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How to Successfully Sell Your Coin Collection & What to Avoid

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How to Successfully Sell Your Coin Collection & What to Avoid

As a coin dealer that prides itself on transparency, we’re going to share with you that this article initially started out much differently. We were upset that a prospective customer left us a negative review because we rejected his coin collection. While negative reviews are like a gut punch, we realize that you can’t make everyone happy and sometimes need to roll with the punches.

Rather than harping on the negative, we’re going to share with you why your approach may limit your ability to sell your coin collection and why some coin dealers may not be interested in acquiring your coin collection. We’ll also share with you some helpful hints on how to improve your chances of success and will provide some insight on how best to handle rejection.

We’ll also touch on how your response may open doors for you and will end our discussion on the importance of being transparent with prospective coin dealers that you reach out to.

Coin Dealers Receive a Large Number of Daily Inquiries

To give our readers some insight, as a high-volume coin dealer, we receive on an average day roughly 150 phone calls, emails and webform communications. While we’re appreciative of all the potential opportunities that are presented to us, the reality is that we can’t possibly purchase every coin or coin collection that is presentedJerome Powell Money Printer to us. After all, we can’t print money like the Federal Reserve!

We run a lean business and keep our overhead to a minimum, which allows us to offer the most competitive rates possible. In other words, we don’t employ a large staff at a call center with multiple representatives that are available to meet with folks.

While we realize that this approach may limit some opportunities, our customers are appreciative of our concierge level service that allows them to feel comfortable in a private environment, to ask any questions that they might have and to have sufficient time for a discussion so that we can recommend options that are consistent with their goals, time horizon and risk tolerance.

Our business model requires us to be somewhat particular with the individuals and type of collections that we choose to work with. Furthermore, in many cases, we need to make relatively quick decisions regarding a coin collection that is presented to us, as inevitably the next phone call or email is right around the corner. In other words, the easier someone makes things for us, the more likely we’ll be interested in doing business with them.

The Proper Way to Prepare for a Discussion with a Coin Dealer

We’ll begin our discussion with the type of communication that is most likely to garner our interest. Before contacting a coin dealer, it’s important to be somewhat organized and have information readily available so the coin dealer can determine if they are able to assist you.

We realize in some situations this may be difficult, as many folks tasked with the responsibility of liquidating a coin collection are unfamiliar with the coins that were left to them. This can especially be the case when dealing with obsolete, international or foreign coins.

However, even if you’re unfamiliar with the coins, it’s still possible to prepare for a phone call or email exchange. In these cases, you can group like items together, obtain some approximate counts (even if you don’t know exactly what some of the coins are) and take pictures of like items that you can forward via email to your selected coin dealer. This will allow them to wrap their arms around the size and composition of the collection.

We have shared this in the past, but it bears repeating, all coin dealers purchase coins, but not all coin dealers purchase all coins. This is important to remember, as the coin and bullion industry is specialized much like other industries.

For example, you may have a great collection of error coins, but not all coin dealers have a market for these coins. In other cases, you may have a large bullion collection, but you may have contacted a coin dealer that only specializes in rare coins. Most coin dealers tend to focus on those items that their local customers are interested in purchasing, which can differ substantially – even if in the same metro area.

While not all coin dealers may be interested in your items, they will appreciate that you took some time to organize, inventory, photograph and document your collection. They will also likely be willing to provide some insight into the best approach to take with the sale of your items. On occasion, they may tell you that the best approach may be to deposit or spend the items, as they’re face value items, which we understand can be incredibly disappointing – especially if you did some independent research and believe that your items are quite valuable.

Too Much Information May be Counter Productive

While taking the time to inventory and photograph your collection is typically helpful for a coin dealer, it’s also important that you don’t spend too much time providing detailed information that might not be needed.

In the example we initially opened with, the prospective customer provided a very large Excel or Google Sheets spreadsheet that included the year, mintmark, denomination, and price for all his items. Not only was this level of detail not needed, as many of the items were low value or face value items, but it also raised some red flags that this individual had unrealistic expectations regarding the value of his collection.

While having some coins professionally graded in high grades can increase the value of collections, this unfortunately was not the case in the above scenario.

In this particular example, the prices noted were more than double what we could sell the coins for, even assuming that all of the coins were in high end condition, which we suspect may not have been the case for many of the coins. We politely declined to remove ourselves from consideration on the collection, which prompted the individual to leave us a negative review.

Avoid These Tactics When Attempting to Sell Your Coin Collection

This leads us into our discussion on approaches that normally turn coin dealers off and may limit the number of coin dealers that may be interested in your collection.

As mentioned above, we (and we suspect most other coin dealers) are presented with many opportunities every day, which is why the easier you make it for your selected dealer, the more likely you are to be made a priority.

As we mentioned above, being prepared to have a preliminary discussion or email correspondence is key. Avoid a situation where the coin dealer is having to drag out of you what you’re looking to buy or sell.

If you’re uncertain about what you have, we recommend at a minimum having the items in front of you when you reach out. Unfortunately, we regularly receive phone calls from individuals that have coins to sell, but don’t have any details to provide and don’t have the coins in their possession. As we stated above, not all coin dealers purchase all coins, so it’s important to have some preliminary information available to determine if it’s a proper fit.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is someone who has spent an enormous amount of time compiling data with a detailed list of all the specifics of each coin, including a grade and a price. While there are some helpful online coin grading services, almost without exception, nearly everyone new to the industry tends to overestimate the grade of their coins. We realize that this is not intentional, but it takes years to be able to properly grade coins, as there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Furthermore, some of the noted grades just happen to be at the level that makes the coin substantially more valuable.

Recently, a couple of coin apps have come to the market that people new to the industry are using. In some cases, they can be a bit helpful, such as helping to identify the items, but for the most part, tend to provide individuals with unrealistic expectations for their items. For example, we recently communicated with an individual that used a coin app to price up all his coins and stated that the combined value met our minimum for an appointment.

Unfortunately, the coin app attributed high values to many coins that were strictly face value items that we would typically deposit at the bank. We had to explain to the individual that the estimated value of the items that we were interested in fell below our minimum even though his coin app stated otherwise.

Along the same lines are individuals that take the time to inventory their items, grade them based on resources that they find online and then price them up based on online price guides. We won’t mention the name of the price guides here, as we don’t want to draw attention to bad resources, but this approach not only leads to unrealistic expectations, but also scares off most coin dealers when they see that an individual has unrealistic expectations for their coins. In many cases, they’ll use the retail prices from some of the third-party grading services not realizing that these prices are for coins that have been certified or professionally graded as opposed to raw or ungraded coins.

Coin Collection Search for Pricing

We have shared this information with our readers in the past, but most online resources that you find with estimated values are what someone is asking for a coin – not what the coin is trading for. In other words, just because an individual asks a certain price for a coin doesn’t mean that there is a buyer for the coin at that price. In other words, these are asking prices as opposed to market prices. Market prices are the price at which a coin dealer can expect to sell a coin. Considering that this reflects their estimated sale price, they need to purchase coins at wholesale rates to realize a profit.

When sharing an inventory list or pictures with a coin dealer, the best approach is to let them know that while you’ve done a bit of research on your coins and have seen a wide range of prices, you realize that the actual market value may be a good bit different. A coin dealer that receives communication from an individual that appears to be reasonable and is realistic with respect to the value of their items, is more than likely an individual that they will move to the top of their list.

Be Transparent Regarding the Intent of Your Coin Collection

We also recommend that you be transparent with the coin dealer that you’ve reached out to and let them know if your intention is to sell the collection or to obtain an appraisal. While most coin dealers are receptive to both options, they will typically prioritize a transaction over an appraisal and may only conduct appraisals at certain times or on certain days of the week. It will leave a bad taste in a coin dealer’s mouth if you’re not upfront with your intentions. Considering that the coin industry is relatively small and tight knit, the coin dealer is likely to share his experience with other local dealers so that they don’t waste their time. In other words, more times than not, you end up shooting yourself in the foot when you’re not transparent.

Lastly, as we shared above, if you’re respectful of the coin dealer’s time and you have things well organized, a coin dealer is more likely to assist you with alternatives if they’re not in the market for your particular coins. There’s a saying that you get more flies with honey than with vinegar. In other words, your kindness is likely to be reciprocated as opposed to taking a confrontational approach. This will immediately turn off a coin dealer and likely won’t yield you any meaningful results.


In summary, there are many ways to approach the sale of your collection. To begin with, being prepared in the form of an inventory list, pictures, or at the very least, having the items in front of you when you place a call will be helpful.

Keep in mind that not all coin dealers likely specialize in the items that you’re interested in selling. Don’t take this as a personal attack, but rather, be respectful of the coin dealer and ask if they have any other suggestions for the liquidation of your collection. Keep in mind that in some cases, they might not tell you what you want to hear.

It’s also important to be realistic with your expectations and be humble enough to realize that you may not have become a coin expert after spending only a few hours researching your collection. This means that you should probably refrain from including specific grades and values of your coins, as both are likely to be above reality, and are an indication to a coin dealer that your expectations may be unrealistic.

Lastly, be upfront with the intentions of your collection. If you’re interested in selling the collection, have seen the coin dealer’s website rates or are happy with the pricing they’ve provided to you over the phone, let them know. Alternatively, if you’re just looking for an appraisal, let the coin dealer know this as well. While they are more likely to prioritize transactions, they will appreciate your honesty and transparency.

We hope that today’s article provides a bit of insight from a coin dealer’s perspective. Whether you’re in the market to sell a coin collection or have it appraised, we have you covered.

We have years of experience in the industry and have a reputation for treating customers the way we would want to be treated. Reach out to us today at 404-236-9744 or via email to see why we’re metro Atlanta’s leading coin dealer.

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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

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