Are All Old Coins Valuable?
The short and easy answer is no.
While a coin almost always retains its face value
(the amount stamped on the coin), not all coins are
rare, and not all coins have a value above face value.
Coin values depend on several factors, such as
condition of the coin, scarcity of the coin (usually
related to mintage but not always) and demand.
Sometimes the rarest coin is not always the most
valuable. Just like anything, when
there is a demand for a certain coin, the prices goes
Here are several
examples using Lincoln Cents. In 1953, the US Mint in
Denver made over 700 million Lincoln Cents. The US Mint
in Philadelphia made only 256,883,800. You could argue
that the coins from Philadelphia for that year are over 2 and Ĺ times
scarcer, and you would be right. You could further then
make an argument that the coins from Philadelphia should be much more
valuable, and that is where the problem is. The demand
for the two coins is about equal, and that demand is very minimal.
Of the 256 million coins made at Philadelphia, I would
venture to guess that well over 200 million are still out there somewhere.
While they may be sitting around in coffee cans, old collections,
etc, there are way more coins available than collectors need.
Thus, there is no price difference in these two coins.
This actually holds true for almost ALL Lincoln Wheat Cents from 1940
through 1958. Some would argue that coins from 1934
through 1958 can also be lumped in there.
Now letís look at
the 1931-S Lincoln Cent and the 1914-D Lincoln Cent. The
1931-S cent has a mintage of 866,000 while the 1914-D had a mintage of
1,193,000. While there were more 1914-D coins produced,
the 1914-D coin is nearly twice as value in G4 condition as the 1931-S.
How can this be? Well, even though the 1914-D had
a higher mintage, there was a lower survival rate. The
1914-D was not recognized as a coin that would be rare for some time after
its issue. So, most 1914-D coins went into circulation
and were used. Many 1914-D coins are quite worn and many
were lost, as were many coins from that period of time. Just
the opposite occurred with the 1931-S coin. It was
recognized that it would be scarce almost immediately.
Consequently, collectors took them out of circulation immediately.
Many were saved before they hit circulation.
There are a very high number of uncirculated coins for this year.
It is actually quite uncommon to find a 1931-S coin in G4 condition.
When you look at the price guides, you will see very little
difference in price between a G4 coin and a VF coin.
Whereas a 1914 D coin more than doubles in value from a G4 to a VF, the 1931
S coin only goes up around 10-20% in value between those grades.
Another good example
is the Jefferson Nickel. If you found a nickel from
1958, you might think you hit the jackpot. While the
coin is over 50 years old, and you hardly ever see one, the demand is nil,
and the supply is actually quite high. While some coin
value guides may give it a value of 20 cents or more in circulated
condition, the reality is, it hardly has any value over face.
As you can see,
putting a value of coins can sometimes be tricky. If you
have coins to sell, please contact us and I
will provide you a quote.