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World_Coin_Nut's Blog

16 May 2015

What makes it rare?

Coins | World_Coin_Nut

I have always been intrigued by the entries in price guides where instead of a dollar value it just says “RARE”. As a child when flipping through my copy of “A Guide Book of United States Coins” I would see that and think, maybe one of these will show up in change or maybe I will find one at the coin shop in the 25 cent each bin. Of course as I got older reality set in. Now I just hope to able to say I saw one in a museum or a colleague’s collection.

As many of us do I spend time on Ebay and other sites looking for hidden gems or items to fill holes in my collection. It always bothers me when I see sellers throw around the word rare in the description. Recently on Ebay I did a search under the broad category of coins and paper money and found 86541 items with rare in the title. I then did the same search for anything with a Buy It Now price of $100 or less and this trimmed the list to only 39811 items. Really, I thought. There are almost 40,000 items in coins and paper money for less than $100 that somebody considers to be rare.

I know you can’t and shouldn’t tell sellers how to market there products but it seems to me they could use a different tactic. My guess is that the seller hopes the buyer will see that word and without doing there homework will pull the trigger and make the purchase. Personally I avoid the word when I sell items.

I did scroll thru the first couple of pages of the 40,000 item list before there was an item of any interest to click on. A 1915 Italy 2 Lire coin. There were only 7,948,000 minted. The seller claims it is in VF condition. In said condition it carries a value of $22.50. Maybe there is some unknown to me history of this coin that makes it rare……but I doubt it.

As I have grown older the focus of my personal collection has grown to include a lot of world coins. I was fortunate enough recently to purchase one of those elusive items marked rare in “The Standard Catalog of World Coins”. It is a 1795C 6 Kreuzer from Austria. (2794688-001) I know it is probably not a highly sought after piece and to honest despite it being NGC Graded XF45 it is no where near one of the most attractive pieces I possess. In truth I believe it to be over graded. I still get a thrill knowing it is in my collection.

Comments

Mike

Level 7

I am Fenn I hope you get your coin. You know the rare one! Only kidding. It's about time someone took the time to put things in perspective. You sir probably educated everyone who read this. Not only the blog but the responses. There important also. Some do not think so. They will take longer to learn or pick something up. Again thank you for taking the time.mike

Pliny The Elder

Level 5

I think education of people is key, on eBay at least. People simply need to be told how the word actually has a true meaning in regards to coin populations, and is not just an esoteric concept. As Ian Fenn informs us, and I agree, you can tell someone who lacks experience by the amount of times they use the word rare in regards to their coin. I used to call certain coins I was selling rare, but as time and experience conspired to teach me valuable lessons, I have learned that it is not a fair selling tactic...and usually not even accurate. It is a term best reserved for truly rare pieces, meaning pieces where there are not very many specimens. It is a nice word, though. As a side note.... Is using the term "rare beauty" a fair phrasing in a coin ad? Or even just calling something "a rarity". Both such terms can be seen as having meaning outside of the hard and fast definition of the word RARE. But using such terms cloud the water, possibly. I think so, at least.

Mike

Level 7

I search looking for good blogs Don't care how old they are. I'm a member a the civil war token society. Going thru eBay I noticed the rarity factors on the tokens being way off . I turned in two sellers. EBay did nothing. I contacted our attorneys who were going to meet at the fun show. Today if you look at the tokens there are very few rarity factors. Yes we met with eBay and we won! The buyers are protected. We still tell them to look up the rarity factor's

ShriekenGriffon

Level 5

I agree with Ian Fenn. Thanks for writing such interestingt articles!!!

Longstrider

Level 6

If it's "Rare to you, that's good enough!!

user_7180

Level 5

A rare coin to each collector can also be the coin they need next:) not just the one that completes their collection!

CMCC

Level 5

I have seen many people saying "Extremely Rare Series, Silver Half Dime!!!," "Rare Key Date 1889 Liberty Head Nickel!!!", and then a description of an estate sale: Rare 1800's Indian Head Cents...Rare Buffalo and Liberty Head Nickels...Rare 1940's 35% Silver War Nickel!!!" "Extremely rare 1800's Morgan Dollar!" Many words are just thrown about nowadays, and the three that are the worst are 'Terrible,' 'Awesome,' and 'Rare.'

CMCC

Level 5

And by the way, this is one of the best blogs that I have read on the whole sight (I am being very careful not to exaggerate, it is simply fact!).

Kepi

Level 6

Interesting blog! Thanks for sharing!

Ian Fenn

Level 5

Too often "rare" is a word of ignorance used to sell to the gullible. In fact you can identify a new collector by the number of times they bring the word rare into a conversation about their collection In a brick and mortar shop, or a coin fair: If a seller tells me a coin is rare, my initial reaction is to become extremely suspicious. At that point the potential sale is almost dead and buried. If the seller goes on to give a rarity grading, R1-R7, then the potential sale pulls back from the brink of failure. If not the seller goes on my do-not-trust list( stored cerebrally). The other mistake a seller could make with me is to automatically equate rare with expensive. It may well be the case that a coin is part of a population of less than 10, that does not equate to being worth anything ( financially). Using paintings as an example. How many painting are out there that are the sole work of a artist? MIllions of course yes the painting is rare being the only painting ever produced by that particular person. For family members its a treasure , but for the market it has no financial value. I can happily brag that I have a countermarked coin that is 1 of five ever produced, but my bragging would be empty hubris as the market and the collectors that make that market, though admitting its rarity, would be right in pointing out that numismatically it might be a novelty , but value wise US$100.00 might be 20 X more than the piece is worth. I would add that rarity is relative. An 18th century coin with a mintage of 500,000 is, on the balance of probabilities, likely to be much rarer than a 21st century coin that has a mintage of 50,000. In assessing rarity I make the final judgement based on how long it takes to add the coin to my collection. Collectors and sellers of New Zealand coins will describe the 1935 3d as being rare. Doing a quick ebay search I find 14 for sale, and one seller is offering 3 in a single listing. The coin is "key" it can be expensive, but when you can add one to you collection any day of the week can it truly be called rare?. I am currently hanging out for a floor auction in which a trial strike is being sold, the last time I saw one for sale was in 2009. I have been hunting for an example for nearly 12 years: that confirms, to me, the coin is rare!!!

Juno Moneta

Level 4

It's rare because somebody paid to have it slabbed. But we all know that there are many factors that conspire to make a piece truly rare. The sellers desire to make it rare just by saying so for the sake of ginning up interest isn't one of them. So it's always buyers knowledge and buyer beware for the smart collector. There are many coins out there that would seem to be high mintage but still are not commonly available. They're usually desirable for some other reason and the collector market has them locked up. At least we don't have a controlled market like the one with diamonds. The world is awash in diamonds but the diamond merchants maintain a tight control in order to keep the prices high.

user_3992

Level 5

I do agree , ebay is a tempting place, one needs to do his homework well first.

World_Coin_Nut

Level 5

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