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All Posts Tagged With: "coin values"

Pricing Problem Coins !

By Doug Winter CoinLink Content Partner

I’ve discussed many times the process in which how nice coins are assigned price levels. But how are problem coins valued? This is an interesting question and one which is becoming a bit easier to answer since NCS coins have become a well-accepted part of numismatics.

(Before I begin, I should state here that NCS or Numismatic Conservation Services is a division of NGC that certifies and encapsulates “problem coins” which NGC does not see fit to put in their regular holders. This includes coins that are harshly cleaned, polished, heavily scratched, rim filed, etc. NCS only uses adjectival grades—i.e., they would call a coin “AU details” as opposed to “AU55 details.”)

The reason why non-problem coins are easier to value than problem coins is, well, because they don’t have problems. There is a greater degree of consistency of appearance between an 1830 half eagle in PCGS AU55 (or NGC AU55) than there is with this same issue when it has the details of an AU55 but it has been cleaned.

Let me explain what I mean by this. If you were to call me up and offer me an 1830 half eagle in PCGS AU55, I would have a decent idea of what to expect. I’m figuring that it has light wear, a decent amount of remaining luster, maybe a few scattered marks in the fields and probably a pretty good overall appearance. But if you call me an offer me an 1830 half eagle in an NCS holder that states the coin has “AU details” but has been “cleaned,” I’m not sure what to expect. Has it been lightly cleaned or harshly cleaned? Does it have an acceptable appearance or does it look overly shiny from having been polished or perhaps whizzed?

From my experience with viewing NCS coins, there is a very wide range of coins in these holders.

I’ve seen coins that NCS has called “cleaned” that look pretty acceptable to me; not very different, in fact, from coins encapsulated by both NGC and PCGS. I’ve also seen coins placed in NCS holders that had planchet flaws or mint-made surface that, in my opinion, could just as easily be in “normal” NGC or PCGS holders.

But back to cleaned coins and how to value them. As a general rule of thumb, I think that if a coin has been lightly cleaned it is worth around half of what a non-cleaned example would be worth. The NGC or PCGS AU55 1830 half eagle that I mentioned above is a $60,000 coin if it has a decent, original appearance. In an NCS “AU details—cleaned” holder it’s more likely worth $30,000 or so. And if it’s a very harshly cleaned AU coin with some damage as well it is more likely worth in the area of $15,000-20,000. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Coins Minted After 1934 tend to be Very Common, 1793 to 1933 is the Classic Era – Part 2

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community, #23-Part2

A continuation of a Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

Usually, this column is published each Wednesday morning and not at other times. I came to believe, however, that this week’s topic is of tremendous importance and warrants two parts. [Click Here to View Part One] My survey of sophisticated collectors and expert dealers, shockingly, indicated that, while most realized that 1933/34 is the traditional dividing line between classic and modern U.S. coinage, few remembered or ever knew the primary reason. U.S. coins minted before 1934 are much scarcer than U.S. coins minted after 1934. Indeed, though there are a few exceptions, regular issue U.S. coins minted after 1934 are common.

From the perspective of a collector, this is the most important and clearest dividing line in the whole history of U.S. coinage. As the basis for this dividing line is not well understood, I feel compelled to explain and prove its importance. I presented logical points and evidence in part 1, and I provide more evidence herein. I then discuss one major reason why it is imperative to emphasize this dividing line now; many people are spending substantial or even vast sums for very common coins, usually without really understanding the factors involved and the traditions of coin collecting in the U.S.

IV. Walking Liberty Half Dollars

As the somewhat recent sharp rises in the price of silver has affected the values of circulated Walking Liberty Half Dollars, it makes sense here to consider those that grade AU-50 or higher. As no Walkers were minted in Philadelphia that date from 1922 to 1933, it may not be suitable to analyze comparative values for Philadelphia Mint halves in terms of the 1933/34 dividing line. Therefore, I refer to Denver and San Francisco Mint halves. Of all the Denver Mint Walkers minted prior to 1934, the 1929-D is the least expensive and the least scarce.

In AU-50 grade, a 1929-D half is worth about three to more than ten times as much as any Denver Mint half dating from 1934 to 1945, with one exception, the 1938-D. The 1938-D is the only regular issue exception, of the half dollar denomination, to the 1933/34 dividing line between relatively scarce U.S. coins and relatively common coins. The 1938-D half is scarce, much more so than any other Denver Mint half dollar issue in the 1930s or later.

In regard to San Francisco Mint halves, there is no such exception. In AU-50 or higher grades, any pre-1934 S-Mint Walker is worth substantially more, usually from two to more than ten times as much, than any San Francisco Mint Walker from 1934-S to the last S-Mint Walking Liberty Half, 1946-S. In relative terms, pre-1934 San Francisco Mint halves are ‘very scarce’ and post-1934 San Francisco halves are quite common. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Coins Minted After 1934 tend to be Very Common, 1793 to 1933 is the Classic Era – Part One

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community, #23

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

Last week’s column was about dealer recommendations for new collectors who seek coins valued at $250, more or less, with consideration of a few that are valued at more than $1000. Among the experts that I interviewed, no one suggested buying coins minted after 1934. This column is devoted to an exploration of the topic of the 1933 to 1935 time period being a dividing line between classic and modern U.S. coins. This is not my opinion; it is an objective reality. Conclusive evidence will be provided herein.

A review of coin related publications in the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s would suggest this dividing line. Indeed, quite a few dealers in classic U.S. coins used to include a statement relating to the years ‘1793 to 1933’ in their ads and pricelists. Almost always, leading auction firms emphasized coins in the 1793 to 1933 time period and still do so.

Why discuss this dividing line now? I am concerned about the amounts paid for condition rarities of the post-1934 era. I do not have a problem with a collector paying a large sum of money for a condition rarity if the coin issue in general is at least moderately scarce. It is wonderful that someone paid $138,000 for the Duckor 1904-S half dollar, which is PCGS graded MS-67. (Please click to read my two part series on Dr. Duckor’s halves, part 1 or part 2.) A low grade 1904-S half could be obtained for less than one hundred dollars. The 1904-S date, though, is scarce in general. The PCGS and the NGC together have certified less than two hundred different 1904-S halves, and probably more than two thousand uncertified 1904-S halves exist. Certainly, there are fewer than five thousand in existence, in all grades. For post-1934 coins, however, people often spend vast amounts for superb gem quality coins when hundreds of thousands or literally millions exist of the same respective coin issue.

If millions of a coin issue exist overall or thousands in MS-65 grade, how much should a MS-67 or higher grade representative of the same coin issue be worth? There is not an easy answer to the question. Of course, supply and demand determine prices in relatively free markets. I am not challenging the truthfulness of current price levels for supergrade modern coins. I am wondering whether the buyers have thought carefully about their demands. I am also wondering whether many sellers of post-1934 coins are, sometimes implicitly, misleading buyers, or are ignorant themselves. Anyone who can afford an inventory may become a coin dealer. In any event, in order to understand the distinction between classic U.S. coins and modern issues, there is a need to learn about both and about the dividing line between classic coins and modern issues.

I. The 1793-1933 Tradition

Referring to U.S. coins minted from 1793 to 1933 as classic coin issues is not arbitrary and it is not an accidental tradition. When polling dealers and collectors, I became aware that everyone seemed to remember the tradition of referring to 1933 or 1934 as a dividing line, but no one recollected the origins or meaning of the tradition. The true reason is that pre-1934 coins (with few exceptions) are much scarcer than post-1934 coins. (more…)

What’s It Worth? How dealers determine the value of a Rare Coin.

By Vic Bozarth – Bozarth Rare Coin Market Report

How are rare coin prices determined? Often the question dealers will ask is: “I know what Greysheet (Coin Dealer Newsletter bid) is, but what can I ‘really’ get for it?”

In this month’s Rare Coin Market Report, I will explain how I determine the value of an individual coin. Most often I will use a variety of different pricing sources to determine the value of a coin.

The most utilized source of rare coin pricing information among dealers are the variety of Coin Dealer Newsletter publications including Greysheet, Bluesheet, Monthly Summary, and the Quarterly Supplements. Dealers also use CCE, which is the Certified Coin Exchange. Coin World Trends, Collectors Universe prices, Redbook, and Coin Prices are also utilized.

In the last several years auction prices realized have become one of the most useful and often misunderstood sources of pricing information. Let me explain a little bit about all of these different sources before I explain how I use them.

CDN’s multiple publications include the Greysheet, Bluesheet, Monthly Summary, and Quarterly price sheets.

The Greysheet and Bluesheet are weekly publications and list many of the most frequently traded U.S. rare coins, BUT the values they list vary significantly.

Basically Greysheet lists sight seen bids for attractive coins. Bluesheet lists sight unseen bids for coins that might not be that attractive although they are graded correctly. Because I am looking for attractive coins, I often have to pay Greysheet bid or more for an attractive coin. If someone offers me a coin I don’t particularly like I am going to check the ‘bid’ on Bluesheet to see what the ‘basal’ value really is.

Depending on the particular coin the difference between the Greysheet and Bluesheet can vary as much as 70%. Yes, 70%!

CDN Monthly Summary is published each month and includes more of the frequently traded U.S. rare coins by date and grade including the early twentieth century gold series and most of the classic twentieth century collector series.

One of the three different CDN Quarterly issues come out every month and the three include all the other U.S. rare coin series by date. The Quarterly One issue contains half cents through quarters. The Quarterly Two contains halves through $3 gold coins. The Quarterly Three contains prices for $5 Liberty through $20 Liberty Gold Coins.

All prices for the Monthly Summary and Quarterly price sheets are for sight seen coins. There is also a supplement included with each month’s Quarterly Supplement that has prices for Proof coins not listed in the Quarterly Supplements. (more…)

Five Things You Can Do to Make Your Coins Worth More

By Doug Winter –

If you have been collecting rare coins for more than a few years, there is a good chance that you have “found money” in your holdings. What I mean by this is that there are a number of things that you can do–often with little or no cost–that can significantly improve the appearance and value of your coins. Here are five suggestions:

1. Send Your Coins to CAC. CAC is now well established as an important factor in the high-end segment of the market. In certain areas, CAC coins trade for a nice premium and there is no doubt in my mind that a CAC sticker makes a coin more marketable. Submitting a coin to CAC is very inexpensive; typically just $10 to $20 per item. Another thing that’s nice about submitting coins to CAC is that you are getting an expert’s opinion (in this case John Albanese) for next to nothing. You might try sending a sample of your five best coins to CAC. If you get CAC approval on all five coins, you know you are doing something right. If only one or two get the coveted “green bean” then you can assume that the dealer you are buying from needs to be replaced.

2. Attribute Your Coins. Let’s say that you are a date collector of early half eagles. It makes sense to purchase the Bass-Dannreuther book on early gold to attribute all your coins to “BD” numbers. You might get lucky and find that one of the coins that you own is a very rare die variety. This isn’t necessarily an immediate financial upgrade, as it would be in a series like Bust half dollars or Large cents which are avidly collected by variety. But wouldn’t you rather keep the potential financial upgrade for yourself than to read on page three of Coin World how some lucky collector just cherry-picked an excessively rare variety of 1806 half eagle? Also, if PCGS or NGC attributes varieties in the series you collect and you find a good variety, have it marked on the slab.

3. Pedigree Your Coins. If you have a coin from a famous collection like Bass, Garrett, Eliasberg or Norweb, a pedigree can add value. Some coins from these collection are clearly marked on the PCGS or NGC insert. But there are hundreds of others that have “lost” their pedigree for one reason or another. I’d suggest that you purchase all of the major auction catalogs in the area that you specialize in and spend a few hours searching through them. Your coin(s) may have a different appearance than they did in an earlier sale, but if they have an obvious mark this will make it easy to trace them. If a great pedigree is easy to prove, send the coin along with a xerox of the catalog page to PCGS or NGC.

4. Reslab Your Coins. Please note that I didn’t say “regrade” your coins. That’s another subject entirely and one that, if you have coins in old green label or “fatty” holders, I do not necessarily think will add value to your coins. What I mean by “reslabbing” is that many coins are in holders that show severe scuffing, wear, or dullness. A great coin can look just so-so if the holder it’s in doesn’t present itself well. I know this sounds a little hokey but its no different than deep-cleaning your house when you get ready to sell it. If all of your coins are in pretty, fresh slabs it is going to make your coins look nicer. (more…)

Tips on Selling Your Coins Via Dealer Consignment

By Doug Winter –

Many retail dealers, myself included, welcome consignments from collectors. It’s a great way to increase the size of a dealer’s inventory without laying out cash and it is often an excellent source for dealers to place useful, fresh attractive coins to new or existing clients. As a potential consignor, what are some of the questions you should be asking a dealer and what are some of the expectations you should have?

1. What rate should you be paying a dealer?

I can’t speak for every dealer, so I’ll share this from a DWN perspective. I generally charge between 5 and 10% to sell a coin on consignment. I’ve heard of dealers charging more than 10% and that seems a bit on the gouge-y side. On the other hand, to expect a dealer to sell your coins for less than 5% is unreasonable unless you are talking about a very low spread item like bullion or generics (which probably shouldn’t be consigned to dealers in the first place).

2. What should my expectations be as a consignor?

Obviously, your first expectation is for the coin to sell. But there should be other expectations as well. You should expect a dealer to work hard at selling your coins. This means listing them promptly on his website, imaging them, giving them good descriptions and offering them directly (via phone or email) to existing clients. You should expect clear, concise paperwork from the dealer including a receipt stating the terms and conditions of the consignment. You should expect prompt payment with good funds. And you should expect honesty and integrity. No games, no “funny stuff.”

3. What sort of payment terms should I expect?

There is no set answer to this so, once again, I’ll share with you how I take care of payment. First of all, I am very careful to sell consigned coins to collectors or dealers who I know will pay me. There are certain dealers, for instance, whose check I absolutely will not take. I wouldn’t sell these guys any of my own coins so why would I subject a collector to the risk of “will I or won’t I get paid?” I generally pay clients for coins within a few days of being paid myself; a few days usually meaning two or three. In the case of having multiple coins on consignment from one collector, I pay them as they sell. I never wait until the end of a deal to pay the consignor and I don’t think that’s fair, unless that’s what the consignor requests.


By Doug Winter CoinLink Content Partner

If you collect very rare or finest known coins, figuring out what to pay for an item that you need for your collection can be difficult. Here is a real-life example of how I came up with what I believe to be an accurate value for a one-of-a-kind coin.

The coin that we are going to use as our Coin Pricing Lab Experiment is the Finest Known 1860-C half eagle; an item that my firm recently handled.

When analyzing any complicated, rare issue, there are at least four things that I give major consideration to:

1860-C Half Eagle 1. Establishing rarity

2. Determining comparables

3. Gauging the depth of the market

4. How nice is the coin for the grade and for the issue

So let’s take the scenario that I am bidding on this 1860-C half eagle at auction (as opposed to selling it by private treaty) and assisting Collector X. The first thing that I am going to help him with is a basic understanding of the rarity of the issue.

According to the soon-to-be-released third edition of my book on Charlotte gold coinage, the 1860-C half eagle is a moderately scarce issue with an estimated 125-150 pieces known. My best estimate is that there are seven to eight properly graded Uncirculated examples with one in MS64 (the present example) as well as at least two or three in MS63. I would suggest to Collector X that he remember that with as many as three known in MS63, the chances are pretty good that at least one will magically transform into a second MS64 in the future. And should this happen—and his coin is no longer “population 1 with none better”– it will lose value.

Most collectors eventually check out the PCGS and NGC population reports. As of April 2008, PCGS had graded a total of eleven 1860-C half eagles in Uncirculated while NGC had graded twenty-five (!) in Uncirculated for a combined total of thirty-six. Now, I would be quick to tell this collector that these figures are dramatically inflated by resubmissions and that virtually every 1860-C half eagle that I have seen in a PCGS or NGC slab below MS62 is debatable about whether or not it truly is Uncirculated. But there is no denying the fact that there are enough purported Uncirculated 1860-C half eagles out there to make this MS64 lose a bit of its luster. It is a scarce coin but not one that could be called a fundamental rarity as it is readily obtainable in circulated grades and even available in the lower Uncirculated grades from time to time. (more…)

The Best Values in Todays Rare Coin Market

By Doug Winter –

There are many issues that face collectors in the coin market of 2010. A lack of quality coins is driving many collectors to seek new areas of specialization. Both PCGS and NGC have recently added “plus” grades which will no doubt change certain areas of the market as well.

More than ever, collectors are gravitating towards areas that offer value. The days of new collectors and uninformed wealthy investors arbitrarily throwing money at plastic rarities are over and we appear to be back to a collector-oriented market.

So what are some of the areas in this new market that offer the best value to collectors? I have chosen three price ranges ($1,000-5,000; $5,000-10,000 and $10,000 and up) and included some of the series and/or types that I feel are especially good values. Some are currently popular; some are not.

What I have tried to focus on are coins that are actually available in some quantity and issues that I gladly buy to put into my own inventory when they are available.


a) Gold Dollars, 1865-1872:

The eight year run of gold dollars produced at the Philadelphia mint from 1865 through 1872 doesn’t include any real rarities but nearly all of these coins are scarce and undervalued in MS63 to MS64 grades. Most are priced in the area of $1,500-2,000 in MS63 and $2,000 to $3,000 in MS64 (the 1865 is rarer and more expensive in both grades) and they seem like good value to me. Take the 1872 as an example. Just 3,500 business strikes were made and only a few hundred exist in all grades. In MS64 this coin is worth around $3,000 yet it might take me months to find a decent example in this grade. Yes, gold dollars are small but this is a very collectible series and one with a number of really undervalued issues. (more…)

Are Rare Coin Auction Prices Wholesale or Retail?

By Doug Winter –

Until a few years ago, the vast majority of coins that sold at auction were purchased by dealers. It was a safe bet to say that the prices realized at auctions were wholesale and collectors could assume that they would typically pay 10-20% more than what coins were selling for at auction.

But this has all changed. One of the key elements to Heritage’s rousing success in the coin auction business has been to make sales more collector-friendly. Today, a sizable amount of the coins that sell at auction are going directly to collectors. So, are auction prices now representative of the wholesale or retail markets? The answer is not as easy as you might think…

The answer is actually, as you might have, guessed, “answers.” Nothing in the coin market is cut and dry anymore and the new auction market and the prices that coins fetch in an auction conducted in 2010 can have a broad range.

The first thing that has to be analyzed is what coin is being sold. If it’s something that’s extremely collector-friendly (like a rare date Type One Liberty Head double eagle) the price realized is likely to represent a retail level as it is likely to have been sold to a collector. If it’s a widget or a low-end coin that sells cheaply we can assume that a bottom-feeder dealer bought it and the price it brought is clearly at the wholesale level.

The next thing that has to be gauged is the quality of the sale itself. One of the most amazing things about the Bass sales, in my opinion, was the fact that virtually all the coins were bought by dealers. If the Bass sales were to be held today (and conducted by a technologically savvy firm like Heritage) I would venture to guess that over 50% of the coins would be sold for retail as opposed to wholesale prices.

Is the coin in an auction a grading play? (In other words, is it an AU58 in an older holder that would upgrade to MS61 to MS62?) In this case it is a virtual certainty that the coin sold to a dealer. But there is an immediate asterisk that must be applied to the sales price. If the coin is worth $5,000 in AU58 and $13,000 in MS62, it is highly possible that at least two ramblin’ gamblin’ dealers would pay $10,000-11,000 for the coin. In such an instance, the collector needs to be careful not to assume that just because one AU58 coin sold at auction for $10,000-11,000, the next one(s) will as well.

Auction records are most useful when they occur with some degree of frequency (two or three examples per year) and when any anomalies can be discarded. (more…)

The Pre Baltimore Coin Show Market Report

By Laura Sperber of Legend Numismatics

For the record, we expect Baltimore to be a VERY strong show. Why?

ms67_Seated_Quarter_haThere have not been any major shows since Long Beach-which has been a forever 45 days ago. Gold has been on a tear lately. And there have been no major additions to the ever shrinking supply of nice coins.

We fully expect to see the usual suspects running wild looking to buy gold coins before the show begins. Sadly, they will still be cracking out and messing with the coins, but at least they are much more reserved in what they buy. We used to see guys buy coins for “crackout” if they felt they had even a 20% chance. Plus, some upgrades are not worth doing thanks to the new market order (inferior coins selling for so much less).

Still, many dealers who do deal in gold have sold a lot of gold all of the sudden (amazing, only a month ago the big firms wouldn’t even look at generics) and rare gold coins are now selling as strong as ever. Without a major show, it has been impossible to replace them. We’re not so sure the supply of anything at Baltimore will be sizeable.

The price of gold generally does NOT effect the rare coin market. However since there is just so little of anything out there, cash rich dealers will seize the opportunity and buy cool coins to put away because they seem cheap. The rise in gold is definately giving rare coins a bounce up right now.


Every day we get asked what should I be buying? As much as we hate making public recommendations, we are going to do so only because we can’t believe how some areas are simply lacking real demand and are selling way too cheap.

Value Compression in the Rare Date Gold Coin Market

By Doug Winter –

The recent Coin World “Coin Values” (or Trends as we long-time dealers call it) features a number of price reductions in the various Liberty Head gold series. This has caused some interesting pricing anomalies that have major ramifications for collectors of rare date gold coins.

dw_cd_250The grade range that appears to be severely affected by the Trends revisions is AU50 to AU58. This makes sense as this is the grade range that, in my opinion, has been most severely compromised by the grading services over the years. I think this especially true for the AU55 and AU58 grades; a range that includes many coins that are marginal quality at best.

A number of factors caused these values to be reduced by the Trends editor(s). One is, of course, auction prices. As I have stated a number of times in the past, one of the biggest problems with coin pricing is the fact that one bad apple can literally spoil the whole bunch. Let me give you an example. Let’s say that Trends in AU58 for a specific Charlotte quarter eagle was $9,000 in AU58. Then let’s say that a really, really low end example in an AU58 holder sells at auction for $4,000. Does this mean that the price of this issue should suddenly be cut in half?

I would argue that it shouldn’t. But I would also argue that a compression of values for rare date gold is inevitable.

Value compression is not without precedent. Two of the most famous examples that I can think of are the Iowa half dollar (worth $85 in XF and $100 in MS65) and the Roanoke half dollar (worth $160 in XF and $180 in MS64). The reason why values become compressed for a specific coin is that the market believes that a premium is unmerited. In the case of the Roanoke half dollar, the reason is obvious: because of the cluttered design, an AU58 Roanoke looks essentially no different from an MS64. For better or worse, this is what has happened with certain branch mint gold coins due to erratic grading standards.

Deal Shopping and Rare Coin Prices

By Doug Winter –

I had an interesting experience at the Long Beach show that I thought was worth sharing. A new-to-the-market collector/investor came up to my table and asked to see my “best coins.” I was happy to share them with him and pulled out a gorgeous 1802 quarter eagle in PCGS AU58 and a lovely 1798/7 eagle in PCGS AU55. After some back-and-forth negotiating, I could see this deal was not going to get done. The reasons why it didn’t are what I want to briefly discuss.

1864-S_Eagle_winter_091509_saleNow let me say in advance that the individual that I was dealing with is younger than I am, better looking than I am, smarter than I am and without a doubt much, much richer than I am. He’s someone whose family has had tremendous success investing in other areas and he is a recent convert to the rare coin market. But I think he’s approaching coins from a totally wrong perspective……………

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