Appraising Coins: 5 Tips Before Getting Coins Appraised

appraising-coins-photo-by-joshua.JPG Appraising coins can be a serious undertaking.

After all, if you’ve got a lot of valuable coins, you need to have some pretty accurate info on how much they’re worth.

Unless you’ve got a small coin collection and you really know what you have, getting your coins appraised can be a bit of work.

You’re probably quite looking forward to finding out how much your coins are worth.

But before you do, here are 5 tips that’ll go a long way in making the coin appraising process go more easily…


Tip #1: Knowing What Coins You Have

While this may sound simple enough to many coin collectors, knowing something about the coins in your hand can leave some novice coin collectors and most non-coin collectors clueless. In fact, many people not involved in coin collecting probably wouldn’t know a rare coin if they were holding one!

Buying a standard coin price guide at the bookstore or picking up a copy of A Guide Book of United States Coins (also popularly called the ‘Red Book’) can give you some idea as to what coins are rare and how much they’re worth.


Tip #2: Separating The Good Coins From The Not-So-Good

When I mention ‘good,’ I’m not necessarily referring to grade — I’m talking about coins that have nice eye appeal and those that are problem free.

You can pretty much expect any coin that has a hole, is bent, or is cleaned to not receive as high a value as similar ones without the problems. So, before getting a coin appraised, it’s going to help save a bit of time if you can separate into at least 2 groups the high quality coins from those that are damaged.

You’ll still want to get all your coins appraised, but it’ll be much more efficient going in to any situation having the nicer coins separated from the less-desirable pieces. If you’re selling, it can be difficult to sell common, damaged coins individually. You might be able to liquidate them more quickly as a lot, however.


Tip #3: Authenticating Rare Coins

If you have any rare coins, your next important move will be to get those rare coins authenticated, graded, and slabbed.

While forgeries and counterfeit coins have always been a concern, they have become even more of a threat as of late. Between a number of highly convincing cast counterfeits and Chinese-made counterfeits entering the market, knowing which coins and avoiding fake ones is more of a concern than ever before.

Many knowledgeable coin dealers can tell a fake coin from an authentic one pretty easily. However, some of the best counterfeit coins still deceive the eyes of even advanced coin collectors, coin dealers, and numismatists. This makes many coin dealers and other weary about buying rare coins that haven’t been professionally authenticated.

What to do? Get your coin slabbed by a 3rd-party coin grading company. They will, for a fee, authenticate your coin, grade it, then place it into a piece of plastic referred to as a slab.

The high degree of assurance had with getting a coin authenticated by a major 3rd-party coin grading company is backed up by the cumulative decades of experience held by the staff of these major firms.


Tip #4: Choosing The Right Coin Dealer

When it comes time to get your coins appraised, you’re going to want to go to a coin dealer that does a good job of appraising coins.

Many coin dealers know what they’re doing, but fewer possess the years and years of coin buying experience that goes behind making a really good coin appraisal.

You’ll want to do your research and look for a coin dealer who has been in the business for a long time.

If you live in or near a big city, finding a professional coin dealer that has been in the coin business for a long time may not be too hard. Still, choose the best of the best. Call around or do some web surfing to get the details of the coin dealer(s) you plan on working with for your coin appraisal.

If you’re living in a small town, finding any coin dealer can be tough enough. Finding one that’s well skilled may be difficult.

There are many major online coin dealers who are quite reputable and will do coin appraisals and buy coins through the mail. The key here (as you’d expect) is to find an online or mail-based coin dealer that does the job well and is honest.

No matter what coin dealer you settle on working with, make sure you double check with the Better Business Bureau to find out if the coin dealer has had any complaints (and the nature of those complaints).

You’ll also want to consider doing business with coin dealers associated with respected coin organizations, like the Professional Numismatists Guild, the American Numismatic Association, and the Professional Coin Grading Service.


Tip #5: Turning A Coin Appraisal Into A Coin Sale

While many people seek a coin appraisal for insurance purposes, the bulk of those getting their coins appraise do so to find out how much they can sell their coins for.

If you’re getting your coins appraised because you care to sell them, you may want to take the extra steps (and pay any extra fees) to get a second opinion on value — especially if the first appraisal resulted in an appraised amount figuring into the high hundreds or thousands of dollars.

You may wind up getting a second figure that brings a higher value.

Many coin dealers willing to give appraisals are also likely to offer to buy those coins from you.

One key thing to remember when getting an appraisal: there’s the replacement value of coins and there’s the bid value of coins:

  • Replacement value is what it would cost you to literally replace a said coin if damaged or lost due to natural disasters or burglary.
  • Bid value is how much you’ll be offered by a coin dealer to buy a coin — bid value is virtually always lower (by 20% or more) than replacement value.

If you’re interested in selling your coins, you’ll want to call the coin dealer ahead of going to the store to see if they buy coins. There’s really not much of a point in going to one place for an appraisal and another place to sell coins unless you want a party not involved with th
e coin sale to estimate the value of your coins.

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez

My love for coins and numismatics began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I've also been studying meteorology and watching weather patterns for years. I enjoy sharing little-known facts and fun stuff about coins, weather, travel, health, and living green with others.

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  • Helemai518

    Can you tell me what a coin appraisers charge?

    • Anonymous

      There is no general rule; some coin dealers will appraise coins for free, while others will charge an hourly or per-coin rate. Here’s a coin dealer search engine you can use to look up coin dealers in your area. I recommend contacting them and getting rates:

  • Megoodgal1

    Is there any value in taking a picture of a coin(s) before you ship them off to an appraiser?  What benefit would the photo have for me if I believed a coin returned to me was switched?  

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide


      Yes, there is value in photographing your coins because it would show details of the coins you own and can help you compare the appearance of the coins in your legal possession versus those which you claim to be stand-ins.

  • desertgem76

    To anyone who can help. My son and I save random coins and change. We came across a very old dime. I looked it up and it’s called a seated half dime dated 1853. Every site I tried to get info from or pictures to compare the coins I noticed the back of the dimes all said half dime where my coin says one dime. Not sure if thats common but cant seem to find any info. Please help.

    • Robert Minichino

      There are both Liberty Seated half dimes and dimes and there is no mistaking one for the other. If your coin says “one dime” on the reverse it is a dime and not a half dime.

  • John Rogers

    desertgem76 I believe they did make half dimes in 1853 just buy a red book and they should have them listed there and their values

  • John Rogers

    If you don’t see any info on your dime for the date I would have it professionally graded as you might even have an error coin

  • Diana Bergstrand

    When my grandpa passed away a few years ago one of his posessions I ended up with was a small handful of old coins. He wasn’t a serious collector, and these are worn, and some foreign (France, Russia? China?) from the 17 and 1800’s. I know nothing about coins and don’t have any time to do vast amounts of research, but I am curious how to go about determining if these have any historical or even monetary value. If anyone can give me information I would appreciaTe it. Am also happy to take and send photos.

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hello, Diana –

      I would be glad to help as best I can. Would you please upload photos of your coins to the comments forum here and I will try to identify and appraise each to the best of my ability, without seeing the coins in-hand.

  • Kathy

    I have a 1484 Tyrol half guldiner Sigismund, how much are they valued at and how to spot a fake from the real? If anyone could help I would appreciate it very much.
    Thanks in advance

  • Rick Stillman

    Mr. Joshua, My Mom passed away in December last year. She was 93. One of the things she left my sons was a whole bank bag of Old Silver Dollars, Half Dollars and some other various coins. 1893 Morgan, Several Peace dollars and 1 BF/ JFK half dollars. Do you have any idea of a place in Arkansas to get them appraised? Or an online appraiser you trust?

    • linc_lady2

      Hi Rick, I was wondering if you ever found anyone in Arkansas to appraise your coins. If you did can you please tell me who it is? I too am needing someone in Arkansas to appraise some coins for me. Thank you! (Kay)

      • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide


        Here’s a link to the Professional Numismatists Guild list of coin dealers. The search function should help you find somebody relatively close to your area.

        I hope this helps:

        Good luck!

  • franko

    I’d appreciate your considered opinion. Should I have these appraised and slabbed? My intent is to sell them.

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hello Franko,

      From what I can tell, your 1900 half eagle and 1897 quarter eagle appear to be “common” gold coins (though still valuable and worth approximately their bullion value), but if I’m reading the date and mintmark on the one-dollar coin correctly (1851-D), that piece is considerably scarce and you might want to have it slabbed, as it could be worth around $1,200-$1,500.

      Good luck and thanks for your question!

      • franko

        Thank you for your comments Joshua, if it works out I’ll let you know.

        • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

          You’re welcome, Franko!

          • franko

            A local dealer confirmed your appraisal. I am taking the next step to have the coins ‘graded’, costing sixty eight dollars. I guess this assures any potential buyer that the coins are authentic and ranks their quality/condition.

            I learned that the D indicates, Delonaga, was the mint. Like most people I assumed it was Denver.

            What kind of offer might I expect on the dollar coin? Eighty, ninety percent of appraised value? :). Or, fifty percent? :(

          • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

            Hello, Franko!

            So glad to hear that your coin checked out. I would hope that you could realize at least 80 percent appraised value. My best advice is to “shop” around the coin for offers among local coin dealers and see what you get. If you’re not satisfied with the offers, I suggest listing your coin on eBay next, where you could get some active bidding.

            As for the “D” mintmark, yes, Dahlonega, GA, had a mint during the nineteenth century tasked with minting gold coins. Here’s some more info on mintmarks:


            Please keep us abreast of what you find out from the certification service. Good luck!

          • franko

            The certification was high on both the 1 and 2,1/2 coins which sold for $2000.00 ea. The other coin sold for bullion value, around $300.

            Thanks again for your input and interest.

          • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

            Hello Franko!

            How exciting! Thanks for letting us know how the coins turned out. It sounds like you’re happy – and that’s fantastic!

            All the best,

  • Brent rathbun

    Hi I have some coins I need to know about if u can tell me they are 1953 s wheat and one silver dd 1963 d dime and a silver 1963 d dime if some one should help please let me know

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi Brent –

      A 1953-S Lincoln wheat cent is worth about 5 cents, a 1963-D doubled die Roosevelt dime comes in at around $25 for one that is About Uncirculated grade, and a regular 1963-D dime is worth around $3.

      Thank you for your questions!

  • Brent rathbun

    Hey I just got a 1955 d mint wheat penny it is kinda red color how much is it if u would like I can post a pic if u want

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi Brent,

      Without seeing a photo of the coin, it’s hard to say for certain. It may be corrosion – a very common cause of red discoloration on older Lincoln cents.

      Please feel free to post pics if you want so we can make a sight-seen determination!

      • Brent rathbun

        I will do it in just sec

  • Brent rathbun

    There u go

  • Brent rathbun

    Here it is

  • Brent rathbun

    Sorry tablet being weired.

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hello there, Brent –

      Thanks for sending a pic of your 1955-D cent. It looks like what happened to it was exposure to some type of caustic chemical. The red is actually a form of corrosion. Several of mine that I’ve found in circulation look the same way and it is usually due to years of exposure to moisture, fumes, and other agents, both natural and synthetic.

  • kyla mowery

    I have what i believe is a 11 cent peice but not sure it is about the size of a dime on wjat looks to be a dime on the side. It has the signs on the back of it like the front of a dime but back of penny and back of the dime on the front of penny the penny stamp is a little off center as well not sure if it is worth getting appraised