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Many Americans have a priceless treasure in their own home. Usually, among that dusty pile of stuff in your attic or basement you might find a couple of valuable items, either because of their age or because of their collectible status. Some examples? The $1,000 bills, the $1 with silver certificate and the collections of old American coins. Therefore, below we will tell you everything you need to know to correctly sell your old coins.
But beware! If you’re planning to hold a garage sale to raise money, we recommend evaluating each item on your list first. Keep in mind that unless that attractive collection of ancient coins is the product of your own efforts, you probably don’t know their real price. This simple fact could put you at a disadvantage when dealing with a true collector.
Does this mean you shouldn’t sell your old coins to make money? Not necessarily. All you have to do is ask a numismatist for help and familiarize yourself with what you have in hand.
In this article, you will find the key to putting into practice not one but both tips. Everything is focused on classifying each unit and identifying where to sell old United States coins. Thus, you will be able to take care of that “new treasure” that you have in your hands and avoid being scammed by one of those sharks that are in the market.
Table of Content:
- How to sell your old American coins
- Tips for Hobbyist Ancient Coin Sellers
- Where to sell old coins in the United States?
How to sell your Old American Coins
Before starting, we want to leave you with a small step guide that will allow you to sell your old coins easily, quickly and safely. Remember that the more organized you are, the less likely you are to lose money.
Sort your collection of old American coins
If you only have one coin, you can skip this step. But if you just found a bunch of ancient coins, it’s time to gather them all in one place! The best thing would be for them to be arranged in a protected catalog, preserved and classified by type of currency, date, country of origin, etc. However, not everyone will find something like this in their home, unless you have inherited your old coins from a collector.
How can you order your catalog? Well, there are some tips that could help you:
- Select all the ancient coins you have and put them in the same place.
- Look for any inventory, catalog, or checklist of coins.
- Open your eyes to see if there is any document related to numismatics.
Tip: If all valuable American coins are in a catalog and are in good condition, set aside the most valuable ones from the most common ones. That yes: you should buy some implements in the mints (or numismatic houses) closest to you; this so as not to damage the units during the sorting process.
Sort your old coins
Not all people like to collect coins. Some just hoard them without thinking about their rarity, condition, or value. Therefore, it is in your best interest to start by grouping your coins into separate catalogues, albums or collection boxes. You can help yourself, in principle, by the year of minting and the country of origin.
In the next step, we will explain some effective ways to classify the most valuable coins in your collection.
Look for information on American coins
Once you have all your valuable coins separated from those that are not, group them into the following categories:
- Foreign currencies
- American coins
- Foreign paper money
- Commemorative coins
- American paper money (bills)
Remember: Not all old or precious metal coins are worth more than new ones. The key to the price is in
1) the rarity,
2) its condition.
For example, there are coins made of copper – which someone would think would have no value – that can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars if these are coins sought after by collectors in the United States .
Take advantage of and catalog your old coins
Catalog your coins before taking them to the mints. You can do it in Excel or in a collector’s book – this is up to you. What we do recommend is that, in addition to writing down its characteristics, you take note of its state of conservation. A coin collector will always prefer to buy a coin in perfect condition than one that is damaged.
Estimate the value of your coin collection
You can go to the page of the United States Mint or other numismatic pages to download manuals and coin sales catalogs. Using it, you could estimate how much each of your old coins is worth on the market and what the entire value of the collection would be.
A Guide Book of United States Coins could be a great start to determining the price of your coins, but there are other valuable books on the market.
Note: Take into account that this book that we recommend shows the sale price to the coin collector. A numismatic or antique store needs to make a profit on what it buys from you. Therefore, it is likely to offer you between 30% and 50% less than the value expressed in the manual.
Seek professional help
The best way to know what you have on hand is to hire a professional numismatist to catalogue, separate and value your coins for you. How much does this service cost? Well, it depends on your state of residence and also the experience of the professional, but in general you should expect to pay between $35 and $50 an hour.
Tips for Hobbyist Ancient Coin Sellers
If you are not an expert coin collector, you have a lot to learn! Yes, we know that all this can be arduous and tedious, but sometimes the easiest or quickest thing to do is not what will make you the most money, is it? Without further ado, we leave you what you should -and what you should not- do when selling your old American coins :
- Don’t clean your coins! One of the mistakes that those who start in this world of coins make is to clean them with substances that they have on hand at home. This is a serious error. Any maintenance should be left to a professional.
- Keep your feet on the ground. A 1943 penny may once have sold for $1,000,000 many years ago, but you must understand that not all coins are worth the same. Even if you have an identical penny, you could be offered hundreds of thousands of dollars less because it doesn’t have the same shine or branding. Remember that the value of a coin depends on its year of minting, rarity, details, among others.
- Don’t go to a “buy gold” store. Why? Well, because they don’t usually offer a good price. It is preferable to go to a numismatic house or an antique shop.
- If you don’t need the money urgently, go slowly! Don’t try to get out of your old coin collection too quickly. Take your time to find information on each currency and, while you’re waiting, compare several of the purchase prices they offer you.
Where to sell old coins in the United States?
Whatever you do, stay away from pawn shops or gold buyers. Typically, these companies offer very low value for coins, even for older or collectible ones. Instead of doing this, opt for any of these other options:
A coin shop
Old coin shops work with fair prices. Of course, they will not be able to offer you the sale price -which is what most numismatic auction catalogs show- but they can offer you one that goes between 30% and 50% of its value. The ideal would be to visit several mints until you find the one that gives you the best price for your collection.
A collectible auction
There are two types of auctions: physical and online. If you want to get the most out of your old American coin, the best thing you could do is sell it at auction. Coin collectors will offer what they are willing to pay to keep it and, in their fight, they could raise the price. Many sellers get 100% of the value of their coin this way, and have even gotten much more than this.
Remember: Regardless of the type of auctions you enter, you may have to leave a commission of 10% of the total amount of the purchase.
A collectors website
There are plenty of collector sites out there that work just like Amazon or Craigslist would. Here are some good examples:
- Great Collections. One of the best because it has pretty low selling fees. If your coin is worth more than $1,000, you will pay 0% of the sale. If your coin is worth less than that, as little as 5% of the selling price.
- Teletrade. Another good option, although we like the first one better. Here they also offer cash advances for your coins for sale. However, we don’t recommend you order them because they don’t state very clearly how they work.
- Heritage. This is one of the most important pages for collectors. In fact, each year they sell extremely valuable items making their profits amount to a billion dollars a year.
You could also try selling your old currency on an app to sell new or used stuff. Just be sure to be realistic on the price and to check the seller’s ratings. Ebay and Amazon could be good examples.