What Makes a Coin Valuable?

If you’re new to coin collecting, calculating how much certain coins are worth may not make any sense to you. Why is a big, shiny half dollar worth only a few dollars when an old, worn wheat penny is worth so much more?

A coin’s value depends on a few things: how old the coin is, the rarity of the coin, the precious metal it’s made of, and the condition of the coin. All of these factors work together to determine how valuable a coin is on the open market.

  • How old is the coin? While it’s not always the case, coins that are older are usually more valuable than newer coins. Part of their value has to do with the fact that older coins are probably not made anymore, and so the available supply of a certain coin is limited.
  • How rare is the coin? Rarity plays maybe the biggest factor in determining the value of a coin. Rarity means that it’s hard to find a certain coin because there aren’t many. So if there are only a few hundred of a known coin in the world, to come across one of these coins at a garage sale would be a major find. The coin’s rarity increases the coin’s value, even if the coin is in poor shape.
  • What is the coin made of? The type of metal also plays a part in determining how valuable a coin is. Coins that are made from gold are typically more valuable than similar ones made from silver. People consider silver more valuable than copper and nickel. But, a rare copper coin could be more valuable than silver or even gold if it’s an older, rare coin.
  • What condition is the coin in? If you took two coins that were exactly the same (they were made the same year of the same metal by the same mint with the same design) and the only difference was that one still looked new and the other looked well-worn, coin collectors would consider the coin in better shape to be more valuable. Coins that were uncirculated (which means they were never used as money) are more valuable than circulated coins because they are typically in better shape.

Sometimes, the value of a coin can seem confusing. But learning more about how coins are valued, as well as learning the particular history surrounding each coin, can help you better understand why some coins are so valuable when others are not.

Also keep in mind that time is always on the side of the coin collector. While a coin you’ve gotten may not seem valuable right now, its future value to the open market is yet to be seen. And until then, coin collecting is a valuable experience for you as you learn about investments and the vast history surrounding coins.

You can learn more about different coins like the Silver Britannia and the Mexican Gold Peso by browsing MetalsWired.com.