling and appraising coins and coin collections of all types and sizes. Tony frequently writes on various economic and numismatic related topics affecting the coin and bullion markets and has been published on some of the industry’s leading websites, including Coin Week, the American Numismatic Association, Coin Collector, Coinflation, and Coin Auctions Help, just to name a few. Visit Atlanta Gold & Coin’s website at to obtain additional information on the products, services and educational resources offered by his company. Tony can be reached at or at 404-236-9744
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