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Home > About AGE > AGE's Definition of Value

Understanding Coin Values and Coin Prices

Coin values are determined primarily by four criteria: rarity, grade, quality, and popularity. For investors, of course, a fifth criterion of coin value comes into play: price. Ideally, coin prices are a function of the other four criteria of its value, but not always. Unfortunately, many coin dealers charge prices that far exceed the values of the coins they sell.

At American Gold Exchange, we take pride in offering coins that represent outstanding value. We trade some of the finest U.S. rare gold and silver coins at comparatively low prices. All of the classic U.S. gold coins and silver coins we offer are carefully hand-selected according to the following criteria to give you the best possible value for your money.


Truly rare coins typically have the highest values. A coin's rarity is a function both of the limited quantity of the original mintage and the surviving population of examples in any given grade rating. In almost all cases, collectors and investors should rely only on the certified population totals published by NGC (Numismatic Guarantee Corporation) and PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service), the two most trusted authentication services in the industry. AGE deals exclusively in certified coins from NGC and PCGS. Pre-1933 US gold coins in the better Mint State grades (MS63 to MS65) are a superb way to buy gold. They trade for relatively small premiums over their gold value, making them quite affordable compared to truly rare coins. They combine all of the advantages of gold bullion plus the added premium opportunity that comes with scarce, classic coins. Plus, because of their status as collectibles, they are truly private unlike most forms of gold bullion, which must be reported to the IRS by brokers.

Grade or Condition

A coin's value is largely determined by the amount of circulation wear it exhibits, or in the case of uncirculated Mint State coins (MS60 through MS65), by how closely it resembles its "perfect" condition when newly struck. Proof gold and proof silver coins are special limited strikes, made on polished dies, and intended primarily for sale to collectors and as gifts to dignitaries.

All the rare US gold and silver coins we offer are independently certified for grade and authenticity by the leading independent grading services, PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service) and NGC (Numismatic Guarantee Corporation). Certified coins protect both buyers and sellers, allowing coins to be traded at coin shows, auctions, and through dealers, with their condition guaranteed.


Rarity and certified grade do not tell the whole story in a coin's value. The "quality" of coins is a huge factor in determining their value and price when you decide to sell. But it is also the most difficult to determine properly, and requires a practiced eye.

Obviously, all coins are not all the same aesthetically. Some coin designs -- the high relief Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, for example -- are widely considered to be more beautiful than others. The public's taste for these designs has a significant influence on the value of the coins that bear them.

But when we speak of a coin's "quality," we are talking about characteristics of minting, execution, survival condition, and overall eye appeal that set it apart from other coins of the same design and certified grade. Individual coins that are above average in appearance for strike, luster, evenness and/or color of toning, and eye appeal are considered to be higher in quality, and simply in greater demand, than those that do not look as nice-even at the same PCGS or NGC rating. The higher the quality, the greater the value of any particular issue.

Furthermore, some coins grade at the top of their rating while others grade at the bottom, even though they are identical on paper. These differences within grade are usually small but nonetheless observable to the expert eye, and are an important factor in quality and value. Coins that are higher in quality always sell faster and usually command higher prices than other coins at each grade rating. The quality of your rare coins is therefore is quite important, not merely for your own aesthetic enjoyment but also for the value and liquidity of your investment.

In most cases, collectors should look for coins in the highest grades they can afford. However, many of the sharpest collectors and investors will seek out the key rare dates of a series, which can be astronomically expensive in Mint State, in one of the lower grades -- provided that they can find a coin with exceptionally high quality for-the-grade and excellent eye appeal. These high quality, lower grade coins are often a better value and far more affordable than the higher grades. In the more common issues of a series, it is far more important to buy the higher grades; but key dates in lower grades, if they exhibit outstanding eye appeal, can be fantastic investments. At American Gold Exchange, we've always urged our clients to this pursue this kind of strategy, knowing that rarity and quality will drive a coin's market price and value farther and faster than grade alone.

At AGE, we reject six to ten coins for each one we select, thereby ensuring the highest quality and values per grade rating. If and when the time comes to sell your coins, whether back to us, or to another dealer, or by private sale, you'll be very glad you purchased from a discriminating dealer.


Popularity is also a determining factor in coins' values. Some coins are simply more popular than others. The St. Gaudens double eagle, for example, is an extremely popular design and holds its value well. Conversely, some very rare coins, like U.S. "pattern" coins, three-cent silver pieces, and half-dimes (or dismes), are gorgeous but have little demand, and therefore, tend to have lower market values.

To ensure the greatest liquidity and monetary value, we advise our customers to invest in those kinds of US coins that trade most frequently and enjoy the highest demand and popularity. Our twenty years of experience have shown us that the most popular areas of numismatics are U.S. gold coins minted from 1795 to 1933, and the larger high-quality U.S. silver coins minted from 1793 to 1892. These coins remain in high demand and provide excellent value.


When rarity, grade, quality, popularity, and price come together, they create true value in your numismatic investment. At American Gold Exchange, our prices are among the best in the country and our quality and service are second to none. We've earned our reputation as Your Reliable Hard Asset Advisor by selling gold and silver coins that are excellent values. Give us a try and you'll see the difference!