Numismatists collect coins for many reasons, from a historical point of view to an artistic one and as a way of creating value for the future. Valuing coins as a means of investment can be difficult. In most cases, there’s no way to know which coins produced today will increase in value or how much they will increase. This 1857 Flying Eagle one-cent coin is now valued at over $1000. Although this 1928 Silver Dollar has a higher denomination than a one-cent coin, it is worth less, at around $750, today. Here are some things to know about United States coins’ value.
Key Factors That Determine the Value of Coins
The coin market may not fluctuate as much as the stock market, but it is very complex. Silver and gold coins may increase in price based on the value of the material the coin is made of, not necessarily because of the coin itself. Then, some US dollar coins that have little material worth will increase for other reasons.
Supply – Mintage
As with most commodities, the value is often based on supply. For coins, it’s the number of coins that were minted to be in supply. Most coins are minted with a date. Coins that were minted in 2020 will not be available any longer. The coin may get re-minted with a new date, but the 2020 version is no longer being made. The fewer coins available to the market, the more valuable a coin may be.
Surviving Coins in Circulation
Coins are sometimes removed from circulation by the US Mint to be melted down and reused. Many silver coins were melted by citizens in the 1980s when the price of silver reached record highs. Coins get lost, so they aren’t in circulation. This can impact supply and demand, making coins more valuable as fewer are available. Check out this 1878 US dollar coin that has survived almost 150 years.
Demand for Coins
Just as supply drives value, so can demand. Coin collecting got a shot in the arm when the US Mint offered updated series of US quarters, like America the Beautiful series. These coins were prized by new and old collectors; increased interest in the hobby strengthened coin prices. Coins that aren’t in demand will decrease in value.
Condition of the Coin
As with stamps and other collectibles, coins in better condition will be more valuable. Uncirculated coins are the prize, but those can be rare with older coins. In the 19th century, people didn’t collect coins like they do today. Coin collecting became more popular after World War I, so more people saved new coins, preserving their condition. This 1915 penny is uncirculated, making it more expensive.
Three of Our Favourite US Coins
Here are some US coins that have an interesting history, making them valuable to collectors.
- 1917 Quarter – this coin comes in two versions. Variety 1 coins show Standing Liberty’s breast uncovered, which was quite controversial at the time. It was retired and a new coin was minted that features a design of Lady Liberty standing with one hand holding a shield and the other hand holding an olive branch. The reverse side of the coin features an eagle in flight. The coin was designed by Hermon Atkins MacNeil, a prominent sculptor who was known for his work on the Lincoln Memorial.
- 1917 Buffalo Nickel – Buffalo coins also known as the Indian Head Nickel, were first minted by the United States Mint in 1913. The coin was designed by James Earle Fraser, a sculptor and artist who was known for his Western-themed artwork. The Buffalo Nickel has always been popular with collectors for their design, but the scarcity and value are determined by many factors, including the variety of the coin and the grade.
- Walking Liberty Half Dollar – this is a very popular coin. The coin features a design of Lady Liberty walking toward the sunrise on the obverse side and a bald eagle on the reverse side. It was designed by Adolph A. Weinman, a sculptor who was also responsible for designing the Mercury Dime. Valuation is determined by date and grade. Some Liberty coins with low grades are considered junk coins (with a value based on their silver content), while others are highly prized. You may want to talk to a more experienced collector before investing.
If you’re looking for United States coins, shop at Colonial Acres. Choose coins by grade, date and denomination to fit into your collection.