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Coins Buying Guide

Coins have been used as currency for thousands of years, and collecting these tiny pieces of history has become a popular pastime. For many, coin collecting is a true passion, a real-life treasure hunt. Since it's relatively inexpensive to start a collection, you can collect countless varieties of coins from all over the world on eBay Canada.

Discover Collectable Coins

Discover Collectable Coins

With the large variety of coins available, from modern to ancient, you may want to focus your collection on one or two types of coins. Popular starters include:

  • World coins and ancient coins: Gather coins from a certain country or time period. Inexpensive starter coins include the British half-farthing (1842-1869), which was criticized for being too small a denomination, guilders struck in Germany since the second half of the 14th century, French rooster francs, and Chinese gold pandas. If you want a more historic coin, look for a silver drachma used during the time of Alexander the Great or a silver denarius from the early Roman empire.    

  • U.S. coins: Try your hand at collecting a recent commemorative series such as the 50 State Quarters Series. The complete collection includes 50 quarters, with each representing an individual state. The Westward Journey series commemorates the bicentennial of the Louis and Clark expedition and Louisiana Purchase. The Peace Medal and Keelboat nickels are two of the coins in this series. Morgan silver dollars (1878-1921) are some of the most widely pursued and desired coins. Some key dates are: 1889-CC, 1892-S, and 1893-S. Liberty Head nickels (1883-1913) or the later Indian Head nickels (1913-1938) are also popular choices with collectors. Or try finding an American three-cent coin, a quarter eagle ($2.50 coin), or eagle ($10 coin). Consider purchasing a double eagle ($20 coin), first minted around the time of the Gold Rush.    

  • Particular coins: Seek coins of a particular denomination or type, such as silver half-dollars or Washington quarters.     

  • Themed coins: Collect coins of a certain theme, such as animals or vehicles.

  • Error coins: Even mints make mistakes. Find error coins with faulty inscriptions, forms, dates, or designs.

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Determine Coin Value

Determine Coin Value

When deciding whether you want to add a coin to your collection, you will want to take its value into account. A coin’s value is ultimately determined by demand, availability, condition, and grading.

Demand and availability of coins

The demand for a coin can significantly increase its value. A common coin that is highly prized by collectors will have a higher value than a common coin fewer collectors seek. Rare coins have a higher demand than more common older coins as well.

For example, some Greek and Roman coins, despite their age, are relatively inexpensive due to their abundance. Also note that the number of coins that were minted does not indicate a coin’s current availability.

Coin condition

Just a small difference in the condition of a coin can make an enormous difference in price. Coins that are circulated and used as currency naturally become worn, and uncirculated coins often demand a much higher value than circulated coins.

For example, an uncirculated 1913 Buffalo Nickel in mint condition might fetch 10 times as much as a similar circulated coin. Grading services such as NGC, PCGS, ANACS, and ICG evaluate the condition of coins and confirm their authenticity. Four factors equally contribute to the value of a coin:

  • Strike: Well-struck coins have a distinct impression in the metal.

  • Visual appeal: Some coins have a soft, satin luster while others have a more reflective surface. Some coins are colourful. Determine what appeals to you before you buy.

  • Luster: A bright, dazzling luster is more appealing than a dull coin. However, collectors generally avoid coins that have been cleaned or otherwise doctored. If a coin has been circulated and still has a bright luster, it has most likely been polished.

  • Wear: Deterioration, such as contact marks and hairlines, can decrease the value of a coin. Wear usually first occurs on the highest points of the coin.

Graded Coins

Coins are graded based on the Sheldon grading system.

  • Mint State Perfect Uncirculated (MS-70): The highest quality available for an uncirculated coin. The coin has no blemishes or scratches to the surface.    

  • Choice Uncirculated (MS-65): An above-average uncirculated coin with occasional bag marks on the surface.

  • Uncirculated (MS-60): A moderate number of bag marks or edge nicks or marks may be present on the uncirculated coin. 

  • About Uncirculated (AU-50): A moderate amount of wear is present on the high points of an uncirculated coin. 

  • Extremely Fine (EF-40):Circulated coin shows wear all over, but details are still distinct. 

  • Very Fine (VF-20): Circulated coin that has average wear present on details (such as hair and leaves) as well as on high areas. Major details are clear. 

  • Very Good (VG-8): Worn circulated coin that still has visible rims. Most fine details are worn almost smooth. 

  • Good (G-4): Circulated coin very worn overall. Major details are still visible, but faint in some areas.

  • About Good (AG-3): Heavily worn circulated coin with parts of date, lettering, and legends worn smooth.

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Talk About Coins: Common Terms

Talk About Coins: Common Terms

Numismatics, the practice of collecting or studying coins, medals, tokens, or other similar items, has its own set of basic terms.

  • Obverse: The side of a coin referred to as “heads” is known as the obverse side.

  • Reverse: The side of a coin referred to as “tails” is known as the reverse side.

  • Third side: The edge of the coin is sometimes called the third side.

  • Coin rim: The rim of the coin is the outer edge, which is often raised.

  • Legends: The phrases on the surface of a coin are known as legends or mottoes.

  • Device: The device is the design. It often features the bust of a person or an eagle.

  • Mint: Coins are struck at a mint.

  • Dies: The metal pieces that imprint the design on the coin are known as dies.

  • Mintage: The number of coins that are struck is the mintage.

  • Circulation: Coins struck for general use are in circulation.

  • Proofs: Proofs are coins that have been struck with a highly polished die and are sold especially to collectors. Cameo proofs are proofs with a frosted appearance. Proof coins are graded Proof 70, Proof 65, Proof 60, and below. Proof is sometimes abbreviated PR or PF.

  • Curating: Curating is a method of cleaning that does not harm a coin’s surface.

  • Bullion: Bullion coins are issued by the government and are composed of gold, platinum, or other precious metals. The value of bullion coins is usually based upon their metallic content.

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Find Coins on eBay

Find Coins on eBay

Once you know what type of coins you need, go to the Coins portal and start searching for items on eBay.

  • Categories: The Categories list on the left side of each page will help you narrow down your listings by item type. You'll find links for U.S. Coins, Bullion, Ancient Coins, World Coins, and more. As you dig deeper into the site, you'll be able to further narrow down your choices.

  • Keyword search: Search eBay listing titles for specific words. For example, if you want to find a Buffalo nickel, type "Buffalo nickel" (without quotation marks) into the Search box. Click "Search title and description" to expand your results. Visit eBay's Search Tips page for more tips on searching with keywords.

If you can't find exactly what you want, try shopping eBay Stores, tell the eBay Community what you want by creating a post on Want It Now, or save a search on My eBay and eBay will email you when a match becomes available.

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Buy Coins With Confidence

Buy Coins With Confidence

Before making your purchase, make sure you know exactly what you're buying, research your seller, and understand how eBay and PayPal protect you.

Know your purchase

Carefully read the details in item listings.

  • Figure delivery costs into your final price. If you spend a lot of money, make sure the seller will insure the item when it ships.

  • If you want more information, ask by clicking the "Ask seller a question" link under the seller's profile.

  • Always make sure to complete your transaction on eBay (with a bid, Buy It Now, or Best Offer). Transactions conducted outside of eBay are not covered by eBay protection programs.

  • Never pay for your eBay item using instant cash wire transfer services through Western Union or MoneyGram. These payment methods are unsafe when paying someone you do not know.

Know your seller

Research your seller so you feel positive and secure about every transaction.

  • What is the seller's Feedback rating? How many transactions have they completed? What percentage of positive responses do they have?

  • What do buyers say in their Feedback? Did the seller receive praise?

  • Most top eBay sellers operate like retail stores and have return policies. Do they offer a money-back guarantee? What are the terms and conditions?

Buyer protection

In the unlikely event that a problem arises during your transaction, eBay and PayPal are there for you.

  • Pay safely with PayPal: PayPal enables you to pay without the seller ever seeing your bank account or credit card numbers. In fact, PayPal protects buyers 100% against unauthorized payments from their accounts. Plus, with PayPal Buyer Protection, your purchase can be covered up to C$1,250.

  • eBay Security & Resolution Centre: Visit the Security & Resolution Centre to learn how to protect your account and use eBay's quick and efficient resolution tools.

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