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rarity scale

Estimate of surviving population of a coin, originally in impressionistic terms (R = Rare, RR = Very Rare, RRR = Extremely Rare, etc., up to RRRRRR = unique: older European usage), more recently attempting to be quantitative. The scale most commonly used today was adapted by Dr. Sheldon {1949, 1958} from Noel Humphreys (about 1853):

R-8 = Estimated 1-3 known, "Unique or Nearly Unique."

R-7 = Estimated 4-12 known, "Extremely Rare."

R-6 = Estimated 13-30 known, "Very Rare."

R-5 = Estimated 31-75 known, "Rare."

R-4 = Estimated 76-200 known, "Very Scarce."

R-3 = Estimated 201-500 known, "Scarce."

R-2 = Estimated 501-1,250 known, "Uncommon."

R-1 = Over 1,251 known; "Common." (Used by permission.)

These designations were originally standardized only for large cents 1793-1814. They do not discriminate properly among coins with larger overall populations, where a coin of which 2,000 or even 5,000 survive brings many times the price of its cousin of which 10,000 survive. And in other series, a coin of which 4-6 survive may bring many times the price of its relations of which 8-10 survive. Worse still, any honest rarity rating must be understood as "known to the writer at this time," and possibly obsolete by the time the book reaches print! See presently. But as nearly as possible, a "Very Rare" herein will rate at least Rarity 6, Sheldon scale, and similarly for other ratings.


Source: Breen Encyclopedia
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