Why Your Coins Aren't Worth Much | Coin Grading Guide


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Why Your Coins Aren’t Worth Much

Do you have a coin collection you’re thinking about selling? As you begin researching their worth online, you may find conflicting information from different websites. Are your coins worth hundreds of dollars? Thousands? Or not much at all? At that point, you may start to question their value and wonder how to figure out what your coins might be worth. To help give you some guidance, here are five reasons why your coin collection may not be as valuable as you think.

Unreliable Coin Resources

Collection of old coins in a pile

If you’re trying to value your own coins, using reliable resources is very important. An unreliable source could inflate your idea of how much your coins are worth since they might not always reflect the actual value of your coins. While resources like eBay, Etsy, YouTube, and TikTok might frequently come up high in search results, you can’t always trust the information you get from them.

Even though some of these resources have interesting items for sale or provide valuable information on how to solve a problem, they don’t focus exclusively on coins. This means you shouldn’t rely on them when you’re doing your research. Instead, bring your coins to a reliable dealer like Americash Coin & Jewelry Buyers. We’re a buyer and seller of all coins and currencies, including old coins, rare coins, old currency, and rare currency.

Type of Coin

It’s important to make sure you don’t make assumptions about the value of your coin by using the value of a similar type of coin. A common example is collectors with a U.S. silver dollar coin from 1904, typically referred to as a Morgan silver dollar. Some individuals assume that since they found a Morgan silver dollar online at a high value, that same value will also apply to their own coin.

However, this is typically not the case, as several factors impact the value of a coin. Such factors can include the year, where it was minted, the condition of the coin, whether it has been certified, and who did the certification. Only when you consider these factors can you truly compare the value of two seemingly-similar coins.

Another example is the Sacagawea “Cheerios Dollar” coin. In early 2000, the U.S. Mint inserted the Sacagawea Dollar into select boxes of Cheerios cereal to raise awareness about the new golden coin. However, in February 2005, it was discovered that these coins — dubbed “Cheerios Dollars” — were actually a different Sacagawea Dollar pattern than the mass-produced versions. Because most of these “Cheerios Dollars” were opened and spent or tossed aside and forgotten about, they are extremely rare.

Year of the Coin

A common mistake that many coin collectors make is wrongly attributing a high value to their coin based on the value of a similar coin from a different year. One example of this is the silver 1922 Peace dollar.

In 1921, sculptor Anthony de Francisci created the high-relief silver Peace dollar design. Slightly more than one million Peace dollars were struck with this design in 1921. Unfortunately, this design resulted in a large number of broken dies. The first mintage of the 1922 Peace dollars kept the high relief design of the 1921 issue, with small adustments. However, after 35,401 coins had been struck, multiple dies had already broken and production was halted. There was no way to produce tens of millions of Peace dollars if a die broke every 3,000 coins.

The entire mintage was melted down, and new designs were tested that wouldn’t destroy the dies. It is believed that only one coin survived. Finally, in 1922, the relief in the design was lowered to correct the detail issues and strike the coins properly. A very small number of these high-relief Peace dollars have been located to date. They are rare to the point that it’s unlikely that you would have one or even seen one.

Mint Mark on the Coin

If you’re researching the value of your coin and find a coin that was minted in the same year, you may have a valuable coin, but on the other hand, you may not. It’s important to look for the mint mark, or the lack of one, to determine which mint produced your coin. The location of where a coin was minted can have a significant impact on its value.

For example, an 1895 Morgan silver dollar minted in New Orleans might be valued around a couple of hundred dollars. However, if that same coin was issued by the Philadelphia mint, its value would be increased to over $10,000.

Even if two coins are in the same condition, their mint mark can remarkably affect their value. The location of the mint mark can also vary depending on the type of coin. As an example, on the Morgan silver dollar, you can find the mint mark on the back side of the coin below the wreath between the letters “D” and “O” in the word “dollar.” If you don’t see a mint mark, that typically means the coin was produced in the Philadelphia mint.

Condition of the Coin

Like other collectibles, your coins’ value depends on their condition. This can be very subjective, so it’s essential to have an expert appraisal. For example, would you be able to tell if a coin has been cleaned? What about if it’s been altered? Chances are you wouldn’t be able to. Most people would determine their coins to be in excellent condition, but a coin dealer evaluates coins more objectively. Did you know cleaning or polishing coins can actually devalue them? Even wiping coins with a soft cloth can leave minor scratches that a professional dealer will be able to see.

You also have to consider natural processes that can increase or decrease the value of a coin, such as toning. Toning is a slow, natural discoloration that forms on coins due to oxygen and other chemicals in the air reacting to the coin’s metal. However, since different people have different opinions about the beauty of toning, placing a value on toned coins can be difficult.

Additionally, remember that people who aren’t coin experts might have difficulty determining the condition of coins. What might look like an irrelevant detail on the coin could have a major impact on its condition and value. This is why having an expert appraisal of the coin’s condition might be helpful.

At Americash Jewelry & Coin Buyers, we’ve been buying coins and currency for over 20 years. We specialize in buying and selling all types of currencies. If you’re wondering how much your coin collection is worth, contact us today and set up an appointment for a free in-store appraisal.

Coin Collection by Lane Pearman is licensed with CC BY 2.0

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