Coin Values


I recently received an email from a reader asking me what I think affects coin values most.  This is a tough thing to put a definitive answer on because there are many contributing factors we need to consider when working to determine what affects on old coin values.  I am going to leave comments open on this post so you can also suggest what affects a coins value most.

Now, at the time of this original writing (July 2012), we are five plus years into the recession.  We have seen gold coin values sky rocket as a result of investors flocking to gold and precious metals as a safe haven from equities and other investing instruments.  This has affected quite positively any coins value made of these precious metals regardless of the minting country, relative artistic value of the coin, or the coins condition.  Quite simply it’s worth its weight in the least in the metal the coin was minted in.

In hard times precious metals fair the best.  Coin values have historically increased when concern for national economic strength is highest.  This is true because there is only so much of the metal available that goes into a coin thus increasing the coins value.  Since 1999 gold has risen per troy ounce from $250 to over $1,700.  The math here is simple as it relates to gold coin values; they have increased in tandem with the price of the metal.

Now of course into 2014 old coin values, particularly gold coins, have fallen off their high rather dramatically.  The same is now true for silver old coin values as the perceived value fo the metal and the confidence in the metals ability to back paper and any given economy.

Now let’s take a look at silver coins value over the same time period as gold.  Since 1999 silver has risen per troy ounce from $5 to over $48 (and of course we’ve seen that back off the highs of late).  As we have seen in gold coin values the same is true of silver coin values.  Old coin values, in my opinion and unless extremely rare due to scarcity, mint oddities, etc., are pretty much worth their weight in metal and any value a person may but on the old coin values at any given time.

Lastly, what about the value of the coins rarity, artistic value, and do these as well as any factors contribute to a coins value?  When I think of specific coins of mint oddity, or limited run, “yes” of course there is value to be considered here however when considering volume and old coin values over all it is pretty clear, to me anyway, that the coins value is most affected by its content particularly a coins value in gold or silver.

In closing, and to answer the question from my perspective, what affects coin values most is their precious metal content.  No oddities or limited run coins have matched the velocity and value changes that gold and silver coin values have.  Old coin values will continue to fluctuate and lately we have seen then move strongly to the downside.  Keep the faith however; old coin values change often and those of us that collect for investments will look to buy on the lows and sell on the highs.


July 21, 2012   Posted in: Value of old coins  No Comments

Old Coins


I have been collecting old coins as a hobby and a business for years now.  As a child I recall the satisfaction of working hard mowing lawns, doing chores, and helping around the house to earn my allowance.  My father would pay me in currency I could easily save or spend at the time in retail stores and he would also give me a little bonus (incentive for doing a good job on my chores) in the way of old coins with some collector value.

My father started me off modestly typically giving me old coins that were cool like buffalo nickels, wheat pennies, and mercury dimes.  He would instruct me in the importance of saving and also the importance of an understanding and having appreciation for old coin values.  I started collecting and filling coin books.  This led to trading, bartering with friends, and frequent trips to the local gun and coin shop where I could buy and sell my coins and get help figuring out some of my old coin values.

I must have made a few hundred trips to that store and would look for new old coins walking up and down the aisles.  I established a relationship with the sale people and also the store's owner who was an expert in guns and old coin values.  He could look at a coin and within a minute or two, without looking at any books or charts and get within 10% or so of the value of any American old coin.  He could always be trusted helping me determine any of my old coin values.

Since the early seventies I have collected old coins and have traded and bartered my way to a healthy second income for my family.  Much of the strategy has been buy and hold using time to increase my collection and old coin values.  As with any commodity look for buying on the low and selling on the highs.  Consider concentrating in collecting old coins with high scarce metal content like silver and gold. 

Old coins and old coin values change and fluctuate with market conditions so keep an eye on your collection and be diligent in keeping it current if you want to make money and run your hobby like a business.


July 21, 2012   Posted in: Value of old coins  No Comments

Coin price guide


Look here in the links and side bars for a good coin price guide.  A good coin guide is key to those wanting to learn relative values amongst currencies as well as specific values in coin types, dates, and precious metal contents.  Use the search field below for a highly customized and powerful search to help you locate the best coin guide for your needs.

When searching on the site use a keyword that describes the item you are looking to get new or old coin price guidance on.  For example; “Morgan dollar coin price guide”, or “Buffalo nickel price guide”, and “old coin price guide”.

Every collector should have a well written coin price guide by a respectable author/collector or curator of a collecting institution.  There are coin pricing guides covering all types of collecting.  If you specialize or tend to have a favorite collectible type (Morgan Silver Dollars for example) then look for a specialist coin price guide in the search box above covering the type of coins you collect most like silver dollars, dimes, etc.

Sometimes you can find a really good old coin price guide that is old, full of information, but out of date.  These coin price guides can be very useful for doing research and for learning about collecting and valuations but will have little value helping you determine current values of your coins.
A great coin price guide can easily be found in print and typical reviews of the works are easy to find.  However it is much more likely that you will find most current data on the specific coins you are researching by looking up any specific coin price on the web.  As I mentioned above, be cautious about using an old coin price guide.  Coin price guides should be copy written with a relatively recent date.


June 26, 2012   Posted in: Value of old coins  No Comments

Value of old pennies


Ever wonder about the value of old pennies?  Do you recall that first collection of wheat pennies you had and the lofty coin values pennies held in our imaginations?  I used to have pounds and pounds of wheat pennies in all minted vintages and from every mint.  Those pennies were worth at the time I started collecting maybe twice and in some rare instances the value of old pennies I had individually was maybe 5 or 10 times face value or more.

If you use the custom search box it will help you to find useful links and available free resources that will help you determine the value of old pennies.  Links within the page will also help you determine the value of your old pennies.  Type-in something specific to what you are looking for such as “1932 penny”, or “steel pennies of world war 2″ and see what comes up!

Old pennies are without a doubt the easiest to collect.  Even if you get slightly taken on a deal rarely are you out your life’s savings.  The value of old pennies will change over time as well.  Rare and good condition pennies will appreciate in value in a similar fashion to other coins in other denominations.  Take a few minutes to check whether or not you still have those kid-like lofty thoughts in coin values pennies.

“The amount of money you make is irrelevant to whether it is worth your time to pick up a penny. However, other factors may lead you to choose to let the penny remain there. By picking up a penny on a busy sidewalk, you risk being trampled and having to pay much higher medical bills. By picking up a penny whose previous owner you can identify, you may be stealing (at least ethically, if not legally). By picking up a penny on a first date, your date might think you’re cheap, and you’ll miss out on a second date. (Though, if he’s a keeper, he will be thrifty himself and may beat you to the penny.) You may be too tired to pick up the penny; your back may hurt; a child may appreciate finding it more than you would. Any of these circumstances could provide a legitimate reason to let a penny on the ground. “I make too much” is not a good excuse. If you had picked up the penny, you would have made more.”

There are some very good resources and links to help you determine the value of old pennies in that giant jar you have under the bed, in the garage, or in that old piggy bank on the dresser.  Check that old penny value before passing it up next time you see one on the street.


June 4, 2012   Posted in: Value of old coins  No Comments

Value of old currency


This post is about the value of old currency in the U.S.  Believe it or not eBay is probably the best place to determine value of currency you have a question about value on.  It is likely, assuming the currency you are attempting to put a number on is not extremely rare, you can find a value most recently paid at auction. 

Any currency is only worth what people are willing to pay for it.  Auctions are good places to establish base lines in value.  Auctions are also a great place to find a recent going price for any old currency you may have.  When using search features looking for old currency on the site use keywords such as; "old dollar bill value", or "silver certificate values". 

The same rules or guidelines that apply to the value of old coins will be true, in general, in determining  the value of old currency or paper notes.

Unlike coins with precious metal content paper currencies have no underlying value in content.  At one time paper notes were backed by precious metals but this is no longer the case (no matter what people think and say).

As mentioned above, the best place to look for currency to collect or trade is likely, auctions, dealers, and through other currency collectors.  The value of old currency can be very subjective.  For example some personal collectors enjoy gathering paper money from certain historical periods while others put value on the paper's art and other more graphic values such as colors and uniqueness.

See the links section and also the side banners in these posts for excellent references for helping you with the value of old currency.


February 4, 2011   Posted in: Value of old coins  No Comments

Buffalo nickel


The buffalo nickel is a favorite and adds much to the value of old coins in a collection.  The buffalo nickel is considered to be a work of art with its high-relief images is a favorite of coin collectors of all ages.  Minted and circulated in the first half of the 1900's, this coin adds distinctiveness to any portfolio and will add to the value of old coins in your collection.

The famous and well known artist James Fraser created the designs for the new coin. For the front, Fraser sketched a rugged, dignified Indian "head" based on three real Indian sitting models; Iron Tail, Two Moons and Chief John Big Tree. For the "tail" side, Fraser used a real model, namely, the American Bison Black Diamond. Both the head side and the tail side designs take up the entire coin, giving the buffalo nickel its classic look.

The nickel ran into a commercial roadblock which initially delayed it's minting.  The Hobbs Company, a manufacturer of coin-operated vending machines wanted to make sure the new nickel worked with its existing machines.

Buffalo nickels wear well physically due to the high relief of the artwork.  parts of the coin that take the most wear are the mint marks or the letter designations that indicate where the buffalo nickel was minted.  Otherwise, it is still relatively easy to find nickles in Very Good and Good condition in everyday pocket change.  Go find that prized buffalo nickel and add it to the value of old coins in your collection.


April 26, 2009   Posted in: Value of old coins  No Comments

Coin grading


Coin grading.  Likely the most important thing to get straight if you are collecting coins for the value or trying to determine the value of old coins in trades, barter, or cash.  Highest grading as in the table below is reserved for museums and institutions.  The value of old coins in this category are of course the highest but that is not to state that any coins in this grading are the rarest.  The coin grading has little and nothing frankly to do with the coins rarity; this is an important point, consider it's meaning carefully.

We recommend you have any coins that you think may have a particularly high value be appraised.  There are many very good books on the subject and you can find the best of these coin grading books and links to on this page.

Do not be concerned if the bulk (or your entire coin collection or portfolio) is made up of coins in the lowest grading category.  Keep in mind coins in the highest grades are extremely expensive, you cannot handle them much or even expose them to the air we breathe, and not very tangible; what fun is a coin that you cannot touch?  These upper grades represent the top value of old coins and offers descriptions.

Highest Grading

Gem Uncirculated MS-69
Gem Uncirculated MS-68
Gem Uncirculated MS-67
Gem Uncirculated MS-66

Popular Collector & Investor Grading

Choice Uncirculated MS-65
Choice Uncirculated MS-64
Uncirculated MS-63
Uncirculated MS-62
Uncirculated MS-61
Uncirculated MS-60




Choice About Uncirculated AU-58
About Uncirculated AU-55
About Uncirculated AU-50
Extra Fine/About Uncirculated XF-45
Extra Fine XF-40

Lowest Grading Primarily for Coin Hobbyist

Choice Very Fine VF-30
Very Fine VF-20
Fine F-12

Very Good VG-8
Good G-4
Barely Recognizable



April 26, 2009   Posted in: Value of old coins  No Comments

Morgan silver dollar


The Morgan silver dollar (aka the 'Buzzard Dollar" or " Liberty Head" dollar) is a very popular coin among collectors. The Morgan Silver dollar has a wonderful history and is a personal favorite.  They were minted from 1878 to 1904 and then again (and for only one year) in 1921.  The Morgan Silver dollars have a silver content which roughly comes to 0.84 ounces of silver per coin.

George T. Morgan used Anna Williams as the model who sat for her portrait to be taken, and she became famous as 'Miss Liberty'.  On one side of Lady Liberty's neck, Morgan's monogram can be seen. etched into the coin On the tail side of the coin is the likeness of an eagle which is holding olive branches and arrows in its feet. Olive branches are a symbol of peace, arrows a symbol of war, and both symbols combined depict a new age (at the time).  The term buzzard dollar was put to the coin because many people thought the eagle looked more like a vulture.  There was much controversy about this when the coin was first released.

When the coins were first minted only about 1/2 million of them were released to the public.  The balance of all the minted coins were held in the U.S. Treasury and not immediately released.  During the silver shortage of 1904 about 200 million of the coins were melted to make silver bars.  This practice lifted the rarity of the Morgan silver dollar.  The coin was very popular and was used around the world not just in the U.S.
Value of Morgan dollars centers around the mint locations as well as the quality of the coin itself.  No mint mark means the coin was minted in Philadelphia otherwise a "D" or an "O".  Coins minted in Nevada are the scarcest.  12,000 dollars were said to be minted but only 800 coins were recorded as being actually minted.  What do you think happend to the rest?  Were only 800 actually minted?  The Morgan silver dollar.

April 26, 2009   Posted in: Value of old coins  No Comments

Silver dollar coin value


History is rich with information on silver dollar coin value.  I recently came across a link that is very interesting for time line value.

I hope the link still works and I will check on this post frequently to make sure it does.  The precious metal content and percentage of precious metal to total metal in the coin typically baselines silver dollar coin value typical in determining value of old coins.  Follow the history trail and read some of the links on the time line.  Some of the information is truly amazing.

Coins with the highest percentage returns over time are rarities held in high regard by generations of coin enthusiasts and coin collectors, and have transcended precious metal booms, market shakeouts, and collecting fads. Proven steadfast demand is the cause of these consistently good returns, and is the best indicator of a glossy future.

In addition to Peace silver dollars for example, Mercury dimes, Standing Liberty quarters, Walking Liberty half dollars, and Morgan silver dollars all show positive trends in silver dollar coin value over time ahead of inflation for example.  Silver dollar coin values fluctuate with the coin's scarcity, metal content and values, as well as artistic value.

There are good resources within the site to help you determine silver dollar coin value.


April 26, 2009   Posted in: Value of old coins  No Comments

Rare coin values


What is the best way to determine rare coin values?  Where do rare coins fit in when trying to determine the value of old coins?  The best way is to have them appraised by a professional coin dealer or a professional grading service.  There are many resources in the links section of this website and you can use the custom search which has been preloaded with appraisers and those resources that can best assist. 

Many coin dealers, will usually review and offer appraisal on your coins for no fee if you want to sell them.  Professionals typically charge a fee for grading your coins, but it may be well worth it depending upon what your coin is worth.  How do you know if you are getting an honest appraisal (especially when there is no fee)?  The way to answer this is by getting multiple free evaluations or simply paying a professional his or her price for the evaluation.

The best resources in valuating your rare coins (trying to determine rare coin values) are typically online.  Use keywords when searching for your coin or currency followed by "value", "values", "prices", or "appraisals".  For example; rare coin values walking peace dollar.

  • The coin's condition.  What shape is it in?
  • How many were minted? How many are accounted for?
  • How old is the coin? What date was it minted?
  • Do coin collectors or investors have demand for the coin?
  • Emotion.  Is this an important coin for reason not easily explained by facts?

Scams.  There are plenty of them out there so be very careful.  Do your research.  If you take your coin to someone insist that they do the inspection in your eye view; do not allow them to take your coin out of your site under any circumstances.  In summary, rare coin values will be driven most by scarcity as well as artistic value and not just metal content.


April 26, 2009   Posted in: Value of old coins  No Comments