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Quality or rarity?

I want to take another bite of the apple on the topic of valuing MS-70 and Proof-70 coins.

I suspect many buyers of these coins believe they are paying for top quality and it is this factor alone that yields value on the secondary market.

This in fact is not the case.

High quality, of course, is desirable, but what yields high value is rarity.

How many of these high quality pieces are there? That is the key question.

This is why collectors study carefully the reports published by the grading services that contain the running totals for each coin that the firm has graded.

High totals mean a coin is fairly common. Low totals mean that a coin is fairly scarce. This is true for a coin that is G-4 or MS-70.

Without the consideration of rarity, there would be much less need for price guides as the prices for all coins no matter what the underlying mintage or survivorship rates might be would be identical if based on grade alone.

So when considering a market price for a high quality coin, don’t forget to pair it with its rarity.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."