Education:  
Values of Coins and Bank Notes
Last Updated: 02/06/2013

Whether you have just inherited a collection of coins or bank notes, or rediscovered a collection you built years ago, everyone wants to know what their old money is worth.  There are several different values for any coin, bank note or collection, depending on what the purpose is of the valuation.  If you want to know how much you could actually sell your items for, you should look at the Realizable Cash Value. If you are buying coins or notes to build a collection, the Retail Value will be the appropriate value to consider.  If you are insuring a collection, Insurance Value should be used. 

Realizable Cash Value
With silver and gold near record high prices, many people are considering selling items that have not been looked at in years.  For anyone who wants to sell their coins or bank notes, realizable cash value is the appropriate valuation to consider.  A knowledgeable and reputable dealer will pay the greater of the wholesale collector value or precious metal value for each coin or bank note.   This is typically anywhere from 40% to 80% of the dealer’s retail selling price.  Dealers will usually pay less for items which they purchase every day and have more stock than they can sell.  Highly sought after items which can be re-sold easily usually command a higher percentage of the retail selling price, as will coins based on their precious metal value. 

The most widely used and best respected price guide to show how much you can realistically expect to receive from a reputable dealer is the Charlton Coin Guide.   Canadian Coin & Currency offers this modestly priced book in store and on-line.  Please see the Reference Books section.   Users of this guide are cautioned that the guide uses silver and gold prices from the date the book went to press, which may be significantly different from the present.  The guide also uses sample or typical grades for items.  Coins in lower grades will be worth less, while higher grade examples may be worth more.

It is human nature to envision receiving an enormous amount of money for a collection.  When the items are rare, exceptional condition, or contain significant quantities of gold or silver, the cash value will in fact be very significant.  Especially at current precious metals levels, most people selling a collection are extremely pleased with the payment they receive.  However, misunderstood information can provide for disappointments.  Unless you have considerable numismatic knowledge, comparing your items with items for sale on the internet can lead to unrealistic expectations.  Many items being offered in auctions and in dealer’s stock are the rarest or highest grade examples of these type of items.  Coins or bank notes that look similar to a novice may have distinctions which greatly affect their value.  For example, a well-used lower grade Victorian or Edwardian silver coin may be worth less than $25, while an uncirculated example of the same coin may be worth several thousand dollars.  A 1948 silver dollar may be worth $1,000, while a 1950 with the same design is worth just $20.  A common high grade 1954 $10 note may be worth just a small premium above face value, while a similar note with both a small asterisk in front of the serial number and a “devil’s face” in the queen’s hair may be worth as much as $10,000. 

While using the Charlton Coin Guide can provide a basis for understanding the fair value for your items, it cannot replace the expertise of a knowledgeable and reputable dealer with many years of experience.  Canadian Coin & Currency is the largest buyer and seller of old coins and bank notes in Canada, with four professional numismatists and extensive support staff.  We have a strong market for every level of collector coin and bank note, allowing us buy your items at extremely strong prices.  Our professional buyers will be able to separate rarities from common items, identify items worth a premium, and explain the basis for the valuation of each item.  Items or collections can be brought to our metro Toronto store (Richmond Hill, Ontario) for immediate purchase and payment, or can be sent to us by courier from anywhere in the world.   Please see our Sell to Us section for more information.

Retail Value
The retail value is the price at which a knowledgeable dealer would sell an item.  This price includes the dealer’s cost for the coin, plus overhead such as rent, staff, insurance, and some level of profit to operate the business.  Fair retail prices are usually based on the most widely used retail price guides.For coins, the Charlton Catalogue of Canadian Coins is the most widely used and most respected catalogue.  For bank notes, Charlton also publishes a catalogue called Canadian Government Paper Money.   Dealers will sometimes offer discounts from the retail catalogue values, especially for common items they may have surplus stock of.  Some extremely popular and scarce issues that are rarely available in the market may sell above the catalogue value.  Values are based on supply and demand, which also takes into account rarity and condition.  

Active collectors can gain a great deal of knowledge from good quality retail catalogues.  Charlton Press publishes several retail catalogues including Canadian Coins, Volume I (Numismatic issues), Canadian Coins: Collector and Maple Leaf Issues, Canadian Government Paper Money, Canadian Bank Notes (Chartered Bank Issues), and Canadian Colonial Tokens.   

For world coins, the most respected and most widely used catalogues and price guides are published by Krause Publications.  These include World Gold Coins, Standard Catalog of World Coins 1601-1700, Standard Catalog of World Coins 1701-1800, Standard Catalog of World Coins 1801-1900, Standard Catalog of World Coins 1901-2000, and Standard Catalog of World Coins 2001-Present.  The collection of world coin books can also be purchased as a set of CDs at a more modest cost.     

All of these catalogues provide images and descriptions of each item together with fair retail prices in multiple grades.  Canadian Coin & Currency offers a wide selection of retail coin catalogues in store and on-line.  Please see the Reference Books section.

Insurance Replacement Value
Insurance replacement value is usually based on the highest price it may cost to immediately replace items in a collection if they were lost or stolen.  This valuation usually reflects the full retail catalogue value of each item, even if the item could be found at a lower price.  This valuation is suitable only for insurance appraisals. 

If you are insuring a coin or bank note collection, Canadian Coin & Currency can provide you with a professional insurance appraisal.  We also offer forensic appraisals to value items where the objects have been stolen or are otherwise not available, provided that an accurate description can be provided to us.  As the largest numismatic company in Canada and a member of numerous professional organizations including the Canadian Association of Numismatic Dealers (CAND), appraisals by Canadian Coin & Currency are highly respected.



Was this article helpful?

Comments:
If you would like to ask a question,
please include your email address:
 

Related Articles
 > Why Collect Coins and Bank Notes?
 > What are the best coins or bank notes to collect?
 > How to protect against counterfeits
 > How to store, protect and display coins and bank notes
 > Canadian Coin - 1966 One Dollar - Large Beads (Common) vs Small Beads
 > Brock & Salaberry Tokens
 > Dollars of Canada
 > Infographic - Special Serial Numbers
 > Coin ID - Canadian 1967 Denominations and Information
 > Investment Bullion
 > Infographic - Ancient Roman Coins
 > Coin ID - 5 Cents - George V - Canada
 > Are Rare Coins a Good Investment?
 > Infographic - Canada's Circulating Commemorative Dollars
 > 1973 Canadian 25 Cent Mountie Quarter - Small Bust vs Large Bust
 > Error Coins
 > Infographic - Lucky Loonie