People often visit our websites, and then call us to tell us they have the same valuable coin we are listing, and want to know how much we will offer. What they often do not realize is that a very small difference in grade can make an exponential difference in price. Firstly, it is important to understand that even 80 years ago coins were produced in large quantities…in fact people used coins more often in trade than they do today, as prices were lower, and there were no debit or credit cards. These large amounts of coins were for the most part saved as no one usually throws money away. Of course, many were returned to the mint to be melted but not enough to cause coins with large mintages to become scarce. What is less commonly known is that coin collecting really only became “popular” in the 1950’s, and this is the period when people stated “saving” coins in new condition. Also, it was during this period that people started looking through their change to find rarer coins. If you had been lucky enough to have pulled out a 1925 5 Cents from your change in 1955, it would certainly not be in new condition, as it had been in circulation for 30 years.
For this reason Canadian coins from the 1930’s and prior are all quite scarce in new condition, but mostly quite common in used condition. The survival rate of uncirculated coins compared to circulated coins is VERY small. A perfect example would be a 1 Cent 1933 third party graded as MS-65 Red. Which means it is brand new, and has original red color, with virtually no scratches or contact marks. It is likely that less than a couple hundred exist so nice. Retail price $650. However, if you have a 1933 that was pulled from circulation, and is nice and undamaged it is likely worth about 25 cents, as well over 100,000 still exist in circulated condition. Big difference! Even if you have an uncirculated example of the 1933 cent but not quite perfect red, it is probably worth only $10 to $25....and not $650. So you can see, condition, with pre-1940’s coins is like location in real estate…it is the most important factor that determines value. This is why when embarking on the journey of coin collecting, the first thing to learn (and the most difficult) is how to grade coins. Buying a reference book or two is a good start. Looking at lots of coins and comparing them to understand the small differences is the true way to gain expertise.