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The Rarity Factor in Numismatics

1873-CC Arrows at Date with Motto Seated Liberty Half Dollar, MS64+, WB-4, R.4

There are many factors to consider when valuing an object, and rarely does a piece have all the elements to make it a true rarity. For numismatics, these can include low mintage, collectability of the series, surface, eye appeal, grade, grade relative to the known population, and whether the coin is fresh to market. These concepts have been addressed in previous blogs, but we’ll briefly overview some of these terms and why they’re desirable in a coin.

Mintage is one of the key factors in determining the rarity of a coin. The mintage denotes how many of a particular coin was produced by the United States Mint or its branches. U.S. coins can have mintages in the billions for more modern pieces or a single, unique example. Typically, a smaller mintage creates higher demand and value. These coins are considered “absolute rarities.” Another critical factor in realizing a coin’s value is its condition, especially when compared to the entire graded population of that coin. This is “conditional rarity.”

Liberty, Barber, or capped bust coins are series, and ebb and flow in collectability. The sale of a prominent collection of a series may spur a renaissance for that series, bringing higher than average prices. The surface of a coin, its “skin,” can also contribute to a higher realized price, through increased eye appeal. While some collectors may prefer what’s considered a “blast white” surface, much like you’d find right after the coin had been minted, these coins can sometimes appear over-processed and dipped. Coins offered with original, unadulterated surfaces historically bring more than similar pieces that have been worked on.

1873-CC Arrows at Date with Motto Seated Liberty Half Dollar, MS64+, WB-4, R.4. Note: Rare in all grades, but exceptionally scarce in mint state, this fresh to market examples adds to the PCGS population of two in 64+ and two finer. Lot 1021 in the August 19-26 Coins & Currency online auction, estimate: $10,000-15,000.

When both absolute and conditional rarity are seen in a single coin or banknote, you have a truly special coin with an original surface and great eye appeal. Such a coin is lot 1021 in Skinner’s August Coins and Currency online auction, an 1873 Carson City, arrows-at-date, seated Liberty half dollar, with a PCGS grade of MS64+. This coin is part of a popular two-year design type, with the arrows added to both sides of the date, denoting a slightly different weight than the series as a whole, which was dropped after just two years of use. The ever-popular Carson City mint produced this coin, with a mintage of just 214K, compared to its Philadelphia minted counterpart with a mintage of 1.8M. This coin’s estimated survival rate is around 250-500 examples total, with only four examples receiving a higher grade from the two major grading parties. Expect highly spirited bidding on this and other great examples of classic American coins and currency, closing on Wednesday, August 26th at 7PM.


3 thoughts on “The Rarity Factor in Numismatics

  1. Hello Kyle
    My name is Anita.
    I have some coins that I would like to present for valuation. I am not aware
    that they have any value but would like to explore the possibilities.
    Are you interested? May I ask what your fees are? What is the process?
    Where are you located? And initially is it possible to send pictures, front and
    back with my phone rather than meeting you? Please let me know.
    Thank you

  2. Hello Kyle
    My name Louie,
    I have coin Lincoln penny 255 grams which is one and one-half ( 1 +1/2) size of reg. 2.5 gms penny .I think it’s silver coated aluminum similar to the size of 1 gram Hong Kong Penny 96.00% .+ 3.03 trace
    alloy)in mass .0333 + .0333 =.0666or 066 grams is one pennyweight Lincoln size penny ,coz if it’s .0999 grams ,it would become a large penny of a plastic like HK 1cent .If there’s really 1974 it can’t be .0937 .grams of Al alloy. It could be .0666 grams or 1.70grams of aluminum + silver contents. The silver contents of one Lincoln penny is 3.30 ==
    (1.65gms + 1.65 gms ) =3.30 gms equivalent to 1 Lin penny .Therefore 1.65gms of Silver + .033 aluminum = 1.68 or 1.70 gms of silver coated aluminum which is possibly 1974 penny (.085+.085) =1.7 gms plus 085 gms equals to 2.55 gms Silver coated aluminum Which is the
    Large penny . How would figure out that 3.30 is silver and .033 is aluminum . The amount 1.7 x3 = 5.1 or 2.55 x 2 = 5.1
    3.33 x 3 =9.99 gms silver .0333x 3 =.0999 Al .
    1972 weighs 3.33 grams cupper coated penny and 1984 with 255 gms of silver coated aluminum are What I have right now,

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