How much is my coin is worth? The unanswerable question?

Well, I get asked this a lot and the easiest and the cheapest way to get an idea of how much your coin is worth is to simply go on eBay or Amazon and type the name of the coin you have into the description and hit search. Buy it now listings and auction listings will appear detailing your coin with various prices attached. This will give you a feel for the price bracket your coin fits into - do a little research and you'll start to get a feel for the value.

Of course, if you have a coin that is not for sale on eBay, you either have an ultra rare coin and should get a specialist valuation, or you have typed the name in wrong! For the purpose of this article, I'm talking about decimal coins, in particular a 50p or a £2 coin for example, rather than milled coins.

In general terms, if you put a coin on eBay as an auction listing today, on average, you can pretty much guarantee you will get the current market value for the coin i.e. what someone is willing to pay right now. So that's a pretty good guide as to the retail value today. So do your home work, look on online auction sites and it will give you a ball park figure.

Obviously, If you have a hundred people desperate to buy your coin and you are the only one who has it, the price will go up. On the other hand, if nobody wants it, as there are thousands available, you may have to lower your price to sell. Without getting too fancy, in the end it all comes down to simple supply and demand.

If we first look at supply. The year, the mintage, the coin quality (in other words it's rarity), are all to be considered when we try to predict the future supply of a coin. In simple terms, the lower the mintage, and by mintage I mean how many of those coins entered general circulation, the higher the value.

The obvious one is the 2009 Kew Gardens 50p which had a mintage of just 210,000, making it the second rarest 50p to enter general circulation, behind the dual date 1992/93 50p (UK's Presidency of the Council of Ministers), that had a mintage of just 109,000. But the mintage is just one of the things to consider when determining value. 

Let me give you an example, we'll use the Kew Gardens 50p. How many of us can say we had a Kew Gardens 50p in our change and we just spent as at the time we didn't realise how valuable it was. I know I did. So how did we come to realise that it was actually worth a fair bit of money. The answer is media hype.

The idea of a 50p being worth more than 50p to the untrained collector, can seem a little bit bizarre. As an example, I've just sold a 1976 2p coin for a fiver and when you look at it like that - yes I suppose it is a little weird. But once the media, either the papers or social media, latch on to something it becomes a frenzy, particularly when it can mean the general public can make a big return and earn a few quid by selling it on eBay. Everyone wants to get involved and so the demand grows, the supply decreases and prices inflate.

To emphasise this point, if we take the rarest 50p to enter circulation, the 1992/93 dual date 50p, I just picked a silver proof one up for a customer for £75. A Kew Gardens 50p silver proof will probably set you back in the region of £250 upwards. So the 1992/93 50p is rarer yet cheaper. How so?

The main reason being, it did not receive the same amount of hype as it's predecessor but also because the Kew Gardens 50p was relatively, readily available for the public to jump on board and get swept along.

It was a similar scenario with the 2016 Jemima Puddle-duck 50p. You'd be hard pushed to pick one up for less than £15 in good condition these days, yet with a mintage of 2.1m is in fact the 27th rarest 50p of all time, and only the 4th rarest in the Beatrix Potter collection behind 2018 Peter Rabbit (1.4m), Flopsy Bunny (1.4m) and Mrs Tittlemouse (1.7m), all of which you can pick up cheaper than a Puddle-duck.

Why? Media hype. And when I say hype, it's real in that the Kew gardens 50p and the Jemima Puddle-duck 50p will forever be worth a little bit more purely by people's perception of the name. The re-issued 2019 Kew Gardens 50p being a prime example. At the moment, the re-issued versions are being sold for around £25+ with the other 50ps in the set, Roger Bannister, Scouts, Girl Guides and the Britannia fetching not even half that, despite the same number of these coins being made as the 2019 Kew Gardens. It's the name and the associated value that lifts the price. All this builds the demand for a coin.

The latest coin to receive such hype is the 2020 Olympic GB 50p which are fetching around £35-£40 at the moment (Copes Coins are cheaper!). In fairness, I do think this coin is slightly different in that there are exceptional circumstances why the price is so high. as there may be two versions of this coin, a 2020 version and a 2021 version. I expect the prices to hold as the hype continues and increase over time, but yet again, this coin is no different from any other unreleased coin.

So we have two more contributing factors, the rarity of a coin but also the publicity it receives. The rarer the coin and the more hype it gets the higher the value. The higher the mintage and the lower the hype it gets, the lower the price. 

I suppose another factor to consider is timing. A lot of people collect coins as an investment. It may be worth £20 now but how much will it be worth in 5,10, 20 years time? - and that's where we start to get discrepancies in valuations. People's perceptions and predictions may vary, which may mean a collector may be persuaded to pay more, for bigger returns in the future.

As you can see there are no easy answers here and prices can fluctuate quickly. What a coin is worth today, may not be what it is worth tomorrow. The trick is to get in early, before the hike in price but if it was that simple, we'd all be millionaires. 

Summary:

  • Look on online auction sites over time, to get an idea of average sales price and whether prices are going up or down
  • Consider the mintage of your coin check out this page on the Royal Mint website for the latest mintage figures
  • What condition is it in? Better condition coins will obviously fetch more
  • Has there been a lot of media hype around the coin, is there a lot of interest, is it in high demand?
  • Do your research

Let me know your thoughts. What's the rarest coin in your collection but which one do you value most?

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