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Why You Should Keep an Inventory


By Peter Mosiondz, Jr.….
Do you know exactly what you have in your coin collection at this very moment?

If your collection were stolen today would you be equipped to file an accurate insurance claim?

And, would your heirs have any idea as to the value of your collection should you suddenly be summoned to the great coin club in the sky?

We do not wish to unduly alarm you but you should ponder these three questions for a few moments. If you have answered “No” to any of them, read on.

Each question is tied together with a common thread; that being, “How much is my collection worth?”

That thread, or link, is the maintenance of a simple inventory system. If someone as computer illiterate can devise and maintain such a system, so can you. Here an example of my spreadsheet. Please note that I use a 10-point Arial font. The dimensions shown are predicated on this. If you use another font type or size, an adaption will have to be made but that should not prove difficult. Just begin by setting up the page layout for margins, column width and number, select your preferred type font and size, then type in a few samples and use your “Print Preview” button to observe how much space is remaining or possibly lost. Columns widths can easily be adjusted for your font selection.

You will note that I use a very wide column for the coin’s description. I try to enter as much information as I can. The “1902-O MS-63 (NGC-OLD)” designates the date, mintmark, grade and grading service. The “OLD” implies an early generation, or small, holder. I leave this basic information on a separate line and then follow up with my visual description. Sometimes that description will be but a few words and other times, such as this instance, it will be several lines. This coin merits such a flowery description.

For the heading of each column use information that is important to me. Essential for all of us is the denomination, date, mintmark (if any), grade, grading service name (if any), source and date of purchase and cost price. For my date of purchase the month and year is sufficient. I use two other columns; one headed “CV” for Coin Values as published on Coin World’s web site for use by subscribers, the other entitled “RB” for Red Book (A Guide Book of United States Coins). For my Canadian coins I use “CCN” in place of “CV” to indicate the current Canadian Coin News trends valuation. The “RB” is replaced by “CHAR” to designate the Charlton Standard Catalogue of Canadian Coins valuation.

I strive to update my “CV” or “CCN” values once a month while the “RB” or “CHAR” columns are updated yearly when the new editions are released. These two price catalogues are relatively inexpensive and should be obtained every year.

In order for us to arrive at the replacement cost to satisfy an insurance claim, a tabulation of the “Cost” column should prove to be sufficient. This figure will also be adequate as a staring point for your heirs. Depending on the grade level and quality of the coins you collect, a certain percentage of either of the two valuation columns could be rendered as a legitimate bargaining tool. You know what you collect better than I do. You could enter a final notation line on your spreadsheet such as “In the event of my demise, take (or send) these coins to Dealer XYZ and expect to receive somewhere in the vicinity of $xxx for my collection. The coins are located xxx”. The location of the collection is vitally important to them. What good is telling them approximately what they will obtain in the sale if they can’t find the coins?

There are several computer programs available for keeping an inventory but, as I am unfamiliar with any of them, I can not make an astute comment on their worthiness. Anyway I prefer to do things myself rather than pay someone.

For those without computer access or for those who are looking for a different method of inventory record keeping, the old 3” x 5” (77 mm x 127 mm) index card system should provide the answer. I used this system for many years until I obtained my first computer in the late 1990s.

Here’s a sample card:


The card displays the denomination, date and grade on the top line. A bit further down is the location of the coin. The last line contains the month and year purchased, source and price paid. The card can be augmented by adding the “CCN” and “CHAR” figures below the location. I would do this in pencil for ease of updating prices in the future.

Be sure to keep all printed inventory records, whether card or printout, in a separate, safe location away from the coins. Be equally certain that your loved ones are apprised as to where you keep your coins and inventory records.

Until next time, stay well and enjoy your hobby.

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