About Us, This Website, and Coin Collecting FAQs

This page addresses several things. First is the obligatory "About Us" section, detailing the who, why, what, and where of this website, US Coin Values Advisor.

This is followed by an explanation regarding the inner workings of our value trend reports, which were the foundation of this site when it first went online in 2003. There is also a brief summary of the mechanics that went into building this site.

Thirdly, we provide answers to the most frequently asked questions about coin collecting. Things like "how much is my old coin worth", "what makes a coin valuable", etc.

Finally, the "Expand Your Numismatic Horizons HERE" button located at the upper right opens a new window where you can learn about additional resources and accessories central to the coin collecting hobby.

About Us

  1. Who are we?
  2. What information does this website offer?
  3. Why are we giving away information for free? [Disclosure Statement]
  4. What is the the inspiration behind US Coin Values Advisor?
  5. Where is the home base of US Coin Values Advisor?

About Our Website

  1. What online coin reports are available now?
  2. Are reports formatted for downloading and printing?
  3. How was the coin value trend data researched?
  4. How far back in time does the data go?
  5. What is the purpose of the % rate of return computations?
  6. What exactly is meant by "return rate"?
  7. What if I have a coin whose % ROR is not found in the Coin Value Tables?
  8. How was this website built?

Coin Collecting Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1.  How much are my old coins worth?
  2.  What does a numismatist do?
  3.  How do I collect coins?
  4.  How does a beginner get started?
  5.  Where should the new collector start looking for coins?
  6.  Where can I purchase collectible coins?
  7.  What is the best way to handle and store valuable coins?
  8.  What is coin grading all about?
  9.  What makes a coin valuable?
  10.  Is it a smart idea to clean my coins?
  11.  How do I know if a coin has been cleaned?
  12.  Are coins good investments?
  13.  Can I get my coins appraised?
  14.  What if I have a question that's not addressed here?

Who are we?

We are US Coin Values Advisor, the Internet offshoot of Heritage Coin Books. Founded in 1986 to publish historic value trends for United States coins, Heritage Coin Books sold hard copy reports for many years. Since January 2003, US Coin Values Advisor is providing coin trend data free of charge to our website visitors.

What information does this website offer?

US Coin Values Advisor researches historical price trends for United States collectible coins. This data is presented in a series of concise Coin Value Tables. These tables empower collectors to study the up-and-down price movement records of individual coins over a long period of time. While past performance is no guarantee of future results, coins that have consistently risen in steadily in value in the past are the best bets for appreciation in the years ahead.

There is other numismatic information presented on US Coin Values Advisor. A partial listing of topics includes coin type descriptions, ultra rare coin sales data, advice on buying and selling coins, coin grading, numismatic glossary, coins and US history, coin rate of return calculator, and lots more.  The left hand side bar menu on all pages is there to help you navigate to any of the major topics.

Why are we giving away information for free? [Disclosure Statement]

We provide this data free to the public in order to build traffic coming to our website. We link to several high quality vendors who offer a wide range of products to the coin collecting public. We may get paid a small referral fee anytime one of our visitors links to a vendor from our website, OR we may receive a commission if we send someone who subsequently makes a purchase. These forms of compensation are arranged through third party networks. We also sell some advertising blocks directly. We are NOT paid to provide opinions on products or services. We believe in full disclosure and have no ulterior motives.

What is the the inspiration behind US Coin Values Advisor?

The webmaster for this site is Daniel J. Goevert. In 1986, Dan published a book entitled Value Trends of United States Coins. Estimated retail value trends from 1950 to 1985 were researched for virtually every collectible US coin, in conditions ranging from Good to Proof.

Value Trends was one of the most comprehensive works of its kind ever published. The exposure helped Dan establish a consulting relationship as Coin Editor with Edmund Publications from 1989 to 2000. Dan played a key role in producing nearly 20 nationally distributed coin books during his consultancy with Edmund.

Dan's demonstrated skill as a researcher and stickler for detail generate useful tools for collectors seeking to bridge values from today's coin market to those of past decades.

Where is the home base of US Coin Values Advisor?

We are located in the Wichita, KS area. For geography-challenged individuals, this is smack-dab center of the United States.

What online coin reports are available now?

Now available are trend reports for Flying Eagle cents, Indian Head cents, Lincoln cents, Buffalo nickels, Mercury dimes, Washington quarters, Seated Liberty Dollars, Morgan silver dollars, Peace dollars, $10 Gold Eagles, Standing Liberty quarters, and Walking Liberty half dollars. Many more coin value trend reports will be posted as time permits. Click the Coin Value Tables link to gain access to the trend report pages.

Are reports formatted for downloading and printing?

Yes. They are converted over to PDF format for easy downloading and printing later. You may get printed reports by visiting our US Coin Reports Print Center. At this time, not many of the online reports are converted over to PDF format. Plans are in place to expand the printed report selection.

How was the coin value trend data researched?

Very meticulously! The older information in these reports was researched from vintage advertisements, auction results, and a variety of numismatic publications, largely obtained from the vast holdings of the American Numismatic Association library. We obtain current data by monitoring present day coin market conditions.

How far back in time does the data go?

The Coin Value Tables track values for collectible United States coins, estimating retail prices from as far back as 1950, up to and including the year 2016.

What is the purpose of the % rate of return computations?

The purpose of the % rate of return is simply to facilitate comparisons from one coin to the next, as to how much they change in value over time. Some of our visitors may choose to analyze the data in other ways.

What exactly is meant by "return rate"?

The return rates presented on this website are compounded annual return rates, a common yardstick for measuring the performance of investment vehicles. For example, if the value of a commodity grows from $200 to $300 over a period of seven years, the return rate, computed to be 5.96%, compounds itself annually for seven years by this amount. Thus:

$200 * (1.0596 [Yr1]) * (1.0596 [Yr2]) * (1.0596 [Yr3]) * (1.0596 [Yr4]) *(1.0596 [Yr5]) * (1.0596 [Yr6]) * (1.0596[Yr7]) = $300

Of course, coins do not grow at a guaranteed uniform rate, such as do bonds or Certificate of Deposits, but if a coin is purchased at a certain price, and that price is juxtaposed with the value of the coin at some later date, the effective compounded annual return rate can be calculated for the time period in between.

What if I have a coin whose % rate of return is not found in the Coin Value Tables?

The Coin Value Tables contain compounded annual return rates from 1950 to the present (a very long time period), 1980 to the present (a long time period), 1995 to the present (a relatively short, but not too short time period), and 200x to the present. This data is normally sufficient to flush out "blue ribbon" coins deserving your attention. However, if you have a coin whose compounded annual return rate is not adequately represented in the tables, jump over to our Coin Rate of Return Calculator, enter data specific to your situation, hit the "Calculate" button, and get your answer. The best part is that it's all FREE!

How was this website built?

This website, US Coin Values Advisor, was built through a system called Site Build It!, known as SBI! for short. The nice thing about SBI! is that you don't need to be a technogeek to create a website capable of attracting thousands of visitors a day. SBI is like a 'paint-by-numbers' Internet success kit. The most important ingredients for success in the SBI! system is a passion for some topic or hobby (in our case, it's US coins) and a desire to share your knowledge with others. SBI can turn your passion into a business and make your business a passion. Click the button below to learn more (don't worry, the button is safe!)

Site Build It!

SBI! sites come in all shapes and sizes. Take a look! A much bigger listing of high-flying sites built through SBI! is here.

You can get still more information about SBI! by clicking here. If you think SBI! might be a good match for your talents but have specific questions, you can ask SBI! directly. We've been using SBI! since 2003 and can vouch that it's not a gimmick, and is surprisingly affordable.

How much are my old coins worth?

In addition to learning how your coins have changed in value over a period of many years, you can also use the Coin Value Tables to identify approximate retail values in today's market. However, we do not have tables ready for every coin group yet, in which case you may use the information in our Current Coin Values section.

What does a numismatist do?

Numismatics is the study of coins, paper money, tokens, and medals. A numismatist is a person who passionately pursues numismatics. Coin collecting is the most popular expression of numismatics.

How do I collect coins?

Since it is virtually impossible to collect everything, most serious numismatists choose to specialize in some way, such as collecting a series of coins (for example, Mercury dimes, 1916-1945), or Type coins, where the goal is to find an example from each coin series over a period of time (say, the Civil War), or of a particular monetary denomination. Try obtaining a specimen of each basic silver dollar type... now there would be an impressive collection!

How does a beginner get started?

Visiting this website, as well as other coin-related educational sites, is an excellent start. Learn something about coins before you make your first coin purchase. Invest a little up front in knowledge-building, and you'll save a lot of time, money, and frustration later on. One book we highly recommend for the novice is Coin Collecting for Dummies. This is a great reference for the budding coin collector, but it flows so well that even veterans of the hobby will have difficulty putting it down. Another good one is Coin Collector's Survival Manual. Anyone who absorbs this material will have built a solid foundation in numismatics and market realities. Also, weekly publications such as Numismatic News and Coin World are terrific resources for monitoring the pulse of the coin collecting hobby.

Where should the new collector start looking for coins?

A good place to start collecting is to search for coins out of regular circulation. You'll get a taste for what coin collecting is like, with virtually no downside risk by collecting State Quarters, which has become a very popular pastime in the USA these days, with many State quarter collectors bridging over to mainstream coin collecting. Flushed with state pride, US history, and artistic excellence, no small wonder this program has helped to swell the ranks of collectors.  One overlooked area for beginning collectors is Jefferson nickels. Surprisingly, with the exception of WWII silver alloy issues, nearly every Jefferson date and mintmark can still be found in circulation. Go to the bank, get some rolls, and have hours of fun looking for that rascally elusive 1939-D!

Where can I purchase collectible coins?

If you've been bitten by the "coin bug", sooner or later you'll likely want to move on to collectible coins. Since you don't stand a chance of finding an 1877 Indian Head Cent in your pocket change, for example, you'll have to pay money to someone who has one and is wanting to sell. There are numerous routines for buying coins, discussed in detail at our Coin Buying Advice section.

What is the best way to handle and store valuable coins?

Valuable coins should be handled and stored with great care. Adding wear or inducing damage to your collection can reduce its value significantly. Fortunately, a wide range of Coin Supplies is available to meet your specific needs and your budget.

What is coin grading all about?

The condition of a coin, that is, the state of preservation defined by the amount of wear on the coin, is what determines its grade. The grade is an important factor in determining value. Go to our Grading Coins page to get an in-depth introduction to grading coins.

What makes a coin valuable?

Ultimately, values are based on essentially the same set of rules as any other commodity. If everyone wants to buy, prices go up, but if everyone wants to sell, prices drop. Let's take a look at the supply/demand theory and how it relates to coin values. What exactly is the supply? Simply stated, the supply can be defined as the number of coins available for sale at a specific point in time. Mintage is the first indicator to be studied when guessing the available supply of a given coin. The mintage figure for a given date and mint mark tell you that the existing total today can be no large than that number. Survivorship is the key modifier to the original mintage quantity. Over time, many millions of coins have been melted, destroyed, lost, or otherwise eliminated, to reduce the supply. More concisely, the volume of coins issued in the past is finite, can never increase, and in all likelihood will shrink even more over time due to attrition.

Condition is the most critical stratification factor of the existing supply. High grade coins with little or no wear are encountered far less frequently than well worn siblings of the same date and mint mark.

Collectors comprise the demand portion of the equation. Collectors of coins will pay a price to a coin owner to acquire a desired specimen, and are willing to pay more for limited supply examples. This is especially true for coin types popular with large numbers of collectors. Hence, the coins most heavily sought after, and having the best grades within a limited supply, will always command high prices. A good example is a 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent grading MS-65 (RED) condition. Priced at more than $8000 for a properly graded specimen, it certainly is a rare coin desired by many people. With collectors competing against one another for, at best, a fixed supply of coins, we see the formation of a solid price foundation within the coin market.

Is it a smart idea to clean my coins?

If you have a valuable coin, then the answer, generally speaking, is NO!!!. You will probably do more harm than good. Abrasive treatments are the absolute worst. Coins that have obviously been cleaned always suffer in diminished value. If you have a coin of some worth spoiled by unsightly tarnish or other foreign substances, contact a numismatic professional with experience in cleaning coins. Expert coin cleaners have techniques, such as dipping, to remove unattractive adherents without doing damage to the coin.

Some coins are naturally tarnished, but in an attractive manner. This effect is called toning, and is desired by many collectors willing to pay premiums above book value to acquire such a specimen. So before you even think about cleaning a toned coin, be mindful of this fact.

With less valuable coins that are simply dirty, you can take action at home to remove the dirt safely. Soak the coin for at least 48 hours in olive oil or a soapy solution. Rinse thoroughly with water, followed by drying with air compressor or hair dryer. At no time during this procedure should you rub a cloth, your finger, or anything else across the coin's surface. You will leave tiny scratches.

Commercial coin cleaners are also available for cleaning dirty coins, and accelerate the process with improved results. A final warning: do not attempt to clean coins with considerable value (that's up to you to decide what's considerable) yourself, unless you really know what you're doing.

How do I know if a coin has been cleaned?

If cleaned with an abrasive, the coin will have hairlines, visible under magnification. Also, some dirt will still remain in the deepest crevices on the coin. Coins cleaned with abrasives are relatively easy for the trained eye to catch, and should be discounted in value severely.

Dipped coins, if done expertly, may be impossible to detect. But then, if it is impossible to detect, the whole question of cleaning becomes neutralized for that particular coin. On the other hand, if a coin can be determined to have been dipped, it will be rejected by large portions of the numismatic community, unless marked down in price accordingly.

A good reference to help you learn about recognizing cleaned coins is Coin Collector's Survival Manual. The author, Scott Travers (who just happens to be one of the most successful numismatic writers around) informs readers how to detect cleaned/doctored/counterfeit coins. Other topics crucial to the coin collector are presented also.

Are coins good investments?

Well, they can be, but they should be viewed first for their artistic and historic qualities, with secondary consideration given to their investment potential. However, no one buys coins with the desire or expectation to see them fall in value. Naturally, most buyers hope their coins will increase in value over time. For this reason, many numismatists select coins primarily for their collecting pleasure, while simultaneously building a collection that will be worth more in the years ahead. One purpose for including the Percent Return Rate computations in the Coin Value Tables is to assist individuals with this dual strategy to reach their goals.

Several books have been written to help collectors identify coins with the best profit potential. A good companion to the Coin Value Tables is a book authored by coin dealer insider Scott Travers, How to Make Money in Coins Right Now. (haven't we heard of this guy already?). In addition to presenting high flying coins, Travers guides the reader through a wealth of information on how the coin market operates. Another good one is The Expert's Guide to Collecting & Investing in Rare Coins: Secrets Of Success by the dean of numismatic writers, Q. David Bowers.

Can I get my coins appraised?

Yes, there are places where you can get your coins appraised. However, if you tap into the resources shared on this website, you should be able to approximate the value of your coins yourself. From there, you can decide if its worth the effort to take your coins somewhere to get them appraised.

If, for whatever reason, you still want your collection appraised, you can find a numismatist in your area by logging onto the Dealer Directory, published by the ANA. Everyone on this list is bound by a code of ethics, so that's a good start.

Another option is to contact a coin club. People who belong to coin clubs thoroughly enjoy looking at coins, and are often experienced numismatists. Someone in the club may be willing to provide an honest appraisal for free, in exchange for the joy of seeing coins and sharing their knowledge. If you're on a tight budget, this avenue might be worth a shot. Surf over to Coinclub.com or the ANA registered clubs to locate a coin club in your vicinity.

What if I have a question that's not addressed here?

If we can't provide an answer to one of your questions, jump over to the website of the American Numismatic Association, the largest numismatic organization in the world. They've got many years of experience at fielding coin-related questions and have prepared answers on FAQ page to dozens of the most popular queries put to them from the general public.

Expand Your Numismatic Horizons HERE