The Value of a Collectible Coin

A Numismatic Definition of "Value"

Handful of gold coins
Handful of gold coins. Image Courtesy of: Kickers/Getty Images

Definition

"Value" is the amount of money that you can reasonably expect to receive when you sell your coins to a coin dealer or another coin collector. There are many factors that will determine the final value that you receive for your coins. A few of the biggest factors that influence the value that you will receive are the coin's condition, demand for the coin, and precious metal content.

Price Guides and Value Guides

When somebody inherits or receives a coin, one of the first questions they ask is, "What is the coin's value?" The coin market, like any other commodities market, is constantly changing.

Some coin series are popular one day and the demand for those coins is very high. Then in a few years, the demand subsides and the prices drop.

Unlike the stock market or precious metals market, there are no published pricing entities that determine the value of your coins. For example, the price of gold is set daily in London and then again in New York. A precious metal dealer can access this information and know precisely what he is going to charge or be charged for a Troy ounce of gold. Coins are bought and sold daily and in a variety of places where a fair price is agreed upon between the buyer and the seller.

Price guides and value guides are not authoritative entities that determine the value of your coins that you are buying and selling. As the word "guides" implies, it's only a rough estimate of the price or value of your coins. The final value of your coin is ultimately determined by the price that you and the coin dealer agree upon to sell your coin.

Wholesale Market and Retail Market

In most retail markets, when a seller of a particular good runs out of it, they can order more from their supplier. Unfortunately, the coin market does not work this way.

If a coin dealer runs out of 1909-S VDB Lincoln pennies they cannot just call up the United States Mint and order more of them.

The U.S. Mint does not make coins dated 1909 anymore. The only way the coin dealer can get more coins dated 1909 is to buy them from people that come into their shop to sell their coins.

In order to make a profit in their business, the coin dealer must buy the coins from the public at a lower price than what they will sell them for. The price that they offer to buy the coin from you is known as the wholesale price. The price that they sell the coin for is known as the retail price.

Also Known As

Cost, wholesale price, worth (see also: price or retail price).

Example Usage

The value of my 1909-S VDB Lincoln penny tells me that I should be receiving a large check from the coin dealer.