How a Coin Dealer Evaluates a Coin Collection

Coin Collections
U.S. Coin Collection

As one of Atlanta’s leading coin dealers, we frequently purchase coins and coin collections of all types and sizes, including gold, silver, platinum, old and rare coins and coin sets.  In fact, we just spent six hours with a nice couple over the holiday weekend evaluating and pricing a large collection of numismatic and collectible coins. Because of the frequency with which we purchase coin collections, we’ve developed a system by which we organize and evaluate coin collections that we wanted to share with our customers and prospective customers.  It’s our hope that sharing this information will help individuals who may be short on time to organize their collections in the best manner possible to help streamline the evaluation process.

Denomination

When we first sit down to evaluate a coin collection, we like to organize the collection based on the denomination of the coins and the face value of the paper currency.  In other words, we group like coins, such as dimes, quarters, half dollars, silver dollars, etc.  Organizing the coins in this manner helps to keep us focused on the denomination of the coins, which requires less back and forth when referencing our coin resources. This is especially important when evaluating collections that consist of hundreds or even thousands of coins.

Coin Type

For those individuals that are new to the coin industry, you may not be familiar with the term “coin type.” Different images can be found on the front and back of coins minted throughout our nation’s history.  For example, the last three types of dimes produced are Barber Head, Mercury (Winged Liberty) and Roosevelt dimes. These are all what are referred to as “type” coins.  Another example is the Barber Head series of coins.  Barber Head dimes, quarters and half dollars are also type coins, as they refer to the same image on different denomination coins. Type coins can also refer to obsolete coinage that is no longer used as legal currency, such as old two cent, three cent and twenty cent pieces. Separating your coin collection by coin type helps us to identify potential key date coins. 

Condition

While not the case across the board, especially with modern issued coins, the condition of coins can have a direct impact on the coin’s value.  As such, we set aside any uncirculated coins for further evaluation that may sell for an additional premium.  This includes all Morgan and Peace silver dollars and most older U.S. minted type coins.  Modern issued gold, silver and platinum coins, such as American eagles, come directly from the U.S. Mint in uncirculated condition and should be available in this condition, so no additional premium would apply to these coins.

Key Date Coins

As previously mentioned, one of the reasons why it’s important to properly organize a coin collection is so that we can easily identify key date or low mintage old and rare coins that sell at a premium. Experienced coin dealers are able to identify key date coins based on the type and denomination of the coin, so when your coins are organized in the manner outlined above, this makes the process much more simple.

In summary, there are a few steps that you can take to organize a coin collection to improve the evaluation and appraisal process.  Organize your coin collection by denomination and type of coin to help reduce referencing multiple resources for each coin in your collection.  Set aside high end condition coins, such as uncirculated Morgan silver dollars, and lastly, if time permits, attempt to identify key date coins in your collection or ask us to do so for you.

Tony Davis
Tony Davis