Planning for Your Child’s Future

Selling A Coin Collection That You Inherited

Coin collecting is a very detailed hobby. Dedicated collectors know when each coin was minted, how much it was worth, how to determine its condition, and so forth. If you recently inherited a coin collection but you're not a coin collector yourself, you may be feeling a bit perplexed. Maybe you've decided to sell the collection, but you're not even sure how to go about it. You're afraid that you'll get taken advantage of or that a valuable coin could get overlooked. Here are a few tips to get you started in the right direction and to ensure you're able to earn what the collection is really worth.

1. Start by sorting through the coins.

Even if you don't know much about coins, it's pretty easy to tell quarters from pennies and foreign currency from U.S. currency. So you should at least sort through the coins and get a general sense of what is there. If the coins are organized, then this will be a bit easier than if they're just tossed in a big box together. Write down a basic list of the coins you find. Be as specific as you're able. If all you can tell is that there are 20 quarters, 15 nickels, and 20 coins from a country you're unfamiliar with, that's fine. If you're able to discern a little more info, like the dates, that's even better. With this list in front of you, you'll be better able to approach coin collectors and appraisers for an estimate. You can say "I have 20 quarters that I need to be appraised" not just "I have some coins that I need to be appraised."

2. Don't remove coins from protective sleeves or try to clean them.

If some of the coins are in protective plastic cases, leave them there. Sometimes these sleeves protect the coins from further corrosion or wear. Absolutely do not try to clean a coin based on the assumption that will increase its value. In most cases, if anything, that will make the coin worth less money. Collectors like to see the patina on coins as it marks their authenticity. 

3. Go to several appraisers.

Do not just ask one appraiser what the coins are worth and then sell them for that amount. Get at least two opinions. Make sure the appraiser separately records what each coin is worth, rather than just telling you what the collection may be worth as a whole. This way, you will have the option of selling the coins individually. If there is a huge discrepancy between the values two appraisers place on a certain coin, then have that one looked at by a third person. For instance, if one person says a coin is worth $20 and the other says it is worth $200, you need a third opinion.

4. Consider selling in person.

While there are some online companies that buy coins, you may want to sell in person. This allows the buyer to look at the coin directly so they know its exact condition. They'll be more willing to pay you the coin's full value if they're seeing it in person—buying online presents them with a bit more risk, which they may mitigate by asking for a lower price. 

If you cannot find a coin shop in your local area, ask around at antique stores and with jewelry appraisers. These businesses tend to overlap, so the owners can probably recommend a coin store or two for you to visit.

If you want to sell your coin collection, you can do so now. It's not too difficult, even if you are not familiar with coins yourself.