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

4 Responses

  1. Jack - August 12, 2012

    Coin values have had positive pressure on them for some time now.  I am a modest collector of liberty walking dollars and I have seen my collection over all increase sharply on a coin by coin basis each year for the past five years.  Good post and thanks for keeping them short.  I check back here once and a while for updated links to coin values.

  2. Molly - October 8, 2012

    The 1989 WTC MS69 Silver Eagle appears to be the only $1 eagle that will ever show a polotapiun that is on its own in the PCGS polotapiun website. All other $1 eagles were included in the mass polotapiun numbers for the same year as an ordinary silver eagle NOT recovered at Ground Zero inside the Iron Mountain Vault. The 1989 WTC MS69 $1 Eagle may someday have a price on the PCGS price guide since it is a separate listed coin. PCGS states that they have not priced the coin yet due to to much variation in the average sells price for this coin. But, what do you expect from a coin that has only 65 examples, they are worth as much as their HIGH Demand and True Rarity says they are and the few proud owners will not be willing to part with the coin knowing that it may cost them a second mortgage later to own another one. This Coin is going to be exciting to watch. It is Truly a part of our American History!

  3. Austin - December 9, 2014

    Indian Head Facts

    Indian head Pennies were minted from 1859 until 1909 The Indian head was minted in Philadelphia every year. But, the Indian head was only minted in San Francisco in 1908 and 1909 marked by an “S” mint mark beneath the ribbon of the wreath on the reverse

    The obverse of the Indian head shows “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” the head of Liberty wearing a feather Indian head dress of a Native American and the year of production. The word “LIBERTY” appears on the band of the head dress. From 1859 to 1864 the design did not feature any mark of the designer. When the change to bronze (see below) occurred in 1864, Chief Engraver James Barton Longacre modified the portrait by sharpening the details. He added his initial “L” on the ribbon behind Liberty’s neck as well. This design would continue until the end of the series, with a minor modification by Charles E. Barber in 1886 when the portrait was changed slightly.

    Two reverse designs were used for the series. In 1859 the reverse featured “ONE CENT” within a wreath of laurel (or properly olive). From 1860 until the end of the series the reverse featured “ONE CENT” within a wreath of oak and olive tied at the base with a ribbon with a Federal shield above. This design continued until the end on the series in 1909 with a minor modification by William Barber in 1870.

    The coins struck between 1859 and 1864 contained 88% copper and 12% nickel. During this time, prior to the issuance of the five cent nickel coin, the cent was commonly referred to as a “Nickel” or “Nick,” for short. Due to the hoarding of all coinage during the Civil War, the nickel cents disappeared from daily use and were replaced in many northern cities by private tokens. The success of these copper tokens prompted the change of the cent to a similar metal. In 1864, the alloy changed to bronze (95% copper and 5% tin and zinc), and the weight of the coins was reduced from 72 grains to 48 grains. (This weight continued for copper-alloy U.S. cents until the 1982 introduction of the current copper-plated zinc cent.

    The 1909-S had the lowest mintage, only 309,000. It is not considered as scarce as the 1877 issue, (852,500), since fewer of those were kept, particularly in the higher grades.

    The production of Indian Cents between 1859 and 1860 was large because copper large and half cents in circulation up until 1857 were being redeemed with the new cents. Some years production, like 1861 was based solely on the number of the pre-1857 copper coins that were redeemed under the Mint Act of March 3, 1857, which allowed for their redemption until 1860 (revised to extent until 1861).

    Other than the already noted slight design changes made in 1860, 1864, and 1886, the series continued without major varieties from 1859 to 1909. There are slight date variations in 1865 (fancy 5 and plain 5), 1873 (open and closed 3), as well as a well known overdate (1888/7). An unusual variety was recently discovered when it was found that some 1875 cents had a tiny dot in the “N” of “UNITED”. This may have been a secret mark added to one die to catch a mint employee stealing coins.

  4. Austin - December 9, 2014

    I have many old coins that I have been produced: from the oldest coins to the newest coins. I have bought many of them for the collections that I have, which was not easy, but it was affordable, since I am a rich man that has been collecting for decades. But you can’t always tell if the coin has been produced without mistake. On average, there is always at least 3 to 11 coins in every stack of 125 coins. Don’t ever think that just because the coin you own is a original that you will get the price you want for it. A wheat penny could have the year of “1911” on it, but could be worth only $0.09 in cash. Don’t ever clean a coin.

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