Collecting Rare Coins
Collecting rare coins is a fascinating if expensive hobby. But collecting rare coins is also a potentially sound means of investment, providing you have the budget to buy coins that are valuable. In this case collecting rare coins can be immensely profitable.
But not all rare coins are valuable and not all expensive coins are rare. So if you want to collect those that are in fact seriously uncommon, you will need to do some research of your own. But here are some basic guidelines.
The Factors of value for collecting rare Coins
You will find that various factors determine the rarity of a coin. First of all the metal the coin is made of, with gold at the top of the list. The number of coins minted also affects rarity, with low mintage quantities adding to value. Grading also affects rarity because it is an important factor that establishes quality, but it goes hand in hand with the other factors. A beautifully kept coin graded tops for quality in terms of wear and tear might not figure anywhere on the rarity scale.
There is a well known rarity scale that although quite dated, is still used today. Known as the Sheldon Scale, it was developed by Dr. William Sheldon in 1949, and it grades each coin for rarity as well as wear and tear. A common coin is graded R-1 while one that is virtually unique is graded R-8.
There is also a Universal Rarity Scale (URS) that was devised by Quentin David Bowers in 1992 which ranges from URS-20 if there are between 250 001 and 500 000 known coins of a certain type and mintage, to URS-0 where there are none known to be in existence even though they are known to have been minted. So of course if you were to find one that fits the low end of the URS scale you are likely to have found a very rare coin indeed.
Another factor that affects rarity is simply supply and demand. If collectors aren't interested in a supposedly "unique" coin, then it's not going to be worth much. There is, however, some well publicised information on coin rarity. For example the American copper penny that was minted in 1943 when pennies were being made from steel with a zinc coating because the United States Government needed every bit of copper for producing ammunitions for the Second World War. If it has been well kept, this type of coin is said to be worth anything from US$10 000 to US$200 000.
Australian copper halfpennies minted with the 1923 date on them are also very valuable and there aren't many of them around. This is because most 1923 coins were produced with the 1922 date stamped on them. It is believed that only about 1 500 "1923" halfpennies were produced. If they are in average condition they are said to be worth Aus$1 800 and if in uncirculated condition, a whopping Aus$60 000.
So it really will pay for you to do some homework if you decide on collecting rare coins.