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Valuing Coins

Have you ever looked at a coin and wondered what it's worth? Chances are that unless you're an experienced numismatist, the answer is probably "no,"; but understanding the potential value of coins and how they are valued is the difference between winning big or losing bigger.

Table of Contents

How Are Coins Valued

The process of valuing coins is based on a combination of factors, including rarity, condition, and demand. The condition of a coin is often the most important factor in determining its value, as coins that are in excellent condition will generally be worth more than coins that have been heavily circulated.

The Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) are two organizations that grade and certify the condition of coins. Collectors highly value coins that have been certified by these organizations because the grading process provides a level of assurance that the coin is authentic and in the condition stated on the certification.

Mint marks, which are small letters or symbols that indicate the mint at which a coin was made, can also affect a coin’s value. Coins that were minted at a specific mint, such as the Philadelphia mint, may be more valuable than those minted at another facility.
Errors are also an important factor that can affect the value of a coin. These can include die cracks, double strikes, and off-center strikes. Coins that have errors are often highly valued by collectors as they are unique and rare. Overall, coin value is a complex subject that can depend on the coin type and specific features

Coin Mint Marks

A mint mark is a small letter or symbol that indicates the mint at which a coin was made. Mint marks can affect the value of a coin, as coins that were minted at a specific mint may be more valuable than those minted at another facility.

For example, coins minted at the Philadelphia mint (also known as “P” mint mark) may be considered more valuable than coins minted at the Denver mint (also known as “D” mint mark) due to the rarity and historical significance of certain coins.

Similarly, coins that bear the “S” mint mark, indicating they were struck at the San Francisco Mint, tend to be more valuable than their counterparts minted at other facilities for certain coins type.

Furthermore, for many series, mints such as the Carson City Mint (CC), the Dahlonega Mint (D), and the New Orleans Mint (O) produced small numbers of coins, and as a result, those bearing their mint marks are considered scarce and valuable to collectors.
It’s also important to note that some coin series don’t have mint marks, so not all coins have them, and therefore, the lack of a mint mark does not affect the value of the coin.

In summary, the value of a coin with a mint mark can vary substantially depending on the coin type, rarity, age, and the mint location, it could increase the coin value, but it is not the only factor to consider. It’s always a good idea to consult with an appraiser to estimate the coin’s value and rarity and if you are looking to sell your coins, give special consideration to having them graded.

Coins Errors

Coin errors are mistakes made during the minting process that can affect the appearance or function of a coin. These errors can include die cracks, double strikes, and off-center strikes. Coins that have errors are often highly valued by collectors as they are unique and rare.

The value of a coin error can vary widely depending on the type of error and its severity. For example, a coin with a minor die crack may be worth only slightly more than a coin without the error, while a coin with a significant error, such as a double strike or off-center strike, can be worth significantly more.

Some of the most valuable coin errors are:

  • Double-struck coins: These occur when a coin is struck twice by the minting press, resulting in a coin with two images.

  • Off-center coins: These are coins that were not properly aligned during the striking process, resulting in one side of the coin being larger or smaller than the other.

  • Broadstrike: Coins that were struck outside the retaining collar, which leads to the coin not having reeded edge.

  • Clipped Planchets: These are coins that have a portion of the metal missing from the planchet, the blank metal disk that is used to make the coin, often caused by malfunctioning equipment or damaged dies.

  • Wrong planchet error: This error occurs when a coin is struck on a planchet intended for another denomination or type of coin.

Keep in mind that coin errors can be difficult to spot, even for experienced collectors and some errors might be also caused by post-mint damage, so it’s essential to consult with a coin specialist or appraiser to confirm the error and give an estimate of the value.

It’s also worth noting that these types of errors are considered rare, and as a result, they tend to command premium prices. Some errors may also become highly sought after by specific collector groups leading to even higher prices.

Coin Grades

Coin condition, also known as “grade,” is an important factor that affects the value of a coin. Coins that are in excellent condition are generally worth more than coins that have been heavily circulated or have suffered damage.

Coin grading organizations such as PCGS and NGC use a numerical scale to assign a grade to a coin based on its condition. The scale typically ranges from 1 to 70, with a grade of 70 indicating a coin that is in perfect, uncirculated condition and a grade of 1 indicating a coin that is heavily damaged or worn.

Coins in the highest grades, such as MS-70, MS-69, MS-68 and MS-67 (MS is for Mint State, it refers to Uncirculated coins) are considered to be rare, and as a result, they tend to command premium prices, these coins have never been in circulation and have all the original details, luster and strike, they are considered the best condition possible.

Coins that have been heavily circulated or damaged will typically receive lower grades and therefore be worth less than coins in better condition. Coins that have been cleaned, altered, repaired or damaged will also receive lower grades, and their value will be affected.

It’s worth noting that for some specific coin type, a high grade doesn’t necessarily mean a high value, it can depend on the coin type, rarity, age, and demand, for example for some ancient coins, it’s common for them to be worn and not in the best condition, and still be of high value due to their historical significance.

Overall, the condition of a coin is a critical aspect that affects its value and desirability among collectors and investors. It’s always a good idea to have an expert in coin grading to evaluate your coins and give you an estimate of its condition and value.

Pricing Silver Coins

The price of a silver coin depends on several factors, including the coin’s weight (typically measured in troy ounces), the current market price of silver, the coin’s condition, and the coin’s age. Some silver coins are considered collectible and can be worth significantly more than their silver content. Other factors that may affect the price of a silver coin include the coin’s mint year, mintage, error potential, and design. To get an accurate price for a specific silver coin, it is best to consider having it graded and appraised.

Pricing Gold Coins

The price of a gold coin depends on several factors, including the coin’s weight (measured in troy ounces), the current market price of gold, the coin’s rarity and condition, and the coin’s age. Some gold coins are considered collectible and can be worth significantly more than their gold content. Other factors that may affect the price of a gold coin include the coin’s mint year, mintage, and design. The current spot price of gold changes over time-based on supply and demand, you can check the price of gold in real-time, and it is generally used as a benchmark for pricing gold coins. To get an accurate price for a specific gold coin, it is best to consider having them graded and appraised. Gold coins tend to be worth substantially more than other coins, so it can be worth the investment to have gold coins that appear to be in excellent condition sent in for grading and appraisal.

Valuing Old Coins

Valuing old coins can be a complex process that depends on several factors, including the coin’s rarity, condition, and historical significance. Some old coins are considered highly collectible and can be worth a great deal of money, while others may be relatively common and of little value.

Here are some general guidelines for valuing old coins:

  • Rarity: The rarer a coin is, the more valuable it will be. Coins that were minted in small numbers, or were only minted for a short period of time, are often considered rare.
  • Condition: The condition of a coin plays a significant role in its value. Coins that are in excellent condition will be worth more than coins that are worn or damaged. Coins that are in uncirculated condition, meaning they have not been used in circulation, will be worth more than coins that have been circulated.
  • Historical significance: Coins that have a historical or cultural significance may be worth more than coins that do not. For example, a coin that was minted during a significant historical event or a coin that features a famous person or image will likely be more valuable than a coin without those attributes.
  • Mint year and mintage: the year of mintage and the quantity minted can play a role in the value; coins that are older and fewer in number will be worth more.
  • Error Coins: Error coins are coins that have been produced with mistakes or variations during the manufacturing process. These mistakes can include off-center strikes, double strikes, missing lettering or design elements, and a wide range of other errors. Error coins can be highly collectible and valuable, as they are often rare and unique.

It’s important to note that this is a rough idea; valuing old coins requires research and sometimes expert appraisals and grading. For coins that are very old, rare, or in excellent condition, it is advisable to get professional appraisals from coin experts who can provide you with a more accurate estimate of the coin’s value as well as have them graded by a professional grading agency such as PGCS or NGC. It is important to note that not all old coins are valuable or worth having appraised and graded. As such, doing your own research before moving forward to paid services is advised.

Getting Coins Graded

Getting coins graded is a process that involves submitting a coin to a professional coin grading service such as PCGS or NGC. These organizations use a set of standards to evaluate the condition of a coin and assign it a grade. The grade is based on the coin’s overall appearance, including its luster, strike, surface preservation and other factors.

The process of getting a coin graded typically involves the following steps:

  1. Choose a grading service: Research the different grading services available and decide which one you want to use based on their reputation, fees, and turnaround time.

  2. Prepare the coin for submission: Clean the coin if necessary and make sure it is packaged securely to prevent damage during shipping.

  3. Submit the coin: Fill out the submission form and send the coin, along with the appropriate fee, to the grading service.

  4. Wait for the coin to be graded: The grading service will evaluate the coin and assign it a grade. This process can take several weeks, depending on the service.

  5. Receive the coin and its certification: Once the coin is graded, the service will return it to you in a protective holder along with a certification that includes the grade, a description of the coin, and a photograph.

It’s important to note that the grading process is not cheap and it can vary depending on the type of coin and the service you choose, some could also require additional costs as well as insurance if you want to add to the process of submission, always consult the prices with the service you choose prior submitting the coin.

PGCS

The Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) is a coin grading, authentication, and encapsulation service for collectors and dealers of rare coins. Founded in 1986, PCGS has become one of the most respected coin grading services in the industry, and its certifications are widely accepted as the standard for coin grading.

PCGS uses a proprietary grading system to evaluate the condition of a coin and assigns it a grade on a numerical scale from 1 to 70. A grade of 70 represents a coin that is in perfect, uncirculated condition, while a grade of 1 represents a coin that is damaged or heavily worn. The grading process includes an evaluation of the coin’s strike, luster, surface preservation, and other factors.

The certification process also includes photograph of the coin and an identification of the coin type and authenticity, once the coin is graded, it is then sealed in a protective holder with a unique serial number, known as a PCGS holder. This holder helps to protect the coin from damage and provides a tamper-evident seal that ensures the authenticity of the coin.

PCGS has a team of experts, who are graded specialists, and use a set of standards to evaluate the coins condition, their team also ensures that the coin is authentic and not altered, if a coin is found to be counterfeit it will not be graded, and the submitter will not receive the coin back.

NGC

Coins graded by PGCS tend to command a higher premium in the market than coins graded by other agencies. However, due to the cost or wait times of PGCS, a graded coin is always more valuable than a nongraded coin, and as such, NGC is another fine option for grading coins.

The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) is a coin grading, authentication, and encapsulation service for collectors and dealers of rare coins, similar to PCGS. NGC was founded in 1987 and has become one of the most respected coin-grading services in the industry.
NGC uses a proprietary grading system to evaluate the condition of a coin and assigns it a grade on a numerical scale from 1 to 70, similar to PCGS. A grade of 70 represents a coin that is in perfect, uncirculated condition, while a grade of 1 represents a coin that is damaged or heavily worn. The grading process includes an evaluation of the coin’s strike, luster, surface preservation, and other factors.

The certification process also includes a photograph of the coin and an identification of the coin type and authenticity. Once the coin is graded, it is then sealed in a protective holder with a unique serial number, known as an NGC holder. This holder helps to protect the coin from damage and provides a tamper-evident seal that ensures the authenticity of the coin.

NGC has a team of experts, known as coin appraisers, who are graded specialists, and use a set of standards to evaluate the condition of the coin; their team also ensures that the coin is authentic and not altered if a coin is found to be counterfeit it will not be graded, and the submitter will not receive the coin back.

It’s worth noting that both PCGS and NGC are considered the top industry leaders for coin grading and authentication and have a great reputation; either of them can give you assurance and peace of mind of the authenticity and condition of your coins.

Selling Coins

Selling coins under favorable circumstances can be an enjoyable experience as coins are an extremely liquid asset and, generally speaking, are substantially easier to sell than many other types of collectibles. Generally, if you are considering selling any coin that you may consider to be valuable, always have them graded before taking them to a coin dealer or auction house. While there are many exceptions, many coins are not worth grading, while other coins, especially gold coins and older American coins (pre-1900), may be worth investing in having graded and appraised. Do not expect a dealer or auction house to judge the condition of your coins before grading fairly; in many cases, coin dealers are hoping to pay as little as possible for your coins only for them to turn around and have them graded by PGCS or NGC themselves, and then send them to auction for a large payout. Auctions are the same. While it would be ideal that an auction house would fairly judge your ungraded coins, don’t expect them to. They have no qualms in telling you to sell your antique American gold coins for scrap gold prices to coin dealers or pawn shops, who will also have them graded and then take them back to the same auction house you had initially contacted and sell them for many multiples over the price of gold.

Getting Coins Graded and Appraised Before Sending Them To Auction

Having coins graded and appraised before selling them can shine a lot of light on the true economics of selling your coins. In an auction, most auction houses will not even look at a coin with any sincerity unless it has already been graded. Unless you possess the rarest of the rare, they will normally recommend selling them for scrap metal prices to one of their approved vendors, who will, in turn, have the coins graded and then resubmit them to the same auction houses for sale, making a tidy profit, off of your lack of knowledge. In the context of selling directly to coin dealers, some coin dealers prey on unsuspecting customers, hoping they will sell a coin in exceptional condition for its weight in scrap metal. Having a graded and appraised coin levels the playing field. It also offers an honest look into a coin’s true quality and condition, for better or worse. It is an insurance policy against the potential of losing big or selling your coins for their fair market value. It is also often that graded coins command a premium regardless of the grade commanded. Coins can be graded by a third-party grading service, such as the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) or the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) before they are sent to auction. Having a coin graded by a reputable service can provide a level of assurance to potential buyers about the coin’s condition, which can, in turn, increase its value and desirability at auction or through direct sale. While grading offers some material information on your coin, the next step is to have them appraised by a professional appraisal company that can help you understand the potential of your graded coin in the market. With this information, clients can know as much as the dealer or auction they are using to help sell their coins.

Coins Auctions

Sending coins to auction is a common way for collectors and dealers to sell their coins. Auctions can be an effective way to get the highest price for your coins, as they allow multiple potential buyers to bid on them at the same time.

Here are the general steps for selling coins at auction:

  1. Research the auction houses: Look for auction houses that specialize in the type of coins you have, and research their reputation, fees, and past sales to see if they are a good fit for your coins.
  2. Prepare your coins: Provide high-quality images of the coins to the auction house if required.
  3. Submit your coins to the auction: This can be done through the internet or by mail, depending on the auction house. The auction house will evaluate the coins and decide if they are suitable for their upcoming auctions.
  4. Wait for the auction: Once your coins are accepted by the auction house, they will be included in one of their upcoming auctions.
  5. Collect your money: After the auction is over, you will receive the proceeds from the sale of your coins minus the auction house’s fees.

It’s important to note that you will have to pay the auction fees and commissions, so you need to be aware of that when you estimate the revenue you will get from the coin sale, also doing research on past auctions can give you a good idea on how much your coin will sell for in the current market. It’s also a good idea to consult with a coin specialist or appraiser to give you an estimate on the coin’s value prior auction.

Coin Dealers

Selling coins to a dealer is another common way for collectors and sellers to liquidate their coin collections. Coin dealers specialize in buying and selling coins and have a deep understanding of the coin market.

Here are the general steps for selling coins to a dealer:

  1. Research coin dealers: Look for coin dealers who specialize in the type of coins you have and research their reputation, prices, and customer reviews.
  2. Contact the dealer: Reach out to the dealer either by phone, email or in person and provide them with the details and images of the coins you wish to sell.
  3. Receive an offer: The dealer will evaluate your coins and make you an offer based on their condition, rarity, and current market price.
  4. Negotiate the price: If you’re satisfied with the offer, you can proceed with the sale; otherwise, you can negotiate the price with the dealer.
  5. Close the sale: After the price is agreed upon, you will receive payment in cash, check, or wire transfer, depending on the terms of the sale.

It’s important to note that coin dealers typically pay less for coins than what they expect to sell them for. This is how they make a profit and keep the business running. It’s also advisable to compare offers from different dealers to get the best deal; also, when selling valuable coins, it is important to get your coins graded and appraised so you can be assured you are getting the best price.

Some coin dealers spend their careers hoping that customers will bring in exceptionally valuable ungraded coins for which they can pay substantially less money for, only to turn around and have them graded themselves and, in turn, send them to auction for a large return on their investment. This does not only apply to gold and silver coins alone. It can even apply to small unnoticeable denominations of coins such as pennies or dimes. There are pennies worth a million dollars, so do not underestimate the potential value of any coin.

That said, there are many reputable coin dealers in the market. However, it is still important to have coins graded and appraised by PGCS or NGC to provide fairness and transparency during the sale process. While investment in these grading agencies may not always pan out, it is an insurance policy in the event it is worth the investment.

How Do I Find Out What My Coins Are Worth

To determine the value of your coins, it is best to spend some time researching your coins on your own at first to identify if you may have any high-value coins in your collection based on year, mint mark, error potential, or condition. Once you have determined any potential coins that may have high value, you should research having your coins graded. The most widely recognized coin grading companies for graded coins include Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC). These companies have a team of experts who will evaluate and grade a coin based on a standardized scale. They will then encapsulate the coin in a tamper-evident holder with the grade and other relevant information about it. The grade and certification from a recognized grading service can greatly affect a coin’s value.

Once you have your graded coin, you can take it to a coin appraiser and ask them to appraise it. They will be able to tell you the coin’s value based on their knowledge and experience in the coin market. Remember that coin values can fluctuate depending on market conditions, so it’s a good idea to check regularly for updates on the value of your coins. Coin dealers also regularly advertise that they perform appraisals. However, selling coins to anyone appraising them is generally not advised. It is important that this process can be an expensive investment that may not yield a profitable result. However, it is the only way to determine the actual value of your coin.

Coin Appraisals Near Me

Getting coins appraised is not the same as coin grading. Coin grading is the process of determining a coin’s condition, usually on a numerical scale, and assigning it a grade based on the coin’s overall appearance, including its luster, strike, surface preservation, and other factors. Coin grading is typically done by organizations such as PCGS and NGC, which have set standards and trained experts to evaluate coins.

On the other hand, a coin appraisal is the process of determining the value of a coin, usually for the purpose of insurance, taxation, estate planning, or sale. A coin appraiser will not only evaluate the grade of the coin, but also take into account factors such as rarity, demand, historical significance, and other elements that affect the coin’s value. Normally coins are graded before they are appraised. Getting an ungraded coin appraised is speculative, as the true value of the coin is ultimately the grade. Coin appraisers should additionally not speculate on the grade of the coin. A professional valuation relies on concrete facts, not speculation.

Both coin grading and coin appraisal are important for determining the value of a coin, but they are different processes that serve different purposes. Grading focuses on determining the physical condition of the coin, while an appraisal is used to determine its value and worth.

It’s good to consider getting a coin appraised and graded if you plan on selling it or if you need it for insurance or estate planning purposes. A coin appraiser will give you a professional evaluation, providing you with the coin’s value, which can be useful if you plan on selling it or keeping it as an investment. While the cost of these services can add up, it is important to consider this an investment in an insurance policy that can pay dividends. For example, a 20-dollar liberty gold coin generally has an on-par face value of one ounce of the current gold price if in poor condition. However, given a high condition grade, this value can rise 5-10 times or more over its price as scrap gold.

Additionally, the margins can rise for Morgan dollars which has a scrap value of roughly 14.88 ounces of silver. A highly graded Morgan dollar can be worth thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, providing multiple returns on the investment of having the coin graded and appraised. Finding highly graded coins is not common among informal collections, as many coins do not grade highly. Still, if you believe your coins are in exceptional condition, you may be advised to invest in having them graded and appraised. Getting a graded coin appraised is an easy and simple process that can be performed online as part of our coin appraisals near me service.

Disclaimer: This information provided is for educational purposes only and should not be considered financial, legal, tax, or investment advice. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the company. The information contained in this message should not be used as the sole basis for investment decisions.

Past performance is not indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that any specific investment will be profitable or suitable for a particular individual’s financial situation or risk tolerance. Before making any investment decisions, it is important to consider your own personal financial situation, goals, and risk tolerance. You should consult with a financial advisor and/or tax professional before making any investment decisions.

The author and the company shall not be held responsible for any losses, damages, or expenses that may arise from the use of the information contained in this message. Investing, valuation, and advisory carry risk, and all investments have the potential for loss. Please do your own research and consult with a professional before making any investment decisions.

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