Tips on Using PCGS CoinFacts #8 – Rarity Estimates

One of the more utilitarian tools on PCGS CoinFacts is the rarity estimates provided for each regular return United States coins ( and some early series, as well ). What is rarity ? Rarity is a way of expressing how common or rare a coin can be. Rarity can be absolute ( for case, how rare or common is an 1881-S Silver Dollar ? ), relative ( how rare is an 1881-S Silver Dollar relative to an 1893-S Silver Dollar ? ), or it can relate to condition ( how rare is an 1881-S Silver Dollar in MS63 versus MS67 ) .
For many years, collectors relied on official government coinage figures to make decisions about rarity. however, mintage figures can be wrong for a number of reasons. We know of many instances where coins exist but their mintage figure was never recorded ( 1870-S Half Dime ). early coins remain stranger despite mintage figures pointing to their universe ( 1841-O Half Eagle ). In many other cases, a high-mintage mint was wiped out by subsequent dissolve, creating a major rarity ( 1927-D $ 20 ). Often, mintages include coins of two unlike years, masking the true curio of both. frankincense, rarity ratings and survival estimates give a much better mental picture of rarity than do mintage figures .
To see how this works, let ‘s take a front at the afore-mentioned 1881-S Silver Dollar. If you ‘re familiar with the Morgan Dollar series, you already know this is a common coin, but lashkar-e-taiba ‘s see what the experts at PCGS have to say about it. To start, type 7130 ( the PCGS coin number for an 1881-S Silver Dollar ) into the search box on any of the PCGS CoinFacts pages, then scroll down to the “ Rarity and Survival Estimates ” incision ( just below the Value-View section ) .
The “ survival estimate ” column represents an average of one or more experts ‘ opinions as to how many examples survive of a particular coin in three categories : 1 ) all grades, 2 ) MS-60 or better, and 3 ) MS-65 or better ). These estimates are based on a assortment of sources, including population reports, auction appearances, and personal cognition. survival estimates include coins that are naked, certified by PCGS, and certified by early scaling services. In the case of the 1881-S Silver Dollar, PCGS experts believe that 1.2 million examples survive in all grades, 600,000 exist in MS-60 or better, and equally many as 225,000 outlive in MS-65 or better. Simply put, the 1881-S Silver Dollar is a common mint, particularly when compared to other coins which are very rare and/or unknown in Uncirculated condition. however, survival estimates are not judgment calls – they are plainly statements ( or guesses ) of reality.

The “ Numismatic curio ” column converts the survival Estimate for a finical mint into a number from 1 to 10 ( with decimal increments ) based on the PCGS Rarity Scale. The higher the number, the more rare is the coin. For the 1881-S Silver Dollar, the Numismatic Rarity is 1.0 in all grades, which means it is a common as it could possibly be. In MS-65 or better, the Rarity is 1.8 – however common, but nowhere near equally rare as a mint with a Numismatic Rarity of 5.0 or higher .
The “ proportional curio by Type ” column ranks the rarity of this coin with all early coins of this Type. Lower numbers indicate rare coins. thus, the 1881-S Silver Dollar is ranked 94th out of 117 Morgan Silver Dollars, making it one of the most coarse Morgan Dollars. The little arrow in the column heading takes you to a sortable list of all 117 Morgan Dollars, where you can well find the rare and the most coarse Morgan Dollars, and everything in-between. For model, sorting on the 65+ column in the Rel. Rarity section shows that the most common Morgan Dollars in MS-65 or better are the 1879-S and 1881-S Dollars, and that the rare is the 1903-S Micro S Dollar. Where is the celebrated 1893-S Silver Dollar ? How about 14th out of 117. Check out this list for more surprises.

The “ relative rarity by Series ” column ranks the rarity of this coin with all other coins of this series. Lower numbers indicate rare coins. This column differs when the series is made up of different types. In the case of Morgan Dollars, the character and series numbers are identical because there are no subtypes of the Morgan Silver Dollars. Check out Seated Liberty Half Dollars or Three-Cent Silvers to see how these relationships work.

rarity estimates, when combined with pricing information and early data, help oneself you chart a roadmap to achiever as you plan your collect goals. For example, if you decide to go after the toughest coins beginning, rarity estimates provide a checklist of where to start. Get the tough ones out of the room, and you ‘ll have smooth sailing from then on .
Check out the rarity estimates for your darling coins on PCGS CoinFacts. You may be surprised at what you ‘ll learn .
If you ‘re not a CoinFacts subscriber, visit our CoinFacts page to learn more about this capital numismatic resource .
Ron Guth is President of PCGS CoinFacts. He has been active as a coin collector, dealer, writer and auctioneer since his introduction to numismatics in 1964.

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