Our office will be closed Friday, February 9th. We will reopen on Monday, February 12th. All emails and voicemails will be responded to early next week.

 By Appointment Only

6 Coins that a Coin Dealer Can & Can’t Price over the Phone

Share this info!

6 Coins that a Coin Dealer Can & Can’t Price over the Phone


If you’re relatively new to coin collecting or were recently left with a coin collection by a relative, you’ve probably done some online research or called some local coin dealers to get a better idea of the value of your collection and to possibly sell the items.

When reaching out to coin dealers, you’ve most likely received different responses based on the type of coins and bullion that you’re interested in selling. Some coin dealers may be willing to provide price information over the phone, some have likely been hesitant to provide firm pricing information over the phone, while others have likely asked you to bring the items in for an evaluation.

In this brief article, we’re going to share with you six coins that a coin dealer can and can’t price over the phone so that you’ll understand from a coin dealer’s perspective what our limitations are without seeing the coins. If the coin dealer is hesitant to provide any information over the phone, especially on more straightforward coins, and asks you to bring the items in without providing a price indication, we recommend looking elsewhere.


90% US Silver Dimes, Quarters & Half DollarsUS 90% Silver Coins


While some coins can be challenging to value without seeing them in person, 90% US silver dimes, quarters and half dollars are not. This is because these coins are easily recognizable by their date (1964 & earlier) and the expectation is that the coins are in circulated condition.

There are a few exceptions to the rule, such as if the coins are substantially worn (beyond average circulated condition), are dateless, have heavy toning/tarnishing, oxidation, PVC damage, have been cleaned/polished, been defaced or exhibit other environmental issues due to not being stored properly.

If you have run of the mill circulated 90% silver coins, a coin dealer should be able to provide you with accurate pricing over the phone. The quote may be by coin or as a multiple of the face value, such as 16 times face value. In this case, the coin dealer is offering you $1.60 per dime, $4 per quarter or $8 per half dollar.


Morgan & Peace Silver Dollarsmorgan and peace dollars gold coins silver coins


Morgan and Peace silver dollars, which are U.S. silver dollars issued in 1935 and earlier, are a bit more challenging for a coin dealer to value without seeing them in person, but most coin dealers should at least be able to provide you with an indication or price range.


For those of you who are new to coin collecting, Peace silver dollars are the most common of these silver dollars, followed by 1921 Morgan silver dollars and pre-1921 silver dollars. Expect to receive a lower price quote for Peace and 1921 Morgan dollars than for pre-21 Morgan silver dollars. This has to do with the mintage, survivability and demand for these coins from collectors and investors.

A price indication should be possible if the coins are common date and in average condition, which typically means fine to very fine condition. These grade coins account for the lion’s share of these coins, which are commonly traded in bulk. Price adjustments are made when the coins are in below average condition/have been altered or if the coins are in above average condition.

An experienced coin dealer should be able to provide you with approximate values on these coins with the caveat that adjustments may need to be made once the coins are evaluated in person.


Gold & Silver Bullion Coins

gold and silver coins and bullion


There’s widespread usage of the term “bullion” in the industry, but for the purposes of our discussion, we’re referring to government-issued coins that were produced for investment purposes as opposed to collectible or numismatic coins.

Examples of these coins include American gold and silver eagles, Canadian gold and silver maple leaf coins, South African gold and silver krugerrands, Austrian gold and silver philharmonics, and just about any other government-issued coin from a well-known and recognized mint, such as the Royal Mint, the Perth Mint, and the Mexican Mint, just to name a few.

Since these coins primarily trade based on their underlying precious metals value, you should expect to be able to receive an accurate price quote over the phone on these items. The caveat is that the coins are in retail-quality condition. This is how they’re issued by the mint and investors expect the coins to be in uncirculated condition. Price adjustments should be expected if these coins weren’t properly stored or maintained.


Certified Morgan & Peace Silver Dollars

There’s a common misconception in the industry that certified, or professionally graded coins consider the aesthetics of the coin, which is not the case. When a third-party grading service (TPGS) evaluates and grades a coin, they’re strictly looking at the level of wear and/or contact marks on the coin to determine the grade.Morgan Dollar Coin Collection


This means that a high-grade coin could be unattractive. Considering that the aesthetics of a coin is a driving factor for collectors, they’re likely to pass on a coin with perceived issues unless they’re able to acquire the coin at a discounted rate. Even then, some collectors have strict criteria in terms of the coins that they’re willing to invest in and may not be persuaded at any price.

The reason we share this information with you is because a coin dealer should be able to provide you with a price indication over the phone on certified Morgan and Peace silver dollars but may not be able to provide you with a binding offer until the coin is seen in person. Coins with spots, toning and/or tarnishing, as well as coins in scruffy or damaged holders will trade at lower values than nice bright white coins in well maintained holders.


Certified Pre-1933 US Gold Coins

One of the most widely traded certified coins in the industry are pre-1933 U.S. gold coins, and among these coins, St. Gaudens and $20 Liberty Head gold coins tend to be the most popular and common.Liberty Head Gold Coins


Pre-33 gold coins were originally produced for general circulation and were used as money until Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6102 into law making it illegal for U.S. citizens to own gold coins. To prevent the coins from quickly wearing down, they were composed of 90% gold and 10% copper. This alloy mix made the coins more durable and allowed them to hold up well – even after heavy usage.

There are pros and cons to this alloy mix. As mentioned above, these coins have held up well over time, with many never circulating, so we’re able to enjoy and experience the beauty of these coins over 100 years after they were produced. The downside is that the 10% copper allocation occasionally manifests itself in the form of red or brown copper spots on the surface of the coin, making these coins much less appealing than their spotless counterparts.

In fact, this is a common enough occurrence that most coin dealers have separate buy rates for spotted and spotless coins. Other somewhat common issues with these coins are dirt and grease marks from the dies that were used. These issues also qualify a coin as “spotted,” which will reduce the value and the subsequent buy rate from a coin dealer.


Key Date or Low Mintage Coins


Key date or low mintage coins are one of the most difficult types of coins for a coin dealer to value without seeing the coins in person. This is because the value of these coins is primarily driven by the aesthetics and level of wear of the coin.

For example, if you contact a coin dealer and ask him or her what they would be willing to offer for an 1895-s Morgan silver dollar, they wouldn’t have the slightest clue without knowing more information about the coin. If the coin is certified or professionally graded, they’ll have a relatively good idea, assuming the coin doesn’t have any of the issues noted above, but if a rare or ungraded coin, it’s impossible to provide accurate pricing information over the phone.

However, if you happen to have a Morgan silver dollar in a GSA holder, especially if the coin is one of the more common dates, such as 1882 – 1884, a coin dealer should be able to offer you a fairly accurate quote. They may just ask for clarification on a couple of issues, such as if the coin has toning or tarnishing, if the coin includes the original black box and COA, or if the GSA holder includes the word “Uncirculated” on it.

Does this mean that you need to have raw or ungraded key date or low mintage coins certified or professionally graded? Not at all. This simply means that the coin dealer will just need additional information to be able to assist you with pricing on these coins. They may ask for pictures of the coin (front and back) or ask you to bring the coin in for an evaluation.



In conclusion, we’re highlighted five of the most common coins in the industry and a coin dealer’s ability to provide you with accurate price information over the phone.

90% silver dimes, quarters and half dollars, Morgan and Peace silver dollars, and government-issued bullion coins are some of the easiest coins to value. Assuming that the coins are in standard condition, a coin dealer should be able to provide you with accurate pricing information.

Things become slightly more complicated with certified Morgan and Peace silver dollars and pre-1933 gold coins. The aesthetics of these coins play a major role in the value and collectability of these coins. Coins without any of the aesthetic issues noted above and in nice clean retail-quality holders will trade at higher values than their counterparts.

Last, but not least are key date or low mintage coins. In most cases, a coin dealer isn’t going to be able to provide pricing information on these coins if the coins are raw or ungraded. You’ll most likely receive a request from a coin dealer to provide high resolution pictures of the coin(s) (front and back) for their review and consideration.

We hope that this article provided some helpful guidelines for when the time comes to sell your coins.

At Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers, we strive to provide as much price information as possible without seeing the coins in person. We hope that when the time comes to sell your collection, or if you’re interested in expanding your collection, that you’ll consider Atlanta’s leading coin dealer for all your buying and selling needs.

atlanta gold and coin hq

Picture of Tony Davis
Tony Davis
Tony Davis is the owner of Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers, a full service Atlanta based coin and bullion dealer specializing in buying, selling and appraising coins and coin collections of all types and sizes. Tony frequently writes on various economic and numismatic related topics affecting the coin and bullion markets and has been published on some of the industry’s leading websites, including Coin Week, the American Numismatic Association, Coin Collector, Coinflation, and Coin Auctions Help, just to name a few. Visit Atlanta Gold & Coin’s website at atlantagoldandcoin.com to obtain additional information on the products, services and educational resources offered by his company. Tony can be reached at sales@atlantagoldandcoin.com or at 404-236-9744

Share this info!