How To Value Coins

Written by Alexander Bitar
Have you ever wondered how much an old coin might be worth? Perhaps it's a coin you've stumbled across at home or something unusual you spotted at a sale? Or maybe you are a coin collector and need a quick valuation to check the status of your finds. This article guides you through coins and how to value them. Value My Stuff has renowned experts who can assist you in valuing your coins.


Short History About Coins

Since the days of antiquity, people have been using currency for the exchange of goods. Before the advent of coins, the exchange could have been in the form of axe heads, jewels, pieces of fabric, and even shells. Around 650 BC, metal coins began to appear in Western Europe; these were small ingots of a specific size stamped with the city's mark.

Most consider the Lydian stater, circa 600 BC, to be the earliest coin minted; made from electrum (a mix of both gold and silver), each coin was hand struck and beautifully depicts a lion attacking a bull on the face and two square punch marks on the reverse. Depending on the quality of the coin and or metal type, they can bring anywhere from 1200 euros to over 50,000 euros.

Follow these easy steps to value your coins!

The gold Lydian slater coin. (Public Domain)

The gold Lydian slater coin. (Public Domain)

Rare Coins & How To Identify Coins

Collectors of all types love rare examples, but few more than coin collectors. Unlike other metal items, however, coins don’t usually feature maker’s marks (although some ancient coins can be placed with surprising accuracy), so design and material are key.

Key features include colour, weight, size, shape, design, dates, and other inscriptions. The more information you can gather, the better – this helps identify a coin and might help you check out a fake.

Age is, of course, important to rarity, but it isn't all-important. Coins were made to withstand years of circulation and, in many cases, centuries. As a result, even ancient coins are found regularly in Eurasia – the Portable Antiquities Scheme in the UK alone has recorded almost 1.5 million finds since it began in 1998, of which half a million are coins. That's 25,000 coins per year on one database! The importance of age can lie in the context of the lifetime of the coin, especially in modern cases like the earliest US Dollar.

Similarly, unique designs or inscriptions on a coin type can also be significant. You need to be somewhat clued up for these factors, so an expert opinion is always advisable. With this in mind, a coin with particular historical significance might be detailed online, so it is often worth an internet search.

For coins already known to be valuable, provenance can be essential. Like a painting, rare coins are sometimes exhibited, sold at major auction houses, or owned by renowned collectors. Any documentation or history can bolster the case for a coin's authenticity – particularly important given the quality of many modern fakes, often originating in China.

1958 Double Die Lincoln Error Penny. (Public Domain)

1958 Double Die Lincoln Error Penny. (Public Domain)

How Much Are Coins Worth?

2021 was a record-setting year for coin prices, and the market worth continues to show trends growing. In 2021, the largest auction houses sold over $500 million worth of rare US coins and currency. According to market analysts, tiny auction houses and private sales elevate the coin market sales in the US to $5 billion or more. Still, of course, the data from private markets is never complete, so it is impossible to calculate the sales for an entire coin market.

Follow these easy steps to value your coins!

The Condition of Coins

Coins have often passed through many hands if they have been in circulation. This makes coin condition a priority for many collectors. How can you tell a coin's quality? Third-party companies generally assess high-value coins to ensure they are genuine and to determine their condition. This is usually measured on the Sheldon Scale – a 70-point scale from poor to mint, which collectors recognise worldwide.

Of primary importance is the sharpness of the features, and for modern coins, the survival of the coin's original 'lustre' is also to the credit of those towards the top of the scale. On older coins, the survival of the peripheral lettering is often an essential factor, as inscriptions on the edge give coins much of their appeal. An ancient coin in too good condition can raise suspicions and should be valued by an expert.

Even condition, however, is only sometimes appreciated in the same way. Some collectors are particularly interested in coins with errors, damaged coins, or even clipped coins. Clearly, these can't be considered in the same way as regular coins, but they may still carry value. It's clear that while identifying a coin can be easy, predicting its value might not be. However, with the details mentioned above and a little knowledge, you can ensure you know your coin's actual worth.

What Are My Coins Worth?

If you'd like to get a Coin or Banknote valuation from our experienced specialist to find out your old coin value, antique coin value, or foreign coin value, simply upload a photograph and tell us any other details you know about the item. Our team of experienced experts will analyse your coin and provide you with a comprehensive coin appraisal within 24/48 hours.

Coin Grading (Third-Party Grading)

A very important consideration before making a purchase is Third-Party grading. This is the process of authentication and guaranteeing a coin's official grade. Once this has been done, the coin is "slabbed", essentially encapsulating the coin in a plastic case, protecting it from further wear, while eliminating all doubt as to the condition and value of the coin. Some of the most reputable TPG companies for coins are:

Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS)
Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGS)
Independent Coin Grades (ICG)

A slabbed coin, prodessional grading service. (Viiticus)

A slabbed coin, prodessional grading service. (Viiticus)

The Value of 10 Popular UK Coins

– 1933 George V Penny. Estimated Value: £72,000+ One of the most valuable British pennies due to its rarity.

1937 Edward VIII Gold Sovereign. Estimated Value: Varies significantly, never officially released; a few exist, and are highly sought after.

1703 VIGO Five Guineas. Estimated Value: £500,000+ Celebrating the British victory in the Battle of Vigo Bay, these are quite valuable.

1937 Edward VIII Brass Threepence. Estimated Value: £40,000+ Only a handful were struck before Edward VIII's abdication.

1644 Charles I Triple Unite. Estimated Value: £300,000+ One of the largest gold coins ever minted in England.

1817 George III Pattern Five Pounds. Estimated Value: £100,000+ A pattern coin for a never-issued design.

1839 Una and the Lion Gold Five Pounds. Estimated Value: £200,000+ A beautiful design symbolising Queen Victoria's reign.

1707 Anne Gold "VIGO" Half Guinea. Estimated Value: £200,000+ Similar to the VIGO Five Guineas, this half-guinea is also prized.

1818 George III Crown. Estimated Value: £50,000+ Part of the "George and the Dragon" series.

1935 George V Silver Crown. Estimated Value: £15,000+ A commemorative coin for George V's Silver Jubilee.

1804 dollar. (Public Domain)

1804 dollar. (Public Domain)

Coin Prices & The Market for Coins

Coin prices have seen a boom-and-bust cycle over the past 20 years, making them the subject of speculation. The primary factors behind this have been the 2008 financial crisis and the changing prices of precious metals, which peaked in 2013. In more recent years, the market has become more stable.

Online bidding has made the market for rare coins truly international, and modern-world coins are a growing part of the market. In general terms, the price gap between the best rare coins and the general collectors' market is growing, perhaps partly due to this international competition.

Coin collectors can, to some extent, be divided into categories; many collectors have a niche in which they specialise, although generalist collectors are also not uncommon. Coins that attract different types of collectors often command higher prices. Collectors might be interested in a particular series of coins, currency, year, design, denomination, or even an association with a historical event. An uncommon design dating to a historic year might attract a greater number of potential buyers.

Top 10 Most Expensive Coins Ever Sold

1) $18,900,000 – 1933 Double Eagle, USA.

2) $12,000,000 – 1794 Flowing Hair dollar, USA.

3) $9,360,000 – 1787 Brasher Doubloon, EB on Wing, Privately Minted.

4) $8,400,000 – 1822 Half Eagle, USA.

5) $7,680,000 – 1804 1 Dollar, USA.

6) $7,395,000 – 1787 Brasher Doubloon, EB on Breast, Privately Minted.

7) $7,200,000 – 1861, Paquet Liberty Head double eagle, USA.

8) $6,900,000 – 1903, Fengtien Tael, China.

9) $6,600,000 – 1794 Flowing Hair dollar, USA.

10) $6,030,000 – 723, Umayyad Gold Dinar, Umayyad Caliphate.

1933 Double Eagle. (Public Domain)

1794 Flowing Hair dollar. (Public Domain)

1794 Flowing Hair dollar. (Public Domain)

How To Get Coins Valued

Only a professional can provide you with an accurate and up-to-date value for your coins by using their experience and expertise to eliminate as many chances for misstep and error as possible. Luckily, here at Value My Stuff, experts in the field can provide professional valuation services so that you can take the necessary steps to discover how much your antique furniture is worth today! Start Your Coin Valuation Here!

Our Coin Experts

Our coins expert has been interested in this subject since childhood and, from 1990 to 2005, worked as auctioneer and cataloguer for two of London's foremost numismatic auctioneers, Glendining and Baldwin's. With his main speciality in commemorative coins, he has a deep knowledge of his subject and market and will be able to advise you on the value of your coins.

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