What Makes Gold And Silver
Rare Coins Special?

Gold and silver rare coins, also called numismatic coins, include a unique or rare quality.20 Dollar US Gold Coin - Reverse20 Dollar US Gold Coin - Obverse This often makes them more valuable than silver and
gold bullion coins.

Numismatic coins generally fall into one or more of the following groups:

  • Error and Die Variety Coins.
  • Proof Coins.                                   Liberty Head Gold Coins
  • Certified Coins.
  • Mintage Rarity Coins.
  • Commemorative Coins.

St. Gaudens Gold Coin - ObverseSt. Gaudens Gold Coin - Reverse

I will expand on these categories later, except commemorative coins which are self-explanatory.

Let's begin by summarizing some of the more well-known gold and silver rare coins traded in North America

          St. Gaudens Gold Coins

Some of the rare gold coins you may see at a US coin show include:

  • American Buffalo Gold Proof Coin.
  • American Gold Eagle Proof Coins.
  • California Fractional Gold Coin.
  • Double Eagle Gold Coin ($20 St. Gaudens/Liberty Head Gold Coins).
  • Indian Head Gold Coins.
  • Liberty Head Gold Coins.                     Morgan Silver Dollars

Morgan Silver Dollars

A few US rare silver coins that are popular among coin collectors are:

  • American Eagle Silver Proof Coins
  • Morgan Silver Dollars
  • Peace Silver Dollars

These lists are not complete. But they do include some of the most widely-traded gold and silver rare coins.

Peace Dollars - ObversePeace Dollars - Reverse

           Peace Silver Dollars

Error And Die Variety Coins

Minting errors create error coins and die variety coins. These coin flaws (mint errors) are usually associated with one of the following:

  • Planchet - A blank coin that has not yet received an image. An error is made during the production/selection of the coin blanks or planchets (i.e. a clipped planchet).
  • Die - A device that forms a coin's image. Die variety coins result from a die defect. An example is a double die coin -- not caused by a double strike of the coin but by an error when the die was made. The defective die leaves a faulty (double) impression on the coin.
  • Strike - The mechanical process of stamping an image on a coin. An error can occur during stamping ... such as an off-center strike or double strike.

Possible Error Coin Lincoln Penny

Very few major error or variety coins enter circulation due to the strict quality control methods employed by mints. Therefore, when it happens, they are valuable.

Coins with scratches, dents or other damage as a result of being transported or handled by the mint are not error or variety coins.

This area of numismatics is very specialized. A good way to learn more about these rare coins is to join a club.

One such club is the Combined Organization of Numismatic Error Collectors of America (CONECA).

Or you may just want to learn about a coin's historical details and its error or variety coin classification. CONECA has listed attributers and examiners that provide these services to members and non-members.

Proof Coins

Gold and silver proof coins were originally minted as samples to gain approval from the ruling authority before mass producing a new coin.

American Buffalo Gold Proof Coins

These special coins have morphed into something more in modern times. They are now produced with unique features and sold to collectors as gold and silver rare coins.

Additional preparations are performed on the proof coin dies. These extra steps often produce a raised frosty image and a mirror-like background.

The US mint uses multiple strikes to enhance a coin's image. US Proof Coins also bear the first letter of the mint that produced them.

The following US mint coins have a “W” indicating the West Point Mint:

  • American Eagle Proof Coins.
  • American Buffalo Gold Proof Coin.
  • Mint-Designated American Eagle Uncirculated Coins.

American Gold Eagle Proof CoinsAmerican Silver Eagle Proof Coins

Gold and Silver American Eagle Proof Coins

Certified Rare Gold Coins

Impartial third parties examine coins with numismatic potential and certify the quality of appearance (and wear) by assigning them grades.

Indian Head Gold Coins

Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) are very respected coin grading organizations.

Independent Coin Graders (ICG) and American Numismatic Association Certification Service (ANACS)
are also commonly used.                           Indian Head Gold Coins

Indian Princess Gold Coin - Obverse

A human grades a coin's wear and appearance. This makes its certification subject to the examiner's opinion.

Therefore, it's wise to only buy gold and silver rare coins certified by credible companies employing very skilled examiners. PCGS and NGC are generally viewed as the top-tier graders in the rare coin community.

   Indian Princess

Certified Coin Grading Scale

Different grades are awarded to rare coins on a graduated basis. Starting with the highest first, these grades include the following:

  • Uncirculated
  • About Uncirculated
  • Extremely Fine
  • Very Fine
  • Fine
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • About Good
  • Fair
  • Poor

Numerical values are also assigned during the grading process from 1 to 70. St. Gaudens Gold Coin - SlabbedHigher numbers indicate superior appearances and vice versa for lower numbers.

Of course, rare coins with higher grades achieve higher values.

An Uncirculated designation is for coins the general public did not use for commerce.

Usually it does not mean additional manufacturing steps were taken (an exception -- American Eagle Uncirculated Coins indicated above).

Uncirculated coins appear to be in a mint state (MS). Like the day they were minted.

About Uncirculated indicates the coins were circulated with the public for a short time, but they still appear new.

Proof coins are uncirculated coins that have a special designation within the grading system.

Morgan Silver Dollar - Slabbed

Mintage Rarity Coins

Mintage rarity coins are coins (possibly uncertified) that were produced in smaller numbers but are in great demand.

These gold and silver rare coins should not be confused with certified coins with high grades and high mintage numbers. The latter has collectible value due to its high certified grade and for no other reason.

The best of both worlds is a low mintage coin with a high demand and a high certified grade.

One final cautionary note -- sometimes antique silver coins (or gold) may not be rare coins. In short, a coin's old age does not always imply that it is rare.

Good hunting .... I hope I've helped you better understand gold and silver rare coins. Please choose a link from my navigation bar (upper left) for more details about precious metals.

Return from Gold and Silver Rare Coins to Silver and Gold Bullion (Home)

Any use of this site signifies acceptance of its disclosure-disclaimer & privacy policies.

Home        About        Contact       Site Map

Copyright© 2011 - 2013 GoldBullion-SilverBullion.com. All Rights Reserved.

Powered by SBI!