Rare American Coins Get Weighed on a Rarity Scale

I’ve counted 13 scales proposed for defining rarity in coins. Only a few are well accepted and none are as universally accepted as the Sheldon scale for grading coins. Perhaps the most common rarity scale is also an adaptation of Sheldon’s scale.

Some rarity scales are merely descriptive of their actual rarity, while others base their judgment on numbers. I think using numbers is a much more accurate than only attempting to describe them verbally.

A version of Sheldon’s Rarity Scale may be universally adopted as the need for quantifying coin rarity increases.

Sheldon’s rarity scale has both a verbal description and numerical description associated with it, similar to his state-of-preservation grading scale. This is really helpful in understanding rarity.

I haven’t found a consensus regarding any of the rarity scales, so I’ve chosen this version of Sheldon’s Rarity Scale, because it uses quantities and descriptions that seem reasonable to me. That leaves both the numbers and descriptions open to debate.

Sheldon Rarity Scale
R1: Over 2000 estimated: Very Common, readily available
R2: 601–2000 estimated: Common, not too difficult to find
R3: 201–600 estimated: Less Common, available at most shows, but in limited quantity
R4: 76–200 estimated: Scarce, somewhat difficult to find, only a few likely at larger shows
R5: 31–75 estimated: Very Scarce, may or may not find at larger shows or auctions
R6: 13–30 estimated: Rare, unlikely to be more than 5 for sale anywhere in a year
R7: 4–12 estimated: Very Rare, almost never seen, only one may be offered for sale in a year
R8: 2–3 estimated: Prohibitively Rare, one may be offered for sale once every 5 to 10 years
R9: 1 estimated: Unique, or nearly so

As you can see, this scale refers to count estimations. It’s impossible to know an exact number. At any time, another coin could surface or disappear and change the figure.

Another useful scale was developed by Q. David Bowers. He calls it the Universal Rarity Scale or URS for short. I think this scale goes beyond simply stating rarity, to measuring the commonness of a coin. This can also be useful.

Universal Rarity Scale
Rarity Number of known coins
URS 0:    None known
URS 1:    1
URS 2:    2
URS 3:    3 or 4
URS 4:    5 to 8
URS 5:    9 to 16
URS 6:    17 to 32
URS 7:    33 to 64
URS 8:    65 to 125
URS 9:    126 to 250
URS 10:    251 to 500
URS 11:    501 to 1,000
URS 12:    1,001 to 2,000
URS 13:    2,001 to 4,000
URS 14:    4,001 to 8,000
URS 15:    8,001 to 16,000
URS 16:    16,001 to 32,000
URS 17:    32,001 to 65,000
URS 18:    65,001 to 125,000
URS 19:    125,001 to   250,000
URS 20:    250,001 to   500,000

C. Scholten developed a scale for rarity in 1953 that I think is less useful than the two above. The Scholten scale depicts the following degrees of rarity, but I can’t find any definition for the descriptions he uses.

Scholten Rarity Scale
Rarity    Number of   known coins
C    Common
N    Normal
S    Scarce
R    Rare
RR    Very Rare
RRR    Extremely Rare
RRRR    Of the utmost   rarity

So the next time you’re discussing “rare coins”, with another coin expert ask if it’s “R7 or R8 rare” or are we talking R9? If he doesn’t know what you’re talking about, he probably doesn’t know what he’s talking about either. Most rare coin experts are familiar with Sheldon’s Rarity Scale.

Thank you David Kenny for educating me on coin rarity and inspiring me to research coin rarity scales for this article.

Check out other informative articles on this website using the Search, Recent Articles, or Category features on the upper right side of this page.

If you are interested in investing in silver or gold products, check out GoldSilver.com, or AmagiMetals.com.                               

If you are interested in buying gold or silver bullion at the lowest price, check out BullionVault.

If you are interested in learning more about rare American coin, or foreign coin collecting and investing see NumisMaster from Krause Publications.

If you would like to buy interesting modern, or old rare gold and silver coins take a look at either NewYorkMint or GovMint.

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Should You Invest in Rare American Coins or Modern Issue Coins?

The rare coin market like any other healthy market has its ups and downs. Pre WWII coins have been around long enough to have an established market. The modern issue coins can and often have a flash-in-pan type following.

Rarity value in American coins is always in context to their market demand.

If everyone in America became interested in silver coins, there wouldn’t be enough of any one coin to go around. For example, the 1921 Morgan was produced in huge numbers. Close to 87 million, in fact. That’s only around one 1921 silver dollar for every household.

Many modern collector coin issues are minted in relatively low numbers, but does that make them good investments? I consider many modern “rare” coins to be like jewelry. They have their intrinsic value in their precious metal content, but when you sell the coin, you might not get back the premium you paid for it.

The most risky modern “rare” coins I think are the ones hyped up in promotional material or catalogs. They often have a story about their conception or design.

rare american coins

A very popular modern commemorative silver coin

Low mintage numbers may be given to indicate rarity, but more often than not, a conditional rarity is created because of numbers receiving a certain grade by a third party grading company.

PCGS and NGC seem to be willing participants in grading modern common coins to give them a conditional rarity and legitimacy for the seller. The seller then asks four to ten times their worth to see if the market will buy the hype.

If you buy coins like these at the advertised prices, you might have to wait for a long time to sell them at a profit. Chances are you won’t have the promotional resources to package the coin so you educate/convince someone to buy your coin at a really inflated price.

Modern American commemorative silver or gold coins are risky to buy at inflated prices. The commemorative market tends to forget the original reason for the coin being special, and often won’t pay for that specialness in the future.

Modern silver and gold American coins don’t have the track record of the old established collector coins, which makes them somewhat risky as an investment. There are modern rare coins that appreciate in value fairly quickly, but I consider ten years to be a minimum track record for an investment coin.

However, if you have your hand on the pulse of future trends and can predict them with some accuracy, be contrarian. Buy the trend-maker coin and profit from it. Otherwise, simply buy the modern rare coin because you love it, and not concern yourself with future performance, because you don’t plan to sell it.

rare American coins

A well advertised silver American coin

I prefer American Eagle silver and gold coins directly from the mint. They have an established track record. The baseball coins may be a flash-in-the-pan coin. The promotional material of course says they’ll sell for multiples of their issue price. They might… Then they might not. I won’t take the chance.

Few modern commemoratives have become modern rarities. The 2001 Buffalo silver dollar, I think is one exception. It sold out quickly and now sells for multiples of its original mint price. The 2011 25th anniversary silver eagle set looks like another hit for those lucky enough to have gotten their order in early on the day of sale.

When there’s frenzy over a newly released coin, and they actually do get multiples of their original issue price, you need to be on either side of the frenzy, not in the middle of it. Either be the first one to buy some ahead of the crowd, or patiently wait out the frenzy to see where the dust settles.

Check out other informative articles on this website using the Search, Recent Articles, or Category features on the upper right side of this page.

If you are interested in investing in silver or gold products, check out GoldSilver.com, or AmagiMetals.com.                               

If you are interested in buying gold or silver bullion at the lowest price, check out BullionVault.

If you are interested in learning more about rare American coin, or foreign coin collecting and investing see NumisMaster from Krause Publications.

If you would like to buy interesting modern, or old rare gold and silver coins take a look at either NewYorkMint or GovMint.

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Rare American Coins and the Importance of US Trade Dollars

U.S. Trade Dollars were never intended to be the same as silver dollars for domestic circulation, even though they have the same one dollar face value. The two coins were produced to serve very different purposes.

Trade Dollars were designed and minted essentially as bullion coins for trade in the orient.

American Trade Dollars, as well as all post 1836 Silver Dollars were specified to be 90% silver and 10% copper, but the Trade unit weighs slightly more. The Trade Dollar weighs in at 420 grains, while the U.S. silver dollar weighs 412.5 grains. 

American circulating Silver Dollars were just too light to interest Chinese businessmen, so a silver coin was developed with increased weight to compete with the slightly heavier Mexican and Spanish 8 Reales, or the British Crown.

Trade Dollars weren’t intended to circulate in the U.S., although a few did. Americans strangely enough shunned them for domestic trade. This coin was  created to be used for trade in the Orient, especially with businesses at the ports in Canton and in Hong Kong.

rare anerican coins

8 Reales Silver Coin

In the 19th century, the Chinese used silver as their primary medium of exchange. Before the U.S. Trade Dollar came into existence, Americans trading with the Chinese often resorted to Spanish or Mexican silver 8 Reales coins. The U.S. wanted a coin to compete directly with these coins.

The Chinese merchants would test the foreign silver coins and stamp their insignia on the coin. These stamps are now known as chop marks. You can find these chop marks on any of the coins used in trade with the orient.

During the 1860s, U.S. citizens with silver mining interests sought ways to market more silver. They persuaded Congress and other U.S. government officials that Trade Dollars should be minted for foreign use.

It was costly for U.S. businesses to exchange U.S. silver dollars for Spanish or Mexican 8 Reales coins before doing business with the Chinese. It made sense for U.S. businesses to get silver coins minted in the U.S., rather than use foreign silver coins for trade with China.

The Coinage Act of 1873 made Trade Dollars legal tender. Barber designs were used for this now rare American coin. Production stopped in 1878, except for a few proof coins.

France, Britain and Japan also developed their own dollar to the same standards as the other foreign countries for use in trade with the Orient. The newly opened oriental market was very lucrative for western merchants.

rare American coins

Unusually Nice 1873 U.S. Trade Dollar

Nearly 36 million Trade Dollars were produced from 1873 to 1878, with the vast majority after 1875. It was more efficient for the San Francisco and Carson City Mints to use silver mined in the western U.S. for these coins. Therefore the majority of Trade Dollars came from San Francisco. They minted more than Philadelphia and Carson City combined.

As far as collecting goes, the chopped coins are generally considered problem coins and not worth as much as their unchopped counterparts. Uncirculated versions are relatively scarce, but are really beautiful specimens of U.S. silver coinage and one of Barber’s better designs.

Check out other informative articles on this website using the Search, Recent Articles, or Category features on the upper right side of this page.

If you are interested in investing in silver or gold products, check out GoldSilver.com, or AmagiMetals.com.                               

If you are interested in buying gold or silver bullion at the lowest price, check out BullionVault.

If you are interested in learning more about rare American coin, or foreign coin collecting and investing see NumisMaster from Krause Publications.

If you would like to buy interesting modern, or old rare gold and silver coins take a look at either NewYorkMint or GovMint.

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Rare American Coins Versus the Will of the People

The minting of all those Morgan and Peace dollars is just one more example of Washington lawmakers being influenced by minority special interest groups, rather than the will and benefit of the majority of people. These years set the precedent for today’s fiscal irresponsibility.

In 1960 the U.S. Mint reported 485,000 bags of silver dollars in reserve. By 1963, the silver dollars were being sold off at face value.

There was nothing rare about 485 million mint fresh silver dollars that nobody wanted.

rare american coins

Government Spending

The Federal Government was finally doing the will of the people from back in 1879. Back then, the general public wasn’t interested in using silver dollar coins for commerce. They were just too bulky and inconvenient.

In 1878, the government consummated their decision to spend millions of dollars buying silver, minting coins, and constructing vaults to store them. The lawmakers also spent thousands of hours arguing about what should be done with these new silver clinkers.

The American public wasn’t interested in spending silver dollar coins, but their vast numbers weren’t enough to influence Washington decisions. Here’s a brief summary of silver dollars during the decade of 1880-1889.

  • 1880: 72,000,000 dollars minted and the vast majority placed in circulation came back (as AU).
  • 1881: 102,000,000 dollars minted, with 34 million in circulation
  • 1882: 128,000,000 Morgans coined, with 35 million used. More vaults were being built to store them.
  • 1884: 185,000,000 with 40 million in use
  • 1885: 215,000,000 with most in the new vaults
  • 1886: 247,000,000 and $23 million spent on more storage vaults
  • 1888: 312,000,000 with now 60 million being used
  • 1889: 343,000,000 produced for storage

Minting all these silver dollars actually contributed to their own demise. There was so much silver on the market during this time that the value of silver dropped to $.70 an ounce.

Finally in 1904, the presses were stopped. We had run out of easily mined silver and the price couldn’t support minting coins that cost the tax payers so much more than their intrinsic value.

After melting 270,000,000 Morgan dollars to aid the war effort of WWI, the government decided to mint almost 87,000,000 Morgans to replace the ones lost in the melt. Similar mintage figures continued into the mid 1920’s.

Interestingly, they practically didn’t mint any fractional coins in 1921, but they outdid themselves on the silver dollars that no one used. For more on 1921 fractional silver coinage, see my article called “Silver Rare American Coins From the Year 1921, What Were They Thinking?”.

rare american coins

Fiscal Irresponsibility

The U.S. Government spent millions to mine, mint and store silver dollars during the Morgan and Peace production years. Then they spent millions more during the 1960’s selling them at face value to finally get rid of them.

The U.S. government seems to be quite irresponsible with taxpayer money on many fronts. Government bashing has always been a popular sport. There are so many people bashing the government today that I find less competition in the arena of bashing the U.S. Government of the past.

Then, as today the lawmakers in Washington were catering to the special interests who could afford to lobby and cut deals, rather than concern themselves with what’s best for the majority of citizens. Come to think of it, had lawmakers done the will of the people back in the 1800’s, as they swore to do, Morgan and Peace silver dollars would be far more expensive today. Hurray for irresponsible, uncontrolled Government spending…

Check out other informative articles on this website using the Search, Recent Articles, or Category features on the upper right side of this page.

If you are interested in investing in silver or gold products, check out GoldSilver.com, or AmagiMetals.com.                               

If you are interested in buying gold or silver bullion at the lowest price, check out BullionVault.

If you are interested in learning more about rare American coin, or foreign coin collecting and investing see NumisMaster from Krause Publications.

If you would like to buy interesting modern, or old rare gold and silver coins take a look at either NewYorkMint or GovMint.

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Are You Aware of the Profusion of Fake 1 oz Chinese Silver Panda Coins on eBay?

Do you ever buy Chinese silver pandas on eBay? I like the Chinese silver Panda series of coins. What distresses me is how many panda coins listed on eBay are fake. Probably close to half the Chinese pandas listed on eBay are very suspicious looking.

I rarely encounter fake rare American coins on eBay, but fake Pandas are common.

I bought some counterfeit pandas directly from China a few years ago and now know what to look for in a fake. They’re easy to spot when you know what to look for.

panda coin

Fake Silver Panda in Mint Packaging

The fakes are so well done, I’d swear the China Mint has a night shift going specifically producing fake versions of their own highly regarded silver coins. My coins were in capsules and even mint plastic envelopes. They looked for all the world like they were real.

I’m not sure what made me test one for authenticity, but I got a wild hair and proceeded to remove the capsule from the plastic pouch and then the coin from the capsule.

The first thing I did was give it the ring test. That’s where you balance the coin on the tip of your finger and tap the edge with a Paper Mate pen. It should give a high pitched, sustained tinggg. This one didn’t. It just went thud.

panda coins

Left Coin Fake, Right Coin Real

I got out another panda coin I know to be real and gave it the ring test. It rang pleasingly. Then I compared the two coins and noticed the suspect coin was probably 20% thicker than the real version.

The final convicting test was to cut it in half with a hack saw. The interior metal was a dark grey with a silver plating over it. I tried to contact the China distributor, but they ignored my request for a refund.

What makes me think the China Mint might be producing the fakes as well as the real version of their panda coin? The fakes resemble the real ones in every detail except one: the capsule that protects them.

panda coin

Fake Silver Panda Cut in Two

Remember, I said the fake pandas are thicker than their real counterpart? In order for them to weigh the same amount, and have the same outer case dimensions, there must be some extra room in the mint capsule for a thicker coin. And there is!

You see, the genuine Chinese Panda case has three tiny nibs on the outer edge of the capsule to support the thinner coin. The fake coins don’t have these three little nibs. Want to see how many fakes are on eBay? Look for the three little nibs on the capsule.

While getting out fake and real Panda coins to photograph, I also noticed counterfeit Pandas don’t age as well as their real counterparts. They are getting spots on their surfaces, so maybe just allowing them a few years will give them away.

panda coin

Fake Silver Panda, No Capsule Nibs

 

panda coin

Real Silver Panda Coin, 3 Nibs in Capsule

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I’m interested in a silver panda coin where I don’t see the nibs, I contact the seller and ask them to check the coin with the ring test. I almost invariably get a response like “I know the coin is real. I’m not going to test it for you.” Or, I get no answer at all.

I feel like buying the coins and doing the test myself and then reporting it to eBay, if they turn out to be fake. Suddenly reality hits me. It’s a losing battle. It’s my word against the seller’s.

The seller can always claim I switched their real coin for a fake, just so I could accuse them of selling counterfeit coins on eBay. Selling counterfeit coins on eBay is strictly against eBay policy and will get you banned from ever selling on eBay again.

I can’t single handedly stop the sale of fake coins on eBay, but I can educate potential buyers who will listen, and not bid on counterfeit coins. I rarely encounter a counterfeit Morgan or Peace dollar on eBay, but there’s a profusion of fake pandas for sale there.

Check out other informative articles on this website using the Search, Recent Articles, or Category features on the upper right side of this page.

If you are interested in investing in silver or gold products, check out GoldSilver.com, or AmagiMetals.com.                               

If you are interested in buying gold or silver bullion at the lowest price, check out BullionVault.

If you are interested in learning more about rare American coin, or foreign coin collecting and investing see NumisMaster from Krause Publications.

If you would like to buy interesting modern, or old rare gold and silver coins take a look at either NewYorkMint or GovMint.

 

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Rare American Coins and Their Market Cycles

Generally speaking, the rare American coin market cycles to a new low every 6 years or so. The market currently seems to be going sideways since 2012. Have no fear; cycles in the market demonstrate that it is healthy and this current sideways market will start rising again.

Strangely enough, the American coin buying public suffers a very strong urge to buy at the top and sell at the bottom of a market cycle. Coin dealers often suffer cash flow problems during a market low, because they have to liquidate inventory at the worst time.

This is a great time for the rare American coin buyer to find real bargains.

At market cycle tops, dealer inventories are high and cash flows quickly. At the other extreme, dealer inventories are exhausted and cash is tight.

rare american coins

The Gold Coin Cycle

At market peaks, publicity is favorable, even though the rare American coin market still isn’t very big. During market lows, coins are badmouthed by everyone. The public generally hates coins and has less than usual interest in them.

At a bottom, there are all sellers and few buyers. True market bottoms happen when all the sellers have sold every coin they have. Eventually, there are no more sellers and prices start to go up.

They say most people aren’t buying during a market bottom. Many millionaires don’t even buy during a market bottom, but billionaires do!

Generic coins are the mainstay of the coin market, and their prices have collapsed over the last few years. Rare coin prices get slaughtered in a market low with many of their prices being half of their highs.

Price corrections are all a part of the coin market cycle. The good news is: the market is healthy and if you compare prices during past bear markets, each one has had higher lows along with higher highs.

Over the long run, the market is rising; showing that coins are a great long term investment. Long Term investment means keeping your coins 10, 20, 30, or 40 years. When you think in those terms, buying coins you really like is important so you can enjoy them while they appreciate in value.

When you’re a long term player, you’ll have a certain percentage of your holdings you can sell when the market enters a bubble. You’re also prepared to buy bargains when everyone else is selling.

At market bottoms, you can get higher quality coins for the price of lower quality in the past. Pursue higher quality rare American coins during these times.

rare american coins

Get your nicest coins graded so there is no dispute, if you decide to sell them. Resist the urge to sell your really nice coins in a low market. Be a buyer in a down market, buying the best gold and silver coins you can afford at bargain prices. Don’t let the naysayers discourage you.

Coin collectors like to buy rarity first and quality next. Rarities are bargains in down markets, but MS64 and common coins are also bargains and both will appreciate faster/more as the market returns.

Superb quality world coins are also real bargains right now. For some reason, demand for foreign coins is often low, and they can be found at spectacular prices during market lows.

If you are interested in investing in silver or gold products, check out GoldSilver.com, or AmagiMetals.com.                               

If you are interested in buying gold or silver bullion at the lowest price, check out BullionVault.

If you are interested in learning more about rare American coin, or foreign coin collecting and investing see NumisMaster from Krause Publications.

If you would like to buy interesting modern, or old rare gold and silver coins take a look at either NewYorkMint or GovMint.

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Rare American Coins, 7 Tips for Getting Bargain Prices on eBay

eBay is often criticized for duping buyers into paying too much for coins of low quality. eBay has become a very friendly market for coin buyers and sellers to make safe transactions.

eBay isn’t the format for the really rare coins, but it’s great for common coins to better date type coins. Really rare coins are still sold through private sales and the larger auction type formats.

eBay is now the largest rare American coin market in the World.

eBay strongly supports the buyer, sometimes even to the detriment of the seller. They will reimburse the wronged buyer with their Buyer Protection program, if the seller defaults on the refund.

  1. I believe it is up to the buyer to not pay more than the coin is worth and to determine that when bidding on it. I NEVER base a bid price on a seller’s claim of condition or rare American coin grade. I determine a low-ish reasonable price for myself and bid accordingly.
  2. eBay is set up to promote the lowest prices, but then encourages you to keep bidding to raise the price so YOU can win the auction. After all, the person willing to pay the most for a coin gets it, whether or not the price is good.
  3. Go to the Advanced button to the right of the Search button and set up an advanced search for your rare American coin. I set a number of other parameters for my search, but for this article I advise limiting the number of bids it brings up. I’ll search for coins with fewer than 4 or 5 bids. The more bids, the higher the price is likely to be at the end.
  4. If you have no way to gauge what a fair price would be, go back to the Advanced button and enter your coin’s description, then scroll down to the completed listings check box and check it, along with auctions. Bid in the lower price range for the grade of coin you’re looking for.
  5. Bill Me Later is a convenient feature of PayPal. They however charge almost 20% interest on their convenience. Your eBargains won’t be bargains for very long, if you let Bill Me Later pay for them and you pay in installments.
  6. Be Patient. When you’re bidding for the best price, you will frequently be outbid by someone wanting to get the rare American coin for a slightly higher price. I lose 90+% of the coins I bid on. But the ones I get are great bargains that the seller hates me for.
  7. Never bid at the end of the auction where you can get sucked into a bidding war with another player. Go back sometime later to see how you did. If you didn’t win the auction, go to the next example in your search and bid on it. A lot of times, not winning is a blessing.

See my article on Auction Sniper, if you want to bid at the end of auctions.

I suppose, if there is a problem with eBay, it is overwhelm. Practically nothing is rare on eBay. It is easy to look for the most unusual item and find it. I can look for what I think are rare items on eBay and find dozens for sale. Figuring out which one is the best deal can take some time.

I have to practice a lot of won’t-power with eBay to keep me from completely overrunning my budget on rare American coins. I use the word practice, because sometimes I fail.

If you are interested in investing in silver or gold products, check out GoldSilver.com, or AmagiMetals.com.                               

If you are interested in buying gold or silver bullion at the lowest price, check out BullionVault.

If you are interested in learning more about rare American coin, or foreign coin collecting and investing see NumisMaster from Krause Publications.

If you would like to buy interesting modern, or old rare gold and silver coins take a look at either NewYorkMint or GovMint.

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Do Rare American Coin Collectors Really Embrace Change?

Perhaps a definition of rare American coin collectors would be: “One who embraces change”. At one time I believed this, but now I realize it isn’t entirely true. In reality, some coin collectors embrace change, and some don’t.

rare american coins

An example of a status quo coin

Rare American coin collectors, who amass exclusively mint state and proof type coins, obviously don’t like change. This type of coin collector needs a title, so I will refer to them as “status quo”.

Rare American coin collectors acknowledge that not all change is created equal.

Even coin collectors who do embrace change don’t necessarily like change just for the sake of change. They realize that all change isn’t created equal. There exists both bad change and good change.

rare american coins

Good change: AU/slider

The bad change I’ll call junk silver. The good change, which most people prefer would be called AU or even slider. For the purposes of this article, there are three basic categories of coin collectors: the status quo at one end, AU/slider in the middle and junk collector at the other end.

I recognize that all rare American coin collectors fall somewhere in this spectrum and don’t completely fit any of these labels. Where do you fall in your collecting preferences?

 

  • Status Quo: These are rare American coin collectors who don’t like any kind of change, and are above having to deal with either junk or AU/sliders.
  • Junk coin: These are rare American coin collectors who would prefer the status quo or even the good change of the AU/slider, but generally end up with junk coins. They end up with more of the bad change than they would prefer and wonder why it always happens to them.
  • AU/slider: These are rare American coin collectors who embrace and seek good change. They drive the coin market with their sheer numbers and enthusiasm.

In rare American coin collecting, as in life, good coins are derived from good decisions and making goals to attain either good change or the ultimate, the status quo. Most coin collectors don’t actively pursue the bad change, though some less fortunate will make shortsighted decisions that lead to bad change.

rare american coins

Bad change: junk silver dollar

My rare American coin collecting pretty much runs the continuum. I, of course prefer the status quo, but embrace the good change. I do occasionally have bad change forced into my life and I accept it. It leads to personal and financial growth.

If you learn from your change, you can capitalize on it and eventually become a richer person for it. The status quo is comfortable, but the junk coin and AU/sliders are experiencing the most personal growth.

You may be wondering about the rare American coin dealer. Coin dealers are generally very savvy about their change. In fact, they deal in so much change every day, they have become expert at it. They capitalize on both good and bad change, as well as the status quo every single working day.

The rare American coin dealers I’ve known actually love change. They don’t fear change, they welcome it! Many dealers will take their change to the next level, and deal in high value bank notes as well.

Bank notes are more commonly referred to a “bills”. Most coin dealers not only accept these bills, they actually like them. Personally, I can do without the bills. Life would be just fine without bills in it. I consider bill collectors sort of reprehensible anyway.

Here’s a lesson for all you hard money folks. If you ever plan to liquidate any of your gold or silver collections, all it will net you is a pile of bills!

If you are interested in investing in silver or gold products, check out GoldSilver.com, or AmagiMetals.com.                               

If you are interested in buying gold or silver bullion at the lowest price, check out BullionVault.

If you are interested in learning more about rare American coin, or foreign coin collecting and investing see NumisMaster from Krause Publications.

If you would like to buy interesting modern, or old rare gold and silver coins take a look at either NewYorkMint or GovMint.

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Rare American Coins and Another PCGS Grading Lesson on Them

Here is a 50 minute PCGS coin grading video. It covers grading strike, color, luster, and difficult-to-grade coins. This video covers fractional coins as well as silver dollars. It’s a great review of grading techniques and well worth the time to watch it.

I found the lesson on grading the difficult-to-grade coins to be very helpful.

If you are interested in investing in silver or gold products, check out GoldSilver.com, or AmagiMetals.com.                               

If you are interested in buying gold or silver bullion at the lowest price, check out BullionVault.

If you are interested in learning more about rare American coin, or foreign coin collecting and investing see NumisMaster from Krause Publications.

If you would like to buy interesting modern, or old rare gold and silver coins take a look at either NewYorkMint or GovMint.

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Rare American Coins in a Rarity Driven Market

The rare American coin market is only partially driven by the coin rarity – the supply. The other side of the equation is demand or popularity of the rare coin.

I own many quite rare newer (post 1900) and old (minted in the 1600’s) coins whose value isn’t commensurate with their age or rarity. I have coins whose total mintage ranged from 300-3000 and aren’t terribly valuable. See photos below.

Low mintage figures for coins don’t necessarily equate to rarity.

rare american coins

A very low mintage coin

I figure not a lot of coin collectors are interested in, or possibly even know about these coins. I also own 350+ year old British or Mexican/Spanish coins that I pick up for 1/10th the price of a comparable though not as old, rare American coin.

Other things beside mintage influence coin value. One top influencer is the number of coins in a certain grade. This, in combination with the number of coins in the next grade below will drive the market for that issue of rare American coin.

For example, if a buyer is unable to locate a coin in MS-65, many buyers will opt for the less expensive MS-64, therefore increasing the demand for the MS-64. 

Popularity alone determines demand. In the Morgan Dollar series, CC’s are by far the most popular and drives their prices higher than for any other mint. CC’s are followed by S-mints, then 0-minted coins, with P-mints being the least favored.

rare american coins

Another very low mintage coin

In popular coin issues such as the Morgan dollar, the more scarce the coin, the more popular it becomes. The least popular Morgan’s are the common dates in common grades

The most sought after grade for Morgan dollars is the lowest grade at which the buyer perceives them to be rare. For common dates that would be MS66 or 67. For better dates in the Morgan series MS65 and MS66 are most popular. For the really rare dates, the most sought after grades are MS63 and MS64.

The rare date Morgan’s have had the best long term performance with the better dates close behind, while common date Morgan’s have done the worst. Common date Morgan’s are moneymakers, if you buy them during market slumps and sell during the cyclical crest.

The better date and rare date Morgan’s have the advantage of attracting both the serious collector and the investor. So, demand for these dates can increase from both outside and within the rare American coin market.

Common date Morgan’s have lots of buyers and sellers, so their short term prices tend to be fairly stable. Therefore, common date Morgan’s are good for short term investments and rare date for long term performance.

rare american coins

Low mintage modern coin

Better date Morgans perform well for middle length investing movements. Their price fluctuations are more extreme than common date Morgans. Prices can seem to take radical drops or spikes because the market is so much thinner.

Common date coins trade like commodities. Rare date coins are few in number with few buyers who can afford them. Auction prices represent what might be closer to their real value. Better date Morgans have a fairly broad base of buyers and a well-defined market.

So, what does all this mean to you? My past advice remains the same. Buy the best coins you can afford. If you can afford common American coins, get the best you can. The same goes for better and rare date coins. Whatever category you buy in, get the best you can afford.

If you are interested in investing in silver or gold products, check out GoldSilver.com, or AmagiMetals.com.                               

If you are interested in buying gold or silver bullion at the lowest price, check out BullionVault.

If you are interested in learning more about rare American coin, or foreign coin collecting and investing see NumisMaster from Krause Publications.

If you would like to buy interesting modern, or old rare gold and silver coins take a look at either NewYorkMint or GovMint.

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