5 Tips For Handling An Estate Collection Of Coins

estate-collection-photo-by-aresauburn.jpg Handling an estate collection can be one of the most difficult things you’ll ever have to do.

However, being responsible for securing the sale or disbursal of a large coin collection doesn’t have to be hard.

While I’m not a lawyer and have no training in legal issues, I’m a longtime coin collector and would like to offer you some tips that you may find helpful if you’re in a situation where you’re having to handle issues surrounding an estate coin collection.

The advice I offer assumes you have already taken into consideration any directives or wills, have little to no experience in coins, and are simply hoping to find some advice on going through a large coin collection.

 

Going Through All Those Coins

Estate coin collections don’t have to be big, though they often are.

The term estate coin collection simply means a collection of coins belonging within an estate.

However, because handling an estate can, in and of itself, be arduous, having to deal with matters of a coin collection in an estate can make the whole matter all the more complicated. After all, many coin collections are made up of coins that can be individually worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

An estate coin collection put together over the many decades of an avid coin collector’s life can mean the accumulation of seemingly countless coins, each having potentially great value.

How should you handle those coins?

Tip #1: Look It Up!

Before setting aside time to go through and catalog or evaluate each coin on your hands, it’s really important that you pick up a book that will help you understand what each of the coins in the coin collection is worth.

Two of the best books I can suggest for you to buy are good reference guides that provide great, detailed information but aren’t be too over the top if you’re not familiar with coins.

If you’re handling mainly United States coins, be sure to check out A Guide Book of United States Coins.

If you have to go through foreign coins or a mix of different types of coins, look for The Standard Catalog of World Coins.

Tip #2: Don’t Clean Those Coins

You probably think cleaning coins makes them look better and, you might, thus assume, worth more. While you might wash a car before you sell it, you don’t want to clean your coins.

The natural patina on all those coins is highly valued by coin collectors and shouldn’t be altered in any way. When you clean coins, you permanently alter their original surfaces, which are often an extremely scarce attribute, especially on older coins.

You’ll always get more money for coins with uncleaned, unaltered coins than those that have been cleaned or ‘improved.’ Trust me. Don’t touch those coins for any other reason but to inspect them!

Tip #3: Divide & Conquer

It’s time to start seeing what you have. If you already have directions set in place, be sure you organize and distribute according to what you have been directed to do.

If, however, you have a ton of coins laying around and have no orders and don’t know what’s valuable and what’s not, I have some general guidelines for you below:

Keep any…

If you’re having to go through jars, boxes, or bins of coins and none of them within fall into the categories of coins listed above, there’s a pretty safe bet that what you have found is not so much a coin collection, per se, but simply a hoard of pocket change kept without regard to date.

Certainly the possibility exists that error coins may be found within but, generally, jars or hoards of common pocket change are common in estates and often have no more value than the face value of the coins themselves.

Tip #4 Safely Storing Those Estate Coins

Coins found in estates are often stored using one of two possible coin storage extremes:

  • Either all the coins are neatly and properly kept in good coin storage
  • Or the coins are poorly stored and uncataloged

Of course, the coin collection you’re having to handle may be kept using a combination of the above methods, but at any rate, there’s a good chance you’re going to need to at the very least partly modify the storage of the coins you’re going through for transport to a selling location or disbursal.

Whatever you do, be sure to follow all guidelines set forth in directives. If directions include the a coin or coins not being removed from their present storage method, then by all means abide. However, if there are no such directives in place and you need an efficient and safe way to keep the coins you’re going through, here are some ideas:

Tip #5: Selling Estate Coins

So long as there are no directions as to where coins in the estate must go and anybody and everybody involved decides that the coins left behind should be sold, then it’s time to sell those coins (assuming that’s what’s agreed upon).

The 3 best, most profitable ways to sell coins includes:

While auction houses are a good way to sell expensive coins or very large coin collections, coin dealers are often a more convenient way to sell coins, especially if the material you’re handling isn’t necessarily very expensive. However, there are many well established coin dealers who are well accustomed to handling very rare and expensive coins.

eBay is another method employed by those selling coins today because. eBay is an online auction website that grants you the advantage of placing your coins in front of, potentially, millions of bidders who will compete to pay the highest price for your coins.

One big issue with eBay, however, is that listing fees can erode a significant (10 percent or more) amount of the final selling price. Also, you must be sure you package your coins safely, be prepared to communicate with buyers, and ship the sold coins promptly and to the correct winners.

However, if the only thing that makes you nervous about listing the coins on eBay is the issue of fees, remember that traditional auction houses also usually impose fees.

In the same sense, you must remember that selling coins to a coin dealer means getting less than the retail value of your coins. Coin dealers, after all, have to cover expenses and make a profit, so they will likely offer somewhere between 50 to 75 percent of the values you see listed in most coin price guides.

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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