Before you can find out the value of any coin, you need to identify the coin itself and the grade, or quality, of the coin. Coins are valued based on a number of variables in the market, including the quantity minted in a particular year as well as any errors produced during minting. Despite the wide array of coins out there to be found, few are recognized for their value and therefore remain in circulation.
Finding Coin Value
If you have found or inherited a rare or old coin, one of the first things to do is identify the coin and then find its value. While it's important to have a good-looking coin, do not wash the coin or you may lose some of the value down the drain. Just because a coin is old doesn't mean that it is valuable. If your coin is indeed valuable, secure it in a protective sleeve in a safe location. There are three basic ways to determine what old coins are worth: book resources, online guides and consulting with a professional coin dealer.
Depending on the coin book, you may see color photographs of coins of each era, country and denomination, or it can focus on coins of a specific geographic area. For example, "Warman's U.S. Coins & Currency Field Guide" can be an essential reference. Many coin books, such as "The Official Red Book" of U.S. coins, are reprinted each year, so choose the most up-to-date version to get the most accurate value.
Second to reference books are websites, such as mycoincollecting.com, which contain catalogs that break down the coins by identification and quality--but there isn't always a picture for comparison. Sites such as coinworld.com, however, are more often up-to-date with current market information as the search for various coins changes from collector to collector.
Perhaps the most definitive way to find the value of your old coin is to consult with a professional collector/dealer. These collectors can value the coins you own as well as potentially make an offer on them should you be willing to cash in immediately. Be careful to find out the different rates, if any, these collectors charge to give you a certified value. Once you have the estimated value of the coin from them, you can consult with another dealer if you feel it's necessary. If you have looked over the books and online sources, however, you should have a rough idea if the dealer is being straight with you or if he is trying to get a good deal on a rare coin.