Top 5 Worst Ways to Value the Coins in Your Coin Collection
Your coin collection is your own personal treasure. You know the first piece you purchased and where. You may even have some emotional attachment to many of your pieces, especially if you inherited a coin collection from a loved one.
Your collection has value, and most coin collectors want to know what their hoard is worth. However, just like anything else, there are both good and bad ways to assess a value to your hard-earned collection.
Today we are revealing some of the worst ways to search for coin values and where you should look instead.
Top 5 Ways You Should Avoid Valuing Your Coins
Determining the value of your coins may be more difficult than you’d expect. Sure, there are many places where you can find coin prices listed. However, knowing which figures to trust becomes almost a guessing game due to the internet allowing anyone to post an article or list an item for sale at any price they choose.
Below are the top 5 worst sources to find the value of a coin:
Okay, we all know you can learn just about anything on YouTube, such as how to repair a plumbing issue or tackle issues with your vehicle. Which is why it’s not surprising YouTube has a multitude of videos discussing coin values.
Some of them are strictly educational while others explain the factors that go into determining coin values. These can be worthwhile, but the ones that give the value of coins are usually questionable since many of their sources or factors they take into consideration are not explained. Knowing the difference is crucial in understanding the value of your coins.
The biggest thing to remember is that the primary goal of most YouTubers is to gain a large body of subscribers.
The more people who subscribe, the more they can get from advertisers. So, they typically have a strong incentive to get you excited about their topics. Even people who are basically honest may find themselves hyping up the value of one coin or making the other look like a waste of your time and money because it creates a strong response. Whatever is dramatic or debatable, that’s what they’ll be tempted to do in hopes of increasing their audience base.
We see the want and need for an increased subscriber base which is often times increased by sensationalism, the main factor for wrong information given out through YouTube.
Who knew TikTok would become a resource for information, especially regarding coins and their estimated values?
Yet, we receive at least two calls a week after someone has watched a TikTok video stating they found an $80,000 coin.
TikTok, like YouTube, is all about engagement. However, TikTok creators get paid by the views per video. What’s more is that people who get a lot of views on TikTok are often trading on their personality and theatrics rather than the information they are sharing. They are more focused on what’s flashy, what images pop, and what tunes are the catchiest versus accurate information or reliable sources! For most, it’s a game, and really has very little to do with real coin values.
As of 2022, the maximum length for a TikTok video is 10 minutes, but most are much shorter, often just seconds. That obviously means they can’t go into much, if any, depth about coin values in such a short amount of time. How is this reliable with so little information presented?
You have almost no idea whether the coin they are discussing is even like the coin you have. That’s why it’s a mistake for most coin collectors to value their coins via TikTok or believe many of the claims regarding what coins have more value.
Did you know Etsy sells coins too? Surprised? Don’t be.
Even though it’s not a social media site, it’s not that much better in terms of fair coin values. In fact, coin prices on this online marketplace are notoriously high, and in some cases, outrageous. Of course, sellers want to get what a coin is worth. However, Etsy sellers tend to price their coins much higher than their actual value and most times higher than you would find in a reputable local coin shop.
The reason for Etsy’s high coin prices is debatable. Two main theories have been suggested. First, some people say Etsy sellers put any price they choose on coins, assuming anyone buying coins on that site is either inexperienced or naïve.
The other theory is there are individuals or organizations that are attempting to use Etsy to avoid paying taxes. The details of this type of transaction are unclear, but in the end, the coin is returned and reimbursed with “dirty money.” Again, this is just a theory and not something we’re accusing Etsy or its users of.
In fact, we’ve personally used Etsy in the past for non-coin related transactions and have never had an issue.
Of course, the reasons are not known for certain, but the bottom line is that Etsy prices are almost always higher than the coins are worth. So, please keep that in mind if/when you review their marketplace for coin values.
One last point to make regarding Etsy, and for that matter, any of the resources that we’ve addressed or will address in this piece is that anyone can ask any amount that they would like for an item. It doesn’t mean that it’s worth that amount or that someone will be willing to pay the asking price for the coin. In other words, there needs to be a willing buyer at the posted price to truly establish a market price.
Online Price Guides
Some more reputable and several lesser-known companies associated with numismatics (the study of coins, tokens & paper currency) do offer some online coin pricing guides. CoinWeek.com has a list of these pricing guides, and they may be worth checking out. They will at least give you a general idea of the retail value of many coins based on a certain condition.
However, don’t expect the value listed in an online pricing guide to be exact for your specific coin. What many don’t tell you, and what you may not know to ask, is that many of the coin values listed are based on coins that have been professionally graded and sonically sealed in an acrylic holder, such as from NGC or PCGS. They may also reflect the value of coins that have received a certified appraisal based on that coin’s condition, or that have otherwise been authenticated and evaluated by a professional.
In fact, some of the more reputable guides provide a disclaimer stating that these are average values for graded and packaged coins.
In addition, not all online coin guides are created equal. You need to read what sources they use to come up with their prices and how up to date their values are. Many sites update their information once a quarter, sometimes less. Considering how much can change in a short amount of time, especially with the volatility of the gold and silver markets, that is one factor to seriously consider.
Sometimes, inexperienced coin collectors simply look at the eBay list prices for coins versus what the coins actually sell for. That’s a problem because, as we’ve highlighted above, anyone can price a coin any way they choose. It may never sell, or the seller might get lucky and sell it to someone who thinks the coin is worth more than it truly is. There are occasions where a bidding war breaks out bidding up the price of a coin well above it’s true value, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be so lucky.
If you want to dig a little deeper, you can see what prices people paid for them after a transaction is complete by selecting the “Sold” filter. For real time insight, you can follow along as people bid for coins on a current active eBay auction. Unfortunately, all this effort will only tell you what others are willing to pay for that particular coin rather than tell you what you need to know about your unique piece, especially if it is a loose, ungraded coin.
Another factor to consider is that eBay fees may allow you to net only 75% – 80% of the sale price, depending on listing fees, auction fees, payment processing fees, shipping and insurance fees.
The Complexity of Determining Coin Value
The biggest problem with this list of worst ways to value coins is that determining the value of a coin just isn’t that simple. Valuation is a complex process. Only numismatics experts are knowledgeable enough to understand how the determining factors work together to give a coin its true estimated value.
To make an accurate determination, an appraiser must consider the year, the type, the mint mark, the condition, and whether it is certified and by whom. They must know the overall demand for the coin, and how many of those coins still exist in the world and if the coin is a standard strike or a variety coin.
No one, without training or vast experience in numismatics, will be able to put those factors together to come up with an accurate assessment of the coin value on their own.
The Best Way to Value Your Coins
So, if these are the worst ways to value coins, what are the best ways to find out what your coin collection is worth? Well, one of the absolute best options is to take your collection to a rare coin expert, also frequently
referred to as a numismatist. There, your individual coin(s) can be evaluated on its own merit. Remember, no two coins are ever exactly alike. This way, you’ll also receive information specific to the coins in your collection and their potential value.
If you have a coin that appears to be rare or valuable, you always have the option to use a reputable coin grading service like PCGS or NGC where they can authenticate, grade and certify your coin. This requires mailing your coin directly to the third-party grading service. At the time of this writing, the turnaround time on coins is vastly longer than it has been in the past. For those individuals who are interested, we’ve previously written an article on when it makes sense to have your coins certified by NGC and PCGS.
Another option is to take your coin collection to a reputable appraiser where they can determine the value of your coins in-person. If you’re trying to figure out how to begin the process of selling your coin collection, we highly recommend that you read this article, which provides a step-by-step guide to help navigate you through the process.
At Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers, our highly trained and experienced numismatic specialists can give you an accurate estimation of your coin’s value. Because we operate with transparency and are motivated to protect our reputation among collectors, we will provide you an accurate and honest evaluation of your coins.
What’s more, we have seen, bought, sold, and traded a vast variety of coins over the years. We’ve seen what people are willing to pay, and we stay up to date with the current supply and demand. In many cases, we’ll offer to buy your coins following an appraisal at a competitive price and agree to waive the appraisal fee. Contact us today to arrange for a coin appraisal to provide you with a clear and thorough understanding of your collection’s value.
Give us a call today at 678-922-4909!