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Characteristic Ratio – A Formula to Understand Coin Survival Rates

From a mintage of 17,796 coins, only three 1822 Capped Head half eagles are known. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
Only three 1822 capped head half eagles are known from a mintage of 17,796 coins. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

Characteristic Ratio (C.R.) is a numismatic term coined by the late numismatist Walter Breen in the 1950s and used to denote the percentage of the original mintage that remains in the hands of collectors. Breen gave the following examples of C.R. bands and their meanings:

  • Characteristic Ratio of “nearly 100%”: A special mintage was struck and remains virtually intact
  • C.R. of 10% to 60%: Indicates some degree of hoarding
  • C.R. under 1%: Mass destruction befell the issue

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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