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Old Coins - What factors denote value?

If you search through the cupboards and boxes where you store the things you only see every few years or so, you’re bound to find a few coins you’ve collected over the years, but didn’t feel you could throw away.

Whether any of those coins are valuable or are worth less than the value of their metal is something only an expert can tell you. A simple search across the internet may give you some guidelines. If you take your coins to be valued, there are a number of ways in which the expert will decide if your old coins have real value.

Experts want to know:

· How old the coin is

· The scarcity of the coin

· The condition of the coin

· The value of the metal

· The demand for the coin

The Age of the Coin

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mysore_Paisa_TIPPU_Elephant_1796INDIA.jpg

It’s believed that coins were first used by either the people of Ephesus, Lydia in 650B.C. or on the Aegina Island around 700 B.C. The earliest coins were made from scraps of metal. Presses were used from the 18th century onwards to form standard coins.

If you’re holding a dime from ten years ago, then a dime is all you’re going to get for it now whereas if you’d been the lucky person who sold their Flowing Hair Dollar from 1794, you would have received $7.8 million for the one rare coin.

Rare Coins

The less a coin is readily available, the more likely it is that the price will go up in value. Experts look for coins that are composed of rare or precious metals or choose coins that might have a high purity of a precise metal. The Sheldon 70-point scale is used by experts to specify the rarity.

If you’re lucky enough to find a 1913 Liberty head Nickel in your collection, you’ll have one of only 5 known coins left and it’ll be valued at over $1 million if you choose to sell it.

The Coin’s Condition

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Old-Indian-coins.JPG

As with all collectables, the condition of the item is paramount. The closer it looks to the original, the better.

Some experts will talk about the characteristics of the minting, a coin’s survival condition, while others will decide purely by the overall eye appeal of a coin.

Metal Value

Coins used to be worth the value of their metal. Financiers in countries found that they were running out of the metal required to mint coins, so they changed the make-up of a coin’s metal.

Base metal is the starting point for most coins today with other metals added for a finish. One prime example is from 1982, when the United States penny was made with 97.5% zinc and coated with just 2.5% copper.

It's no surprise that counterfeiters also started mixing metals to make a lookalike coin that costs less to make.

If your coin is made from gold, silver or platinum, it will sell for no less than its base metal valuation as these metals are valued far in excess of other metals used for making coins.

Coin Demand

Rarity usually equals demand. The rarer the coin the more it is in demand so the price or valuation of purchasing one increases.

An example shows that around 400,000 1916 dimes are in existence which is 370,000 more than the 1798 dime. However, the rarer older coin sells for less than the 1916 version because there are more collectors looking for early 20th century mercury dimes than those from the 1700s, so age isn’t the only reason for current valuations.

If you’re looking at coins from a collector’s point of view, you’ll have to decide whether you want to find coins and buy them as an investment or whether you want to simply collect coins for enjoyment.

If you fall into the latter group you’ll perhaps consider collecting based upon:

· Collecting coins all from one country

· Collecting based upon a single year and collecting from all over the world

· Subject interest, perhaps all coins with ships on them

· Period collection, perhaps only from the Roman era

· Volume collections like seeing how many of the same coin you can collect

· Copy collection - not original coins, but copies of particular coins

Whichever you choose, try not to lose any valuable coins down the leather couch corner – that wouldn't be cool at all!


 

 

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