This is the first part in a series of articles in which our expert appraiser shares all you need to know about assessing and investing in coins.
This is Lee the Appraiser writing from the World Famous APR57 gallery, located here in New York City. Today, we’re going to be learning the most basic points you need to know to get started appraising your coins, bullions, and other metals. First, it’s important to understand the nature of coins. Coins are basically the medium created by peoples and governments to purchase various items. Needing some sort of item to exchange for goods and services, coins were initially simply pieces of gold, based on the demand that has historically existed for gold. The small demand for gold, as well as silver, was then traded in marketplaces for basic goods. The government’s issued coins have intrinsic value, prior to them being made into official currency. When a coin is a government-issued coin, which creates the possibility of it being collectible, it must bear the name of the country, it’s denomination (penny, quarter, five dollars, etc.), typically it will also bear the year it was minted. A modern coin will typically have the date beginning around the 1600s. Those are the three basic requirements for a coin to be collectible. Generally, there is less demand for coins issued by private mints. The lack of government issued authority means that a government or bank or cannot be compelled to accept them. Now that we’ve made sure to define our terms, we can get into more variables. The condition is one that makes a large difference. For many coins, the condition can change the value by up to thousands of dollars. This is what is referred to as a “condition rarity”. A rare date, during which only a small number were minted, would then create a rarity based on the date. These are just two of the factors that determine a coin’s rarity and value. So, if you have rare coins, the first step is to assess whether the condition is exceptional for that year, or if the date makes it very rare generally. The next factor to check is the metal value. If the coin has gold or platinum, for example, the metal alone will be quite valuable. So, a coin that happens to contain an ounce of gold or platinum will be worth a minimum of about one to two thousand dollars. Now that we’ve addressed metal value, let’s move onto to quantity. Silver coins will be quite valuable mainly in large quantities, as today the value is about $23/ounce. The United States issued dimes, quarters, and half dollars in 90% pure silver up until 1964. This meant the metal composition of the coins created intrinsic value. Today, silver half dollars would have a value of about $10-$15/each, depending on the year and condition—obviously many times the face value of the coin! So, if you have any silver American coins--that’s from 1964 or earlier—you can bring them into our gallery at 200 W 57th Street and we’ll be happy to offer you a high evaluation, a free appraisal, and a very high cash offer if you wish to sell them. While the first thing to know about your coin is the metal it is made of, that is not to say that, say, a penny from a rare year in the 1700s could not be worth one thousand dollars, however it would have to be in exceptional condition. A coin like this you typically will not find in a bag or a group, but in a large collection of early rare pennies. These would likely be in protective holders or in collectors’ books. If you have something like this, given to you by someone else, you can use your knowledge of that person to ascertain the possible value of the coins. For example, if your grandfather left a collection of coins, which each coin individual recorded and placed in a protective envelope, and you know that over the years he invested thousands in this collection, it is more likely that the collection might be worth evaluating. Stay tuned for part two, in which I’ll get more in depth about everything there is to know about coin collecting.
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