How to Value & Sell Coins
Have a coin that you think might be worth something?
Thinking about selling your coin collection? To get the best price for your coins, you’ll need to research – and this is guide serves as great place to start.
photo by Tom Small
Coins are valued by a variety of factors, the most common being: Grade, Rarity, Interest, and Liquidity. A quick overview of how these factors influence the value of coins:
Coin Grading – the grade of a coin is one of the most influential factors in determining value. Even a slight difference in grading can drastically effect its value. See Wikipedia article on Coin Grading
Coin Rarity – Needless to say, the rarity of a coin has a big influence on its value. Just like with grading their are scales that rate the rareness of collectable coins.
Interest Factor – Another big influence on a coins value is how many people are seeking a coin. A high interest factor tells us that the coin is wanted by many people, while a low interest factor shows that the coin is sought by just a handful of collectors.
Liquidity – How fast / easy a coin would be expected to sell at auction.
Liquidity and Interest are huge factors for coin buyers (and for you if you are looking to sell your coins). Remember a coin may be valued in the $1000s in a price guide, but how long will a coin buyer have to wait to make his money back?
Gold and Silver Bullion (Coins made of valuable metals, produced to be saved for investments, rather than to be circulated as normal currency.) – Are generally worth their weight in gold (or other precious metal) with a small premium based on the above factors. Learn more about bullion on our gold investment page.
Educate yourself with a coin price guide before selling your coins, here are my top picks:
Commonly used Coin Price Guides
Red Book – A Guide to United States Coins ISBN 0794820395
The Red Book is the longest running coin price guide, published since 1947. This comprehensive guide book is considered one of the most authoritative coin value sources.
– Retail value of all US coins – Issue Prices and Current Values of Mint sets and proof sets – Commemorative and modern Bullion coins – Private and territorial gold – Hard Times tokens – Confederate issues – Hawaiian tokens and coins – Philippine issues – Alaskan tokens – Other significant U.S. patterns
It contains background info on coins, as well.
Blue Book – A Handbook of United States CoinsThis is a similar, smaller and less comprehensive guide book compared to the “Red Book”
The Blue Book is a “must have” for anyone wishing to sell their coins, as it includes wholesale coin prices. These wholesale values are what dealers pay for coins. (In other words the wholesale prices give you a better idea on what expect to sell your coins for rather than “retail” prices.
U.S. Coin Digest ISBN-10: 0896898164Comprehensive retail coin price guide with plenty of background information. This book has prices for eleven grades.
Tips on Choosing a Coin Grading Book
New collectors: If you are looking to for an easy-reference guide to your US coin collection, I suggest the Red Book or the U.S. Coin Digest.
If you are considering selling any coins, you should also get the latest “Blue Book” — as its wholesale price values are close to what you should expect to be paid for your coins by a dealer.
If you are a serious collector, buying and selling often, or just need the latest prices – you may wish to subscribe to a coin price periodical. Below are a few of the most popular:
Greysheet – Coin Dealer Newsletter (CDN) The “Grey Sheet” is a weekly price guide for dealers and collectors of United States coinage.
The Greysheet “bid” (wholesale) price is the amount that dealers are typically willing to pay other dealers. The Greysheet “ask” is the price dealers typically ask other dealers for a coin (higher than “bid” value).
For example, if I call and ask to buy a coin, I’ll be quoted the “ask,” or selling price.
But if I want to sell the same coin, I’ll be quoted the “bid” or buying price. The difference between the two prices is the profit margin. Also… remember these are wholesale prices — referring to bulk purchases — but can still give you a ballpark figure.
You can pick up the current issue for about $4, with an annual subscription costing a little under $100.
Coin Values (formerly known as Trends)This is a monthly price guide published by Coin World magazine. Coin Values details retail worth, unlike the greysheet (wholesale values).
They run a lot of specials on subscriptions. You can also opt to purchase a digital subscription. http://coinworld.com
Online Coin Price Guides & Databases
Heritage Auctions Value Index You’ll need to register to access their price guides. But, registration is free.You’ll then have access to their coin value database which is based on real auction transactions. http://coins.ha.com/ref/price-guide.zx
Teletrade Coin Price GuideAnother free online coin price guide (free registration may be required)http://www.teletrade.com/coins/search.asp?pguide=1
PCGS Price Guidehttp://www.pcgs.com/prices/default.aspx
More Coin Selling Tips & Links
Certified coins are easier to sell, more liquid, and fetch higher prices than non-certified coins. It generally costs between $20-$50 to get a coin certified by a major certification/grading company.
Tom’s Coin Page – Read the section titled “Tips for Pocket Change Searchers”.
Ken Potter’s Variety Vault – Great numismatic website.
Guides on Buying / Selling / Valuing Coins – Submitted by ebay members.
More Coin Collecting / Rare Coin Resources on Blifaloo.com:
Valuable Wheat Pennies – Everyone has a few…which one’s are worth money? Check out our history & price guide to the most valuable US wheat cents.
Gold Investing – Bullion Coins and other options Check out the section about gold bullion for more information about determining the value of bullion coins.
CoinTalk.org – Discuss coins here. Long running forum created and run by a rad dude named Peter.
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