U.S. Coin Price Guide

Coin Collecting

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High-grade coins selling
By Mark Ferguson

The coin market has slowed in the troubled economic environment. However, compared to other markets, the coin market has held up well.

As previously reported, off-quality coins continue to be discounted.

Outstanding high-grade coins, priced fairly, are still selling well, as are problem-free properly graded circulated coins. Buyers are having trouble finding such coins, so prices for some coins are actually rising in this slower moving market.

This is especially true in market segments in which there are life-long collectors who specialize in interesting series, especially with varieties. Two good examples are early copper coins and Capped Bust half dollars.

Another popular series is the Trade dollars. Although they don’t have an overabundance of varieties, they are large coins, which are usually more appealing to collectors than tiny coins like gold dollars and silver 3-cent coins.

Low-grade circulated Trade dollars have increased in price by about 10 to 20 percent, while high-grade Mint State examples have increased by about a third, with some coins rising in price even more.

Currently, low-grade circulated Trade dollars in circulation strikes can be purchased for between $100 and $150 each. Very worn examples, such as those graded About Good, and those with small blemishes, can be purchased for less than $100 each.

Besides its large size, adding to the appeal of the Trade dollar series, and hence demand, is that it is a short series lasting just 12 years. If collectors disregard the Proof-only issues from 1879 through 1885, just six years of different date and Mint mark combinations are needed for a full collection.

The very rare 1884 and 1885 Trade dollars rarely appear on the market. When an 1885 Trade dollar turns up on the market, it could sell for a few million dollars.

Collections of the circulated issues of Trade dollars are more popular than complete collections that include the Proof-only issues. However, other than the 1884 and 1885 rarities, some of the circulated Proof-only Trade dollars minted from 1879 through 1883 turn up occasionally. Retail prices range between about $1,000 and $3,000 each.

Many counterfeit Trade dollars exist. Buy certified coins to be safe.

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