That’s the question to which everyone wants an answer.
While it may seem like a fairly easy type of inquiry to get a helpful response to, sometimes it can take a really good evaluation of the coin by a professional coin dealer to determine your coin’s value accurately.
You see, when determining the value of a coin, the appraiser must consider not only the date and denomination of the coin, but also what condition it is in, what the value of the metal is, the relative scarcity of the coin, and other issues.
Judging the value of a coin is often a highly sensitive process, and there are few coins that come with “stock” values.
Therefore, when somebody asks a question like “What is my 1902 Indian penny worth?” it truly is difficult and even unfair to you for anybody to give you an answer without first seeing it in person for a true, accurate appraisal.
While accurate price quotes are essentially impossible without physically inspecting the coin in person, it is possible to decide what value range your coin may fall into — based on some basic average prices often realized in the everyday coin market.
First, Determine The “Grade” Of Your Coin
This Whitman Publications book (widely referred to as The Redbook) is updated annually and contains average pricing information for all U.S. coins dating back to the Colonial era. It also offers basic coin grading information to help you determine the condition of your coin.
You can also buy one of the several coin magazines with pricing guides. Coins Magazine and COINage Magazine are 2 popular periodicals that have some pricing charts, as well as many informative articles pertaining to coins, coin values, and coin news.
If you want to keep your coin value hunting to the Internet, I recommend perusing websites that offer coin grading advice.
Here is a good basic coin grading page.
After You Know Your Coin’s Grade…
Once you get some ideas as to about what your coin might grade, look at several coin dealers’ catalogs to get some idea as to what the average price seems to be for the coin you have.
If you are looking to sell your coin, realize 2 things:
- Your coin will likely net you only about half to two-thirds the value of the prices you see for the same coin listed for sale; and
- The buying coin dealer may spot problems with your coin that will legitimately lower the value of your coin. This is why it is particularly important that you understand the idea of coin grading and knowing that even the tiniest nick or scratch on a coin can drastically reduce its value.
One last thing, do not clean your coins. Cleaning a coin almost always renders it uncollectable to most numismatists, who generally prefer coins to be left in their original, unadulterated state.
My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I'm a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and have won multiple awards from the NLG for my work as a coin journalist. I'm also the editor at CDN Publishing (a trusted source for the price of U.S. rare coins), editor at the Florida United Numismatists Club (FUN Topics magazine), and author of Images of America: The United States Mint in Philadelphia (a book that explores the colorful history of the Philadelphia Mint). I've contributed hundreds of articles for various coin publications including COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin Values, and CoinWeek. I've also authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins — and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!