Coin Selling Advice

Mint Hint Coin Selling Advice

Understanding the options available to you for coin selling and executing them effectively will net you the most cash for your coins.

Wouldn't it be a shame to sell a valuable coin for, say, 40% of its worth, when had you known a little more, you could have gotten a full price? Please read on.

Before you can become a successful coin seller, however, it is critical to get familiar with some of the essentials underlying the hobby. Thus, the first section below introduces a few basic guidelines and advice to set the stage.

After we finish walking through the guidelines, we delve into the some of the options you have for coin selling: marketing coins on the Internet, approaching coin dealers, coin auctions, and more.

Look at the upper right hand corner of this page. There is a button called "Coin Selling Tools HERE", which if clicked, opens a new window showing additional links to places designed to complement the info on this page about coin selling.

The links in the box below outline the material presented in our coin selling advice section.

Basic Guidelines

Selling your US coins shouldn’t be a problem, assuming you own coins of marketable quality. (See our Bullish US Coins and Coin Value Tables sections for selecting high demand coins and our Coin Buying page for advice on where to find them. The key date recommendations in the US Coin Types pages also highlights outstanding coins). There are many potential coin buyers out there, but let’s first talk about some basic guidelines. By taking them to heart, you will increase the chances of selling coins on your terms. Then we'll follow up with some of the best selling options available to you.

Learn to grade coins. Grading accurately is essential to success in all aspects of the coin hobby. Moreover, as an honest coin seller, you must properly describe your coins to prospective buyers, utilizing numismatic jargon where applicable. After you've gained some confidence in coin grading, pay attention to how the pros describe their coins. Meander over to eBay or any other fine coin selling sites to get a feel for the adjectives used, key explanatory phrases, etc. With some practice, you too will be writing good, accurate descriptions.

Keep up with the latest news. Market trends, coin price guides, Mint releases, upcoming big auctions, etc., are followed closely by avid collectors. Not surprisingly, these are the folks reaping the biggest benefits from collecting coins. Coin forums and coins news sites are excellent places to stay informed. As mentioned above, subscribing to quality coin periodicals is also an effective method for staying informed on the latest developments. Most of the periodicals have online versions of the mail outs, so you won't have wait on the mailman to get "hot off the press" news.

Become a student of numismatics. If you’re just starting out, spend most of your time at first getting acquainted with coins. Read, attend coin shows, and absorb knowledge from coin experts. The fact that you are visiting this website indicates you are well on your way to becoming a numismatic scholar yourself someday!

Stay in touch with the coin market. Take note of what direction the market is headed, particularly for any coins you are ready to sell. Have a realistic idea of what your coins are worth. If the market is strong, but getting stronger, holding off for a while may improve your bottom line. Conversely, a weak environment signals that you should refrain from selling, if possible. Coin values and current market trends are regularly analyzed in Coin World and Numismatic News, two of the most popular hobby periodicals. Of course, you can go to our current Numismatic Coin Value section to get a good idea of a coin is selling for these days in the retail market. What's more, our historic Coin Value Tables not only can help you estimate what a coin is worth today, but depicts long range value trends, a good indicator of what to expect in terms of future performance.

It's easier to sell certified coins. In nearly all circumstances, certified coins are more liquid than non-certified. No need to certify the non-expensive stuff, but anything valued at, say, over $200 is probably worth the cost of doing so. Two of the oldest, most highly regarded coin certification/grading companies are Professional Coin Grading Services and Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. Also widely known and respected are Independent Coin Grading Company, and ANACS. You can buy and sell with reasonable confidence if a coin has been graded and encapsulated by one of these four services.

Do not expect quick profits. Well chosen US coins will advance steadily in value over the long haul, but don’t expect to turn a profit in a few months, or even a couple of years. Temper your expectation levels.

Maintain records of all your sales. What, When, Where, and How Much. This goes for both buying and selling. We guarantee you that sooner or later you’ll be glad you kept this information. You may be required to pay taxes on profit realized from the sale of your coins. The IRS will assume you made the biggest profit possible (to increase your tax due) if you cannot prove your actual gain.

In the opinion of many collectors, coin selling is generally not as fun as coin buying. Fortunately, with all the avenues available today for the coin seller, it needn’t be a frustrating experience. If you own Bullish US coins to start with, observe these common sense guidelines, and become adept at one or more of the coin selling options described below, you should have no trouble finding an eager buyer.


At any given moment in time, hundreds of thousands of US coins are being auctioned off on eBay. The "Buy it Now" eBay feature is also quite popular, whereby sellers set a price, and if someone meets it, the item is instantly sold. Yes, there is a lot of competition, but the coin buying traffic on eBay is immense and motivated. The acceptance of transacting business online, most notably through eBay, has improved the liquidity of collectible coins, which in turn is partly responsible for the strong coin market we’ve witnessed ever since Internet usage became widespread.  eBay is fast, convenient, and a powerful apparatus for the coin selling collector.

A big advantage of coin selling on eBay is that you have a good potential for realizing better prices than the wholesale amount you’d have to settle for if selling to a dealer. This is especially true if you are attempting to sell a coin on the Bullish US Coins list or have utilized the Coin Value Tables to identify other coins of proven high demand. Also, eBay charges relatively small fees for access to their tremendously popular website. Here are a few basic points to keep in mind when selling coins on eBay:

Make sure you understand the selling rules. You should not list your first coin until after you have taken the excellent tutorial on selling, where the essentials of eBay selling are laid out in simple terms.

As a seller, potential buyers are carefully scrutinizing your Feedback Rating. If you have not yet established a Feedback Rating, you really ought to generate some positive feedback for yourself by purchasing a few items, not necessarily coins, before putting your coins up for sale.

Do not bother to list your coins without a good photo or scan. Would you bid on a coin without at least seeing a good photo of both the obverse and reverse? Can you expect potential buyers to think otherwise?

Buyers are more confident bidding on certified coins. If you estimate a coin to be worth more than $200, it's a good idea to get it certified using one of the better respected grading services mentioned above in the Guidelines section.

Set terms for your sale. This includes return policy, acceptable methods of receiving payments, shipping and handling fees, and more. If you're clueless where to start, observe how some of the eBay "Power Sellers" of coins do it.

Get signed up to accept payment through PayPal. Buyers love the security and convenience of transferring money for purchased online merchandise via PayPal. They'll nick you for a small fee, but having the Paypal logo displayed on your auction will likely result in more bids. PayPal benefits not only the buyer, but also you, the seller. Buyers can send funds to you from their PayPal account reserve. They can also pay with a credit card through PayPal, whether they have a PayPal account or not.

Also, we suggest you read our Coin Buying section, where, nestled in with other topics, we lay out a few pointers on the purchase of coins on eBay. Understanding what prospective buyers are thinking will help you to become a better seller.

Some eBay coin selling folks are a bunch more successful than others. If your goal is to become one of them, we recommend reading eBay For Dummies, written by eBay expert Marsha Collier. This is a straight-forward “how-to” manual in the typical "Dummies" style, to get you started selling (and buying too, for that matter) effectively on eBay. It is justifiably one of the hottest selling books about the eBay. Collier's affordable book demystifies any trepidation you might have over tapping into the Web's #1 auction site.

We also like eBay the Smart Way, by Joseph Sinclair. Readers of this book are taught step-by-step how to prepare eye-grabbing listings, and introduces the little and big things you must do to establish a high level of credibility within the eBay community. Actually, there are plenty of other good books on eBay selling at Amazon, too.

Amazon Collectible Coins

While eBay is still the 800 pound gorilla in the room, Amazon dove into coin buying and selling in May 2014. Anytime an organization with the platform the size of Amazon's starts doing something, people in the business take heed.

The banner under which this internet behemoth is marketing coins is called Amazon Collectible Coins.

With about 60,000 United States coin listings available at any time, Amazon is already a player in numismatic activity. In addition to major coin dealers, everyday collectors can liquidate their coins on Amazon Collectible Coins. It is not necessary to be one of the big guys to list a coin on Amazon. If you're not already an Amazon seller, you need to get signed up.

If you have a coin priced anywhere from 50 cents to $1 million, you will fit right in.

Other Internet Auctions

When it comes to coin auctions on the Internet, eBay isn't the only game in town.  Some of the biggest names in numismatics sponsor live auctions for traditional "in person" buyers, with Internet accessibility for bidders who wish to participate remotely, either live or in advance.  A few coin auction companies operate solely over the Internet.

These auction houses are not shy about promoting their events to attract buyers, spending gobs of dough on advertising and producing classy, beautiful sales catalogs. Their interactive websites cost a lot to develop and maintain, but potential buyers worldwide can peruse online catalogs at their leisure long before the auction date, and with the click of a mouse, place bids at will. All this helps to intensify the competition for your consigned coins.

It all sounds exciting (and it is), but the big auction venue is not for everyone. Contemplate the key points below before deciding if this is a viable coin selling option for you.

Expect to pay up to an 18% commission. As you might have guessed, it's expensive to publicize and conduct a worldwide, high class coin auction. Naturally, seller commissions is how the auction company keeps things going, and the cost to the coin seller can be substantial. The trade off, of course, is that you can get top dollar for your coins.

Be ready to meet the consignment deadline. The auction house must have all consignments turned in by a deadline, so plan accordingly. The deadline might be as much as 30 to 60 days before exceptionally big sales. Time is needed to prepare for the auction. This includes, but not limited to, develop promotional materials, advertise, organize a catalog, and printing press lead time.

Not every coin will be accepted. Common date coins in conditions below the highest tier of grades generate little excitement on the bidding floor of the larger, better known firms. People with lots of money to spend  are heavily involved in the buying. In this environment, coins bringing four, five, or six figures are commonplace. Every now and then, we see a million dollar coin exchange hands. If your coins cannot bring in at least a few hundred dollars, don't be surprised if your consignment attempt is politely refused. Also, some of the auction houses set consignment package minimums ($2500 is not unusual). If you're not sure if the coins you have will fit in, by all means, ask the auction company.  They have account reps who are there to guide potential consignors.

Rare stuff gets bidders jumping out of their chairs. If you had the wisdom to acquire rare coins earlier in your numismatic career, you're sure to benefit from spirited bidding. You'll most likely be rewarded for your foresight by receiving a handsome price at auction, and other than submitting the consignment and paying the seller commission, you won't even have to lift a finger to get it done.

Who are some of the best auction companies selling coins on the Internet? As a service to our readers, the auction companies we think are some of the best are mentioned below. By no means is this list fully complete, but its a very good starting point for collectors with valuable coins to consign.

Don't consign your coins over to just any auction house. Does the company have expertise in numismatics? Do their sale catalogs and Internet presence appear professional? Get a copy of their consignment rules, and read all the fine print. If you still have questions, ask a coin dealer or experienced coin collector for an opinion. Red Flag Warning: If the company name is not recognizable to veteran numismatists, what are the odds that bidders know who they are, either?

Community Coin Auctions

Some collectors sell their coins at relatively small public gatherings, complete with live auctioneer and gavel. Under this scenario, owners consign their coins to an auctioneer, who in turn lists the coins on the sales bill of an upcoming event. Unless you live in a remote wilderness, the chances are good that an auction of this type will be held in a nearby community sometime soon.

Community coin auctions are usually publicized in local newspapers. Check the local newspaper about once a week to stay informed on upcoming sales.  Don't be surprised if your coin has to share the stage with bicycles and lawn mowers also in the sale.

Most of the coins sold in community auctions are less expensive. Mega dollar material crossing the block at the worldwide Internet sales is routine. At community auctions, many coins sell for under $50.  For many hobbyists, this is an appropriate venue.

Expect to pay a commission of up to 25%. That's the going rate charged by many auctioneers. Still, if your coins sell at fairly close to retail value, you'll come out ahead compared to outright wholesale. Be sure you understand the Terms & Conditions and reserve rules.

Community auctions also hold the promise of getting you acquainted with other coin enthusiasts in your area.  These contacts can work to your benefit as you seek to purchase and sell other coins in the future.  The importance of developing new friendships is something not to be overlooked either.

Wholesale to a Local Coin Dealer

Coin dealers, large and small, replenish their stock, in part, by purchasing coins from collectors wanting to sell. If you're in the mind to sell some coins, one possible buyer is a local coin dealer. You can find them listed in the Yellow Pages. This may be the fastest, easiest option for liquidating your coins. However, there are a few facts you should be mindful of before you approach a local dealer to ask for an offer on your coin:

Coin dealers are in business to make a profit. Numismatics is their chosen profession, so they are certainly entitled to one. Like other businessmen, coin dealers have numerous overhead expenses, including salaries to employees, rent, taxes, advertising, insurance, travel, and many other miscellaneous items. Around 60% percent of the retail value of a coin is the what dealers might offer, if anything at all.  The percentage can vary depending on what the dealer already has in stock, his cash position at the moment, and how quickly he can "turn" the coin.  It never hurts to stop in for a friendly chat with a local dealer, but do not expect him to pay close to retail for your coin. Indeed, buying coins at wholesale is central to his survival.

Local dealers usually have a small customer base. The typical "mom and pop" coin dealer does not have access to a large base of customers. He cannot add to his inventory just any collectible coin that comes his way. If he thinks the coin will take a while to find a buyer, he may make a low ball offer or none at all. Slow selling coins are the dread of smaller coin dealers. It means having capital tied up while the coin lies idle; they cannot buy other coins or pay expenses with the money already spent for the idle coin. Don't take the rejection personally if it happens to you.

Make it as easy as possible for the dealer to make an offer. If you have a lot of coins to sell, be sure to have them organized and inventoried on paper, including coin type, date, mintmark, grade, and how many of each. Be friendly, but at the same time convey the impression that you're serious about doing business. It can help negotiate a fair deal quicker.

Most dealers are honest, forthright professionals committed to helping their customers maximize enjoyment from the coin collecting hobby, but before selling your coins to them at wholesale, be sure to give some thought to the other options available to you for selling your coins.

Wholesale to an Online Dealer

There are at least a hundred very fine U.S. coin dealers scattered across the nation who have online ordering websites and mail order businesses.  Most of them do a much greater volume of selling than the average local coin dealer. Almost all of them are interested in acquiring collectible coins from the public, buying at wholesale and selling at retail. It's not necessary to have great rarities to get their attention; most of their clients are hobbyists whose tastes span the full coin pricing gamut, and they replenish their stock accordingly.

Here are a few things to think about when considering wholesaling to an online dealer:

Online coin dealers will buy a wide range of collections. Because they usually have a large customer base, they can justify purchase of just about any group of coins with collectible value, in both large and small quantities.  Whether you have coins to sell by the handful or the bucket, they're ready to talk. Be aware that some dealers don't want you to send them a package of coins worth less than a certain amount (perhaps $100-$200).

Follow the dealer's instructions. Chances are the dealer has instructions for mailing your coins to them for an offer.  Follow them from the get-go to increase the chances of a smooth sale. Drop them an email beforehand if you have any doubts.

Do not overestimate the value of your coins. You would not want to pay a "Very Good" price for a "Good" coin, so why should anyone else feel differently? Be realistic in your expectations, and don't waste your time or theirs.

Remember, you are selling at wholesale. You can expect to get paid only about 60-70% of a coin's retail value when selling at wholesale, sometimes more and sometimes less, depending upon the dealer's stock situation and customer demand.  The nice thing is that you have a check in your hand with fairly minimal effort.

Working with a reputable company is essential. You will be vulnerable while the dealer has your coins in his possession under review. At the very least, check first to see if the dealer is a member of the American Numismatic Association or the Professional Numismatist Guild. These organizations have standards of behavior their members are expected to adhere to.

Many of the better online dealers advertise in coin periodicals. Pick up any copy of Coin World or Numismatic News and you'll see lots of online dealer advertising.  Some dealers have been running ads in these periodicals for many years, dating back to the pre-Internet days, when they did most of their business through snail mail only. A possible advantage of wholesaling to one of these advertising dealers is that if you believe you were treated unfairly and cannot negotiate a fair solution, you can inform the publisher of the magazine where you found the advertisement. The reputation of the publisher could be on the line, so they won’t hesitate to exert pressure on the company to rectify the situation, if warranted. Fortunately, this problem rarely occurs.

Another good thing about being a coin collector in the internet age is that there are plenty of places where disgruntled customers can vent. Coin forums and consumer research boards will attract commentary regarding shady coin dealers. Sure, there are some people who will complain about anything, but if the same dealers are consistently blacklisted across numerous review sites by many different coin collectors, that should be a red flag warning to stay clear of their questionable practices.

Coin Shows

If you’ve got highly merchandisable coins (see Bullish US Coins or Coin Value Tables) coin shows are fine for obtaining competing offers relatively fast from multiple dealers. Here are few thoughts to keep in mind as you approach the coin dealer table to request an offer:

Be organized and well prepared when you approach a dealer's table. Know what you have and provide a detailed inventory on paper.  Coin type, date, mintmark, condition, and quantity is what the dealer wants to know. In a busy coin show setting, you'll win instant respect if you display a businesslike demeanor.

Dealers do some of their most important business at coin shows and cannot allow themselves to get bogged down over a bag full of common date wheat pennies. As coin collectors, we have to remind ourselves that dealers are entrepreneurs first and foremost, and because of this, we should respect their time.

Be polite and friendly. A smile will likely engender reciprocal behavior, making it easier to cut a deal. If a coin dealer is a grouch, pick up your belongings and skedaddle. There are too many friendly coin dealers eager and deserving of your business, so why waste time on a sour face?

Information about upcoming coin shows is found online at many places, including Coinshows and Numismaster. Check out magazines such as Coin World and Numismatic News, as they too publish dates, times, and places for most coin shows held in the United States.

Coin Clubs

Coin clubs, in general, seem to be enjoying a resurgence in popularity, even as new technology provides coin hunters with other means of finding desirable acquisitions. Chances are good there is an active coin club not far from you.

Coin clubs are great for selling coins in person to other collectors. With no commissions or fees to pay, you can afford to sell or trade to other coin club members and still come out ahead.

To locate a coin club in your area, consult with a local coin dealer. He should certainly know of any active clubs in the vicinity. Also, the American Numismatic Association has good information on registered coin clubs.

Some clubs are highly specialized. This is great if you specialize in a certain numismatic area and wish to associate with collectors of the same mindset. These days, thanks to the Internet, you can participate in a coin club from a remote distance. An example of a specialty club is Early American Coppers.

If you’re the personality type who enjoys the camaraderie of others with similar interests and are open to learning new things, then maybe joining a coin club is the thing for you!

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