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Frequently Asked Questions

Our buyers regularly answer rare coin questions from people curious about their collection. We have taken some of these most frequently asked questions, and have answered them for you here. If you have questions about your coins that are not addressed here, please contact us, or call us toll-free at 1-800-622-5680.

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Finding the Value of Your Coins

Can American Rarities help me identify my coins?

If you are having difficulty identifying any coins in your collection, you can email us photos of your coins, along with your contact information, to staff@americanrarities.com. Our rare coin experts can help you identify your coins and advise you of their value.

What makes a coin valuable, or makes one coin worth more than another?

Rarity, precious metal content and condition all play a role in a coin's price. Coins that contain silver or gold will be worth their bullion value at a minimum. Rare dates and mint marks for a given type of coin may carry additional collector value. The better the condition of a coin, the higher its value will be. A coin collector guidebook such as the Red Book can provide a rough idea of the relative rarities of your coins, although such guidebooks are not a useful tool for pricing your collection.

What is a good rare coin price guide?

Everyone, from coin collectors to coin dealers, are looking for the one publication or listing that will give them the necessary pricing information to value their coins. Unfortunately, there is no such one-stop source for coin pricing. The rare coin market is sufficiently varied and complex that many resources and publications are needed to properly establish a coin’s value. You need to utilize them all if you are to be truly informed about your hobby.

While this is In no way a comprehensive list, some of examples of these publications are:

How much is my 1943 Steel Cent worth?

These coins were struck at the height of the United States’ involvement in World War II. There was a wartime shortage of copper, which led the Mint to use a zinc-coated steel planchet for making pennies. In the one year that the steel cent was produced, more than 493 million of these coins were minted. A great many steel cents were saved by the public. Since they are so plentiful, a circulated steel cent is worth less than $1.00. You can buy an uncirculated steel cent for just a few dollars.

I have a 1943 bronze cent. How can I tell if it is real?

Only a dozen or so genuine 1943 bronze cents are known to exist. However, there are tens of thousands of copper-plated 1943 steel cents. You can test a suspect 1943 bronze cent with a strong magnet. If the coin is attracted to the magnet, it's been copper-plated.

What is my Mercury dime worth?

Many circulated Mercury dimes are worth little more than their 90% silver bullion value. However if you have uncirculated coins, or if you have the key date coins 1916-D, and 1942/1 P or D mint, these coins are worth much more.

What are my US silver coins worth?

US dimes, quarters, half-dollars and dollar coins from 1964 and earlier are all 90% silver. These coins are worth their silver bullion value at a minimum, and key dates and mint marks may have considerable additional value.

What are my foreign coins worth?

World or foreign coins values vary the same way as U.S. rare coins do. Each coin needs to be examined and evaluated to ascertain value. If you are like most folks who just want a quick answer as to what the values of some miscellaneous world coins they have may be, then the easiest way is to take the best pictures of the coins that you can and email them to us at staff@americanrarities.com. One of our rare coin buyers can help you identify your coins, and let you know what kind of value they hold.

General Rare Coin Information

What is a Key Date coin, and why do they matter?

“Key date” coins are coins that hold the key to collecting a particular set of coins. Key date coins are the rarest, and most expensive, coins of the set. For most collectors, key date coins are the most desirable, as they are the rarest and hardest to obtain.

Acquiring the key dates for a particular coin series or coin type means you have filled the most difficult coins of the set. The value of a coin collection is often tied to the key date coins. Missing even one or two key dates for a type of coin can easily halve the value compared to a complete set, and in some cases can drop it even further.

I've been warned about counterfeit coins by other collectors. How do I know my coins are authentic?

Generally, counterfeiters make fake coins for two reasons. The first is to sell them to unsuspecting vendors. The second reason is to fool collectors. In the past, counterfeiters would create fakes of rare date coins by adding false mintmarks to much more common Philadelphia-minted coins of the same year. Some examples include the 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent, the 1916-D Mercury dime, and the 1932-S and 1932-D Washington quarters. Many other techniques have also been used to create counterfeit coins throughout the years, each with its own particular telltales. Most people cannot identify an altered coin, let alone a well-made replica counterfeit.

Always be wary of someone trying to sell rare date coins for a bargain - there is a very high likelihood that they are fakes. You can protect yourself by purchasing coins that are certified by a reputable coin grading service like NGC or PCGS, and by working with established coin dealers when buying or selling coins.

What is the difference between a bullion coin and a collectible coin?

A bullion coin’s value lies in its precious metal content, usually gold or silver. These coins hold little to no additional value as a collectible beyond their metal value. A collectible coin, by comparison, has value above and beyond its silver or gold content. This may be due to the rarity of the particular coin, the specific design or mint, or a myriad of other factors. American Rarities can assist you in identifying any bullion coins in your collection that may have additional value as a collectible coin.

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