Coins: Difference Between Face Value and Actual Value?

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get” – Warren Buffet

Numismatists are probably most likely to encounter this problem. Even some of the most experienced ones sometimes fail to find the perfect balance between these two measures. It is indeed not an easy feat, here’s why:

Price is arbitrary and value is fundamental

The price is basically the amount of money that you have to pay for a coin or any other product, also called the “market price”. The value on the other hand is assessed by you. This is the famous question “how much am I willing to pay to get this item?”

The price usually depends on many factors or services, not just the face value of the coin. For example, most collectors always make an offer at least 20% below the market price when buying large quantities of coins from a private seller in order to guarantee his own profit. The buyer will later try to sell those coins to someone else at higher prices. Therefore, those 20% he took from you will directly go into his pocket.

It also works the other way around. Imagine seeing a coin worth 1000$ on the market but someone is selling it for 200$, it’s a great deal! In this situation, it’s very likely that the person doesn’t have any idea of what he’s selling. He probably obtained the coin as a gift or an inheritance. This is a win-win situation, you receive a coin worth more than its price, and the seller gets rid of the item for a suitable price as in his opinion the coin was worth 200$.

A window of opportunity

This kind of bargain is definitely very rare. Most of the time you’ll encounter dealers selling some of their coins 50% below the market price. It might look like an amazing deal, but you also have to think about why he’s doing it. He might be trying to quickly sell his collection because he needs cash for a larger purchase. You should also consider the rareness of the coin. He may be selling them at a low-cost because he can’t find customers willing to buy it at its current price because the coin is too easy to find, thus not very interesting to collect.

Your location can also affect the price of a coin. For example, if a coin is harder to obtain where you live but easier elsewhere, then the price of the coin might increase while its value would remain the same. But don’t worry! If you’re in such a situation, you can use an online numismatics platform such as, where you can participate in live auctions and find people from all around the world selling their collections at the best prices!

In the end, you choose the value you grant to an object and the price you’re willing to pay. The most common mistake is to think that the price you pay is the value of the coin, but most of the time it’s not!

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