It is in our nature to envision an enormous amount of money for a collection of coins. This may be the case if the coins in question are rare and in exceptional condition. Most people are very pleased with the outcome in regards to payment received, however misunderstood information can lead to disappointment. Unless you have considerable knowledge in the field of numismatics comparing your coins to those being offered for sale on the internet may lead to unrealistic exceptions.
Before you sell your coins may I suggest you get a second opinion from a trusted, transparent merchant such as myself. The guide that I use to evaluate a coins value is the 2016 Charlton coin guide. The Charlton coin guides are the most widely used and best respected price guide for Canadian and US coins. While using this guide provides a basis for understanding a fair value for your coins it does not replace the expertise and knowledge of a professional and reputable coin dealer. I am able to separate rarities from common coins and explain the basis for the valuation of each coin. Items or collections can either be brought to me or I can meet with you at your convenience. To set up an appointment or if you have any questions you can contact me at 1-778-470-5588.
Canada is considered the youngest country in the world. Our history of trade began with the exchange of Beaver pelts in the 1600's, while Wampum (shell beads on string) became legal tender in colonial New England. In 1865 the first issue of Card Money was introduce. This form of currency was not sustainable and in the 1700's copper coins were brought in for trade from England. Canada went through a century with a lack of standard currency making trade complicated and sometimes impossible. It wasn't until 1817 that The Montreal Bank issued the first banknotes and in1870 Canada issued it's first Canadian silver coinage.
Canada made coins out of silver until 1968. The following is a breakdown of the silver content in Canadian Coins:
1968: The quarter and the dime were made of 50% silver for the first 6 months of 1968. The last half of the year the coins were made from nickle. To tell you have have a silver 1968 quarter or dime take a strong magnet and hold it to the coin. If the coin is snapped up by the magnet then you have the nickle variety; silver in non-magnetic.
1967: Canada had it's centennial year in 1967, and to celebrate this the mint issued a series of coinage with a different animal of each denomination: Dollar-Goose, 50 Cent-Wolf, 25 Cent-Lynx, 10 Cent-Mackerel
The mint also began to decrease the amount of silver content in our coins. The Dollars and 50 Cent coins stayed at 80% Silver but the quarters and dimes were produced in 80% silver for the first 6 months and 50% silver for the last 6 months. How do you know what you have? Only once the coins are refined do you know and that is why the price per coin is based on the market value between 50%-80% silver content.
1920-1966 The dollar, 50 cent, quarter, and dimes were all produced in 80% Silver
1870-1919 The dollar, 50 cent, quarter, and dimes were all produced in 92.5% Silver (sterling silver)
As part of the American Constitution in 1789 the power of coin money was given to congress. Article 1 Section Ten of the US Constitution states No State shall... make anything but Gold & Silver as legal tender...With the introduction of the first US mint in 1792, The United States of American began producing the first coins in silver in the year1794.
Many US coins regardless of their silver content are highly valuable. Any US coin produced between 1794-1840 are collectable and are valued on their condition.
The standard content of silver in US coins up to the the year 1964 is 90%. (Dollars, Half Dollars, Quarter Dollars & Dimes). From 1965 to 1969 US half dollars are know as Clad silver or 40% silver content.
Money, in some form, has been part of human history for over 3000 years. The first of it's form came from China in 1.100 B.C. While the first minted currency came from Turkey in 600 B.C.
While it maybe nearly impossible to find a coin from this period in your attic or at a thrift store, it is very possible to find modern world silver and copper coins from the mid 1800's to the mid 1940's.
All countries made coins from silver at some point in time. Most commonly are the commonwealth countries. Look for coins dated under 1946 to have a silver content between 50%-92.5%.
We have had 4 millennium of gold coin staring with the the first gold coins being struck is Asia Minor around 643BC. After it's conception, the concept of coinage spread to Europe and while silver continued to be the focus of coinage, gold were the coins of the wealthy and elite. Throughout the centuries nearly every country made currency from Gold. From ancient currency to shipwrecked Spanish Doubloons, from commemorative to modern day bullion, the History of gold coins stand the test of time.
Paper currency or Banknotes can potentially have great value. Unlike a coin, banknotes are made from a form of paper that can fade, rip, crease and deteriorate over time thus making them more scarce. However just like a coin a banknote value is determined by it's mintage. Many factors play a roll in the value of Canadian banknotes such as who the signing officer(s) were, what it the serial number and it's prefix, is it a replacement note and in the case of the Canadian 1954 series is the note a modified portrait of the famed Devils Face portrait.
In Canada we have the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM), in American it's the United States Mint. Australia has the Perth Mint, China it's China Gold Coin. The UK has The British Royal Mint as well as the Pobjoy Mint and in Switzerland it's Banque Nationale Suisse. Every developed country in the world has it's own mint. Here they produce their countries bullion, bars, and collector coins. These mints should not be mistaken with the mints that produce a countries monetary currency. In Canada our legal tender is made in Winnipeg while the RCM is located in Ottawa.
When it comes to collection coins produced by a Mint keep in mind that you will always pay much more than the current price of silver and gold. When buying a mint product you are buying something new, and shinny; it comes in a lovely display and it is always of limited quantities. When you wish to resell be prepared to take a loss. The Statistics on mint products increasing in value over a 10 year span regardless of the current precious metals value is 1 in 100. Meaning that you will have to buy 100 mint products and in 10 years only 1 of those products will give you a return on your investment. Collecting should be a hobby, something you enjoy, not a way to make money.
But it's so old, why is it only worth the silver value?
Just because something is old doesn't always mean it's worth a fortune. The value of a coin is based on it's rarity and it's grade. For each denomination of coin in every year hundreds of thousands of coins were minted, however in specific years (know as key dates) perhaps only tens of thousands were minted. It's those key dates that are rare making them valuable.
I looked on the internet and it says that my coin is worth thousands of dollars, what will you pay me for it?
The internet has changed the way we live our lives. It is information overload and it can often be redundant and confusing. When researching your coins value it may be best check out the current market value of your coin; what has it actually sold for, not what someone is asking for it. Then take your coin into a reputable and established coin dealer. An honest dealer will be able to tell you what your coin is worth to them (keeping in mind a dealer has overhead and needs to make a profit) and perhaps different avenues for selling, such as coin auction houses, classifieds or online auctions.
How do I get my coin graded?
A search on the internet will direct you to different coin graders. When it comes to picking a grader do a search on the grading company. Find out any positive or negatives reviews, look at online auctions such as eBay to see how many graded coins by each company are on the market and what they sell for. Look at cost comparison for grading fees and what the turn around time is. Don't be afraid to call the grading company and ask questions about bulk pricing, shipping and insurance. Word of mouth is a great advertiser; ask around in coin forums for opinions on the different graders.
Is it worth it to have my coin graded?
In certain circumstances it can be worth it. For instance if you have a key date coin it will be best to have the coin verified and graded. Having it authenticated will put a potential buyers mind at ease and having it graded will give you a better idea of it's value. Having coins graded is also a good idea if you are looking to insure your collection.
How do you know it's silver?
Knowing what coins are silver is as simple as holding a magnet to the coin. Canadian silver coins are in general made of 80% silver and 20% copper. Both silver and copper are non-magnetic so if the coin does not stick then it's silver. It's a bit different for US coins. Coins in the United States are made from 90% Silver and 10% Copper. So just like Canadian coins they will not sick to a magnet. However unlike Canadian modern day coins the US still make their coins from mostly copper and some nickle making their coins not magnet. The easiest way to see if a US coin is Silver is to turn it on its side, if you see a ring of copper then it is not silver.
OK so it's not a 1921 50 cent but it's a 1920; what difference does one year make?
One year can make the different between a few dollars and tens of thousands of dollars. The reason being is rarity. For instance a 1921 5 cent and the 50 cent can be undisputed as the King of Canadian Silver coins. What makes them this way has nothing to do with their mintage. Their mintage was very close in number as it was in previous years, and yet they are very very rare. Why? The demand for coin was low in the 1920's and picked up again in 1929, so the Master of the Ottawa Mint decided to melt the stock of 1920 and 1921 coins and re-coined them as 1929. Thus approx 3.5 million coins from 1920-1921 (mostly 1921) were melted.