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Selling an Estate Coin Collection? Don’t Make These Four Common Mistakes

Coin Collections
U.S. Coin Collection

Selling an Estate Coin Collection? Don’t Make These Four Common Mistakes

Over the years, we’ve met with thousands of individuals who were responsible for liquidating coins and coin collections from an estate. For individuals with little to no prior experience with coins, the task can sometimes be overwhelming.

Even folks that have a general understanding of coins and the field of numismatics can become overwhelmed when facing the task of selling a large estate collection.

The collections that we’ve evaluated over the years have been as small as a shoebox full up to multiple large storage bins that have completely filled our office. In nearly every case, we’ve found that the owners or executors of the estate made one of four common mistakes. In this article, we’re going to highlight the four most common mistakes that we see and provide some guidelines and resources on how best to prepare for your appointment.


More times than not, our customers become overwhelmed at the prospect of selling an estate coin collection. The idea of going through a collection consisting of thousands of various items oftentimes causes paralysis. The question that we oftentimes receive is “where should I begin?” There’s really no right or wrong way to begin organizing and itemizing a coin collection; the greatest challenge is oftentimes taking the first step.

When we evaluate and appraise a coin collection, we typically remove all of the items from the box or container, group like items, and begin to evaluate the coins by category. We look for low mintage, key date and better condition coins during our evaluation process and separate them to research further. More times than not, coin collections consist of a large number of common date average condition coins for which standard rates would apply.

Oftentimes, the best approach is to just bring your coin collection in to a coin dealer as it was originally acquired, as the prior owner may have organized the collection in a way that is helpful to the coin appraiser.

Over Research

While some individuals prefer to turn over a coin collection to a coin dealer as it was originally acquired, others feel more comfortable researching all of the coins in a collection in an attempt to obtain estimated values. While we certainly think that it’s a good idea to conduct a bit of research prior to selling a coin collection, we frequently meet with customers who have over researched a coin collection. What do we mean by over-researching? This typically involves an in depth evaluation of each and every coin in the collection, which isn’t necessary if you’re able to identify potentially more valuable coins at the outset by using a rare coin guide.

We’ve published and posted such a resource which can be found on the homepage of our website. When researching prices, you’ll likely find a wide range of values from different resources; many of which aren’t a true indication of what you can expect to receive when you sell your coins. While we’re not advocating that you go into an appointment blindly, we also suggest that you don’t spend an overabundance of time researching the value of your coins unless you follow some of the suggestions that we’ve highlighted in a previous article.

Spend Too Much Time

Spending too much time organizing a collection is oftentimes the same as over researching a collection, but that’s not necessarily always the case, so we thought that we would address this topic separately. Ways in which we believe individuals spend too much time on collections include sorting all of the coins by type and year, placing each coin in its own case or holder and documenting on a spreadsheet each and every coin that is in the collection.

While these efforts certainly may assist a coin dealer, you may be wasting a considerable amount of time; especially if many of the coins are only worth their face value.

For example, most Eisenhower silver dollars, Presidential one dollar coins, Susan B. Anthony silver dollars, Sacagawea silver dollars, post-1970 Kennedy half dollars, Jefferson nickels and modern issued pennies, just to name a few, are only face value coins. Additionally, most foreign coins have little value and are traded in the wholesale market for only a few dollars per pound. We’ve met with individuals in the past who have spent up to six months organizing and documenting their coin collection only to realize that less than half of the coins had any value.

If coins are intriguing to you, you have a considerable amount of discretionary time, and love to research, detailing a collection to this extent may be of interest to you. However, spending any more than a few hours organizing and researching a coin collection is probably going to be counterproductive.

Choose the Wrong Coin Dealer

While we may be a bit biased, in our opinion, customers spend too much time researching individual coins and not enough time researching coin dealers, which is where their time is likely best spent. We have outlined how we go about evaluating coin dealers in a prior post, which can be found here.

A reputable and experienced coin dealer is going to take the time to discuss your coins, identify lower mintage or high end coins that may be worth a premium and offer a fair price for your coins. Dealers that are members of third party coin organizations, such as the American Numismatic Association and Better Business Bureau value their reputations and typically aren’t willing to risk their status by treating customers unfairly.

As any coin dealer can attest, it’s difficult to build a solid reputation in the industry, which can easily be affected without a continued commitment to treating customers fairly. Don’t assume that the coin dealer located closest to you is going to be your best option. Rather, research all coin dealers in your general area and choose the one that you believe that will offer you the best chance for success. Driving a few extra miles may potentially result in hundreds or even thousands of extra dollars.


In summary, we’ve highlighted four common mistakes made by sellers of estate coin collections.

First and foremost, don’t panic! If the idea of organizing a coin collection is overwhelming to you, contact a coin dealer to see what type of prep work is needed. You may be surprised to learn that little to no organization is required and that in fact, the collection may already be organized in a way that is helpful to a coin appraiser.

Secondly, don’t over research the coins in your collection. If you obtain information from five or six different sources, you’re likely to see five or six different prices, which are oftentimes substantially different.

Thirdly, don’t waste your time organizing your coins in a way that may be of little assistance to a coin dealer. Over the years we’ve seen individuals spend countless hours organizing collections that were of no assistance in our evaluation process.

Lastly, we believe that researching coin dealers is going to be the best use of your time. Don’t assume that the coin dealer located closest to you is going to be your best option. Rather, consider all coin dealers within a reasonable distance to determine which is likely to offer you the best payout.

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Have a coin collection you are looking to sell or have questions about? Give us a call today at 678-922-4909

Atlanta Gold and Coin Buyers

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 to obtain additional information on the products, services and educational resources offered by his company. Tony can be reached at or at 404-236-9744
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