Inherited a Coin Collection, Should I Keep or Sell? 5 Factors to Consider
We’ve seen it hundreds of times over the years. A loved one has passed on and you’ve been left with a coin collection. If you’re like most of the general public, you may have little to no experience with coins. Obviously, the person that collected the coins had a fondness for them, which leads you to believe that there may have been a reason for their interest.
Did they purchase coins as a hobby or for investment purposes? You may or may not have an interest in the collection, and if not, may be experiencing some guilt for not being more interested. If these are some of the questions and challenges that you’re dealing with, you’ve come to the right place!
In this piece, we’re going to share with you some factors to consider; some of which you may not have thought of, in choosing to keep or sell an inherited coin collection.
Interest and Knowledge of Coins
In most cases, the recipients of inherited coin collections that we meet with don’t share the same level of enthusiasm for coins that their father or grandfather had. After all, we all have different interests in life, many of which differ from our relatives. Some of us may have plenty of extra time and may be in search for a new lobby, while others can’t possibly add anything else to our plate.
In our experience, the heirs’ interest level is one of the largest deciding factors in choosing to keep or sell a coin collection.
On the other hand, you may have accompanied your father or grandfather to coin shows or the local coin shop and may have more than a passing knowledge of coins. Depending on the type of coins he invested in or collected, it may be easy to determine the value of the coin collection; especially if he primarily purchased bullion or bullion coins.
If his focus was on numismatic or rare coins, determining the current market for the items, including values, may be a bit of a challenge.
These two factors; interest level and knowledge, are important considerations. If you’ve recently retired, have a good bit of spare time or are looking for a new lobby, you may want to hold on to the collection.
Additionally, if you’re familiar with coins, feel comfortable in identifying what you have and their value, this may be an indication that holding on to the coin collection is in your best interest. However, if you’re looking to streamline your life, don’t have an interest in coins and have very little knowledge of the industry, your best option may be to sell the collection.
Investing in and collecting coins can be a fun and rewarding hobby. However, one word of warning for new investors and collectors; don’t believe everything you read on the internet and make sure that you’re using reliable resources.
Also, keep in mind that anyone can ask anything that they would like for a coin. Ultimately, it comes down to the market and what someone is willing to pay for an item. Typically, it’s best to stay away from YouTube, TikTok, eBay and Etsy, as these aren’t reliable resources when it comes to coin values.
Future Expected Growth & Returns
We’re frequently asked by our customers what the market is like for coins and bullion, how much they’ve increased in recent years and what the future expected returns are. Like everyone else, we wish we had a crystal ball with respect to the future direction of prices but can provide a bit of insight on where prices have been.
Historically, gold and silver prices have risen with the price of inflation. This isn’t always the case, but to use an example, a $20 gold piece from the 1920’s could buy you the same nice suit and shoes that it can buy you today. In other words, the $20 gold coin is now worth more than its face. The same also applies to silver.
On the other hand, the collectible or numismatic market tends to move more so with collector’s interests, which ebb and flow over time. It is also based on the scarcity and demand of an item. For example, the 1995-w proof silver eagle certified PR70 by PCGS sold at an all-time high of $86,655 in March of 2013. Today, the same coin can be had for under $20,000.
This has to do with the increase in the number of coins certified as a proof 70, which at the time of this writing is 458.
The collectible or numismatic market also is affected by the strength of the economy and discretionary income. As you may have surmised, the collectible market doesn’t do as well in a weak economic environment. Sports fans oftentimes are labeled as “fair weather fans” when their sports team isn’t performing well, and they jump ship.
The same can be said for the rare coin market, as a type of coin or coins hot only a few months prior may have little to no market today.
In this market, it’s important that you know what the current demand is for a particular item. The value relative to its historical price, and when the market is changing, as you don’t want to be caught flat footed. In the case of the 1995-w proof silver eagle that we highlighted above, a buy and hold strategy would have been costly.
This all being said, the future expected growth and returns in the gold, silver and rare coin market are anyone’s guess. Being in the industry, we would like to think that the market will continue to perform well, but there are no guarantees in life.
However, if we were to experience a recession, we will likely see less interest in rare or numismatic coins. Additionally, historically speaking, a stronger dollar is typically bearish for gold and silver prices, which tend to move in opposite directions.
On the other hand, a weaker currency is typically bullish for precious metals. Much of the decision ultimately boils down to where you think the economy is heading.
Other Investment Opportunities
The number of investment opportunities these days is nearly unlimited. Historically, stocks, bonds and real estate have been the three primary investment options. These days, you can invest in nearly anything.
Vintage wine, classic cars, luxury watches and handbags are some of the more popular alternative investments. One of our customers invests in scotch whiskey.
Another in fine wine. We personally would invest in high end tequila, but unfortunately don’t want to be tempted to drink away our investment!
Some people are avid investors while others just have a passing interest in investing. Your knowledge and experience with different investment options and the current state of those markets is certainly a contributing factor in determining if you’re better off investing in these markets, as opposed to coins.
Over the past several years, many of our customers have expressed strong interest in Bitcoin and the crypto currency market, in general. In fact, we see an uptick in coin activity when the crypto market is down, as investors are selling their coins to take advantage of discounted prices in this market.
This is an interesting alternative investment and one that has gained popularity in recent years in large part due to the substantial amount of coverage received from financial networks and alternative media sites.
Other options include, start a new business, fund an existing business, invest in a startup, fund other projects that are of interest to you, and/or just put the money in a savings account.
Some people choose to take the conservative route and put their money in a savings account or CD and wait for investment opportunities to present themselves.
Whichever direction you choose to go, it’s always a good idea to consider other potential investment opportunities. If you feel like your investment is best kept in coins or bullion, then you should do so.
An Estate in Probate – What About the Coin Collection?
In many cases, an estate is tied up in probate and a judge has ordered a freeze on any assets that are associated with the estate. We frequently meet with customers who are in this predicament, which can be frustrating, as in many cases, there is an immediate need for funds to cover funeral costs, executor expenses and attorney fees.
In some cases, a coin collection is part of the estate and in others, it is not.
In the event the coin collection is not included in the estate, it can be sold to fund these expenses. We recently met with a gentleman who was selling his mother’s coin collection, as his father recently passed, and the court prevented the sale of any of the estate’s assets.
Her expenses are quite substantial, but fortunately, the proceeds from the sale of the coin collection are sufficient to support her through the probate process until the estate can be liquidated.
Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon situation. In fact, we frequently meet with customers who are experiencing the same circumstances. In many cases, the sale of a coin collection is necessary to help bridge the gap until an individual can gain access to the assets of the estate. In you find yourself in this situation, and have a coin collection outside of the estate, this may be one of your best ways to cover near term expenses.
Multiple Heirs of a Coin Collection
Any time multiple heirs are involved, it increases the likelihood of complications. For the most part, the deceased’s wishes with respect to a coin collection are spelled out in a will, but this isn’t always the case. When details aren’t provided, and multiple heirs are involved, it increases the chances of differing opinions with respect to the handling of a coin collection.
Typically, the best approach when multiple heirs are involved is to liquidate the coin collection and distribute the proceeds. In the event someone wants to keep part of the collection, an itemized appraisal will help the heirs equitably distribute the collection.
Recently, we evaluated a large collection, which was allocated based on an itemized appraisal. The heirs that wanted to sell their portion sold to us and those that wanted to keep their portion were able to do so.
Another option when multiple heirs are involved is to obtain an appraisal and have one heir buy the others out. This is typically possible when the coin collection is less than $10,000. That said, we have evaluated many estate collections over the years ranging from $50,000 – $250,000 or more, which makes it less feasible for most people.
If you want to keep the coin collection in the family and your fellow heir(s) is willing to pay you the appraised value for your portion of the collection. We hear of this option occurring often.
Alternatively, if you are interested in keeping the collection for yourself and buying out the other heirs, reach out to a company such as Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers for a formal appraisal.
In summary, we’ve discussed a few situations to consider when choosing to keep or sell an inherited coin collection. It’s important to be honest with yourself and objectively decide if it makes sense for you to keep the collection. If you’re looking for a new hobby or have prior coin experience, you may choose to keep it.
We also recommend that you do a bit of homework on the historical performance of the coins or bullion in the collection. After learning a bit more about what you have, weigh that against other investment opportunities that may be available to you. Investing in and collecting coins is a fun hobby, but it’s not for everyone.
Other factors to consider include probate and multiple heirs to an estate. If the coin collection is considered part of the estate, you may need to wait for court approval to sell it. If it’s not, it can be a great way to cover funeral expenses, probate court costs, legal fees and living expenses.
When multiple heirs are involved, you have a number of options. These include selling the coin collection and distributing the proceeds, obtaining an appraisal and distributing the coins, or giving an heir the option to buy out the other heirs.
We hope that you found this article on inherited coin collections to be helpful and welcome you to contact Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers if we can be of any assistance.
We specialize in large estate coin collections and have purchased thousands over the years, making us the best choice for you.
Give us a call today at 678-922-4909!