How Much Is a Serial Number Worth (Part 2)?

A few months back I wrote about one of the Royal Canadian Mint’s Farewell to the Penny Rolls with serial number 20,000/20,000 which sold on eBay for an astonishing $6,600.00. At the time the rolls were typically realizing prices of $30 to $35 per roll, making for an enormous premium for a serial number.

Since I have collected United States Mint coins for much longer than I have collected world mint coins, the concept of serial numbers is somewhat new and intriguing for me. By including a unique number on each certificate, it makes each product have its own unique identity. Although (to my knowledge) the numbers do not have any direct correlation to the production of the coins included, clearly some people attach importance to the numbers.

Certain serial numbers do have a “coolness” factor that most collectors would acknowledge. These types of numbers would be the first number (or a very low number), the last number (or a very high number), or perhaps repeating or sequential numbers such as #8888 or #1234.

In terms of the premiums paid for such numbers, the actual product seems to play an important role. I would think that very popular products with special serial numbers would carry generally higher premiums. Also, products with larger production runs may also carry generally higher premiums. For example, 1/10,000 would seem more important than 1/100.

The 20,000/20,000 Farewell to the Penny Roll brought together a key serial number, a broadly popular product, and a high production run, creating a kind of perfect storm which drove the premium to dizzying heights. But how much premium do special serial numbers bring under other circumstances?


Over the weekend, an eBay auction concluded for the Royal Canadian Mint’s Purple Coneflower with Venetian Glass Blue Butterfly Coin with serial number 00001/10,000. The listing reached a closing price of $534 compared to typical prices of around $180 to $210. The premium attached to the serial number actually seems quite modest when compared to the Farewell to the Penny Roll.

For those interested, two other serial number related auctions are currently running that might be worth watching. Here is an auction for the 2012 Farewell to the Penny 5 oz Silver Coin with the last serial number 1500/1500. Also running is another auction for the Farewell to the Penny 5 Coin Set with low serial number 0012/5000.

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  1. Miami Man says

    I’ve been hoping that The United States Mint would go to numbered Certificates of Authenticity. Just one more item of information. And by the way – when I purchased a Cartier clock in a limited edition of 888 units and my certificate read 888 of 888 – it felt good and I thought the item was now somehow more valuable.

  2. fmtransmitter says

    Michael: I agree with the “alure” of serial numbers. Jesse James posted a picture of an $5 1896 Tillman/Morgan Silver Certificate. I am NOT into paper currency but it was interesting to see the comments about the value BECAUSE of the serial number …Value? $15,000!! Higher serial numbers sell for much much less is the same graded condition. Every time I read things like this it reminds me to ALWAYS buy bullion and BALANCE my collection with BOTH because when it comes time to cash in if needed I obviously want to minimize any loss or PREMIUMS I DID pay for the Proofs or “special” coins I liked and admired.

  3. Sergey says

    2013 Proof Sovereigns with certificates running 1 to 10 are offered @ eBay

    The lot of 10 is priced at fixed buy-it-now £10,000 ($15,123) while 2013 Proof Sovereign with ordinary numbered certificates are prices around $925 at eBay.

    The Royal Mint price is £495 ($748.6)

    I believe it matters to some collectors / investors / flippers.

  4. dan says


    As a collector, I place the value on the item and not the baloney of some of the packaging or labeling that comes with it.. I cannot understand the logic of paying up for a piece of paper. What next, will the grading companies start slabbing certificates?? I could understand a slight premium as you say for the coolness, but my hats off to whomever paid 6600.00 for a 35. roll of pennies.

    I am old fashioned, I will pay up in some cases for certain eye appeal or for those coins that might be rare to the market, but as far as a certificate, I put that in the same class as FS/ER, ” special flag label” , or signed by someone who had nothing to do with the coin other than having been appointed to a Hack position. There again, we all collect what we collect to please ourselves.

    I collect very long term, and I even wonder when it comes time for my heirs to liquidate if things will be worth what I paid without all the extra BS. Who knows by then, maybe I will have been wrong with my thinking or views on collecting but there again, I collect what I LIKE..

  5. says

    The New Zealand Mint’s silver 1oz coin Dr. Who Serial # 00001 of 10,000 sold on eBay for $2010.00, I believe, the coin was $150 on their site.

  6. fmtransmitter says

    Wow amik76…there ya go…Now the question is WHEN will CHINA start selling repo’s of the COA’s? Graders do NOT put serial #’s on the slabs….YET! I see this coming next, anything to charge more. They DO do it for the paper currency, it is just a matter of time for coinage to follow if these are realizing these sort of premiums and there are counterfitters ready to produce fake COA’s..Ugh..

  7. Schalk says


    All paper currency notes have serial numbers – on the note – very few coins have serial numbers on the coin. It makes sense to have the bank note serial number because it is tied directly to the note – coins, in general, do not have that. An exception I know of is the Endangered Species gold coins from Australia that each have a serial number stamped on the edge of the coin.

  8. fmtransmitter says

    Yes Schalk, I already know this. I was expanding on that fact a bit. About what could start happening in the numismatic world in regards to serial numbers.

  9. 43dustyroads says

    1 in 10,000 would be fantastic, I would rather have 1 in 100, but I hear what you are saying. I wonder if the US Mint will attempt to individually laser a serial number onto a coin?

  10. Rysomy says

    Years ago when I worked for a cash handling business, we would get a fax every other week from a company looking for particular serial numbers on currency we got from the FRB, and a partial price list for what they were paying. It went from $2 + face value for 2 identical numbers in a row up to $5,000 plus for having all the same number or all numbers in order

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