Leon Z. writes: I have many of the old Victoria pennies dated as far back as the late 1800’s. The front says “Victoria Dei Gra Britt Regina Fid Def Ind Imp”. I am curious to know if they are worth anything or should I just throw them away. I am not a coin collector, but these coins are over 100 years old. How can 100 year old coins have little value? I assume they are worth something. Also I have about 300 pieces of foreign coins from all over the world. Please help. Thank You.
The value of a coin does not depend on its age but its rarity and condition. There are lots of low value old coins around, even some dating back to the Roman Empire. Some dates are common and are only worth very little, other dates are rare and attract a great deal of interest. Again, condition and rarity are everything. For example a 1860 penny from Great Britain in EF condition might bring $1,200 in an auction, but one dated 1851 in the same grade might only bring $50 or so in the same grade.
It is hard for many non-collectors to believe that coins 100 or 200 years old can sometimes be worth so little. The reality is that age has very little to do with value. I’ve seen many hoards where the coins are worth only a few cents each because they were common date, low-grade specimens.
Though it is certainly possible to have a rare coin within a random group of coins, it is not likely. Most rare coin collections are organized and coins are acquired systematically. Remember that these coins were money made of durable metal and no one throws money away. Therefore, many coins even two thousand year old ones, may not be very valuable.
Rarity, condition, demand, style, historical interest are all factors that make collectors compete for specific rarities and thus make for high prices. If it wasn’t for the inexpensive coins, none of us would have ever gotten into coin collecting. Consider that your modest collection might be the start of something wonderful.
You might want to purchase a book or two. Try “Seaby’s Coins of England” or any of the Krause World Coin Books. Alternatively, try exploring your local public library for coin catalogs.