Long Beard's Blog

20 Nov 2022

Popularity Versus Rarity and Reality

Coins | Long Beard

Coin collecting can be broken down into two main types of collectors. Those who do so out of enjoyment, history or artistry and the challenge of completing a task. Others who focus on highest quality, often the rare and unique with intentions of both bragging rights and investment potential. A third group of collectors, those of us who chose both paths although budgeted far lower than those with seeming unlimited funds. So the subject for the week focuses on the third, using a specimen which has now been entrusted to myself for future collectors to show the reality versus the perception of rare coinage. Proving that anyone, on practically any budget, may obtain rare coins. Enjoy!

What exactly does the word rare mean when attached to a coin? Most would immediately answer based on the availability, or mintage total, while some would suggest the condition within a population. While these two answer certainly fit the definition, this very notion of rare seems to only pertain to coins of the United States. For arguments sake, ancient coinage should also be included, particularly the famous sort. But we'll stick with what's collected on a more general basis by a larger group. So this brings up the popularity factor. Most certainly there are a great number of collectors world wide, only the vast majority and largest concentration appear to be in North America. And that brings up the all important follow up to the question, "Why does popularity dictate whether a coin is rare or not?".

If you'll notice the accompanying image to this week's blog, it is not a coin struck by the United States Mint. It's not exactly as artistic as the same, and more importantly, it is not as popular. However, if we look beyond those points and guage it based on another factor as to why we collect, history, these coins fit the reason just the same. Yet popularity prevents us from seeing the reality. That reality being, this particular specimen had a very low mintage of 96,000 struck for commerce. Figures not seen in the United States since the mid-1800's. Which translates to only 96,000 collectors world-wide who could possess one IF the all survived. If we begin to contemplate the number remaining in uncirculated state that percentage becomes mind numbingly few. To be clear, the author is by no means wealthy, in fact one on a slightly above average budget. If we compare this with the popularity factor, using a similar coin of size, weight and composition, and being on the lower end of popularity within the U.S. collector base to equal things out somewhat, the reality becomes obviously clear.

So, we have the 1966 Ireland Farthing with a low mintage and high grade. Of the mintage total, PCGS shows a total of 10 across all grades, 1 in this grade and 1 in the same at red with none higher. NGC reports a total of 23, with 7 in the grade and 4 Red in the same, again, none higher. The 1833 Classic Head Half Cent, with a mintage of 103,000, shows 1097 being graded by PCGC and another 785 at NGC. Of these, 2 are in 65RB respectively with 3- PCGS 66 RB's being the highest grade. Clearly popularity attests to these figures when comparing the two. Still, collectors will continue to attribute a coins rarity, and value, based on popularity even as the truth is right before our eyes. Speaking of value, once more tied to popularity, the coin depicted was acquired for far less than the $7,200 Heritage auction sale in August of this year for the same grade 1833 half cent , or 2/3 that of an AU details ($240) earlier this month from the same auction house. So I'll keep buying these and other rare coins while others attach the false notion to their additions paying far more.

In conclusion, if you collect for the passion and enjoyment, yet dream of rarity, I just opened the door for you. The possibilities are endless and achievable only if you change your mind set.



Level 6

Beautiful coin! Interesting subject. Lots of thoughts to ponder. Thanks LB


Level 5

Good points. I have lots of time to learn from you and others. Thanks.

Doug S.

Level 4

Great points!! Regards Doug


Level 6

Beautiful coin and a great blog. Very thoughtful. I would agree with SUN on this. An auction price for a coin can come down to what two people feel it is worth and are rich enough to bid. This blog is worth more thought. Thanks LB.

Long Beard

Level 5

My whole point was that simply because multiple people bid up a certain coin doesn't make it any rarer than one which gets overlooked. Popularity does not mean a coin is rare. We collect what we like assigning the value accordingly and for different reasons. And I respect that. I simply chose not to fall for the misconception that popularity automatically makes it rare and thereby out of reach for the vast majority of us.


Level 6

Besides mintage and grade, how many people collect an items is a factor.

AC Coin$🌎

Level 6

Great coin and Grade.


Level 7

Well you know I'm not going to say were does that sin come from . The same place it comes for and its an excellent coin in great condition. That beauty would probably be out of my budget. I would be broke without one.. A farthing with that grade is a great coin. Those who buy at Heritage have to have money if the coin they have goes up. The buyers fee. And the sellers fee. Im so glad you got it. I think there buyers fee is 26% I'm probably wrong. But I have saved when I know a coin I want is going up.Again a great blog as usually and will read it again. I picked up information on one of my country's coins. Can't beat that. Thanks I was waiting for it!!

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