If you’re just entering the fascinating world of coin collecting, you may find yourself baffled by the mysteries of how coin values are determined. But if you learn a little about the history of coinage, it starts to make more sense. Get started by learning the basics a few things that commonly affect a coin’s value.

1. A Coin’s Age Doesn’t Determine its Rarity 

Logic might suggest that the older a coin is, the rarer it is. But that isn’t always the case. Different coins were produced in widely varying numbers. For instance, about 12 million Barber quarters were made in 1892, its first year of issue, while barely 3 million were struck in 1913. 

2.Mint Marks Can Be Major

Looking at that same 1913 quarter, of the 3 million made, half came from the Denver Mint, but only 40,000 were struck in San Francisco, making the 1913-S one of the most valuable of all Barber quarters.

3.“Melt Value” and Coin Content Count

Silver is worth more than copper, but gold tops them all, so what a coin is made of has some effect on its value. But a coin’s “melt value” is often eclipsed by its numismatic, or collectible, value. A good example is the extremely rare 1943 copper penny which has sold for over $200,000. That’s a lot of moolah for 3 grams of copper.

4.Coin Grade and Condition are Crucial 

A single grade’s difference can make a huge difference in price. This is particularly true with older coins and rare editions since pristine samples get harder to find with age and rarity.

5.Fashion and Popularity Factor In

Supply and demand works in the coin market just like everywhere else. Tastes change and vary, so some coins can fluctuate in value depending on how many people are looking for them. As more collectors enter the market, some less rare coins may increase in value as new collections are started, and sometimes new caches of rare coins are found, decreasing their value.

So regardless of whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned expert, the best advice is to buy the highest grade of the rarest coin you can afford, consistent with your collecting goals. Then, as your collection fills out, look for opportunities to upgrade as you keep your eye on the current market.

No matter if you’re a coin collector novice or expert be sure to browse the selection of U.S. and foreign coins and banknotes available online from The Great American Coin Company. Our inventory is constantly changing, so be sure to check back often.

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Great American Coin Company