Morgan Dollars

Collectible Coins


What is numismatics?

Numismatics is the collection and study of coins, paper money, tokens and medals. These are the most widely collected and studied numismatic materials. Other items are stock certificates, checks and notes of financial obligations.

What is numismatic value?

There are three common ways to value a coin – by its face value, its intrinsic value and its numismatic value.

The face value is the dollar amount stated on the coin.

The intrinsic value is the price the precious metal content of the coin can be sold for on any given day.

The numismatic value is the: Date, rarity, condition, mint mark and provenance of the coin. Ultimately the numismatic collectible value is what you are willing to pay for the coin on any given day and what the seller is willing to accept.

A collector paid a record high price of  $86,654.70 on March 31 2013 to acquire a 1995 W American silver eagle Proof coin certified perfect PR70 Deep Cameo by Professional Coin Grading Service, (PCGS).

The face value of the coin is $1.00. The intrinsic value is one ounce of silver, worth $28.33 and the numismatic value, is $86,626.37.The last time a 1995 W American silver eagle was sold at auction was on March 15, 2010 for $40,000, silver was then trading for $17.20 an ounce.

How do numismatic coins differ from bullion coins?

Gold and silver bullion coins are issued by governments as an attractive convenient way to invest in gold and silver. Bullion coins sell for a small premium of 5% -$17% above the price of their gold or silver content on any given day. Premiums are dependent on the diameter and net weight of the coin. Large one- ounce gold coins have a lower premium than smaller 1/10 ounce coins. The future value of bullion coins is based solely on their gold or silver content on the day you want to sell them.

Numismatic coins are collectibles and their precious metals content, if any at all, is only a tiny factor in measuring the value of the coin. The numismatic value is the: Date, rarity, condition, mint mark and provenance of the coin. The future value of a numismatic coin is based on supply and demand. Dealer mark ups and premiums are substantially higher for collectible coins than bullion coins.


The data above is provided for illustrative purposes only; it shows how the top 10 best performing PCGS certified coins have performed over a one and five year period versus the price of gold and silver. Prices exclude dealer mark up and margin. These prices apply to PCGS certified coins only and not ANACS or NGC certified coins.

This information, compiled on June 7, 2013 is not intended to make any representation that numismatic coins perform better or worse than gold and silver bullion coins. Past performance is no guarantee of future success.

What coins do people collect?

What to collect is entirely up to you and your budget. You should have adequate cash reserves and disposable income before considering buying numismatic items. We recommend coins issued by major national mints because they have the largest audience. U.S. Mint and Royal Canadian Mint issues are an ideal place to begin.

What's the best way to get started?

Buy the book before you buy the coin. The Internet has also made buying and selling coins, paper money, tokens and medals easier than at any time in the past. The quantity and quality of information readily available in this electronic medium helps with building your collection. It gives you easy access to dealers nationwide and allows you to compare prices between dozens of different suppliers in a matter of minutes.  This will enable you to judge the fair market value or accepted price range for numismatic items.

How can I avoid buying over graded, doctored or counterfeit coins?

Use common sense; if an offer looks too good to be true then it probably is. You can reduce your risk by finding an established coin dealer who has been in business for a long time and who works from an established office or storefront location. Limit your purchases to certified coins graded by industry leading coin grading services such as ANACS, NGC and PCGS. Shop around and compare prices and ask about the dealers return policy.

What is your return policy?

Westminster Mint provides an unconditional 30-day money back guarantee on all collectible items (not gold and silver bullion).

The inspection period begins when the order is shipped to you. To qualify for a refund, just make sure the product is returned complete and in sellable condition. The refund amount will include the full purchase price and any collected taxes. Shipping and Handling charges are non-refundable. All returns must be shipped with a reputable shipper and be properly packaged and fully insured.
There is no charge for returning damaged or defective products. Please note seals, cases and certificates of authenticity contribute to the value of the product and must remain complete, intact and unbroken for you to qualify for a refund.

I notice coin grading services are offering many different labels on their holders Which is the best?

The grade on the holder is the most important factor. A coin certified perfect MS70 will always command a higher premium than the same coin certified in a lesser grade like MS69, no matter what identifying mark is stated on the labels. 

The coin market is not only driven by supply and demand, but also by the idea of the exceptional. Collectors believe in the power of firsts, exclusivity and limited editions. This lead to the advent of two types of labels – open to the public and closed to the public dealer proprietary labels.

The best known open to the public labels are PCGS First Strikes and NGC Early Releases. Collectors only have a short time window from the release date of a coin for it to qualify for certification with the First Strike or Early Releases designation. Dealer Proprietary labels are not open to the public and can only be submitted for certification by the authorized dealer. They also have short time requirements for certification.

Time sensitive dealer proprietary labels include ANACS First Day of Issue, First Release and Original strike coins. These labels also have the added exclusivity and prestige of being certified  limited editions. The importance of limited editions in the collector market can’t be overstated . Other popular dealer proprietary labels, without time restrictions for submission, are Bridge labels, Blue bridge labels, Canada labels, Country labels, Eagle labels and USRC labels.

Premium labels have aesthetically attractive holders that appeal to a wide cross-section of collectors and invite brand loyalty. We provide access to coins certified with all of these special labels  and others like Top 50 Modern coins and 100 Greatest U.S. Modern coins. However, we don’t own a proprietary label.     

What do the extra notations on certified coin holders mean?

In addition to the grade of a coin stated as Mint state (MS) on circulation strike coins and Proof (PR/PF) on Proof strikes your coins may have the additional notations?

Cameo (CA), Ultra Cameo (UC), Deep Cameo (DCAM)

These are terms used for Proof strike coins. In order for a coin to be considered a Cameo or Deep Cameo, both sides of the coin must meet a minimum benchmark for each designation. If only one side of coin attains this benchmark the coin is considered to be Cameo, if both sides of the coin attain the benchmark it is considered Deep Cameo.

"First Strike", "First Release" & “Early Releases” Designations
Coin dealers and grading services may use these terms in varying ways. Some base their use on the dates appearing on United States Mint product packaging or packing slips, or on the dates of product releases or ceremonial coin strike events. Consumers should carefully review the information below along with each dealer's or grading service's definition of "first strike", “first release" or “Early Releases” when considering a purchase of coins with these designations.
The United States Mint does not designate any coins or products as "first strikes" “first release” or "early releases," nor do they track the order in which the coins were minted. The mint strives to produce coins of consistently high quality throughout the course of production. This means that coins may be minted from new die sets at any point and at multiple times while production of a coin is ongoing, not just the first day or at the beginning of production.
United States Mint products are not individually numbered and they do not keep track of the order or date of minting of individual coins. Any dates on shipping boxes are strictly for quality control and accounting purposes at the United States Mint. The date on the box represents the date that the box was packed, verified and sealed, and the date of packaging does not necessarily correlate with the date of manufacture. To qualify for “first strikes”, “first release” or “early releases” status a coin must be submitted to an independent “third-party” coin grading service within the first 30-days of their release.

Proof like (PL), Deep Proof like (DPL) and Deep Mirror Proof like (DMPL)

These are terms used for circulation strike coins and measure the amount of clear reflectivity on both sides of the coin. If only one side of the coin has deeply mirrored surfaces it is called a Proof like, if both sides of the coin meet the benchmark then it is a Deep Proof like.

Star designation

This is a term applicable to NGC certified coins – It is reserved for coins that have extraordinary eye appeal within the grade and applies to both circulation strike and Proof strike coins.

+ Plus grade

This is a term used for coins considered to be at the high end of their assigned grade, approaching the quality requirements for the next grade. These coins have above-average eye appeal.

The chart above shows the disparity in prices between coins that have superior eye appeal within the same grade. When a coin is judged to have better eye appeal than another coin in the same grade, it is awarded a plus designation. Premium labels such as Early Releases, First Release and First strike designated coins can also have price disparities within the same grade. The collector has to determine  if the value, merit and cost of any coin is important enough to justify  paying a higher price. The collector also needs to take eye appeal into consideration when comparing prices between dealers.

FAQ Warranty

Westminster offers these items as collectibles to be enjoyed for their history, artistic beauty and often limited availability. Westminster Mint expresses no opinion on the soundness as an investment of coins, medal or other numismatic items. We are not investment advisers. Market price may fluctuate with market conditions, the condition of the item, content value, grade, demand and supply, and other things. Past performance is not a guarantee of future potential values. Rare coins, souvenirs, mementos, and sometimes medal, often cannot be sold quickly.