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All Posts Tagged With: "condition rarity"

Coin Collecting: Condition Rarity vs. Absolute Rarity

by Doug Winter –

In numismatics, there are essentially two types of coins. There are coins that are condition rarities and there are coins that are absolute rarities. A condition rarity is a coin whose value is primarily derived from its high degree of preservation. An absolute rarity is a coin whose rarity is based more on the total number known to exist than its grade. As a long-time participant in the coin market, I tend to prefer coins that are absolute rarities.

dw_condition_rarity_010310Let’s take a look at a few specific coins that easily fall into one of the two categories. Then, let’s take a look at another category (and for my money the most interesting): a coin that is not only an absolute rarity but a condition rarity as well.

Most new collectors buy coins based on condition. This makes sense. They are introduced to coins through mass marketers or they buy modern coins directly from the United States mint. Mass marketers can’t sell absolute rarity for an obvious reason: there isn’t a large enough supply and mass marketing entails selling products on a large scale.

Certain mass marketed coins aren’t strictly condition rarities in the truest sense of the word. A coin that most people would consider to be a condition rarity would be a common date St. Gaudens double eagle in MS65. But this really isn’t the case. A damaged, virtually destroyed Saint has a current market value of around $1,200 while an MS65 is worth $2,500. The 2x value ratio for a Gem is low when compared to the basal value.

A coin that I would consider a classic condition rarity is an Indian Head half eagle. This is a coin that is worth just a bit over $300 in very low grades but over $15,000 in MS65. That’s a 300x value ratio. I appreciate the fact that a true MS65 Indian Head half eagle is a reasonably scarce coin. But I have a hard time attributing this much value to a high grade example, especially based on the fact that the series is not terrifically popular with date collectors. (more…)

Heritage to offer the Single Finest PCGS 1925-D Lincoln Cent at Long Beach Auction

1925-D 1C MS66 Red PCGS. Collectors of Registry Set Lincolns are mostly keen, sharp-eyed, and deep-pocketed, making “men’s (and women’s) toys” from a series that most of us tried–and failed–to complete inexpensively from circulation coins, popping them into blue Whitman folders when we were young.

ha_25d_lincoln_090209In the highest Registry Set or Mint State levels, some of the various Lincoln cent issues turn the normal relationships between them on their heads.

For example, that ever-elusive 1909-S VDB: It was an immense prize, the rarest and among the most expensive coins in a circulated set. But in MS65 or MS66 Red, while still costly, it is far less expensive (per the PCGS online Price Guide, to which we refer throughout) than the 1914-D, the 1914-S, the 1915-S, or the 1917-S. (We do not mention the 1916-S, because PCGS has never certified an MS66 Red and therefore provides no price.) The 1918-S in MS65 Red costs four times the price of a Gem Red 1909-S VDB.

In the 1920s, some of the mintmarked issues provide even more stark differences. A Gem Red 1921-S costs twice what a Gem Red S VDB goes for. A Gem Red 1922-D (if you can find one) is about half of an S VDB in 65 Red–a bargain, in our opinion–but a 1923-S in MS65 Red will cost three times as much. And of course, the storied 1926-S in MS65 Red, the only one so certified at PCGS, has become a legendary rarity, a coin that we have handled twice.

The 1924-D and 1924-S are a similar story, and so are the 1925-D and 1925-S. Only with the 1927-D (but not the 1927-S) and later mintmarked issues do the comparisons and prices start to become more favorable.

The present Premium Gem Red 1925-D cent is one of just two so certified at PCGS, and needless to say, there are none finer, either technically or aesthetically. This fully brilliant Premium Gem has gorgeous orange mint luster, with bold design details for an issue that is a notorious strike rarity. In fact, the design definition is sharper on this example than on any other we have handled. The surfaces are frosty and pristine, entirely void of marks or spots. The coloration is a brilliant sunset-orange.

Registry Set collectors note: Of the top five PCGS sets, this coin would upgrade all three of the Current Finest Lincoln Cent Basic Sets, Circulation Strikes that display their inventory (PCGS has an option where you can display your set and ranking, but not its components). Two of those sets contain a 1925-D in MS64 Red; the third has an MS65 Red. Population: 2 in 66 Red, 0 finer (9/09).