How can I identify the retail value of my coin?: Breaking down the basics of coin collecting

Coin World is introducing novices to numismatics one topic at a time
By , Coin World
Published : 06/19/14
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While numismatists are students of history often fascinated by the stories their coins tell, much of the hobby is about how that history translates into value. 

A coin’s retail value is the amount one would expect to receive when selling their coin to another collector or dealer. That value is different from wholesale value, which is the price a dealer would expect to receive from another dealer.

“‘Retail’ values ... are prices you can expect to pay when buying from a dealer whose markup over wholesale allows him to cover the cost of doing business and earn a living,” Mark Ferguson wrote in a 2007 Coin Values Analysis column. "Retail prices generally are about 30 percent higher than wholesale levels."  

There are several good resources collectors can use to identify the retail values of their coins, including two published by Coin World—the Coin Values section and the Coin World Guide to U.S. Coins, Prices & Value Trends.

Coin World's Coin Values appears in the middle of each monthly edition of Coin World. Its database covers more than 65,000 U.S. coins, and is updated as information becomes available. 

“Sources for pricing include actual transactions, public auctions, fixed-price lists and any additional information acquired by Coin Values analysts,” the section’s intro reads.

Coin World’s Coin Values is also available online.

The Coin World Guide to U.S. Coins, Prices & Value Trends provides similar pricing information as Coin Values but also includes written analysis and features. 

The 2014 edition profiled the Morgan dollar and included an analysis of the rare coin market, a chapter on grading, and another on mint marks and their importance.

The Official Red Book, an annual guide for U.S. coin values, is also a great resource. In addition to providing the basics of numismatics in its introduction, the Red Book also values U.S. coins from colonial issues to modern commemoratives and bullion coins. 

It includes mintage estimates, and the expected retail prices for coins of all conditions. 

The 2015 Red Book was the 68th edition. It can be ordered here.

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