When you are a coin collector, there are a number of factors that weigh into your decision about whether or not you’re going to acquire a particular coin or not. One of the biggest decision making factors is the condition of the coin.
There are sometimes rare coins in general circulation that have value, but have been damaged because of the wide scale use that the coin went through. However, when you’re considering investment grade coins, anything but absolute mint condition seriously diminishes the value of the coin.
As in most industries, coin collectors have developed their own proprietary system or language for grading the value of a coin. The current system in use was developed by Dr. William Shelton in the 1940′s. The Shelton system was designed originally to value US copper coins, but it has been revised heavily now to take into account all types of coinage.
The rating system ranges from PO-3, a very poor condition coin where elements may be difficult to discern, to coins as high as MS-70 that is considered a “Mint State” coin in absolutely perfect condition.
It takes years of experience and a keen eye to become an expert coin grader and for your ratings to be taken seriously by other top collectors. Coin Valuers of the highest repute are often shown coins that most collectors may have never seen or in some rare cases, may not even believe the coin exists. Collectors will often show these coins to the top Valuers so that they can assess the condition and approximate value for insurance, private sale or just so that the owner knows roughly what the coin might get on the open market.
A 1943 penny made from bronze (a copper alloy) would still retain a high value to a collector despite having been used in general circulation and having some wear. A 1943 copper penny in poor condition could be worth as much as $70,000 whereas a mint condition version could fetch as much as $100,000.
In comparison a standard 1922 peace dollar silver coin in mint condition could fetch as much as $900 because there are an abundance of these coins available to collectors in high mint condition. A poor condition 1922 silver dollar value could be as low as the melted down value of the silver itself which is about .77oz or at current prices, something close to $27.
It is very important that if you’re interested in coins that you take the time to study the grading system and actually go out and look at quite a few examples so that you can begin to understand how the valuation categories relate to real life examples.