There are many reasons to collect valuable coins. For some, it is a hobby passed down through generations. For others, they want a safety net they can cash out if times get tough. Numismatists, those who study or collect coins, paper currency and metals, enjoy spending the effort and time required to collect rare and valuable coins.

There is a lot to learn about any new hobby and coin collecting, or numismatism is no different. Eventually, you should be able to determine what kind of condition your coin is in. The condition drives the price. Today you will learn the factors driving the price of your coins, how to tell if your coins are valuable, where to sell your valuable coins and more.

How to Tell If Coins Are Valuable?

gold coins

There are many resources online to discover if you have valuable coins in your piggy bank at home. There are 43 pennies worth at least a dollar, half dollars made before 1971, silver dollars, quarters, dimes and Buffalo nickels. You may be surprised the change you got back at the grocery store are worth $1 or $3 or $15 or more. The best guides for you to value your coins are the Professional Coin Grading Service Coin Price Guide, Numismatic Guaranty Corporation Price Guide, Heritage Auctions Coin Price Guide and CoinWeek Coin Price Guides. 


Here are the best physical books on valuable coins:

  • A Guide Book of United States Coins
  • Handbook of United States Coins
  • The Official Blackbook Price Guide to United States Coins
  • COINage (magazine)
  • Coin World (magazine)
  • Coins (magazine)
  • Coin Dealer Newsletter

Valuable Coins Appraisal

Coin appraisal guides are great, but they only offer general prices. To get the exact value of your coin, search Google for your nearest dealer. Not only can he tell you how much the coin is worth, but he can also make you an offer on it if that is what you want. The Professional Numismatists' Guild keeps an up-to-date list of reputable coin dealers.

Factors Affecting Value

It is important to understand the driving factors of a coin's value. Mintage or the number of coins originally issued, determines how valuable and in-demand the coin is. After it is minted, it goes into circulation. Over time, coins are lost when they are so damaged or worn they are removed from circulation. The fewer the coins you still have in active circulation, the less supply exists.

High demand and low supply make anything more expensive or valuable. If a coin has a low survival rate, it will demand a higher price. Coins made of more precious metals such as silver and gold command a higher rate usually than coins made of less precious metals such as copper.

The mintmark is perhaps the most important factor to consider when trying to determine if you have a valuable coin. A coin minted in the same year with a different mint mark will differ greatly in price. The highest value coins are in mint condition, never released into circulation. Remember not to clean any valuable coin that was put into circulation. Finally, marketing, collector preferences, and changing trends drive the demand which influences the asking price of any given coin.

Places to Sell Valuable Coins

carrying a number card

There are many places to sell valuable coins. Sell low and medium-value coins to reputable, local coin dealers. You will get the best deal from them if they sell many coins of similar quality and made of the same metal to what you are trying to sell. Some local dealers will purchase rare and valuable coins, but you will get the most money out of private collectors or auctions.

Dealers need to run a profitable business to survive so that they will pay you less than wholesale for these valuable coins. There is nothing out of the ordinary with having your coin valued by multiple appraisers. Remember, auctions charge both the buyer and seller 10 to 15% commission on the sale, so work this into your pricing. Be careful on online auction sites such as eBay as some people use the website to scam others.

Coin Shows

There may be no larger single gathering of coin buyers than at a coin show. There will also be many sellers with coins of a similar value to what you are selling. Ask around to figure out a fair price for the coins you want to sell. Do not feel pressured to sell if you think other coins are undervalued, and you can sell your coin for more. It is a great way to meet many friendly suppliers who may have coins you are interested in and teach you more about the hobby, helpfully guiding you in the right direction.

Online Collectors

Many coin collectors or dealers can be found quickly and easily online. They buy rare and common coins. Find a dealer who focuses on the type of coin you are selling. A vendor who sells gold coins is less likely to be interested in silver dollars or wheat pennies. The better the pictures you take of your coins, the more interest you can get from potential buyers. Photograph your coins in a well-lit environment and ensure the mint marks and lettering are as easily readable as possible.

Coin Collector Magazines

Coin collector magazines are the ideal place to find buyers for rare and valuable coins. Do not advertise your coins for sale in your local classifieds or Craigslist. Even if you meet somewhere safe like the town police station, you are a potential target for thieves. Pick up a magazine online or from your local coin shop, learn lots of information about coin sales and protect yourself and your valuables.

Other Things to Consider

Do not sell to the first buyer who makes you an offer. He should carefully examine each individual coin. If a buyer offers you a flat or low-ball price, or pressures you to sell the coin, then you should back out. There is a better purchaser out there who respects you and values your coins. Other things to consider:


  • Keep documentation of sales
  • Sell collections as a whole

How to Sell for Best Price?

level of coins

We all want to get a fair shake. Above, we gave suggestions on how to find buyers who will pay the highest fair value.

Here is some more advice.

Things to Remember

There are things savvy coin collectors must remember if he is trying to sell a valuable coin. Not all old coins are worth a lot of money. Some of them were mass-produced and not collectible. Do not clean your coins. The value will decrease by 50% or more immediately. Collectors do not want new-looking, shiny collectible coins, especially if they are old. For the most part, old coins placed into jewelry are worth much less than if they were stand-alone as they lose value when they are placed in the setting.

Do not get your hopes up if you find a very old coin. Many are rare, valuable coins, but some are fake. Ask a professional if you have a real valuable coin before you think you have something worth a lot. Many wheat pennies from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s are worth fewer than 10 cents. However, some are worth between $100 and $100,000. Silver bullion is worth less than $20 per ounce. Most silver dollars produced between 1880 and 1930 are worth between $15 and $20. Some coins are worth up to $38,000. Almost all 2-headed coins have no numismatic value.

Conclusion

Numismatism is a great, rewarding hobby. You meet fantastic people, travel amazing places and for a time get to hold a piece of history. However, it is important to understand not all old coins are valuable. Some are made of less valuable metals. Some have different mint marks which decrease their value. Some have been placed into coins, were cleaned, put into production or are simply not rare. There are many factors which drive the price of a coin, not the least of which is finding the right buyer.

To find people to purchase your valuable coins, go to a coin show. You will find many people who go specifically to buy coins. You will meet friendly, helpful dealers who can guide you to a fair selling price for the condition and type of coin you have. Search for reputable, local coin dealers. If they sell a lot of the type of coin you are selling, you are more likely to get a fairer price. Remember, they are still a business, so to make a profit they will buy your coin off of you for below wholesale value. You can also sell your coin at auctions or to other private buyers.

They are the most likely to pay you the highest price as they are not usually operating a business. Alternatively, you can seek out an online coin dealer. If you find one specializing in the kind of coins you wish to sell, such as gold, silver or Buffalo nickels, you are much more likely to sell for a higher price than if they did not. Take high-quality photographs in the best possible lighting and make sure all mint marks and other letterings are as visible as they can be. This will earn you more interest and better offers.


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