Numismatic Coins vs Old Currency: Where Value is Determined

Published on 1/21/2022 by APMEX

A close-up image of two numismatic coins and an old currency note.

Numismatics is the scientific study of coins and currency as a form of money. Numismatists use an extensive set of tools like scales to determine a coin's actual weight, a magnifying glass to determine a coin's authenticity, and a computer to determine the latest value of a numismatic item. These rare coins are valuable because there is always a market for rare currency and rare coins of all types due to the factors of Supply and Demand. In addition to the rare coins and currency being valuable on its own merit, many times it also increases in value depending on the historical significance and the demand for those items by collectors.

The differences in numismatic coins versus currency are a matter of historical, intrinsic, and monetary value. Before deciding, which is more valuable, here are some highlights of numismatic coins versus old currency that are important to know.

Numismatic Coins

A coin can be desirable because of its rarity, like the 1913 Liberty Nickel of which only five specimens are known, or its limited mintage (how many were produced), like the 1907 High Relief Double Eagle Gold coin, of which 12,367 coins were struck. Coins may also gain some limited value based on their metal content, but coin collectors are more concerned with the coin’s condition and the available supply. Numismatic coin values are influenced by both factors. Numismatic coin values generally go up over time is one consideration of why collectors look at numismatics as both a collectible and as an investment.

As with other numismatic items, such as old or rare currency, numismatic coins will usually maintain or increase in value over time if the proper care and handling of storage are assigned to each coin. If mishandled, numismatic coins can lose value over time, if not outright lost.

Proper numismatic coin storage includes individual, hard, and sonically sealed cases, with numismatic grades attached, provided by the two major, independent third-party grading services. There are numismatists, or collectors of these old or rare collectible coins, who use coin collecting books or coin folders to store fewer valuable coins.

The quantity of coins produced is significantly higher than with currency. But that is because US coins were first struck in 1793, while US currency wasn’t printed until 1861. Even though currency was easier and cheaper to produce, the abundance of Gold, Silver and other Precious Metals makes these items desirable.

Rare Currency

Currency has an interesting history. Plenty of examples of United States paper currency has existed since colonial times. However, currency was not as widely accepted until the 20th Century. Before then, actual coinage was preferred. Currency slowly started becoming a vital part of the monetary circulation over time. During the American Civil War (1861 – 1865), the Union and Confederate governments produced currency because all coinage was hoarded.

The Civil War saw the beginning of regular circulation with paper currency. Federal Reserve Notes and Bank Notes became more common following the war. These notes were used to replace the Gold and Silver certificates, which were able to be redeemed for actual Gold or Silver coins.

After World War I, large numbers of U.S. paper currency were printed to help pay salaries for soldiers and to rebuild Europe.

The Great Depression saw the suspension of the Gold Standard. During this time, paper currency was reduced to a smaller size and lower denominations because the Depression made lower denominations easier to manage.

Determining Value

In terms of value, one should consider a few factors regarding finding value in numismatic coins or old currency:

Date of the coin or bill.

  • A person should take a historical eye to the date of the coin or bill. The history of the United States is vast, filled with tremendous stories and events, yet is relatively short compared to many countries worldwide. Fewer certain dates are produced which makes a date crucial in helping to determine value. In addition, a mintmark on a coin indicates at which mint the coin was struck. Some dates and mintmarks of coins can indicate lower mintages and greater rarity.


  • The condition of the coin or currency is an essential aspect in determining value. Currency is more easily damaged and wrinkled due to its materials. But that does not mean currency does not hold any value. The condition of coins or currency is important. Look for wear or marks or other signs of aging, which should be done before buying.


  • Some coins and currency are rare, making their intrinsic value higher. Rare coins and rare currency are popular with collectors and investors because they are hard to find or there are few pieces of them remaining.

While currency has changed in various forms over the years, from Colonial Currency to Large Size US Notes, to Modern Small Size US currency items complement any numismatic collection today just as well as coins do. Value can be found in both numismatic coins and rare currency.

Buy Numismatic Products from APMEX

Finding rare and old currency is easy to do by working with a reputable rare coin company, like APMEX, which has routinely bought and sold millions of dollars worth of rare coins currency. Buying Numismatic Coins and Currency from APMEX is a process made easy with our guarantees of safe delivery of high-quality products.

If you happen to experience any issues while placing your order for Numismatic products with APMEX, we are happy to help. Our team of highly trained customer service representatives can answer any questions by email or telephone. Our APMEX team can be reached at (800) 375-9006 or

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