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    How to Know if A Coin is Worth Big Money

    Posted on May 28th, 2021 by JoeG

    Whether you’ve just started collecting coins or have been a collector for many years, we all hope that on the hunt there will be one or more that you can sell for big bucks! Or if you’ve been lucky enough to inherit a large collection or discover some old coins in an attic or an estate sale and believe some of the coins are highly valuable.


    You’re probably wondering how you can tell which coins are worth money? And, once you do find a valuable coin, how do you sell it?


    If you’re looking to sell coins in Chicago, visit the #1 Chicago coin buyer at Chicago Gold Gallery. We pay top dollar for your coins and currency.

    Consulting the Coin Books and Magazines

    If you’re new to coin collecting, you will want to educate yourself on all things coins. To learn more about the value of certain coins you own, pick up the “Blue Book,” an annually printed Guide Book of United States Coins.


    The values in the Blue Book are a bit closer to the selling prices. The Red Book usually posts higher retail values that most dealers and coin buyers will pay.


    Inside you’ll find listings of the average wholesale/retail price of every United States coin, based on coin grading. This is a great starting point for you to begin understanding the value of your collection. Low mintage and rare mintmark are two of the key factors in determining rarity.


    An important note here is to know this book provides the retail value of the coin, not the wholesale value, which is what coin dealers will typically pay.

    Determining the Value

    There are three primary variables that help determine the value of a coin.


    • Initial Mintage Number. This refers to how many of the coins were originally minted and available in the market.
    • Coin Grade. The better condition your coin is in, the more valuable it can be.
    • Demand. The more desirable the coin is to buyers will increase the price.

    Search for Errors

    Tip: tilting a coin under lighting can help you find errors on the coin you may not be able to see at first glance.


    The slightest difference can make a coin more valuable than its face value. You’ll want to look for die cracks and missing elements, paying particular attention to words printed on the coin and edges of images. Strike mistakes such as doubling, cracks, and missing sections are also common errors that can increase the value of a coin.


    While errors are interesting just because a coin may have an error it really depends on what the error is and many to most error coins are not significantly valuable. And just because you “saw something on the internet” doesn’t always determine the true real-world value and many times are sensationalized.


    It’s best to have errors and value determined by a third-party authenticator like NGC or PCGS to grade and authenticate. These services charge a fee per coin and one has to become a member to send their coins in.

    Don’t Clean Your Coins

    Let me repeat that: don’t clean your coins! Doing so will remove luster and patina from the coin’s surface and will reduce the value.


    Just because a coin looks dirty doesn’t make it any less valuable. It is also important to store your coins properly so they do not touch each other, preventing dings, rim dents, damages, scratches, to try to keep them in as close to mint condition as possible.


    Use coin folders, flips, or albums with materials like non-PVC flips that will not damage your coins. Try to hold the coin by the rim to prevent fingers and thumbs from touching the face or back causing marks due to the oils in your hands. Many collectors wear cotton gloves.


    Extra special care should be given to rare and expensive coins. It may be in your best interest to have them encapsulated by a grading service.

    Bring Your Coin to a Professional

    Bring your collection to Chicago Gold Gallery for a free coin appraisal in Chicago. They can evaluate and confirm the rare dates and mintmarks.


    We also have expert numismatist coin graders on staff to help you understand the value of your collection. So, whether you’re looking to buy, sell, grade, or just inquire about coins, visit our shop today.

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