U.S. & World Coin News and Articles

Which Coin Series Commands the Highest Prices?

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If I asked you to name the coin series that brings the highest prices at auction out of the following five coin series, which would you choose: Lincoln Cents, Jefferson Nickels, Roosevelt Dimes, Washington Quarters or Franklin Half Dollars?

In this analysis I used coins within the same date range that currently have similar population statistics. Some of these coins sold for the prices listed at auction and others privately.

1c 1954-P Lincoln Cent MS67 Red


(Pop 3/0)

5c 1954-S MS67FS


(Pop 1/0)

10c 1950-P MS68 FB


(Pop 2/0)

25c 1955-D MS67


(Pop 1/0)

50c 1953-S MS66 FBL


(Pop 1/0)

At first glance it appears as if Franklin Half Dollars bring higher prices overall compared to all four other coin series, so Franklin Half Dollars would be ranked # 1. Jefferson Nickels would be ranked as # 2 and Washington Quarters would be ranked as # 3. Surprisingly, Lincoln Cents would be ranked as # 4 (I actually thought they would rank 1 or 2). Finally, Roosevelt Dimes would be ranked #5.

However, before we rate these five different series, we need to take into account that Washington Quarters are the only series in this group that do not have a special designation. For example, Franklin Half Dollars have the FBL (Full Bell Lines) designation, Roosevelt Dimes have the FB (Full Bands) designation, Jefferson Nickels have the FS (Full Steps) designation and the Lincoln Cents have the BN (Brown), RB (Red-Brown) and RD (Red) designations.

Initially, PCGS didn't always recognize FB on dimes; however, once we began to recognize some dimes with the FB designation, they immediately commanded much higher prices. Furthermore, for the Washington Quarters series, it can be argued that prices would probably be significantly higher if we were to have a special designation such as PL (Proof-like) or Full Talons, etc. (This is just an example, as we are not planning to add any special designations on Washington Quarters now... or in the future).

Another point that needs to be taken into account is that, for some series, small increases in the population of high end coins do not drastically affect prices. For example, if a Lincoln Cent in the highest grade jumps from say a population of 3 to a population of 4, prices seem to be affected minimally. Instead of the coin bringing say $17,500 as a pop 3 it would probably now bring $15,000 as a pop 4. Therefore, small increases in population figures do not tend to affect Lincoln Cents as much as other series.

Now in the Jefferson Nickel series, a population increase from say a pop 2 to a pop 3 can drastically affect the prices of all three coins. This change could bring each Jefferson Nickel from a price of say $20,000 down to $12,000. This same logic seems to apply to Roosevelt Dimes as well. And as far as Franklin Half Dollars and Washington Quarters, in my experience, I think prices are somewhat affected but not as much as Jefferson Nickels or Roosevelt Dimes... but at the same time, they do seem to be affected more so than Lincoln Cents.

So, for the purposes of this article, I think we can conclude that Lincoln Cents have a larger audience than Franklin Half Dollars. At the same time, Franklin Half Dollars bring higher prices overall than the four other series to which they were compared. So how do we answer the original question of which coin series brings the highest prices? I would rate them in this order:

#1 Franklin Half Dollars

#2 Jefferson Nickels

#3 Washington Quarters

#4 Lincoln Cents

#5 Roosevelt Dimes

Next time we will compare some other coin series, possibly some early Wheat Lincoln Cents, Buffalo Nickels, Barber Dimes, Barber Half Dollars and some Morgan and Peace Dollars.

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