Amazing Kids! Magazine

Finding the Value of a Coin Collection

By Paul Ngu, Amazing Kids Adventures and Global Village Editor


Coin collecting may be one of the oldest hobbies practiced, but it continues to fascinate and engage millions of people today. When coin collecting first began, only the wealthy could participate in this hobby. While you may hear coin collecting referred to as the “hobby of kings”, the saying (although historically accurate at one point) no longer bears much truth. Today, people of all ages can partake in the fun and educational hobby, regardless of their wealth. More importantly, children and adults benefit from starting a coin collection because of the history that each coin represents. If you’re convinced of the wonders of a coin collection, it may be helpful to understand a little bit on what determines the value and desirability of certain coins.

Suppose you had two coins: an 1897 and a 1934 penny. Based on this given fact alone, you might conclude that the 1897 penny would be more valued than the 1934 penny. While this conclusion is a good guess, you should try to avoid making assumptions about the value of a coin solely based on its age. Instead, other properties of a coin, such as its condition, are more important in determining the value of a coin than its age. You might say that a newly minted 1934 coin would be worth more than the same 1934 coin that has been used but what considerations do you include in comparing the condition of one coin over another coin? Much like how teachers develop a grading scale to determine a student’s performance, Dr. William Sheldon in the 1940’s created a grading scale to establish the conditions of coins. This proved to be extremely useful because it offered a standardized approach in evaluating the worth of coins based on its current condition.

The demand and rarity of a coin can be related to each other. For example, suppose the U.S. Treasury decided to mint a set of 1945 pennies. During the production, an error occurs and a blemish is made on the 1945 pennies. Although the production is quickly halted, a few 1945 pennies manage to be circulated within the U.S. The rarity of these coins can make it desirable to coin collectors, and the demand for such pennies can be high since there are so few of these coins. Demand for coins isn’t just based on a coin’s rarity though. Often times, trends for valued coins will change, and so the demand for these coins will also change. If a coin belongs to a series that is very popular among coin collectors, regardless of its rarity, the coin may be valuable.

Starting a coin collection is interesting and educational. There is so much to learn about the history of the coin during its production. You can also learn about the coin itself. The condition, rarity, age and demand of the coin can provide an indicator of its value and desirability by the coin collectors. Today, the coin collecting community is vibrant and growing, so come and join in the fun.