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SunandAnchor - Rarity and Grade

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If one were to draw a schematic depicting the relationship between Price and Rarity it would probably look similar to this picture. We would have denominations plotted against rarity and then for each combination of rarity and denomination we would have a price seen on the vertical axis.

Rarity itself  is defined as follows by numbers of existing coins for a given grade -


Rarity Definition3

Number of existing coins

Before one is carried away with the thought you may have something very rare it is important to ask yourself - If others say something is R4 or R5 what are the chances of that being true ? So let’s think about that. An R4 rarity is 8 to 16 known examples in VF condition. What does that translate to in terms of percentage of what was originally minted ? A look at that the table opposite throws some light on this point.

Here my best estimate of number of coins in existence for each denomination is shown. Percentages for each rarity / denomination are shown below. Personally I feel confident down to a level of around 1% for an R4 crown. This is at the edge of the green area. Past that point in the yellow area it is more a guess unless at sometime someone has done a physical count of what’s out there, discounting contemporary fakes. Other denominations have a different threshold for that 1% level, so it’s well worth keeping this in mind.                  

Another factor which affects a given coin’s rarity is grade, or condition. A coin can be rare in terms of numbers, and even rarer if the coin has survived in good condition. To define condition grading systems have been defined by grading houses to specifically identify the condition of a coin. Once that has been done the coin is then encapsulated in plastic to maintain condition, labelled and barcoded for reference.


More frequently coins are graded using a traditional analogue system which uses a descriptor to define approximate condition of any coin. Condition has an enormous effect on pricing especially when coupled with rarity of numbers.  Below are images of silver crowns and shillings with grades given by prominent dealers. 

Grading Coins no letters

Extremely Fine
30.07 gms






good Very Fine
29.8 gms






Very Fine
5.75 gms






good Fine
5.8 gms






4.9 gms






almost Fine
5.66 gms





Price vs Rarity
Rarity Percentage Table3
Price vs Rarity 2
Auction Hammer
Grade Packs
Grading Boxed Faked

Grading -    Counterfeit                                            Fine (F)                                Very Fine (VF)                     Extremely Fine (EF)

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