The Numismatic Value of Coins vs The Value of Their Metal

The value of coins can depend on a variety of factors. Coins hold numismatic value and melt value. Numismatic value is what coins are worth to collectors. Melt value is the value of the metals coins contain. Coins can be valuable due to their collectibility, valuable due to the metals they contain or both.


When talking about coins, it’s important to understand the difference between price and value. Price is what you’d pay to purchase a coin from a dealer. Value is what the dealer would pay you to buy the coin from you. It may seem obvious, but it’s an important distinction to make, especially when delving into the complex coin market.

Numismatic Value

Mintage can greatly influence the numismatic value of coins. The available supply of a coin in a specific grade will largely determine its value. The initial mintage is the total supply that will potentially be available to the market. When a mintage year is done, the supply for that year is fixed at the number produced. The more rare the coin’s mintage, the greater its numismatic value.

Demand is another factor used to determine numismatic value. What determines if a coin will be in high demand? It’s really difficult to say. Coins become popular and collectible for a number of reasons. Sometimes collectors just love the design of a particular coin. Other times, coins are marketed to collectors such as the 50 State Quarters Series. New designs can often spark interest in collecting coins. When a coin becomes popular with collectors, demand increases and it’s numismatic value increases.


The grade/condition of a coin can largely determine its numismatic value. The better condition a rare coin is in, the more value it will hold. While an untrained eye may not see the subtle differences in the grade/condition, it makes a big difference to experienced collectors.

Melt Value

In addition to their numismatic value, coins can also be valuable due to the value of their metal. This is called their melt value. Coins made from precious metals may or may not hold numismatic value, but they will hold intrinsic value due to the amount of precious metals they contain. For example, many coins in the U.S. dated before 1964 (dime, nickel and half dollar) have a melt value due to their 90 percent silver content.

Determining the value of coins requires knowledge, experience and skill. A wide variety of factors come into play in determining the value of coins. While some coins are valuable because of their numismatic value, others are valuable because of the precious metals they contain. Some coins are valuable due to their numismatic value and their melt value. If you have an old collection of coins, it’s best to seek out the help of an experienced collector or dealer.