Well, there are several examples, but let me list some of the most noticeable. First, 1803 (Large Date & Small Fraction, S-264) vs 1803 (Large Date & Large Fraction, S-265). Both varieties are now R-4's, so they are considered to be just about equally rare, yet you can buy a decent S-265 for about $50, but an S-264 in a similar grade will cost you thousands. Another example is 1809 vs 1811. For 1809 there is only one die type to collect (S-280), so the entire 200,000 mintage is collectively distributed in that one and only die variety. For 1811, you have to get 1811 (10 over 11, S-286) and 1811 (Normal Date, S-287), so the 220,000 mintage is actually divided just about in half. In addition, 1809 S-280 is an R-2, the same as 1811 S-287, but 1811 (11 over 10) S-286 is an R-3, which means it is rarer than 1809. So, why are 1809's worth more and considered rarer? Another example is 1839 (9 over 6, N-1) it is only an R-3, yet it commands way higher prices than other much more rarer varieties. So, what is up with the differences in prices? And why are some more popular than others of equal rarity or greater rarity?
I asked the same question about the 1909-S Indian Head cent
vs the 1877 Indian Head cent
. The answer I got was very logical. First, the 1909-S was actually collected more because it was the last date in the series, while 1877 Indian Head cents
were more heavily circulated. However, that still did not explain the price differences for lower graded coins because 1877 has a mintage of twice as many as 1909-S. The real difference, if it is true, was that 100,000 to 350,000 1877 Indian cents
were believed to be destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire that burnt down the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Well, with that information it all made logical sense to me why 1877 Indin Head Cents were more valuable than 1909-S Indian Head cents
because many were lost in the fire and many were lost to circulation.
However, back to my Large Cent question. Picking on 1809, there just does not seem to be any reason why it should be rarer or more valuable than 1811 (11 over 10) or even 1811 for that matter. If most of the 1809's were melted down during the 1812 war, then who is to say that the same thing did not happen to the 1811's. I just cannot see the logic for this price difference or people thinking 1809 is somehow rarer than 1811. Can anyone explain this to me?