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Guide to Value of Rare Coins

Updated on December 27, 2015
Sigismund III Vasa (1587 - 1632 AD) King Of Poland
Sigismund III Vasa (1587 - 1632 AD) King Of Poland | Source

This guide is to assist in finding out the general value of coins. It is divided in to three main sections: ancient, medieval, and modern coins. Please keep in mind that considering all coins in existence there are thousands upon thousands of different types and so there is no real way for us to cover them all in one or even several articles. But this guide will give you some strong knowledge that will allow you to begin assessing the value of the more well known types of coins from these eras.

Steps To Identify The Value Of Any Coin

  1. Determine what empire, country, nationality minted the coin (is it Roman, Greek, a modern country, basically where and when it is from.)
  2. What type of metal is the coin? Obviously coins of gold are worth more than silver, silver worth more than bronze, etc.
  3. Determine what ruler if ancient or alternatively how many of said coin were minted for modern. Rarity will drive the worth up.
  4. What grade is it? A coin that looks almost perfect will be worth more than a coin with little to no detail.

Keep in mind any of these steps can be effected by another. If you have a coin of a less valuable metal but it is from an ancient era and it is extremely rare it has potential to be worth more than even a common gold coin from another era. Also a high grade silver coin could be worth more than a low grade gold. It really depends upon each of the above steps.

Emperor Claudius II Gothicus (268 - 270 AD) Roman Empire
Emperor Claudius II Gothicus (268 - 270 AD) Roman Empire | Source

Ancient Coins

Roman coins cover a period of hundreds of years from the beginning of the republic in 509 BC to the fall of the western Roman empire around 476 AD. Coins from the republic era are often more rare to find as there were many types in circulation so fewer of each type are found. During Imperial times the less circulated emperors are the coins that will bring the most money. Some emperors were in office for a very short period and had very few coins minted before they were replaced. The most common and heavily circulated coins from the Roman empire are those of the Constantinian dynasty. The majority of the 4th Century was dominated by the rule of one member or another of the family of Constantine I the great. These coins are readily found today in Europe because of the high numbers minted and as such have the least value. Below are some examples of roman imperial coins.

Greek coins are usually worth more than Roman for a few reasons. Ancient Greece was a patchwork of mixed kingdoms and so each kingdom minted their own coins. The Greeks although very influential were dominant only for about four to five hundred years. Overall they are more rare. The only factor that usually drives these types of coins down is the quality, due to their age they are often in poor condition. The most common bronzes come from either the kingdom of Macedonia or Athens.

Other ancient coins from miscellaneous kingdoms and empires are often passed over out of lack of documented history and interest. Ancient Chinese coins are usually lower priced as so many were minted they are easy to find even from two thousand or more years ago.

Gabriel Báthory (1608 -1613 AD) Prince Of Transylvania (coin is technically early modern)
Gabriel Báthory (1608 -1613 AD) Prince Of Transylvania (coin is technically early modern) | Source

Medieval Coins

Primarily the coins of medieval Europe are the most sought after. You will find that many coins from medieval period Europe are worth more than those of the Roman or the Greek period even though some medieval coins can be as much as a thousand years younger. This is primarily due to the fact that medieval Europe was a vast splintered conglomeration of individual kingdoms all minting their own coins thus making most of these coins more rare to find. There were also many more silver coins minted during this period. A lot of the coins from medieval Europe are tied to rich events in known history.

Simple Coin Grading Table (for ancient and medieval)

Lowest grade of coin, features hardly distinguishable, nearly completely rubbed off, may be completely unidentifiable.
Low grade, features may be heavily rubbed down and may only be partially identifiable.
Good (G)
This grade still may be heavily worn however to be Good it must be at least identifiable to type of coin and partial legend may show.
Very good (VG)
May be worn, Legend should show enough to be understood, partial patina, should be identifiable to type and period.
Fine (F)
Legends are seen but some detail not showing, patina may be rough slightly worn, coin should be easily identified
Very Fine (VF)
Slight wear only on highest points of coin, slight shine of original surface, full patina possibly slight roughness, fully identifiable.
Extra Fine (EF)
May have slight wear on highest points of coin, beautiful shine, fully smooth patina, fully identifiable

Modern Coins

Today with the advent of online marketplaces like Ebay many coins of the modern period that once may have been worth something have been devalued. In terms of modern coins to be worth something it must be from an important period of history (World War II Germany for example) or made from a valuable metal (silver, gold, etc.) Rarity can play an issue but usually in conjunction with one of the other two criteria.

World Coins
World Coins | Source


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    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      Cyndi10 - glad you liked my guide on rare and valuable coins, this hub seems to be quite popular :)

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      tillsontitan - there are quite a few online for sale. That's what happens when you have the world at your finger tips. Otherwise for those in North America it would be very hard to come by for sure.

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      elle64 - glad I could impart some knowledge to you :)

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      catgypsy - I hope so, this guide to identifying rare and valuable coins is a good place to start at least :) thanks for reading!

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      point2make - true more common Roman coians can be purchased at a much lower price and many people collect them for what they are so anyone can own them these days. Glad you liked my guide.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 5 years ago from Georgia

      Excellent information. Voted up.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Very educational and interesting. Of course, I've never even seen a real Medieval coin!

      Voted up and interesting.

    • elle64 profile image

      elle64 5 years ago from Scandinavia

      Excellent hub, it is always good to learn something new.

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      Lipnancy - yes there is so much unknown history in an ancient coin the people that held it from all walks of life. If only we could know where it's been see it and experience the past. It is interesting to think about for sure :)

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      Denver5280Click - a lot of people do it for the bullion value with modern coins I find. The older coins, anicent, medieval would be worth more for what they are then the metal but I enjoy collecting for both reasons. Thanks for commenting :)

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      Msmillar - I do my best, the photos I have as I at some point had the coins pictured as I sold them on Ebay, so that part was easy. But thank you kindly, I appreciate the support :)

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      Rui Carreira - thank you, lovin the vote ups! Your right I have a few other coin ones mostly because I have been selling ancient coins on Ebay for several years :)

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 5 years ago from the South

      Very interesting. I have some "odd" coins and this might help me to determine what they are. Thanks!

    • point2make profile image

      point2make 5 years ago

      An excellent hub on coins. Thanks for the info. I collect Roman coins and find them fascinating. It is one area of coin collecting that allows the hobby collector to acquire 2000 year old coins without breaking the bank. Thanks again for the "lesson" I appreciated it. Voted this hub up.

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 5 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      My husband loves old coins. I only have one Roman coin that a friend gave me. Not sure if it is worth anything. I think it is just cool to carry around anything that old. Voted Up and Shared.

    • Denver5280Click profile image

      Denver5280Click 5 years ago from Denver Colorado

      Really nice post about rare coins. I collect coins myself but mostly for just bullion value of the gold and silver. Thanks

    • Msmillar profile image

      Joanna 5 years ago from Valley Springs

      Nice another numismatist! I can't believe how fast you can whip these hubs out, take your own photos and still have sentence structure and grammer all in line! You are definitely a HubBud!

    • Rui Carreira profile image

      Rui Carreira 5 years ago from Torres Novas

      Must..... Get..... Coins!

      I love this hub and it led me to several other hubs from you... you my friend, deserve a vote Up!