Home U.S. Coin Forum

Rare; Expensive; Hard to Find; It’s a Venn Diagram, Not a Circle

124Spider124Spider Posts: 789 ✭✭✭✭✭

I understand well the way market price moves to balance supply and demand (at least when talking about non-necessities in a free market, like collector coins).

I also understand that some coins are rare, but not particularly expensive (because not many want them), while other coins are not really rare at all, but very expensive (because so many people want them). Examples of the former include error coins (which can be quite remarkable, but the lack of a huge market keeps the price of most below the stratosphere); examples of the latter include the 1916-D Mercury dime, the 1916 standing Liberty quarter, and the 1893-S Morgan dollar (all of which are readily available—despite low mintages--in a wide range of grades, at any time, for one willing/able to pay the price).

And I’m aware of a lot of coins that seem difficult to find in certain grades, despite the fact that those coins are not particularly expensive.

I have also noticed that different coins have different “curves” in the graph of price vs. grade. Fairly common coins often are quite inexpensive in the middling grades, but can get suddenly expensive once in the higher AU grades and above (even before one gets to the top pop), while more scarce coins (e.g., the aforementioned three silver coins, as well as, say, the 1913-S Type 2 buffalo nickel, 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent and many others) are quite expensive even in the lowest circulated grades, but move up more gradually from there.

Understanding that the term “rare” is used loosely, often to describe coins that have a fairly low survival number, have a very high price tag, but are easy to find, I still am surprised when I can find very expensive (yes, many thousands of US dollars is “very expensive” to me) coins easily, while it often takes me months and months to track down far less expensive coins.

There’s not really a question here; rather, just expressing a bit of mystification.

Comments

  • alaura22alaura22 Posts: 2,459 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 28, 2023 8:40PM

    Agree

  • epcepc Posts: 100 ✭✭✭

    I also agree. I have an LOL response regarding the Venn diagram aspect of this, but I don't want to offend/upset anyone.

    Collector of Liberty Seated Half Dimes, including die pairs and die states

  • BillJonesBillJones Posts: 33,367 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I still am surprised when I can find very expensive (yes, many thousands of US dollars is “very expensive” to me) coins easily, while it often takes me months and months to track down far less expensive coins.

    Dealers buy and put into inventory coins, tokens and medals that they can turn over easily for a reasonable to ridiculous mark-up. They pay less or decline to buy material that is going to sit in inventory for a while. Those pieces tie up their capital and sometimes make it seem like they have the same stuff in inventory one show to the next.

    When I was dealer, I bought a large lot of Indican cents. There was one 1877 in the lot, but it had been cleaned. I had to put it in an ANACS holder because they were the only company that would slab problem coins at the time. It sold very quickly.

    The rest included in a lot of 1870, 1871, 1872 and other dates in medium grades like VF and EF, all with good strong "LIBERTY"s. The common dates took the longest time to sell. They were nice coins in VF and EF, but they didn't move quickly. I had one dealer I knew, who had a shop, buy the remaining group. He commented that they were nice for the grade and that he had a number of "album collectors" who would like them. Those guys don't get much press because they don't spend thousands of dollars.

    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 ... ?
  • WCCWCC Posts: 2,340 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @124Spider said:

    Understanding that the term “rare” is used loosely, often to describe coins that have a fairly low survival number, have a very high price tag, but are easy to find, I still am surprised when I can find very expensive (yes, many thousands of US dollars is “very expensive” to me) coins easily, while it often takes me months and months to track down far less expensive coins.

    There aren't any actually "cheap" actually scarce or rare US coins, unless you're talking about specialization: errors, die varieties, certain toning, recognized strikes. Practically all of these are of less interest than "regular" coin dates because it doesn't fit into most defined sets which drive demand or is of limited interest to most collectors. Another is "top pops" of a series with a low preference where buyers probably also believe more exist.

    I don't collect any US coinage but for what I do collect where the coins are actually scarce or if (a lot) more common than generally believed, the low(er) market value is a disincentive for the owner to sell it. Why bother when the price you'll get isn't meaningful to you and there isn't anything else to buy you like more for (approximately) the same money?

    I own numerous duplicates in my primary interest which mostly isn't high priced. I either bought it as an upgrade or because there is seldom anything else I want to buy. This type of buying (hoarding to some) has the effect of "locking out" other collectors unless they want to collect "dreck".

  • GiveMeProofGiveMeProof Posts: 560 ✭✭✭✭

    @epc said:
    I also agree. I have an LOL response regarding the Venn diagram aspect of this, but I don't want to offend/upset anyone.

    I heard that. lol

  • seatedlib3991seatedlib3991 Posts: 407 ✭✭✭✭

    If coin collecting was just about money there would be about 100 coin collectors and all anyone would pay attention to is how many zeros were involved. I don't care the financial level. If you are a collector your focus in on finding the jewels hidden in the mire. The only reason I am in my computer chair on a holiday morning is so I can check some dealer and auction listings I may have missed last week. happy hunting. james

  • ZoinsZoins Posts: 33,811 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 1, 2024 7:25AM

    @124Spider said:
    Understanding that the term “rare” is used loosely, often to describe coins that have a fairly low survival number, have a very high price tag, but are easy to find, I still am surprised when I can find very expensive (yes, many thousands of US dollars is “very expensive” to me) coins easily, while it often takes me months and months to track down far less expensive coins.

    There’s not really a question here; rather, just expressing a bit of mystification.

    There's an incentive for dealers to sell items with demand. It's good for business from a dealing perspective.

  • JeffersonFrogJeffersonFrog Posts: 823 ✭✭✭✭✭

    A reasonable expression of mystification. The picture that popped into my head (don't pick on my choices too much, just trying to convey the thought):

    If we were all the same, the world would be an incredibly boring place.

    Tommy

  • retirednowretirednow Posts: 443 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I guess it all breaks down to 3 dimensions
    Supply vs Demand vs inventory visibility to the collecting public.

Leave a Comment

BoldItalicStrikethroughOrdered listUnordered list
Emoji
Image
Align leftAlign centerAlign rightToggle HTML viewToggle full pageToggle lights
Drop image/file