Selling Your Coins By Doug WinterRareGoldCoins.com …….
As someone who sells a lot of coins, I have some selling tips/tricks/thoughts that I’d like to share, specifically about selling your coins.

1. Don’t Get Into a Forced Sale Situation.

When it comes to buying coins, most people (dealers and collectors) are sharks. If they know that you are in a situation of desperation, it is likely that they’ll take advantage of you. The worst thing that you can do as a seller is to tell someone–even someone that you have a “close” relationship with–that you have to sell a coin and that you need a fair offer. In my experience, selling your coins in a forced sale can cost you 20-30% or more.

Ideally, you want a sale of an individual coin (or collection) to take at least 45-60 days; possibly more for an in-depth specialized collection. That will give you enough time to prepare the coin for sale, market it, and give the buyer time to pay if this becomes a factor.

2. Pick the Right Time for Selling Your Coins.

Although the internet is blurring the traditional coin seasons, the two best times of the year for selling your coins are still around the FUN show in January and at the summer ANA in July or August.

This holds true for selling a coin yourself, on consignment, or through auction. You are likely to do better when people are in the mood to buy coins; not when they are preoccupied with summer vacation or preparing for the Winter holidays.

selling your coins3. Send Your Coins to CAC.

I don’t subscribe to the theory that you “have to” buy CAC coins and nothing else. If you are a savvy, educated buyer you should be able to discern what is nice and what isn’t within your specialty.

But when you are selling your cons I think it does make a difference to have a CAC sticker. I think the best thing about CAC is that it instills confidence in buyers and makes a coin more liquid. I certainly notice that CAC coins at auction tend to sell for more money than non-CAC, and appear to sell to retail buyers/end-users more often than non-CAC coins.

4. Strike While the Iron is Hot.

Let’s say you read about an auction that contains some great Liberty Head eagles that bring very strong prices. You own similar coins. Should you turn around and sell as soon as possible?

Yes and no. Sometimes you get lucky and can find the underbidder who just missed out on a record-setting coin. But more often than not he was an underbidder who might not feel so good about the level he was at a second time. As a seller, replicating an all-time record price can prove difficult. But it might be worth an effort to at least experiment, no?

5. Clean Your Slabs.

This sounds silly, but dirty, scratchy slabs can cost you money. Let me give you an example.

About a year ago I saw an interesting gold at an auction. Well I sort of saw it; the holder was so scratched up you literally couldn’t see the surfaces of the coin. I took a chance and bought it, mainly because it sold so cheaply, then sent it to a grading service to be re-holdered. Lo and behold, it was actually very nice. It later got a CAC sticker and I sold it for a good profit; all because it looked great in its new holder.

6. Leave Your Old Holder Coins in Old Holders (sometimes).

OK, I’ll be the first to get up in front of the group and admit that I’m an Old Holder-aholic. I get excited by coins in older PCGS and NGC slabs and tend to overpay for them; as do most dealers. But for a seller there’s a catch to this, which is why I put the “sometimes” after the statement.

If you have a $2,000 old holder coin that has the potential to be a $4,000 coin if it upgrades, leave it alone, and price it accordingly. Let the buyer take the gamble. But if you have a $2,000 old coin coin that could be worth $10,000 if it has a good upgrade….hmmm, that might necessitate regrading the coin yourself.

7. Attribute Your Coin(s).

Its probably not going to happen to you, but what if the lowly 1794 Cent you just sold to another collector across town turned out to be a $35,000 rare variety? That’s going to make you feel just great, right?

Take a few minutes and attribute your coins. If you don’t know how, send them to NGC’s attribution service or have a trusted collector friend do it for you.

8. Have an Emergency Plan.

Life is full of unexpected turns. Have you fully planned what would happen to your coins if you were to suddenly die or become incapacitated? You obviously don’t want your wife walking into the local pawn shop and getting taken advantage of. Make it easy for her or your heirs and leave explicit instructions on how to dispose of your coins.

True story: a few years ago, a good client of mine passed away without a will and without leaving instructions on how to dispose of his coins. He was a secretive guy so I’m assuming the invoices for his coins weren’t around and he peeled my inventory stickers off the back of the slabs which indicated what he paid. The coins were left to his sister who proceeded to take them to a “road buyer” at a local hotel. I would have paid close to a million dollars for the coins if she had called me. I’m told the road buyers paid her somewhat less than $200,000.

9. Do Your Due Diligence When it Comes to Pricing.

Depending on the types of coins that you are selling, it should be possible to price your coins. But there are important things to consider.

In certain series, PCGS coins sell for premiums over NGC coins. Are your coins worth a premium? Is your coin approved by CAC and, if so, does this make a difference? Do you own a coin that’s currently “hot?” Is your coin high end for the grade?

Common issues and generics are easy to price. Rare coins and very rare coins can be very difficult. Examine recent auction records. Are they consistent or all over the place? Has there been a comparable coin that has sold at auction in the last year?

If you have an extremely rare coin, it is probably best to put it in auction. But specialist dealers can be a great resource for selling rarities as well and they may be able to help you maximize the prices you get.

10. Leave a Little Bit on the Table for Everyone.

Piggy sellers. Everyone knows them, and no one likes them. I’m talking about sellers who want to squeeze every last dime out of every transaction when selling your coins, and make each sale an ordeal.

When I sell coins to other dealers I intentionally try to leave a little room so that they can make money on what they’ve just bought. This makes them happy and it makes them want to buy more coins from me in the future.

When I buy from collectors I try to be extra-fair and pay the most that I can while still leaving some room for myself to mark-up the coin up and resell it.

Do you have any tips for selling your coins? If so, I’d love to know what they are and for you to share them with me. Please add them at the end of this blog or email them to me at dwn@ont.com.

Doug Winter Numismatics, specialists in U.S. gold coins


Liberty Head Gold Coins Currently Available on eBay

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US Gold $5 Liberty Head Half Eagle - AU - Random Date Current Price: $354.49
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Ending: 3 days 7 hrs 14 mins
1843-O $2 1/2 Liberty Head Gold Coin Quarter Eagle Counter Mark! Current Price: $279.0
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1851 $2 1/2 Liberty Head Gold Coin Quarter Eagle TONED Current Price: $289.99
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US Gold $20 Liberty Head Double Eagle - Almost Uncirculated - Random Date Current Price: $1326.72
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US Gold $10 Liberty Head Eagle - PCGS MS63 - Random Date Current Price: $740.18
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US Gold $5 Liberty Head Half Eagle - Extra Fine - Random Date Current Price: $346.18
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17 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent article Doug!

    I’ve purchased a few nice coins in scratched holders myself, and like you, I get them reslabbed. They are much more marketable and there is certainly an increase in the coin’s value from a resale standpoint. I haven’t been disappointed yet.

  2. Important article. BUT…it omits to whom one’s coins should be offered (auction houses, ‘big name’ dealers, shop around the corner, etc). This matters a great deal. For example, if you have a dozen nice, slabbed, AU50-58 mid-19th-century gold coins, do you offer them to Doug Winter or a generalist, small-time dealer a couple miles from your house? Or should you put them up for auction? Or should you try to sell them at a coin show?
    Many collectors don’t sell any of their coins until they (or their heirs) ‘cash out’. Bad idea. Collectors should weed their collections now and then, and sell what they don’t want to keep. This is a good way to begin learning some realities of the coin market. From a financial point of view, selling ‘right’ is just as important as buying the ‘right’ coins.

  3. Let’s say you put a set of non-proof Franklin Halves together and paid very little, if any, premium over silver price. You were able to put it together for about $250 because the recent price jump hadn’t occurred yet. But what happens when silver goes up to $60? Now your collection is worth about $750. It’s awful tempting to take the $500 profit. But what might be better is to trade the entire collection in for one nice key coin. For instance, what if the dealer had a good 1909-S VDB Lincoln penny for $850. You would only need to pay him about $100 out of pocket for the key to the set!

  4. My contractor who works regularly on my house travelled recently to SC to take care of his mother and grandfather’s estate.

    He then came back only to tell me he took most of his grandfather’s silver to a dealer and got 12x face, because he needed the money. I sure wish he would have called me first because who knows what he had (when he described those Liberty Walking Halves as pretty nice, thst just sent me further into depression).

    Anyway, as I paid him regularly in rolls of coins (which I’d go through to find the State Parks Quarters in circulation) I thought he would have made the connection therefore it never occurred to me to remind him. He thought I was only interested in recent coins. Let’s see, I’m interested in pulling coins from circulation but not older silver at melt? Oh well.

    My contractor not being a coin guy, the problem with selling to a pawn shop outfit is that he might have sold something really rare and would never know it, since they only paid him a bit less than melt.

  5. I had no idea that there was a good time of the year to sell coins. I always see ads all year round saying that now is the best time to sell. I suppose that is because these dealers know that the real best time to sell is in January, July, or August. They probably could pay less for the coins outside of those months and sell them for a profit around the selling season. That is smart on their part. I am glad I did some research to find out how to be smart myself.

  6. This is not a comment but a question.
    I have some coin collections I have inherited from an old friend and among them is a 1837 united states one cent piece. How would I find out the value of that coin.

    Thanks

  7. A good way to get the true value of your coins would be to donate. It’s an easy way to get them off your hands while receiving a tax deduction. I would recommend http://www.collectibleswithcauses.org. They have friendly staff that can help you through the process. Its a simple form to fill out and they are available to answer any questions you might have.

  8. Comment. I have 1969-s lincoln cent doubled die obverse &1970-s lincoln cent small date doubled die obverse, I want sell for cash.

  9. This is very unhelpful for the aberage person who has what they suspect may be a rare couple of coins but is NOTa collector. I have no idea what you are even TALKING about with slabsand such. What do I do and where do I take or send these so I wont get cheated if they are worth something? I dont know where to go or what to do and nobody I know collects coins!

    • In your case, I recommend that you call a coin shop and hire them on an hourly basis to give you an accurate understanding of what you have. Do not use this is a way to sell the coins to them, but to find out what you have. You can do the same thing by reaching out to an area coin club. Meet at a public place, like a library meeting room, or a hotel meeting room. Once you have an idea of what you have, then reach out to people in the industry if you want to sell your coins.

  10. I have a foreign coin collection, that my deceased husband collected over 40 years ago… I am sure some coins or not and circulation anymore… What is my best avenue for selling… JYS

    • you should first have your coins reviewed by a reputable dealer. Ask them for a list of reference books that cover parts of your collection and take a week or two to review the dealer’s notes and check them against the books. Once you have educated yourself about what you have and establish a good working relationship with a dealer, you may be ready for the next step… either selling the collection outright to the dealer – or consigning the collection to an auction house for sale.

  11. I have my dad’s coin collection which he has been collecting since around the 1940’s. He passed in 2010. I have been going through and pricing each coin using Cointracker’s prices. I know that there are some rare coins. I am not willing to send off any of them. I need to know a reputable coin dealer/buyer within Oklahoma. Any thoughts?

  12. I took my coin collection to a local jeweler who is known to be a coin collector as well as a coin appraiser and dealer. He said there are several valuable coins, but he said he will use only “gray book” or wholesale prices. Is this normal when buying coins? Approximately what percent is the gray book value in relation to Retail value?

  13. I just visited a local coin dealer today and took in a “sample” of my arsenal which was an organized notebook of Morgan, Peace, Ike, and SBA, silver dollars, about 60 total. He said they were “common” and proceeded to remove one of the Morgans, handling it with his bare hands on the obverse & reverse! I was a bit shocked but didn’t say anything, figuring that he knew what he was doing. He said this particular coin was AU uncirculated. He offered me $12 per coin, which I think was an insult. When I got home, I took a cleansing cloth, like you use for glass, without any cleaner or water, and rubbed both sides of the coin he touched. What the heck! Is this normal? I have worked hard to get all these coins organized, labeled, put in cardboard flips, and then into plastic pocket pages. I want to get a fair price for these and have no idea how to know who is honest. I have done some of the grading myself by cross-referencing values from cointrackers.com and the U.S. Guide to Coins. This was a very frustrating day for me! There has to be some avenue I can explore that leads to satisfaction and not getting ripped off!

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