How much a coin is worth is crucial information. It affects
what you're willing to pay for a coin, what you're willing to sell it for, and how you look at and appreciate coins
There's lots of information about coin prices out there, online and off. Some coin price guides are more accurate
than others. No single guide is foolproof. All guides are approximations of market values and actual coin prices.
That's why, if you really want to know the market, you should also see what coins are actually selling for. Options
include eBay and various auction houses, such as Heritage, Teletrade, Bowers and Merena, Stacks, and Classical
Numismatic Group (for ancient coins), not to mention local and national coin shows and local coin shops.
Here's a rundown of the most commonly used coin price guides for U.S., world, and ancient coins.
Officially titled A Guide to United States Coins, the Red
Book is a comprehensive book of U.S. retail coin
prices with a list price of $12.95 and is available at most coin shops. It's a good book to have, but more for
background information about coins than for pricing. By the time the book is out, some of the pricing information
in it is dated. Also, prices are included for far too few uncirculated grades.
The Blue Book, officially titled A Handbook
of United States Coins, is a similar, though smaller,
book that includes wholesale coin prices -- the prices that dealers typically pay for coins.
U.S. Coin Digest
This is a new coin price guide from Krause Publications (publisher of Coins Magazine, Numismatic News, and other
periodicals), with a list price of $11.95. It's much like the Red
Book, but it includes coin pricing for more grades.
With Morgan dollars, for example, the Red Book has prices for only six grades, while U.S. Coin Digest has prices
for eleven grades (but it still ignores pricing for VF-30 grades). U.S.
Coin Digest also includes a bit more background
information about coins in general than the Red Book.
Officially called the Coin Dealer Newsletter, this is a pricey subscription periodical, costing $98 per year (you
can buy the current issue for $4). It's the most commonly used price guide by dealers in setting their own prices,
and though it contains wholesale prices, it's a good choice for savvy collectors too. The prices are based on coins
graded according to industry standards "as exemplified by PCGS and NGC," though pricing for properly
graded raw coins is considered too in the compilation of its figures.
Greysheet "bid" is the amount that dealers are typically willing to pay other dealers for a coin. Greysheet
"ask" is the price dealers typically ask other dealers for a coin, which is higher. For collectors, one
rule of thumb is to add 25 to 75 percent to Greysheet bid when you're buying and to subtract 10 to 40 percent from
bid when selling.
The Bluesheet, officially called the Certified Coin Dealer Newsletter, includes bid prices for "sight-unseen"
slabbed coins. These prices are lower than prices in the Greysheet.
The Greysheet's biggest weakness is that it ignores the current state of the grading services. It ranks some of
the services in terms of how the market values coins in their slabs. But it fails to rank SEGS, ACG, and NTC, three
grading services that have a significant market presence. And it ranks two grading service with virtually no market
presence, INS (International Numismatic Society Authentication Bureau), which folded around 1992, and NCI (Numismatic
Certification Institute), which folded around 1988. Whether deserved or not, this creates an aura of unreliability
over all of its data.
Coin World's Coin Values
Formerly known as Trends, Coin Values is part of Coin World, another subscription periodical, costing $41.95 per
year. You can also subscribe to an online version for the same price (you receive the information sooner), or a
print and online version for $53.95 per year. Coin Values is also a stand-alone newsstand magazine available for
$36.95 per year. Unlike the Greysheet, Coin Values provides retail pricing, and it's the most commonly used price
guide for this purpose.
Coin Values generally does a good job, but like all price guides, it can sometimes be inconsistent, with the prices
for some series above actual market prices and the prices for other series below. Coin World itself can be a good
way to keep up with developments in numismatics and is a good read, as is Coin Values, the magazine.
You have to register to access this information, but registration is free. The prices are based on wholesale and
auction transactions for PCGS and NGC certified coins, which encompasses not only Heritage auctions but other observations
of the marketplace.
Impressively, pricing is given for a wide range of grades and include a range rather than a single value. With
Morgan dollars, for instance, prices are included for forty different grades: P-1, FR-2, AG-3, G-4, G-6, VG-8,
VG-10, F-12, F-15, VF-20, VF-25, VF-30, VF-35, XF-40, XF-45, AU-50, AU-53, AU-55, AU-58, MS-60, MS-61, MS-62, MS-63,
MS-64, MS-65, MS-66, MS-67, MS-68, MS-69, MS-70, PR-61, PR-62, PR-63, PR-64, PR-65, PR-66, PR-67, PR-68, PR-69,
You can also use the site to search for individual auction results.
USA Coin Price Guide
As with Heritage's Value Index, free registration provides access to this information. The prices are based on
Teletrade's own auctions. Unlike Heritage's Value Index and the other price guides, the information here isn't
presented in an easy-to-use grid. You search for prices realized in past auctions of coins based on parameters
of your choosing, such as denomination, year, mint, grade, and slab.
Teletrade Non-USA Coin Price Guide provides pricing information for world coins, from Afghanistan to Yugoslavia.
PCGS Price Guide
Some people feel that the prices in this free online price guide are higher than in some of the printed price guides.
The editor of Coin World, which has its own printed price guide and is thus a competitor, called the online price
guides "dealer price sheets" in a column in the Numismatist, meaning that their prices are those that
dealers would like to obtain for their coins rather than reflections of actual market prices. PCGS Price Guide
can be useful, but one piece of advice that has been offered is to subtract about 25 percent to arrive at true
retail prices, depending on the series.
This online service is similar to PCGS Price Guide, and its prices are also said to be higher than in some of the
printed price guides. But beginning in February 2003, the service began charging a subscription fee to see pricing
for grades above MS-60 -- $96/year, with other subscription plans available. Compared to PCGS Price Guide, pricing
is given for more grades. With Morgan dollars, for instance, while PCGS Price Guide provides grades for ten grades,
Numismedia does so for twenty.
Numismatic News, Coins Magazine,
The price guides in these Krause Publications periodicals suffer mainly from lack of use compared with other more
commonly used and quoted price guides. A subscription to Numismatic News (weekly) is $32 per year, Coins Magazine
(monthly newsstand magazine) is $25.98 per year, Coin Prices (bimonthly) is $18.98 per year. Numismatic News and
Coins Magazine both include articles and lots of other useful information.
This price guide has the same limitation as those in Krause Publications periodicals. An introductory subscription
is $11.88 per year. COINage is a good read for the articles and columns.
Standard Catalog of World Coins
Krause Publications also publishes this guide, which is 2,304 pages and lists for $52.95. The book covers the period
from 1901 to the present. Related Krause books include Standard
Catalog of World Coins, 19th Century, 1801-1900; Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1701-1800; and Standard
Catalog of World Coins, 1601-1700. Despite their
size, these books provide overviews rather than all-inclusive lists of world coins.
This free online service provides auction results for ancient coins, primarily from eBay. Included are Greek, Roman,
Celtic, and Byzantine coins. Attributions are included too, but they're only as trustworthy as the sellers offering
This is another free online service that provides auction results for ancient coins, but in this case primarily
from European auctions, which are typically for higher-end coins than those auctioned through eBay.