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How to sell collectible coins
Old 01-26-2015, 03:55 PM   #1
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How to sell collectible coins

I have a pretty decent collection of old U.S. coins that I would like to "de-accession" as they say in the museum biz. Many are relatively rare (pre-20th century silver dollars, half-dimes, flying eagle cents and that sort of thing). Much of it has a high silver content, but the numismatic value is generally much higher than the silver value. The fly in the ointment is that hardly any of them are in really great condition. Legible dates, much of the original detail, but obviously worn and well circulated.

How I got them is a bit unusual. My father was a NYC bus driver who went through his change after every shift and picked out anything unusual, replacing it with a standard coin from his pocket. I've recently looked some of them up and it appears they may be quite a bit more valuable than the last time I checked about ten years ago. So, I know I could piecemeal them on eBay, but that's a lot of effort. I suspect I would get extreme lowball offers from local coin shops.

Can anyone suggest the best, simplest way to get decent value out of the collection? My guess is the the entire collection might be worth $2,000 to $3,000.
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Old 01-26-2015, 04:09 PM   #2
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I would start out by asking friends and family if they know anybody who is a coin collector, or has an interest in buying collectible coins.
When I was younger, I wanted to add to my coin collection, and it so happened a lady in my church was looking for someone to buy some of hers. We met, had a nice discussion, and I bought some.

I knew a recently widowed lady who wanted to sell her husband's stamp collection. She had a friend who knew someone who was in the local stamp collecting club and he either bought them or directed her to someone who would.
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Old 01-26-2015, 04:13 PM   #3
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Look for a numismatic show in your area. That's where the dealers are. Most the old coin shops seem to be gone now, so the shows is the main place I go to look for coins.
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Old 01-26-2015, 04:20 PM   #4
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I am in the same boat. We had a family member recently pass away, and my BIL and I have some coins to sell off. This site seems to have some good suggestions:
Selling Coins - How to Get the Best Price
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Old 01-26-2015, 04:40 PM   #5
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I've sold some of my own old silver coins and grandma's. Stuff from mid to late 1800's into the early 1900's. Morgan silver dollars, peace silvers, etc. Also some American Eagle silver dollars and the gold eagle $10+ coins. None of that stuff was worth a whole lot more than melt value. Sure, some of them are almost 150 years old but that didn't matter at the time. None of the old stuff was in great condition (no near mint in other words), but maybe a third had a lot of detail left on them.

Ebay isn't bad. Pawn shop offered 80-90% of melt value. Coin collecting store offered slightly more but not that much.

I ended up moving most of this stuff to a collector. I put them on craigslist and talked to the guy on the phone. His name and address and phone number matched a real person, house, and address, so I figured he was legit. We met inside a busy McDonalds, spent about 2 minutes looking at the goods and he took a few pounds of silver and gold and I took a few thousand dollars. I think he pulled the cash out of a flimsy duffle bag just like they do in the movies.

I can't remember how much more I got vs. the coin store, but I think it was 10-15% extra. Many hundreds of dollars, which made it worth the time and risk (after my due diligence of course).

The guy I sold them to thought silver and gold was going to keep going up from the very high point they were at. I, of course, guessed the opposite. Politics entered the discussion in a polite way, and I didn't dissuade him from his appraisal of the market. Silver was $30/oz and gold was $1500/oz IIRC when I sold it. Maybe he sold out after it peaked a year or two later, or maybe he's still sitting on big % losses.
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Old 01-26-2015, 07:33 PM   #6
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I would think if an audience the size of ebay thought it was not worth much .... it's not.
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Old 01-26-2015, 08:01 PM   #7
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I have been around coins for a long time and I think it would be wise to lower your expectations. The kind of coins you describe (well-worn common date coins) are very hard to sell to collectors, therefore dealers are not going to be that excited to buy them.

I have a friend who owns a coin shop. This type of accumulation is very typical of what people bring in. He is fair and honest and most people are unhappy with the offer and say they will think about it and leave. Then about half the time, they come back in a week or two saying they shopped them around and his offer was the best.

Here's a link to a major wholesaler's buy list with prices - that would give you an idea of what your coins are worth to a dealer. http://www.azcoinexchange.com/buylist.htm

Of course, if you have rare dates, that's a different story.
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Old 01-26-2015, 08:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
I have a pretty decent collection of old U.S. coins that I would like to "de-accession" as they say in the museum biz. Many are relatively rare (pre-20th century silver dollars, half-dimes, flying eagle cents and that sort of thing). Much of it has a high silver content, but the numismatic value is generally much higher than the silver value. The fly in the ointment is that hardly any of them are in really great condition. Legible dates, much of the original detail, but obviously worn and well circulated.

How I got them is a bit unusual. My father was a NYC bus driver who went through his change after every shift and picked out anything unusual, replacing it with a standard coin from his pocket. I've recently looked some of them up and it appears they may be quite a bit more valuable than the last time I checked about ten years ago. So, I know I could piecemeal them on eBay, but that's a lot of effort. I suspect I would get extreme lowball offers from local coin shops.

Can anyone suggest the best, simplest way to get decent value out of the collection? My guess is the the entire collection might be worth $2,000 to $3,000.
Prudent one gave sound advice.

But the story has a huge value to a family member. Anyone to gift them to?

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Old 01-26-2015, 08:39 PM   #9
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The best way to get decent value out of the collection is to go through and evaluate what each coin is worth,unlike what prudent one is stating about Morgans Dollars going for $17 they should be salable on EBAY for $23-25 if common dates as long as no significant damage, sell in lots of 5-20 coins. After Ebay and Paypals cut you would end up probably realizing about 19-22 per common silver dollar.

More importantly you need to determine if in your collection you really have a rare coin and coin dealers are worse than annuity salesman, most if you don't know the value of your coins will tell you they are not worth more than melt value in my experience. IF you have any Carson City minted Morgans those are worth usually at least $75 per coin. Trusting someone else with your old money is an expense though you may not know of it.

Here is the web site to determine if you have something of real value:
PCGS Coin Price Guide: The Industry Standard for US Coin Values

If you have a coin worth 200-300 dollars then it would be worth it to send it in to be graded so you can sell as a graded coin on EBAY and realize better it's value on sale, that grading costs about $20-32 depending on the value. Look on EBAY for sold auctions for recent prices for a guide on what to expect. DO NOT TRUST ANYONE TO REVIEW YOUR COLLECTION IF YOU HAVE A COIN WORTH A GREAT DEAL OF MONEY TEMPTATION TO TAKE AS JUST LOW VALUE IS JUST TOO MUCH FOR MOST PEOPLE IN THE COIN INDUSTRY!!!

If you have 10-20 coins of a similar type say common date Morgans or Peace dollars you can sell as a lot to reduce listings. IF you have no EBAY profile, set one up and sell some common dates first, make sure you describe accurately, package well and ship fast and you will get some good ratings to make selling your better value coins more reliably.
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Old 01-26-2015, 08:45 PM   #10
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As an example of what can happen an 1885 S half dime in about good condition (really worn date barely legible) if you happened to have one is worth $525 dollars, if it is actually in fine condition (worn but details a bit clearer) it would be worth over $2,000 dollars, now an expert knowing he is dealing with a rube can show a sheet with multiple dates including 1885 that are only worth 18 dollars each, but the S mintmark and verifiable condition make all the difference.

Best of luck and I hope you have some real values there.
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Old 01-26-2015, 09:43 PM   #11
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To comment on what running man said, if you're only going to clear $19 by selling on ebay (after ebay/paypal fees and shipping), or get $17 at a coin dealer, I'd probably go with the coin dealer to avoid hassle and risk of fraud from buyers. Unless you just really love ebaying things.
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Old 01-27-2015, 07:49 AM   #12
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Thanks for all the good advice. I find myself agreeing with nearly all of it.

I'm still in the process of examining every coin and determining (as best I can) its condition. This is a very helpful guide:
Official American Numismatic Association Grading Standards for United States Coins
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Old 01-27-2015, 08:21 AM   #13
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Stop by one of your local coin shows and "shop (to sell)" the coins. The bigger the show the better. You can find them easily on the Internet. (e.g. Coin Shows) Most dealers will be happy to look at what you have for free and give you a "cash" offer on the spot. No offense, but a 2 to 3k dollar US coin collection is like pocket change to most coin dealers and should be easy to sell. Condition and rarity matters a lot in coin collecting. (Condition is graded on a scale from 1 to 70) However, truly rare coins, even in well circulated condition, can bring you a lot of money. If you find you do have a truly rare coin, then it may be worth it to get it professionally graded and certified by either PCGS or NGC.

Here's a "very few" examples of some key coins to look for: (my favorites)

1909 S vdb Lincoln penny
1937 D 3leg Buffalo Nickel
1916 D Mercury Dime
1932 D Washington Quarter
1932 S Washington Quarter
1893 S Morgan Dollar <-------------- $

(example. a 1893 S in a lower grade VF 20 to 25 should get you about $5000, however in MS 65 you should get well over $600,000, according to the latest greysheet pricing guides. However, many common dated Morgan dollars can be bought for under $30 in average circulated condition and even well under $100 in certified mint state condition. As you can see by these rather extream examples, size doesn't matter with coins but rarity, condition (eye appeal) and grades do.

Of course there are a great many other coins that are worth a lot of money. If you want to know the value of your coins then buy a copy of the "grey sheet" from the Coin Dealers Newsletter (published weekly) It's less than $10 a copy. It's what most dealers go by and will help you know if you are getting a good price quote or not.

If you really think you have a rare/valuable coin then feel free to send me a PM describing the coin and I'll try to give you an idea of the value.
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Old 01-27-2015, 11:47 AM   #14
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Car-Guy, good information. Your mention of the 1909 vdb "s" is a great example. The value of the "s" is way high. If you watch there is still stuff circulating, 10 years ago I get handed some change, 1909 vdb no mint very nice shape. It was holiday season I figured someone raided grandpa's collection.

Unfortunately we learned a hard lesson about taxes as kids, most of my silver was sucked by the Hunt boys. Probably sold at close to the top, but of course today I regret it. I'm am proud we learned from our mistake.

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Old 01-27-2015, 04:25 PM   #15
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Just a comment on sending coins to PCGS to be graded. It's true that coins graded by PCGS can bring more money, but it's not something to be done on a reflex. First, in addition to the grading fee you have to pay insured shipping both ways. So you have to evaluate whether the cost is worth it. And if the coin is cleaned or damaged they won't put a grade on it and you still pay the fee. A novice may not be able to tell if a coin was cleaned, and the threshold for what they call damage might be a lot less than you would think. A scratch, a ding on the rim, etc.

You can often save part of the shipping cost by using a PCGS authorized dealer to submit the coin along with others so you're sharing that part of the cost. A PCGS authorized dealer should be able to tell you with reasonable certainty if the coin will grade or not so you can save the time and cost of sending it in. However, any dealer will tell you they have had coins returned ungraded and they are mystified as to the reason. No guarantees.

All the above equally applies to the other big grading outfit, NGC.
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Old 01-27-2015, 04:32 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by prudent_one View Post
Just a comment on sending coins to PCGS to be graded. It's true that coins graded by PCGS can bring more money, but it's not something to be done on a reflex. First, in addition to the grading fee you have to pay insured shipping both ways. So you have to evaluate whether the cost is worth it. And if the coin is cleaned or damaged they won't put a grade on it and you still pay the fee. A novice may not be able to tell if a coin was cleaned, and the threshold for what they call damage might be a lot less than you would think. A scratch, a ding on the rim, etc. .
At the last coin show I was at, there were people there doing free grading (limited amount). I think they were at the grading agency booth.
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Old 01-27-2015, 06:29 PM   #17
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Wow! Coin values are a whole 'nother world.
I'm not going to involve myself in anything fancy like grading, because the most valuable single coin I have is probably not worth much more than $100.

But there will be a coin show nearby in about a month and I'm looking forward to checking it out.

Thanks again to all for the great advice!
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Old 01-27-2015, 06:41 PM   #18
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At the last coin show I was at, there were people there doing free grading (limited amount). I think they were at the grading agency booth.
Many of the bigger coin shows have one or more grading service in attendance however, beware, not all grading services are equal in their grading standards and/or reputation. Today, IMO, the most credible grading services are PCGS and NGC. And for very expensive coins, a CAC sticker is nice to see too.

However you should be buying the coin, not the holder the coin is in. (knowledge of the coin and it's grading characteristics becomes very important at this point)

If there are other coin collectors here on this forum that would like to discuss coin collecting, grading, etc, I' be happy to start a separate thread so we don't totally hijack this one.
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Old 01-27-2015, 10:14 PM   #19
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I have collected Morgan silver dollars for years, Here's a nice spreadsheet on values:

1878-1921 Morgan Silver Dollar Value - Coinflation (Updated Daily)
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