What Determines the Price and Value of Coins

What Determines the Price and Value of Coins?


1948 Canadian silver dollar - The Coin Co. OttawaThere are many factors that go into what determines the price and value of coins. First of all you must understand the difference between price and value. To most people these two terms are used interchangeably. To coin collectors they mean different things. The “price” or “retail price” of a coin is what you pay for that coin when you purchase it from a dealer. The “value” or “wholesale price” of a coin is what a dealer would pay to you to buy the coin from you. The coin market is intricate and complex and there are many factors that influence coin prices and values. The following are the major factors that determine values and prices of coins.


The major influence on the value or price of a coin is the supply of that particular coin in a particular grade that is available for people to buy. The total possible supply available to the market is determined by the initial mintage of that coin. For most countries, at the end of a year, the coin dies with that year on it are destroyed and never used again. Hence, once a year is done the supply of that coin for that date is fixed (note: this does not take into account restrikes).


Many factors influence the demand for a particular type and/or date of coin. In the early 1900s coin boards became popular which greatly grew the coin collecting hobby in the United States. Additionally, marketing campaigns by coin dealers have also increased the demand for certain types of coins. For example, during the depression coin dealer B. Max Mehl advertised all over the United States that he would pay $50 for any example of a 1913 Liberty Head Nickel. As a result, many people started collecting coins while they were looking for this valuable coin. In recent history, in the United States, for example, the 50 State Quarters Series by the U.S. Mint started all whole new generation of coin collectors. In 2009, the Lincoln cent was redesigned and many people became interested in collecting Lincoln cents again. All of these factors were in part responsible for increasing demand and driving up prices and values.

Melt Value

If a coin is made from a precious metal such as gold or silver, the intrinsic value of the metal contained within the coin can be a major factor in determining the value and price of it. In 1968 the Canada began switching the composition of its dime, nickel, half dollar and dollar coins from 80% silver to a base metal that consisted of copper and nickel. Therefore, well-worn Canadian coins dated 1967 and before are worth more for their silver content than they would be to a collector. Therefore, as the price of gold and silver rises and falls, so to can the prices and values of gold and silver coins rise and fall accordingly.

1921 Canadian five cent coin - The Coin Co. OttawaGrade/Condition

It goes without saying that coin collectors would like their coins to be in the finest condition possible: uncirculated. In order to obtain coins that look like they just came off the coining press at the mint, somebody must remove them from circulation and store them safely. In the early and mid-1800s, very few people collected coins in the United States and uncirculated examples are rare and more expensive. However, in the 1930s and 1950s coin collecting was popular and many people saved mint state specimens.

For example, the 1948 King George VI silver dollars had a very low mintage yet an uncirculated coin can still sell for much more than a circulated specimen. This is because many people in 1948 started to hoard uncirculated rolls of these coins because they heard that the mintage was very low. If the reverse is true, (i.e. there are many circulated coins and very few uncirculated coins) then the circulated coins will be inexpensive and the uncirculated coins will be more expensive. This is also known as grade or condition rarities.

Dealer Stock

Finally, value and price of a coin can be influenced by the amount of inventory a particular dealer has on hand. For example, if a dealer has lots of US 1931-S uncirculated Lincoln cents in his inventory, he will be more likely to reduce the price in order to sell more of them to collectors and reduce his inventory. On the other hand, if you are trying to sell a 1931-S uncirculated Lincoln cent to the same dealer, he will most likely offer you a value that is lower than what you would expect because he already has more than he needs in inventory. The reverse is true if he has very few coins in inventory.
The bottom line is… what determines the price and value of coins is complex and confusing to many. Let us take the stress out of this important financial transaction. Whether you’re in Ottawa, Nepean, Orleans, Kanata, Almonte, Rockland or anywhere in Eastern Ontario, your gold and silver coins should be professionally inspected and appraised for fair market value.



If you’ve got old, unwanted gold and silver coins and want to find out how much they are really worth, contact The Coin Co. today and set up a free in-home or office evaluation. You’ll be glad you did!



1150-45 O’Connor Street  @  Ottawa, ON K1P 1A4  @  613.668.5123  @  info@thecoinco.com


About Us          We Buy          We Pay          The Process          Why Us          Knowledge Centre          Contact Us