Mark S. writes: Years ago I found and purchased four Whitman coin collection books; Indian Head Cent 1856-1909, Buffalo Nickel 1913-1938, Jefferson Nickel 1938-1961 and Lincoln Head Cent 1941 to current. Some of these books still have some holes unfilled. I want to sell them but I have no idea what they’re worth. What’s the difference in price if my coin collections are complete or not?
Because of the effort in accumulating every date and mint, complete sets are usually worth more than the sum of their parts. Prices are also based on grade (condition). Someone purchasing these sets would look first to the key dates.
For example, circulated Indian cents from the 1880’s might only bring a dollar or so but even a low grade 1856 Flying Eagle would bring more than $3,000. An 1877 Indian cent, the key date of the series, can bring $500 and a great deal more depending on grade. Lesser keys from the 1870’s and coins such as the 1909-S Indian would bring hundreds of dollars.
A set of Buffalo nickels also has great potential, again, depending on grade. A key date such as the 1913-S Var 2 or 1913-D Var 2 (buffalo is standing on a line instead of a mound) can bring $100 or more in average circulated condition.
Though Jeffersons have a few weak keys, there are varieties that do bring a substantial sum. Lincolns from 1941 are essentially face value but if they are uncirculated, each coin can be worth from $1 to $10 each.
You can also see prices for common date U.S. coins on the What’s it Worth? feature on CoinSite.
You might want this potentially valuable collection appraised by a trained numismatist who could advise you on how to dispose of the most valuable pieces. Some coins do better at auction but some of the lesser pieces could be sold to a local coin dealer.