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Which is a better purchase: Rarity or Condition?

Given the choice between a very high grade for a coin or a key date of same type in lesser quality, which would you choose and why?

Comments

  • bidaskbidask Posts: 13,819 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I think it depends on the type/series and of course the dates

    I manage money. I earn money. I save money .
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  • coinkatcoinkat Posts: 22,675 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Lesser quality is different than a lesser grade. Quality can exist at multiple grade levels. So a higher grade that I am not thrilled to own for whatever reason may play second fiddle to a quality coin at a lower grade

    Experience the World through Numismatics...it's more than you can imagine.

  • scubafuelscubafuel Posts: 1,716 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Since I’ve been collecting, and judging “better purchase” to mean appreciation over time, the answer in general has been Condition.

  • tcollectstcollects Posts: 737 ✭✭✭✭

    rare coins in high grade that look pretty

  • PillarDollarCollectorPillarDollarCollector Posts: 4,605 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited June 4, 2023 1:50PM

    Rarity that still has a decent eye appeal for the low grade. Always best to get the rare coins out of the way first if possible. Then you can relax and collect the series in peace knowing you don't need to compete anymore for those coins.

    Collecting interests: Mexico & Peru early milled 1 reales + 1796-1891 US dimes

    Sports: NHL & NFL

    Thank you Lord for another beautiful day!!!

  • johnnybjohnnyb Posts: 30 ✭✭✭

    In my experience moderns (20th century) are all about grade. But pre-20th century, rarity matters and I find 45 (or even 40) to be a good cut-off for collector grade. You can never go wrong with a high eye appeal XF45 in my opinion. They match in both MS and circ collections.
    I’d take the key date in 45. Most key dates are slick por have problems.

  • semikeycollectorsemikeycollector Posts: 911 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited June 4, 2023 9:13PM

    I lean heavily toward rarity. A key date may not even be scarce or rare.
    Lets go a little extreme with an example, where you get value for your money. An 1886-s dime has an estimated 350 coins surviving, in all grade combined.
    Try to find a nice XF or AU. It's very difficult. You may not find this coin even at a huge show!
    I personally like to have a coin that your garden variety dealer has never owned or most collectors for that matter.
    This coin may not cost more than $300!
    It's relatively easy to sell too, even though this is not one of the more popular series.
    Also if someone gives you a low ball offer you can righteously laugh at them (likely to yourself), because they know very little about this date and mm.
    Specialization is knowledge with power.

    Who has other examples like this ???

  • pruebaspruebas Posts: 4,279 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited June 4, 2023 9:28PM

    @bidask said:
    I think it depends on the type/series and of course the dates

    And the big one: price.

    I’m more amenable to pay a high price on a high-grade common coin than a low-grade rare coin.

  • emeraldATVemeraldATV Posts: 3,923 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Rarity, because,
    You can always use a photo of what it should look like to help explain it's history.
    It's like going to a dentist. The dentist wants your teeth to resemble perfection, it's what he was taught.
    On the other hand, ask him to explain healthy teeth costs to your provider.
    No provider ? If its not broken, don't fix it, and call it a work in progress.
    What ?

  • atomatom Posts: 428 ✭✭✭✭

    Interesting comments. So far I count 3 definitively in favor of Rarity and 3 in favor of Condition. I did not count the "depends if" no-votes, although the comments are appreciated. (e.g. rarity <> key date; quality/condition <> grade)

    I wonder if the motivating factor in the decision is weighted by collecting vs. investing, for lack of a better term. Not to suggest that it's mutually exclusive, but I guess the collector would seek key/rarer dates in the highest condition available which may even fall short of MS, and the investor is more keen on exceptional quality (or top pop). Which explains those answers that are somewhat ambiguous in choosing Rarity vs Condition. But completely understandable.

    Thank you all.

  • dizzleccdizzlecc Posts: 1,111 ✭✭✭

    tough choice. Really depends on how you are collecting. If it is for a core set that you are heavily invested in, then key date is the choice. If it is something like a type set or a one off, then high grade is the choice. With key dates you have to find the right person to appreciate it.

  • SimonWSimonW Posts: 566 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Aren't we talking about the same thing? Uncommon condition creates rarity, even for a common coin, right?

    I'm BACK!!! Used to be Billet7 on the old forum.

  • atomatom Posts: 428 ✭✭✭✭

    @cacheman said:
    Why can't it be both?

    Of course both is best! The question is what is your preference when you must make the choice; either financially or availability.

  • atomatom Posts: 428 ✭✭✭✭

    @SimonW said:
    Aren't we talking about the same thing? Uncommon condition creates rarity, even for a common coin, right?

    Rarity in this case defined as low mintage. But you are correct that there are examples where large mintage figures belie the appearance of what might seem common.

  • dizzleccdizzlecc Posts: 1,111 ✭✭✭

    The difference is uncommon condition may not be really rare. Take Cap and Ray 8 Reales for instance. If you want one type coin, you may pick a mint state 65 in a common date as a high grade. Then, a key date like the 1823 or 1824 hookneck, you may have to settle for an au example as there are very few mint state examples available. So, the question becomes would be rather have the MS65 common date or the AU key date in the same price range ball park.

  • John ConduittJohn Conduitt Posts: 346 ✭✭✭

    If you think about it, every collector collects rarity first. Otherwise it isn't a collection - you're just buying random coins. The aim of a collection is to complete it, so you need them all. After that, you choose the best coin of that type you can afford. What that is depends on how quickly you want to complete the collection and how likely it is you think you can get every coin at the highest grade.

  • atomatom Posts: 428 ✭✭✭✭

    @dizzlecc said:
    The difference is uncommon condition may not be really rare. Take Cap and Ray 8 Reales for instance. If you want one type coin, you may pick a mint state 65 in a common date as a high grade. Then, a key date like the 1823 or 1824 hookneck, you may have to settle for an au example as there are very few mint state examples available. So, the question becomes would be rather have the MS65 common date or the AU key date in the same price range ball park.

    Exactly - Thank you for helping to clarify!

  • atomatom Posts: 428 ✭✭✭✭
    edited June 5, 2023 3:57PM

    @John Conduitt said:
    If you think about it, every collector collects rarity first. Otherwise it isn't a collection - you're just buying random coins. The aim of a collection is to complete it, so you need them all. After that, you choose the best coin of that type you can afford. What that is depends on how quickly you want to complete the collection and how likely it is you think you can get every coin at the highest grade.

    Sorry, but I disagree with your premise. Many collectors search for coins of different countries with a specific date, or a theme like boats for example, and will only discover the tougher coins due their rarity only after they’ve already assembled a nice group. They’re not seeking rarity first. Especially novices.

  • SapyxSapyx Posts: 1,966 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I would also disagree with John, in the sense that you can be a coin collector, and even a numismatist, without feeling the need to "complete the set" that compels one to seek out the rarities. Or rather, perhaps, a coin collector can be flexible in their definition of "completed set", so as to deliberately exclude the rarities. For example, most generalist world coin collectors don't collect coins by date - at least, not so seriously that they would actively seek out and pay for the "rare dates" within each series. And I would postulate that being such a "generalist" is far more common here on the World and Ancients forum, than over on the US forum. This is part of the reason why "rare dates" generally aren't as expensive for non-US coins.

    I personally have difficulty in framing the OP's question around the two options: choosing between a "key date" in low condition and a commoner coin in high condition. I choose neither: I'm happy buying a common coin in low condition, if it helps me "complete a set", within my personal framework of "set completion" - especially if I can buy half a dozen coins for the same price as that one key date / rarity or high-grade example. If other collectors want to pay the big bucks to compete for the rarities and high-grade coins, they can have them.

    However, on general principle, if given the choice between rarity and condition, I would choose rarity, for this simple reason: the long-term point of view.

    A high-grade coin is only going to get worse with time; sure, we can do our best to preserve them, with slabs and 2x2s and whatnot, but the law of entropy says it will only get worse. An MS69 coin will almost certainly not still be MS69 in a thousand years, and it's only one accident away from losing that MS69 status.

    A rare coin, on the other hand, will usually remain rare no matter what happens to it, unless it is destroyed or damaged beyond identification, and will tend to become rarer with time as other examples get lost, destroyed, or absorbed into museum collections; it is not common for a once-rare coin to suddenly become much less rare. Yes, you can point to examples, like the GSA Morgans, or Tealby pennies, but these examples stand out because of their unusual nature - this sort of thing doesn't normally happen.

    Or in other words: "preserving the condition" of a coin depends solely on me, and my skill at preserving coins. "Preserving the rarity" of a coin depends on everybody else. And I have more faith in everybody else, than I have in myself.

    Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.
    Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, "Meditations"

    Apparently I have been awarded one DPOTD. B)
  • John ConduittJohn Conduitt Posts: 346 ✭✭✭
    edited June 5, 2023 4:40PM

    @atom said:

    @John Conduitt said:
    If you think about it, every collector collects rarity first. Otherwise it isn't a collection - you're just buying random coins. The aim of a collection is to complete it, so you need them all. After that, you choose the best coin of that type you can afford. What that is depends on how quickly you want to complete the collection and how likely it is you think you can get every coin at the highest grade.

    Sorry, but I disagree with your premise. Many collectors search for coins of different countries with a specific date, or a theme like boats for example, and will only discover the tougher coins due their rarity only after they’ve already assembled a nice group. They’re not seeking rarity first. Especially novices.

    Your explanation is exactly what I'm talking about. We all seek out coins of different types, not the coins with the highest grades (at least not until we have the types). Otherwise, we'd all have lots of mint state Lincoln cents.

  • ncsuwolf74ncsuwolf74 Posts: 113 ✭✭✭

    Rarity for me as long as it straight grades

    "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

    Jim Elliot

  • PBRatPBRat Posts: 1,324 ✭✭✭

    Rarity for me as long as it grades MS65 or higher :) ... okay, I'll drop a grade if it's 223 years old or older, and a second grade if 323 years old or older.

    I guess that puts me in the condition camp.

  • ClioClio Posts: 480 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I certainly value both in my collection with my main focuses being two date run sets and one type set. I think there's going to be some amount of time where a high grade type say a MS65 will be far more in demand than a rare date in what might be a MS63. This being in under collected series where most of the action is people buying a type piece.

    https://numismaticmuse.com/ My Web Gallery

    The best collecting goals lie right on the border between the possible and the impossible. - Andy Lustig, "MrEureka"

  • NapNap Posts: 1,699 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I’m in the rarity camp, but I’ve been trying to be more quality conscious.

    I think a superior collection involves some combination of rarity and quality, not necessarily all the rarities and not necessarily all the quality, but some combination of examples of both.

  • ElmhurstElmhurst Posts: 767 ✭✭✭

    Hard to say what defines rare. I remember in the 80s you couldn’t find a 49-s half in high grade, until they shot way up in value in the trends. They were then suddenly everywhere.

  • ElmhurstElmhurst Posts: 767 ✭✭✭

    @Elmhurst said:
    Hard to say what defines rare. I remember in the 80s you couldn’t find a 49-s half in high grade, until they shot way up in value in the trends. They were then suddenly everywhere.

    And there’s no shortage of 1948 Canada dollars for those who care to pay the price.

  • neildrobertsonneildrobertson Posts: 1,172 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have examples of both in my collection. I tend to pick sets that I can afford to complete in nice condition but are still more difficult than average. The edge probably goes to rarity because I'm more willing to pay up for a coin that I know is hard to find rather than a top pop.

    IG: DeCourcyCoinsEbay: neilrobertson
    "Numismatic categorizations, if left unconstrained, will increase spontaneously over time." -me

  • 1984worldcoins1984worldcoins Posts: 595 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Rarity for me.

    Coinsof1984@martinb6830 on twitter

  • PBRatPBRat Posts: 1,324 ✭✭✭

    @1984worldcoins said:
    Rarity for me.

    Then why collect 1984 and not 1894 or 1498?

  • BillJonesBillJones Posts: 33,383 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I refuse to buy low grade junk. I don’t care how rare it is. If I can’t afford a decent example, I don’t have it.

    What is lowest grade I have accepted? I paid over $50k for an American coin in Fine-15. I will go no lower than that. I paid several hundred for a British Stephen penny. It was off-center, but you could see Stephen’s face. Most all Stephen pennies are ugly.

    Retired dealer and avid collector of U.S. type coins, 19th century presidential campaign medalets and selected medals. In recent years I have been working on a set of British coins - at least one coin from each king or queen who issued pieces that are collectible. I am also collecting at least one coin for each Roman emperor from Julius Caesar to ... ?
  • wybritwybrit Posts: 6,952 ✭✭✭

    I prefer both. I've mostly steered clear of low grade rare stuff, but I have the odd bit here and there that's rare and junky.

    Former owner, Cambridge Gate collection.
  • 1984worldcoins1984worldcoins Posts: 595 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @PBRat said:

    @1984worldcoins said:
    Rarity for me.

    Then why collect 1984 and not 1894 or 1498?

    I have plenty of rare 1984 coins.

    Coinsof1984@martinb6830 on twitter

  • PBRatPBRat Posts: 1,324 ✭✭✭

    @1984worldcoins said:
    I have plenty of rare 1984 coins.

    In anything but pristine condition? I would have thought most modern collectors were after condition and not rarity.

    Please don't misinterpret my questions as criticism, I am just trying to understand your thinking. Collect what you like, I certainly do :)

  • atomatom Posts: 428 ✭✭✭✭

    Just came across this month's issue of the Numismatist.
    Wendall Wolka writes an article on page 55, on paper money, which may or may not be dissimilar to coins:
    "Rarity Before Beauty"

  • 1984worldcoins1984worldcoins Posts: 595 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @PBRat said:

    @1984worldcoins said:
    I have plenty of rare 1984 coins.

    In anything but pristine condition? I would have thought most modern collectors were after condition and not rarity.

    Please don't misinterpret my questions as criticism, I am just trying to understand your thinking. Collect what you like, I certainly do :)

    Yes, some are lower than pristine, but because are very rare, I got them anyway, thats the idea. When or if those rare coins are available again in a better condition, I buy those too. In fact, I proceed in this way with all my coins. And I am talking about my interest, 1984.

    Coinsof1984@martinb6830 on twitter

  • John ConduittJohn Conduitt Posts: 346 ✭✭✭
    edited June 8, 2023 5:14AM

    @1984worldcoins said:

    @PBRat said:

    @1984worldcoins said:
    I have plenty of rare 1984 coins.

    In anything but pristine condition? I would have thought most modern collectors were after condition and not rarity.

    Please don't misinterpret my questions as criticism, I am just trying to understand your thinking. Collect what you like, I certainly do :)

    Yes, some are lower than pristine, but because are very rare, I got them anyway, thats the idea. When or if those rare coins are available again in a better condition, I buy those too. In fact, I proceed in this way with all my coins. And I am talking about my interest, 1984.

    Surely, this is how everyone collects. You would like them all in top condition, cheap and highly available, but many are not cheap or highly available. Unless you collect grades rather than coins, you have to compromise on condition. The only question this thread can be posing is, putting cost to one side, at what point is condition so bad you wouldn't buy it, even if it was the only coin left of that type and your collection would be incomplete without it.

  • atomatom Posts: 428 ✭✭✭✭

    Since my last tally above, there have been a number of posts who have expressed combination of quality and rarity depending on circumstances of their collecting interest. Which is fine. But if I count only those who were definitive of one or the other, the updated count is:
    5 in favor of condition, 6 in favor of rarity

  • AngryDragonAngryDragon Posts: 65 ✭✭✭
    edited June 10, 2023 9:30AM

    @PillarDollarCollector said:
    Rarity that still has a decent eye appeal for the low grade. Always best to get the rare coins out of the way first if possible. Then you can relax and collect the series in peace knowing you don't need to compete anymore for those coins.

    Sound advice. In retrospect, when I first started building my Spanish Colonial collection I had very few references. Since then I built a relevant library. In the beginning, I discounted many one- or two-year subtypes which I did not consider all that important until now.

    It's hard to advise one to pass on a really great coin just because other's may follow soon after. I prefer to take advantage of available material that meet my selection criteria at the time [particularly for coins that might not come around again for a few years] and go for the upgrade in the future if and when the opportunity presents itself.

    Regardless, there is competition for most everything these days.

  • rainbowroosierainbowroosie Posts: 4,874 ✭✭✭✭

    I’m relatively new to this forum, but it needs both rarity (I mean scarce) and at least VF condition. Below VF most coins simply lack eye appeal.

    "You keep your 1804 dollar and 1822 half eagle -- give me rainbow roosies in MS68."
    rainbowroosie April 1, 2003
  • PillarDollarCollectorPillarDollarCollector Posts: 4,605 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited June 13, 2023 10:29AM

    @rainbowroosie said:
    I’m relatively new to this forum, but it needs both rarity (I mean scarce) and at least VF condition. Below VF most coins simply lack eye appeal.

    Depends on what country you are collecting. US coins in general are all easy enough to find in almost any grade. Some other countries you are lucky to just simply find a coin in any grade.

    Collecting interests: Mexico & Peru early milled 1 reales + 1796-1891 US dimes

    Sports: NHL & NFL

    Thank you Lord for another beautiful day!!!

  • I’m in the absolute rarity camp.
    I’d much rather have a one-year type with low surviving population in any grade than a pristine MS-70 slabbed common date .
    For example, I’d be happy with an ex-jewellery Waitangi crown that won’t slab over a common date PF-70.
    I want to complete a type set rather than a grade set.

  • PillarDollarCollectorPillarDollarCollector Posts: 4,605 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited June 15, 2023 4:11PM

    Why bother buying all the coins around the rare coin (s) and hope to one day own the rare coin (s). That day may never come to pass. Best to seal the rare coin (s) early then build your collection around those coins than the opposite. Will you truly be happy having all the common coins and scarce coins but none of the rarer ones. I know I would not be happy and would feel like I wasted my time.

    You will get greater joy collecting this way in my opinion.

    Collecting interests: Mexico & Peru early milled 1 reales + 1796-1891 US dimes

    Sports: NHL & NFL

    Thank you Lord for another beautiful day!!!

  • SYRACUSIANSYRACUSIAN Posts: 6,445 ✭✭✭✭

    I think that the Darkside itself, in its earlier years, with some nice photos posted by illuminated members who were already collecting quality coins, pushed me and several other members , towards better quality,

    So I too refuse to buy low grade coins, regardless of rarity. If I don’t like looking at it, then it has no place in my collection. Also, I refuse to get trapped into sets, that will eventually need some rare coins to be completed.

    Dimitri



    myEbay



    DPOTD 3
  • WCCWCC Posts: 2,340 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @AngryDragon said:

    It's hard to advise one to pass on a really great coin just because other's may follow soon after. I prefer to take advantage of available material that meet my selection criteria at the time [particularly for coins that might not come around again for a few years] and go for the upgrade in the future if and when the opportunity presents itself.

    I buy and keep duplicates. I have quite a few of coins most collectors consider scarce. I don't sell the duplicate because the proceeds aren't sufficient to motivate me to do it and there aren't other coins I would rather own.

  • WCCWCC Posts: 2,340 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @PillarDollarCollector said:
    Why bother buying all the coins around the rare coin (s) and hope to one day own the rare coin (s). That day may never come to pass. Best to seal the rare coin (s) early then build your collection around those coins than the opposite. Will you truly be happy having all the common coins and scarce coins but none of the rarer ones. I know I would not be happy and would feel like I wasted my time.

    You will get greater joy collecting this way in my opinion.

    Yes, unless it's one where a disproportionate or majority are "key" dates. For the collector of Guatemala pillar minors, none are common though a low number are much easier to buy than most.

    For the Peru pillar denominations I collect, most of the Ferdinand VI dates are proportionately a lot more common than Charles III.

  • PillarDollarCollectorPillarDollarCollector Posts: 4,605 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @WCC said:

    @PillarDollarCollector said:
    Why bother buying all the coins around the rare coin (s) and hope to one day own the rare coin (s). That day may never come to pass. Best to seal the rare coin (s) early then build your collection around those coins than the opposite. Will you truly be happy having all the common coins and scarce coins but none of the rarer ones. I know I would not be happy and would feel like I wasted my time.

    You will get greater joy collecting this way in my opinion.

    Yes, unless it's one where a disproportionate or majority are "key" dates. For the collector of Guatemala pillar minors, none are common though a low number are much easier to buy than most.

    For the Peru pillar denominations I collect, most of the Ferdinand VI dates are proportionately a lot more common than Charles III.

    Agreed

    Collecting interests: Mexico & Peru early milled 1 reales + 1796-1891 US dimes

    Sports: NHL & NFL

    Thank you Lord for another beautiful day!!!

  • ClioClio Posts: 480 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @SYRACUSIAN said:
    I think that the Darkside itself, in its earlier years, with some nice photos posted by illuminated members who were already collecting quality coins, pushed me and several other members , towards better quality,

    So I too refuse to buy low grade coins, regardless of rarity. If I don’t like looking at it, then it has no place in my collection. Also, I refuse to get trapped into sets, that will eventually need some rare coins to be completed.

    the solution is to build sets that are achievable in high quality coins! That's what I feel like with my GV Shilling set anyway.

    https://numismaticmuse.com/ My Web Gallery

    The best collecting goals lie right on the border between the possible and the impossible. - Andy Lustig, "MrEureka"

  • John ConduittJohn Conduitt Posts: 346 ✭✭✭

    @SYRACUSIAN said:
    I think that the Darkside itself, in its earlier years, with some nice photos posted by illuminated members who were already collecting quality coins, pushed me and several other members , towards better quality,

    So I too refuse to buy low grade coins, regardless of rarity. If I don’t like looking at it, then it has no place in my collection. Also, I refuse to get trapped into sets, that will eventually need some rare coins to be completed.

    The question is, then, what motivates you to collect? If rarity is to be avoided, do you just collect the prettiest coins that come easily in MS?

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