[The following excerpt is published courtesy of DLRC Press and its author, David & John Feigenbaum. This information was originally published in 1991 in The Complete Guide Certified Barber Coinage]
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As every coin collector knows, scarcity is not always consistent with original mintage figures. Over the years some dates get lost, melted or, like the first year of issue, saved more than others. Later years of a series also tend to get preserved in higher grades. For this book we have analyzed the number of coins certified by PCGS and NGC (as of January 1999) to define the Rarity Ratings. The Ratings have been broken into discrete categories (R1 through R8) and defined below.
Note that the certified populations of mint state coins are not perfect because some coins are submitted more than once and others have not yet been submitted to the grading services. However, this is still the best estimate we have ever had of the relative scarcity of these dates. Among other things, the population/ census reports tell us that most Barbers are far scarcer than the vast majority of the more recent issues. The populations are tabulated in Appendix B-D (see pages 133- 144) of this book.
In this book rarity ratings are defined as follows:
R1 – Common (Mint State population over 200 coins)
R2 – A slightly better date (Mint State population of 125-199 coins)
R3 – A better date (Mint State population of 85-124 coins)
R4 – Scarce (Mint State population of 60-84 coins)
R5 – Very Scarce (Mint State population of 40- 59 coins)
R6 – Extremely scarce (Mint State population of 15- 39 coins)
R7 – Rare (Mint State population of 6-14 coins)
R8 – Rare (Mint State population of 5 or fewer coins)