Coin Values Tips

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How can I be sure that my US coin value is accurate?

Accurate Rare US Coin Values

You have a wheat penny, an Indian head penny, a Seated Barber Dime, a World War II nickel, and a Walking Liberty Half Dollar (MS-65 from what your appraiser says). How much do you have? On the surface, 67 cents. But the Walking Liberty Half Dollar can be worth $100-$200 and that Flying Eagle Cent could sell for $9-$10. It's time to learn coin values.

With US rare coin values in particular, you need to know what you have and consult a US coin price guide if you want to sell. Trust the wholesale US coin value in publications or a sight-unseen coin trading network, which publishes, say, a $140.00 bid offered for the 1858 Flying Eagle Cent graded Extremely Fine. If your dealer proposes you accept $150 and the coin price guide says your coin is indeed valued at $140, you have a slight profit and a dealer who knows coin values.

An accurate US coin price guide is essential, especially if you talk to several different dealers. If a dealer offers you $30 for that Flying Eagle Cent, move on. And if you hear 67 cents quoted, call the cops because someone's had their brains stolen.

Where can I find coin price guides for pattern coins?

Pattern Coin Price Guides

You always drive the same way to work and eat the same fruit salad for breakfast. Boring? You prefer to think of it as your own personal pattern. Patterns can be significant--just ask criminal profilers. But you won't be the subject of a police profile (let's hope not), and you can profit from patterns. Learn about coin values and their patterns and you could find yourself in the money.

The Edward VIII pattern coin florins. The pattern Flying Eagle and Indian Head cents. Collecting pattern coins, or coins with a particular motif such as Edward VIII's head and the Flying Eagle that were never meant for broad circulation, is a great way to specialize. But what are the coin values? Does a coin price guide give a complete valuation for pattern coins?

US pattern coins are among the rarest of US coins and, although rarity is no guarantee of coin values, the US coin value of pattern coins can't be dismissed. How do you find pattern coin prices?

PCGS raves about pattern coins and provides a coin price guide for, say, Flying Eagle coin prices ($3,250 to $65,000 for an 1857 Small Letters coin, MS-60 to MS-67 grade). Every coin price guide you find will tell you the coin value range of pattern coins.

You can research, buy and sell pattern coins with confidence...unless the police hope to trap you with an Edward VIII pattern coin. In that case, you'll switch to ancient coins and American Silver Eagles. Why be predictable?

Why is my rare 1700s coin worth less than a 1930s coin?

Scarcity versus Value

You're mad about the 18th century, but everyone else is living in the 21st, or at least the 20th. You can't understand why people prefer a World War I coin to a gold piece from our nation's birth.

Take a tip from real estate: scarcity is no guarantee of value. If everyone wants the condos in the hot new development and only two people (including you) ask to see that Colonial home for sale, which is more valuable? As with most things financial, the question is one of supply versus demand.

Some tips to determine if your coin is in demand:

* Is it a WTB, or Want to Buy, on the Internet?
* How large was the run? The more coins that were minted, the more that will likely be in existence, especially in modern times.
* If the market is flooded with Eisenhower silver dollars, coin values will be less. A glut can drive down coin values and coin prices.
* How rare is the coin? Is it one with a lot of hype, such as the 1804 silver dollar "King of Coins"?
* Is it a requested coin at coin shows and coin shops?
* Do more of the coins survive in Good if not Brilliant grades? While this is no determiner of coin value, perception, as in every aspect of life, trumps reality. More coins from World War I survive than Revolutionary War coins.

If you want to collect 18th century coins, don't be deterred by questions of US coin value. For every coin out there, a buyer exists. You should buy what you find attractive. However, you might want to lose the tricorn hat and wooden teeth.

What's the best coin price guide?

Best Coin Price Guides

You're a complete novice at coins but a savvy shopper. You have blue books for every car from 1980 onward. You want the best coin price guides. How can you learn more about coin values?

There are several online US coin value guides and indexes of world coin prices. We like (though you do have to register to get the full benefit of the site) and the CoinSite (we particularly like their error coin value guides).

We may have said it before, but The Official Blackbook Price Guide to U.S. Coins 2005, 43rd Edition, is the best, except of course for The Official Blackbook Price Guide to U.S. Coins 2006, Edition #44.

Other great US coin value books and world coin value guides:

* The Official Bluebook Handbook of United States Coins: With Premium List (Handbook of United States Coins (Paper))
* A Guide Book of United States Coins 2006, or the Red Book
* The Standard Catalog of World Coins
* The Coin Dealer Newsletter, a.k.a. the Greysheet
* A Handbook of United States Coins, a.k.a the Bluebook
* Numismatic News (publishes prices for dealers, bids, and retail)

Where to get all of these? stocks the books, and your local bookstore probably carries the books as well--you may have to call around to find the periodicals.

After all, you spotted that $800 Yves St. Laurent dress for only $150. You're a born bargain should publish your own coin price guide!

Is my coin's value the same as its price?

Value vs. Price

Price and value aren't always the same. Think of a McDonald's at 99 cents. The Big Mac is, at most, worth 99 cents. On the other hand, if you buy a laptop computer normally worth $2,000 at $1,000, you have a bargain (without the cholesterol, fat and lawsuits). The same holds true for coin values versus coin prices.

The US coin value of a Draped Bust half-dollar at MS-63 (mint state but with flaws) outweights the bid or auction price. Say you pay $300 for that coin as opposed to $3,000 for a Draped Bust half-dollar in BU or MS-67 state. The value is getting a coin you like at a reasonable price. So don't be afraid to go for the lesser-priced coin. You may want a Jaguar, but if a brilliant Volvo at a lesser price comes along, its valuable to you.

Some other tips on price versus value:

* Remember that even if you have an MS-69, authenticity, toning, cleaning, and sharpness or weakness in strike all determine a coin value despite the grade.
* Don't be afraid to buy lower-graded coins, since grading is not an exact science. Your MS-60 could in fact be an MS-64, and you'll have bought it at MS-60 coin values.
* Expensive coins aren't always interesting or desirable. Your US coin value doesn't depend on how rare or coveted the coin is. A Flying Eagle Cent from 1858 in Good/Very Good condition is an interesting piece of history that may be valuable to you and to historians. A Copper Nickel Cent (1859-1864) in Good/Very Good condition is a great buy at $8.95. The same holds true for an 1873 two-cent piece at $15-$16.
* Capped Bust half-dollars with less-than-sharp date or less-than-sharp detail on the cap may be worth more than common brilliant uncirculated silver dollars. Certainly the price is more reasonable for the average collector.
* Coin prices for old coins may not include current gold, silver and palladium values. If you factor in today's gold prices, you're getting a much more valuable coin than you thought.

So while you might enjoy a Big Mac Value Meal (not too often, right?), you value your laptop that you're using to check coin prices and a particular US coin value before you step into your new Volvo.

Can I track US coin values the way I do stocks?

US Coin Value Charts

You have the NASDAQ 5-day moving average on your Blackberry. You love to track charts. How about coin value charts? It's important to learn about coin values. You can check the value of your coins on indexes such as the PCGS3000 Coin Index. It graphs the value of coins from 1970 onward. The same up and down indicators will tell you the change in coin prices over time.

You can track the US coin value, say for a Morgan Dollar, or rare coin values. For example, the all-time high for a Morgan Dollar is 432,927. The August data is 139163.19...that's up from the index value of 1000 in 1970. On the other hand, May 1989 (a very good year) values Morgan Dollars on average at 432926.72, so coins flucutuate as much as stocks.

Stock Tip: Remember that investing in coins is purely speculative, and some experts warn that coins as an investment have leveled off to stagnation. You shouldn't buy and sell stock based on every little change in the market, so be wary of setting too much store by coin indexes. Trust a reputable coin value index such as PCGS.

Sad to day, you can't track coins on your PDA the way you do stocks, but you can get an idea of where coin values have been, and more important, where they're going.

Is a dealer trying to cheat me if the coin prices are high?

Fair Market Value and Price Guides

You never leave home without it--your US coin price guide. It's more well-worn than any of your college textbooks. You think you know more than coin dealers. To learn about coin values is your passion.

So when you find that Barber half-dollar or Middle Ages florin for an astronomical price ($100-$200 more than the coin price guide), you shove the book in the dealer's face. Don't do that. The dealer's copy is probably more marked-up than yours.

You are, say, an exercise equipment seller. The value of that Reboudner is, say, $100. You charge $200 not including tax. The $200 is the fair market value of the Rebounder, because you do, after all, operate a business. You know that the value of the Rebounder outweighs its price. Your customers feel better about themselves, get physically fit, and reduce stress.

Your coin dealer knows that coin collectors like you love coiNS despite coin prices. For you, coin values are less about money and more about the joy of collecting--all right, be honest, you want to resell your coins later. But you want to make a profit so you can continue to buy other coins.

So put the price guide away and give your dealer the respect she deserves as a fellow entrepreneur. Before long, the two of you commiserate about customers who don't know what it's like to be in business. Then you get out your price guides and agree that you can't believe the Barber half-dollar sold for $100 on eBay.

Are coin price guides accurate or do coin prices fluctuate?

Coin Price Guide Accuracy

You, as an entrepreneur and collector, can spot three stitches missing from a pair of Levis. You know that someone has tried to pass off that counterfeit J.Lo perfume. So, you think, with all this deception, coin price guides can't be accurate either.

You're right. A coin price guide is just that--a guide. Coin values change. Keep a lookout for:

* Changes in gold, silver and platinum values
* Sales of coins that can boost or drop coin values over just a few months
* Trends in what coins people typically collect--popularity and demand can drive up a US coin value
* Coin prices locally--as with real estate, local coin values can be different than national or world coin values
* Average coin prices dealers charge
* Decrease in rare coin supply, e.g. coins get sold to museums

Even with the fluctuations, that 2005 or 2006 coin price guide is an excellent reference...though if J.Lo doesn't follow up "Monster-in-Law" with another hit, her perfume prices could drop drastically.

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