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Coin Expert Advice – Ten Tips For Selling Your Coins

Selling Your Coins by Doug WinterRareGoldCoins.com …….
CoinWeek Content Partner
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.

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.

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 an 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 coinsSend 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.

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?

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.

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 that could be worth $10,000, and it has a good upgrade… hmmm, that might necessitate regrading the coin yourself.

Attribute Your Coin(s)

It’s 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, then send them to NGC’s attribution service or have a trusted collector friend do it for you.

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.

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 an 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.

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 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 [email protected].
Doug Winter Numismatics, specialists in U.S. gold coins

* * *

About Doug Winter

Doug_Winter2Doug has spent much of his life in the field of numismatics; beginning collecting coins at the age of seven, and by the time he was 10 years old, buying and selling coins at conventions in the New York City area.

In 1989, he founded Douglas Winter Numismatics, and his firm specializes in buying and selling choice and rare US Gold coins, especially US gold coins and all branch mint material.

Recognized as one of the leading specialized numismatic firms, Doug is an award-winning author of over a dozen numismatic books and a recognized expert on US Gold. His knowledge and an exceptional eye for properly graded and original coins have made him one of the most respected figures in the numismatic community and a sought-after dealer by collectors and investors looking for professional personalized service, a select inventory of impeccable quality, and fair and honest pricing. Doug is also a major buyer of all US coins and is always looking to purchase collections both large and small. He can be reached at (214) 675-9897.

Doug has been a contributor to the Guidebook of United States Coins (also known as the “Redbook”) since 1983, Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins, Q. David Bowers’ Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars and Andrew Pollock’s United States Pattern and Related Issues

In addition, he has authored 13 books on US Gold coins including:
  • Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint: 1839-1909
  • Gold Coins of the Carson City Mint: 1870 – 1893
  • Gold Coins of the Charlotte Mint: 1838-1861
  • Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint 1838-1861
  • The United States $3 Gold Pieces 1854-1889
  • Carson City Gold Coinage 1870-1893: A Rarity and Condition Census Update
  • An Insider’s Guide to Collecting Type One Double Eagles
  • The Connoisseur’s Guide to United States Gold Coins
  • A Collector’s Guide To Indian Head Quarter Eagles
  • The Acadiana Collection of New Orleans Coinage
  • Type Three Double Eagles, 1877-1907: A Numismatic History and Analysis
  • Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861: A Numismatic History and Analysis
  • Type Two Double Eagles, 1866-1876: A Numismatic History and Analysis

Finally, Doug is a member of virtually every major numismatic organization, professional trade group and major coin association in the US.


Doug Winter
Doug Winterhttps://www.raregoldcoins.com
Doug Winter founded Douglas Winter Numismatics (DWN) in 1985. The nationally renowned firm specializes in buying and selling rare United States gold coins. He has written over a dozen books, including the standard references on Charlotte, Dahlonega, and New Orleans gold coinage, and Type 1 Liberty Head Double Eagles. Douglas has also contributed to the A Guidebook of United States Coins, Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins, Q. David Bowers’ Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars, and Andrew Pollock’s United States Pattern and Related Issues. He is a member of the PNG, the ANA, the ANS, the NLG, CAC, PCGS, and NGC - among other professional affiliations. Contact Doug Winter at [email protected].

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  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.


  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?

    • It is grey sheet and many dealers use that because the cost is cheaper in it for purchasing. There are many different sources for coin costs and a wide range of what the same coin is said to be worth. Dealers are in business to make money, as am I, both buying and selling. PCGS.com gives cost of graded coins and Numismatic News gives costs of raw coins too. The grade of the coin is a big part of what it is worth, uncirculated coins are worth the most.

  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!

  14. I have a rare error 194? Brown wheat penny that appears to have a slant 1and what looks to be a square where the last digit would be…almost looks like a 6. My father had this coin for years…also sadly he had US mint 1943 steel coins in mint condition in the original punch in slots was in storage now gone, there were like 40 of them, I wish I could have got them before he put in storage.thanks for your reply.

  15. Too bad this is not written for amateurs. What is CAC? PCGS? NGC? If I knew all about coins I wouldn’t have googled “How to sell a coin collection.”

    • CAC, PCGS, and NGC are all coin grading companies (I’m new at this so learning as I go as well). They evaluate your coin for a price, put it in a sealed plastic container with information on what it is, grade, etc. If someone tries to open the container the seal is broken and the guarantee is void.

      • CRoot, I recently took out of my safe deposit box several coins graded by Numismatic Certification Institute, which was not included in your list of coin grading companies. They are all sealed in plastic with cards certifying their condition. After roughly 30 years, I am now looking to sell some of them. I had a brother tell me some stories about NCI, so I am not sure what my next steps should be. Any direction from you would be appreciated.

  16. My dad recently died and I got his coins . One is a gold three dollar marked 12000.00$ how should I get it checked ? One dealer said it’s real and one said probably fake. Soooo —-

  17. I m just starting in coin collection. Need to know the first step in getting a value. How do I sell a few coins. What’s my best option. Also, if someone can guide me regarding the best coin books/guides available. Thanks.

  18. I have a few single proof and uncirculated coins from 1967-1969. They have been in covers and never since touched. I have looked at the NGC online guide, which has high values for some of the individual coins. I was planning to have them reviewed by my local coin dealer, but I am now considering sending them off for grading by NGC. Any guidelines for next steps to get them sold for a fair price?

  19. Quick question, I have a small collection of coins and have a list on a word document is there a correct way to make this list or a form that would help to keep a record of the collection so when I like to sell I can show what I have and it looks professional.

  20. Hi Doug,
    I’m new to selling coins. Most of the coins I’ve had for at least 60 years. I’ve been sorting & organizing my coins for about 6 months. I contacted Heritage & sent pictures of 3 coins that I thought were worth money. They wrote me back & said that everything dating after 1934 is not worth anything? One of them had a blob instead of the mint. I was told to just spend them? I was wondering if you could guide me to a good site or book that I could read about values. I told them that I was looking at values on the computer & they said don’t go to the computer? My question was why some people want to sell their coin for $40- $50 And other people are selling the same coin for a couple thousand? I know that it depends on the condition the coin is in, but to have such a difference in pricing? I also thought that all penny’s with Abraham Lincoln & wheat on the back like 1941 is worth a good amount of money? They say no! I’m so confused after reading up on many articles? Please help me get on the right track. Thank you very much

  21. Hi Doug, could you please let me know what is the best way to sell my coin collection that I started 50 years ago. Where would I first find the true values of my common coin collection, and then sell them? Thanks for your help.

  22. Hi Doug, are you able to answer my query:

    Hi Doug, could you please let me know what is the best way to sell my coin collection that I started 50 years ago. Where would I first find the true values of my common coin collection, and then sell them? Thanks for your help.

  23. I’m thinking of selling coins some are pennies 1930 to today nickels not as old. Quarters, half dollars silver dollars. Sounds like a mess I suppose also dimes. Started about 50 years ago I do have some that are older Don’t have a clue what to do with them. Would appreciate any help. Thank you

  24. Hi, Doug. I’m new to the whole coin selling thing. I’ve collected some over the years not just cause I like coins, but I like rare collectible antiquities. I think I have some pretty valuable coins after using google for the past two hours just seeing if the value stated was consistent through all ads. I still don’t know where to begin to prepare myself not to get taken advantage of and ultimately robbed of what I could potentially make. Also I’ve had Some of these coins Since I was 10 and I’m 35 now. Don’t remember where I got them from but they are still sentimental as a part of my past and the only reason I’m doing this is well I do need money but if I’ve read everything correctly and play this right I could be sitting on $1000s + of coins if I take my time. I know I don’t trust you anymore than the coin dealers in my town but I believe in the long term aspects of return business other than a quick score like it seems you do. Please email with some pointers or guidance on where to begin and we can go from there

  25. I look at what an individual coin was SOLD for on eBay. Also, how many people were making bids. Keep in mind the seller must pay fees and shipping. This may give you an idea of the interest level and price someone is willing to pay.

  26. I would like to find a place in Canada that can grade my coins by a numismatic place like PCGS. I have mostly Americans coins. Is it better to send them to the US.

    I also like to know how long can a coin be on the bitting at auctions . Thanks

  27. I’ve come across (5 )new 2021 Roosevelt dimes when I opened up a roll l that are defective in the way they were stamped. This kind of thing isn’t in the coin books. How do you find out what something like that may be worth? The grading companies charge a lot per coin but they just set a standard on condition not value. The local coin dealer didn’t even offer silver melt price for some Very Fine Morgan dollars, so I’m not sure that I can rely on them to be square with me.

  28. I stopped selling to dealers decades ago and only deal with other collectors. The “professional” class sets up the scam with idiotic expectations of a coins “value” publishing prices that are represented as what a coin is “worth” knowing that the actual buy price is a tiny fraction of that. I’m a collector not an investor. The article above proves that investors rule the market because they only mention high end, expensive coins out of the reach of the average collector who has been minimized and ignored with dealers now shunning any lower grade material for peanuts and only getting seriously about the high end material walking into their shops. What happened to dealers that actually cared about collectors? I miss the good ol’ days…

    • Joe I’ve been reading all these articles about coins and best way to start selling and learning how to I have not yet seen any responses like yours! I loved it! I have been tippy toeing around not selling or looking into what I may have all because no option made me “feel” good about trying your comment touched me and I finally know what and how I can feel good to sell now… has to be sold to someone who has the same good ol days personality as you and not looking for a get quick money, make my money, forget about seller losing out attitude if you know of anyone who is interested at looking at my collection in south Florida please let me know… thanks again!! Ash615palmbeach
      @yahoo . Com

  29. I am a newbie.. But well informed and educated for about 8 months now.. I just sent in my first coin to PCGS A 1969 S DDO RD 1C. I never been so nervous about a process as I was with filling out submission form .. all the way to sending if off.. I can barley think of anything else.. Then I’ve been educating myself on the process on the auction part of it.. There is a lot to go through to sell a profitable coin.. My goal is to get the highest grade possible .a grade not yet filed. Yes i am a Lincoln Gal … But fir all the time and rolls i went through i ended up with sone beautiful coins.. 1969 s rd DDO. 1958 DDO 1955’S 1940’S46 47 48 43 BEAUTIFUL GEM AND ANOTHER with rainbow affect.. .50s 59.60’s 62 63 64 65 1969 all mint marks.. 70’s through 80’s 90’s and 2000s every one i have is MS AND WILL SOONER OR LATER will be graded . Never expected all the hoops you have to go through ..its a lot to take in.. A lot to learn..

  30. Have some coins
    But why do coin stores offer only the price of the metal.
    His offer was 35 dollars for an 1884 snd a 1925 liberty dollar
    You can reply by sending a message. I don’t e-mail

  31. Hello I’ve recently gotten introduced to coin searching and I must say its quite addicting. I’ve run across two exceptionally beautiful pennies lately one a 1942 wheat penny that I believe would grade quite high given it’s detail and luster I know you have to be careful about whether or not it’s been cleaned but I don’t see any evidence of such also a 1960 D DDO also a coin I feel would grade rather high . I noticed you mentioned CAC and having a coin attributed can you point me towards any literature or research I might obtain to better aquaintmyself with this process and also how to contact CAC what they do and how to go about getting a coin graded and do you accept pictures maybe you might take a look and help decide if grading would be necessary as I know it could cast more than a coins worth most of the time thank you for any information

  32. Hi. I’m not a collector. I just inherited my late husband’s coin collection. It is mostly silver but I do have a few gold coins. One is a 2010 Krugerrand 1oz coin. My husband paid pretty good money for it. Should I sell it for its value vs gold value? Or can you suggest a reputable coin collector in San Antonio, Tx.

    • Read google reviews for dealers in your area. Get multiple opinions if you are unsure. You can contact any of the dealers that advertise here, many will have an interest.

      • I never like the offers I get on my coins; dealers frequently will offer 40-50% of the coin’s value, turn around and list the coin for close to grey-sheet. Yes, I understand that the dealer has overhead, expenses, perhaps the market is slow right now, etc, but mostly its a question of how much money I want to leave on the table; I also view it as how much of a “gift” I am wiling to give them. I’ve also received e-mails from complete strangers offering to buy my coins after I reject a dealer’s offer, seems very strange to me, I mean, how would these people even know I have coins for sale if the dealer didn’t tip them off? I no longer trust this industry very much, I no longer buy expensive $1000+ coins, the business has soured me that much.

  33. I live in NYC? How can I get my coin appraised? I am scared to mail it off. I am worried someone will steal it and I will never get it back. Please help.

  34. I’ve been searching for a reputable coin buyer in my area, it just doesn’t seem to exist. I’ve been collecting for many years and have a nice variety filled collection of US coins that I’ve been trying to liquidate. All of my coins are in separate storage and in great condition. I have a lot of harder to find years and conditions. I also have a lot of error coins and some are not documented. I really don’t want to mail them off since I seem to have the worst luck when it comes to the mail (sending and receiving) Any suggestions as to what I can do?? I’m just at a stand still and would really appreciate help if possible. Thank u for ur time

    Misti from Ontario, CA


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