Selling an inherited coin collection for the most money often comes up in my world. The sad truth is: most people who inherit a rare American coin collection don’t appreciate or want the collection. They simply want to liquidate it for the most money. Here’s how to do it.
As with any collectible, selling rare American coins for the highest price requires knowledge of the collectible.
The Rare American coin field is no exception. The simple question of “How do I sell a coin collection for the most money?” has a very difficult answer. There are many factors involved in gleaning the most from a coin collection.
A superb graded rare American coin
The more you’re willing to learn about what you have, the less you have to trust the advice of strangers. Without knowledge, you become the prey for those seeking to take advantage of your situation.
You will eventually have to trust someone with your collection, but with knowledge of what you have, that trust won’t be so blind and you can have more confidence in the outcome. Knowledge of the rare US coin collection will lead you to the right expert to help you.
1.The very first thing you must do is to organize the collection. The more organized it is, the easier it will be for someone to sell it into the correct market. Most collectors organize their collections in some manner, so the organization part should be simplified. Organize the collection by composition or make up of the collection, age, material, and US or foreign coins. See below for examples of this.
I’ve never met a rare American coin collector who simply threw their treasures into a box or can. If what you inherited is a box or can of loose coins, there is unlikely to be anything of value here. Simply take it to a coin dealer and accept the bullion price they offer.
2. The second thing you must do before setting your new coin collection in the hands of someone else is to inventory the collection. The inventory needs to include at least the date, denomination, and count, if there’s more than one coin of that date. If the collection includes foreign or commemorative coins, separate them out and inventory them in the same way.
A raw (ungraded) 1836 Grbrecht silver dollar
Have a full inventory count of every coin that leaves your sight for any reason. Since raw coins can be swapped, I would also suggest taking clear photos of them and marking an inventory number on their protective holder with a sharpie, or pen and masking tape, so you can easily identify them later. If the coins are in albums, figure out a way to record what you have, without ruining the album.
3. Next, pick a couple of the nicer coins from each category and look up the going prices on eBay, in The Red Book, or on websites such as: http://coins.about.com/od/coinvalues/u/coin_values_prices.htm. If you’re seeing some pretty high numbers when you check, it would then be worth taking or sending your inventoried collection for a wholesale type appraisal.
Factors in the sale of rare American coins:
- Collection Size: A shoebox or pickup truck full?
- Circulated or Commemorative type coins: What is the composition of the collection or collections?
- Material of coins: Gold, silver, nickel or copper?
- Age of coins: Coins struck in the 18th, 19th, 20th, or 21st century? Even older?
- Nationality of the coins: American or foreign?
- General value of collection: High, medium or low value coins in collection? What is the mix of high to low value coins? This is where experts come in handy, but you can get a general idea with some research on your own.
- Collection inventory: Is the collection organized and inventoried, or just dumped into a box somewhere?
- Collection make-up: Common or rare coins? This is tied to the value of the coins.
- Graded or raw coins: Are the coins in plastic grading slabs? Or just placed in sleeves or albums?
- Area of country: Your location factors into whom you might contact for an appraisal.
Each of these factors could be the subject of an entire article, because each is a factor in locating the market that best fits what you’re selling into. To get the most money for your collection, you need to sell into the correct market for each type of coin.
$20 gold proof coin
Coin experts all have their specialty, and knowing the answers to most of the above questions helps you find the right expert to guide you. It will also help you determine if the value of the collection is worthy of a professional appraisal.
By doing this, when you contact your chosen expert, you will have some knowledge of what you’re talking about, and won’t be blindly accepting some stranger’s advice. I equate this to knowing something about your car, so a mechanic can’t just give you a snow job about its problems, and charge you for more things wrong with it, than really are.
Who knows, maybe once you learn enough about what you’re trying to sell, that you’ll start to gain an appreciation of the collection and not want to sell all of it. Maybe you will become a numismaddict like me. That’s a word I “coined” in another article, meaning “addicted to coins”.
If you are interested in investing in silver or gold products, check out GoldSilver.com.
If you are interested in buying gold or silver bullion at the lowest price, check out BullionVault.
If you are interested in learning more about rare American coin, or foreign coin collecting and investing see NumisMaster from Krause Publications.
If you would like to buy interesting modern, or old rare gold and silver coins take a look at either NewYorkMint or GovMint.