Legend Numismatics

HomeCollecting StrategiesDon’t Be Hasty When Selling Your Coins - Part 1

Don’t Be Hasty When Selling Your Coins – Part 1


By Peter Mosiondz, Jr.

Every coin that rests in a collection or dealer’s inventory today will one day be sold. That is an inevitable fact of life, unless, of course, someone finds a technique of transporting their cherished coins to that great coin club in the sky.

The method of sale that you eventually choose, and the thought process behind it, will go a long way in determining the best results for your heirs. Believe me; it is much better to plan for things of this nature while one is still on this side of the earth. Let’s examine the means of getting our numismatic house in order.

There are four primary methods of disposing of one’s cherished collection;

  1.     Public auction or mail bid sale.
  2.     Outright sale to a dealer or collector.
  3.     Self-liquidation through an advertised sale, such as an ad in Canadian Coin News.
  4.      Consignment to a dealer for retail sale.

We’ll examine these four methods one-by-one.

The first method described is, in our opinion, the best manner in which to sell high quality and expensive coins. Common or lower grade coins of little premium value are likely to be grouped together in a wholesale lot and may be expected to bring a weak return. The better material will likely have many bidders competing to obtain your choice material and can be projected to bring a satisfactory price. The public auction sale is also the best barometer of the coin market. The result of several bidders competing against each other establishes what at that time is the “going” or market price. It can be considered to be selling at full retail minus the auctioneer’s modest commission. A word of advice is in order when choosing this means of sale. A top notch consignment of many choice coins can be a bargaining tool on the commission rate. It might always work out but there is no harm in asking. I will tell you that it has worked for me in the past. It all depends on how much the auction house desires your material.

great_auctionsIt is also important to note that, when selling at auction, you will have to wait several months for your checque to arrive. You will have to consign several months before their next sale is scheduled, and the proceeds are mailed out, in general, one to two months after the sale is concluded.  The reasoning is apparent. First, the auction firm’s upcoming sale has already been finalized and catalogues are either at the printer or in the mail. The next sale could be two or three months down the road. Then there is the matter of shipping the lots to the absentee bidders (those who bid by mail, phone, or e-mail) and collecting payment from the successful bidders, some of whom are given up to 30 days in certain situations. Then there is the matter of returned lots. A certain small percentage of bidders will not be happy with the coin for any or no apparent reason. Some collectors are just plain hard to please! Add to this the firm’s accounting procedures after all these matters are completed and you can clearly understand why it takes a while to receive your payment. All in all, if there is no hurry to receive the funds, auction sale is the best venue.

For those lesser expensive items that we mentioned, the mail bid sale setting can prove to be ideal. In general mail bid sale companies are looking for just these types of coins. We call them collector coins. A good example would be a Fine-12 1923 cent. The public auction company can not list this as an individual item but this type of coin is the bread and butter of the mail bid sale proprietor.

morgan_dollarsAs with any method of selling, some questions and concerns must be addressed. For the public auction or mail bid firm, these include;

  1. Are my coins fully insured for their replacement value while they are in your possession?
  2. Send me a written statement indicating that I retain full title to all of my consigned coins until I receive payment for them.
  3. Discuss with me any discrepancies between your grading and my grading before any coin is listed or lotted in your sale.
  4. How will you list or lot my coins? Will they be as individual lots or will any be grouped together as one lot? I would like to express my opinions and concerns on this matter.
  5. How soon after the conclusion of the sale will I be paid?
  6. What is your policy on “reserves” I may want to protect myself on certain lots to ensure that they are not sold too cheaply (a reserve price is a price that the seller – you in this instance – places on a particular lot as the lowest acceptable price for which that coin is to be sold. A word of caution; ask if you have to pay a “buyer’s fee, or commission, on the reserve price of any unsold lots). If you are placing only a handful of reserve prices on your coins ask that the commission be waived. I have an old saying; you will never know unless you ask.
  7. Ask that the consignment contract identify these and any other points or concerns you want to raise.

In our next installment we’ll discuss the other three methods.

Until next time, stay well and enjoy your hobby.

Related Articles


  1. Thanks for your post. I didn’t think that a public auction would be the best way to sell a coin collection. However, upon reflection it does make a lot of sense. What better place would there be for finding the buyers for a coin collection. Does selling on e-bay count as a public auction?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Stacks Bowers Auction

AU Capital Management US gold Coins

Professional Coin Grading Service