Investing in Gold by Allen Rowe: Many factors go into rating value of coins |

Investing in Gold by Allen Rowe: Many factors go into rating value of coins

Allen Rowe
For the Nevada Appeal

Mintages, rarity and value.

When it comes to pricing coins many factors play a part. How many coins were made is the first factor, but not the only one. How many survived and in what condition is much more important to a coin’s value. For this overview let’s look at a few Carson City dollars and their respective values.

Carson City Morgan dollars have long been prized by collectors for their value and mystique. If you ask an advanced collector which is the king of Carson City Morgans the answer will always be the 1889-CC Morgan. With a paltry mintage of 350,000 (compared to say the 1921 with 44-plus million minted), the 1889-CC has long been sought by collectors. Low grade examples sell from the $500 -$1500 range and quickly climb from there with uncirculated examples starting at about $20,000. If one were to have a MS-65 (mint state with only very slight imperfections), it could be expected to fetch $250,000-plus in today’s market.

So now lets look at the 1885-CC Morgan. The mintage of this coin was only 228,000, the lowest of any Carson City Morgan, and if you wish to buy a MS-65 it will set you back about $1,100. That’s right only a little over $1000. Compared to the 1889-CC this looks like a bargain.

Why is there so much difference between the two values? Simple, survival rates. Most of the 1889-CC dollars were placed into circulation. Because of this many were worn down, lost, damaged, or even destroyed over the years. Less than 1,000 have been graded MS-60 or higher and just a handful have achieved the MS-65 level. An average of about 1 in 350 survived as uncirculated.

Now let’s look at the 1885-CC. With only 228,000 made, it would appear that this date would be much rarer, and it used to be considered so. Up until the late 1960s the 1885-CC was worth much more than its 1889 counterpart, but then the Treasury hoard was discovered. Millions of silver dollars were lying in the vaults of the U.S. Treasury department, and many of these coins were Carson City mint coins. Upon tallying the dollars many of the once believed rare coins were now no longer rare. For the 1885-CC, nearly 65 percent of its entire mintage was found in those mint fresh bags. So today if a collector wishes to have an uncirculated example there are more than 130,000 to chose from starting at about $550. If you wish to have a Gem-status uncirculated example, there are more than 8,000 to choose from. Compare that to the nine coins that have achieved Gem status at PCGS or NGC and the price difference begins to make sense.

When it comes to valuing a coin looking at the number of pieces made is important, but as you can see looking at the number of pieces available is really the critical information.

• Allen Rowe is the owner of Northern Nevada Coin in Carson City.