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What Is Involved in Coin Valuation?

If a coin is rare or unique, that fact alone may serve as the primary valuation factor.
Rare Greek silver coins.
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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 12 August 2014
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Coin valuation involves several factors, such as rarity and the weight of the material that a coin is made of. Determining the condition of a coin is essential for coin valuation. Appearance will also play a role in the valuation process.

Though there are some unique factors that affect coin valuation, there are also some common premises, such as buying at one price and selling at a higher price. Dealers determine coin value, in part, by how much they pay to acquire them. Rarity is also an important factor in coin valuation. Like other collectibles, coins are subject to higher values if they are scarce.

If a coin is rare or unique, that fact alone may serve as the primary valuation factor. Dealers have greater liberty to create prices when they are the only ones offering a particular item. Consumers will often boost the value with their desires to have what few others, if anyone, has. On the contrary, when there is a large supply of a certain coin and numerous dealers have access to them, prices are driven down due to competition between dealers.

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The material that a coin is made of can play a role in determining how much it is worth. A coin made from one of the precious metals, such as gold or platinum, should hold value. Precious metals are subject to fluctuating prices, which are usually specified as a per ounce rate. The amount of precious metal that the coin consists of should be factored into its value, and extra value should be added for the coin's other features.

For example, consider that someone has a silver coin that weighs half an ounce. If silver is currently trading at $500 US dollars (USD) per ounce, the individual's coin should be valued at a minimum of $250 (USD). Then features such as design and scarcity should boost the coin's value even further.

Condition affects grade, which affects coin valuation. The initial concern when considering a coin's grade is whether it has been circulated. Uncirculated coins are those that have not been put to use and should be in mint condition. There are grades of mint condition that are determined by analyzing technical details, such luster and wear. Although a coin is uncirculated, it can still have wear from handling, damage, or contact with other coins at the mint.

Appearance, sometimes referred to as eye appeal, should not be confused with condition, but it can affect coin valuation. Think of condition as a professional assessment and appearance as a consumer assessment. Many individuals will not buy coins without seeing them first, though the sight of a coin alone may be enough to prompt a purchase in some cases. This eye appeal affects coin valuation because when dealers identify that a certain coin has consumer appeal, they have the ability to raise prices.

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