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What to do with Dad’s Coin Collection

Dad is gone, but while cleaning out the family home you may have found an assortment of old coins and paper money. Some from the United States and some from all around the world. You may have not known he was a collector or possibly you had a little knowledge of it, but not the extent of it. Well, he was and now you have the responsibility of handling it.

With it now being your responsibility, you now have to figure out what its value is and what to do with it. Whether it is part of an estate going through probate court or being settled between the family privately, you will want to get a professional appraisal.

You may have already started to “google search” and quite possibly is how you’ve ended up here reading this article. You will find a lot of misleading information on the internet as you may be aware. There are a lot of different factors when valuing coins. The date, mint mark / where it was made and the condition of the coin, which is a whole different rabbit hole of information. So what I suggest to you, is purchase or checkout the book “Guide Book of United States Coins” published by Whitman Publishing – also known as the Red Book. If you want to call us, we will loan you one if we have one available. Any year of printing will do, as the values are outdated even before the book is published. The important information will be the details about the coin like how many were made. I suggest doing this as well for your own peace of mind going into the appraisal.

Another thing to do before the appraisal is to simply sort your collection. You’ll likely have started to do this in your early stages of finding the coins but let me give you some direction. Start by separating the U.S. coins from the foreign and then with the U.S. you will sort those by denomination. If you have coins in albums, leave them in the albums. If you have sets, leave them in the packaging as the packaging can be an important part of the value as well. Very basic, no need to catalog every coin. This simple sort will save you money and the appraiser time as everyone’s time is valuable. Another important thing to mention, DO NOT CLEAN COINS. Cleaning coins may damage surfaces and decrease their value.

You’ve sorted the collection and may have a little more knowledge about it. Now you are ready to have it appraised. Finding someone you trust can be daunting with so many different companies offering services from jewelers, pawn shops and traveling road shows. You’ll want to deal directly with someone who specializes in coins, paper money and bullion, a numismatist. If the estate is going through probate court, the appraiser will need to be approved by the courts. Cost is probably also a determining factor in who you choose. You’ll want someone to charge a fair price and give you guidance on how to possibly split or sell the collection. Some appraisers may offer free appraisals in hopes that they will be able to buy the collection. And that is just fine, because for every coin dealer their livelihood depends on the ability to buy and sell coins for a profit to run a business and pay bills.

What you should you expect out of an appraisal? A clear written appraisal. Some lines may be a quantity of some item, for example Buffalo Nickels at one price and then the next line a small grouping of Buffalo Nickels for a higher price, you’ll want to make sure you know what the individual values are for those higher priced coins. This will be important especially if the family has decided to split the collection “equally”, which can be a hard task to perform. The appraiser should be able to break out the coins of higher value for you and then make suggestions on how to divide up the collection. In most cases there is much more to it than “everyone gets one of each”. If you have questions, be sure to ask.

With all that said, HCC Rare Coins is an approved probate appraiser in Lucas and Wood counties in Ohio, members of Better Business Bureau as well as members of the American Numismatic Association and Professional Numismatists Guild. We hope that you will consider us when you’re ready to have your collection appraised. 1-800-422-4405

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1720 Indian Wood Cir, Ste B - Maumee, OH 43537


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