There comes a point in our lives when we consider selling our coins. Whether it is for medical expenses, a down payment, or a vacation. There will come a day. It is up to you whether to sell all, part of it, or leave it to your family.
Had I known then what I know now, I would have been better prepared to ensure I got every penny out of that collection. In hindsight, I know “I got taken for a Ride.” So, I decided to share with you the lessons I have learned over the past 35+ years.
PLEASE READ ALL OF THIS BEFORE SELLING YOUR COINS TO ANYONE.
Screen available dealers.
Call several dealers. If you call someone, and they can’t help you, ask for a referral. When you find a dealer, ask them a few questions to determine their knowledge level. Ask them if they specialize in anything, their grading credentials, and what references do they use. Follow your instinct. If they are giving you a sales pitch, and not actually answering your questions, HANG UP. If you don’t think they are not being absolutely straight forward, and upfront with their answers, they most likely lack the honesty and integrity to help you get the most out of your collection.
Prepare your collection.
You can sort and inventory everything beforehand. This not only helps to ensure you are paid for every coin, but will also help the dealer by providing a record of every coin that should be recorded. You can and should validate their appraisal list against your inventory. If any coin is not accounted for, SHOW THEM THE DOOR!
Do NOT clean your coins with anything.
They are worth more as they are. A cleaned coin might as well be a cull coin. If you have cleaned coins, you should expect them to be devalued by at least one full grade. Uncirculated to Almost Uncirculated and Very Fine to Fine. Cleaned coins are hard to resell. When cleaned, there are fine hairline scratches left. Harshly cleaned coins with scrub lines maybe downgraded several grades. The use of cleaning solvents leaves chemical residues in the valleys and pores of the coins. As hard as you try to rinse the solvents off the coins, you will not get it all. A coin’s surface is like the pores in your skin. The residue will further corrode the coin over time.
Schedule the appraisal.
When scheduling your appraisal, let the dealer know what you have so they can have the correct reference materials on hand. Also plan on it taking some time to complete. A good rule of them is that a well-organized shoe box full of individually holdered coins takes about one hour to process. Wherever you go, they will most likely charge you an appraisal fee, especially if it takes a long time. We charge $35 an hour for one person to go through them, and $60 for two of us. If we have to travel to a location, the travel expenses are included, as long as you are within 30 minutes of our shop. The good news is that if we purchase your collection, the appraisal is free.
Test the dealer during the appraisal.
If you have a key or semi-key date coin, place it in a common slot in a folder or album. A reputable dealer will point it out and appraise it correctly. If the dealer fails this test, it means they were not properly appraising every coin or they were intentionally letting it go at a cheaper price. Either way, you lose. So, if they fail, BOOT THEM OUT THE DOOR! Another way to test the dealer is to spot check the grading after the dealer has graded them. If there is a disagreement, the dealer should be able to justify why they recorded the grade as they did. Have them show you in the grading books why. Bear in mind, distracting scratches will downgrade it by at least one grade. If the dealer cannot justify the grade they put on it with confidence, SHOW THEM THE DOOR! They are most likely downgrading it so they can buy for less and sell high.
Demand an appraisal sheet be used.
The sheet should include a complete list of all your coins, their grades, any varieties (recorded in Red Book or “Cherrypickers Guide”), and the latest pricing of the “Coin Dealer Newsletter Greysheet”. Have them show you where the prices come from, and make sure it is for the correct item and grade. If any are incorrect or they don’t want to show you how, GIVE THEM THE BOOT!
Expect that each coin is examined and graded BEFORE price guides are used.
Why? There are dealers who will set the price guides next to the grading standards as they grade the coin. When they see the higher price associated with the higher grade, they may record a lower grade so they can pay you less. If you see this happening, BOOT THE DEALER OUT THE DOOR!
Do NOT expect to get “Red Book” value for your coins.
The “Red Book” is printed months in advance, and the value recorded could be over a year old. The Book represents the most hopeful resale price, and not the current market values. As rarer coins become available on the market, the realized sales price lowers. However, if fewer coins of a particular date are available, the price tends to go up. The reality of the business is that every dealer out there is in it to make a few bucks by reselling your coins. Reselling of your coins may cost the dealer up to 18% of the sales price due to various fees, bills, and taxes. So, if the dealer wants to make 15% profit, he can only pay you 67% of the expected resale price.
Expect the dealer to openly share with you all of their reference material.
If the dealer cannot, or will not share their references, DO NOT SELL THEM YOUR COINS. Those references should include the latest “CDN Greysheet”, at the least. If the dealer you are working with does not have them, DO NOT SELL THEM YOUR COINS! Additional reference materials are dependent on the seller’s advance notification that they have specific coin varieties and errors. The references may include books on silver dollars, “TOP-100 Morgan Dollar Varieties” or “TOP-50 Peace Dollar Varieties”. While Morgan Dollars constitutes the largest area of variety collecting, there are other coin series with known significant varieties that command a premium. Some dealers will show up hoping you know nothing about these other varieties. Most of these significant varieties are listed in the “Cherrypickers’ Guide To Rare Die Varieties of U.S. Coins”. If you have known coin varieties or errors, tell the dealer up front when setting up the appointment. If they don’t show up with these reference material in hand, SHOW THEM THE DOOR! Expect most dealers to charge an extra $3-$5 to verify variety designations. This is time consuming; we DON’T charge extra. Also expect the dealer to bring a copy of the “ANA Grading Standards for United States Coins” or “Making the Grade”. Have them show you how to use the grading standard, and to openly share use of the grading standards. Unfortunately, many “dealers” are cash flow dealers, and don’t even know how to properly grade coins. We will bring the grading standards, and show you how to use them, openly. And yes, I am a certified grader.
DO NOT ALLOW ACID TESTING OF YOUR GOLD, SILVER, OR PLATINUM COINS.
A reputable dealer will have a precious metals spectrometer. It does the same without scratching the coin. Do expect the dealer to verify every gold coin against the “Unites States Gold Counterfeit Detection Guide”. Unfortunately, as much as 15% of the mid and late 1800’s, and early1900’s gold coins are counterfeit. Remember no scraping, scratching, or acid testing of your coins is needed.
Expect the dealer to ask for you identification.
This is required by South Carolina law to deter the selling of stolen goods. SC Law requires the dealer to record your name, race, gender, birthdate, address, and Driver’s license/ legal ID number.
Your experience selling our coins should be as memorable as the years you spent collecting them. We will do everything we can to show you we are serious about helping you get the absolute most for you collection. The words in this write up are mine and mine alone. They represent my experiences and opinions. I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to purchase your coins. I am retired Naval Officer, CWO-4 (SS), with 29 years of nuclear and submarine service. My house payments, and my family’s livelihood are not dependent on this business. This is why we can and will pay more for your collection. Remember your collection is yours alone to sell. Do NOT be pressured by ANYONE, dealer, or family, to sell your coins.
Bill Latour email: firstname.lastname@example.org shop: 843-763-3463 cell: 843-532-5089