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Inherited a Coin Collection…Now What?

When a coin collection transfers ownership from a knowledgeable coin collector to a person who has very little experience with valuable coins, there is often doubt about how the collection should be handled. Should the coin collection be sold to a coin dealer? Should it be kept in storage (because nobody really knows what to do with it)? Should it be divided amongst various members of the family who have shown an interest?


There are often situations in which a valuable coin collection is not mentioned in a coin collectors’ will. When a coin collector passes away, and if his or her coin collection was not specifically bequeathed to a certain individual, the next of kin rarely know whom to ask for advice. It’s not uncommon for family members to argue about the value of the coin collection – without having any real knowledge about the collection itself.


Any time a coin collection is part of an estate, it’s extremely important to have a reputable and experienced coin dealer look at every coin in the collection so that an estimate of the collection’s value can be determined. It may be revealed that some of the coins in the collection are highly valuable, whereas others have very little value. If a family is attempting to divide either the coins, or the actual value of the coins after they are sold to a coin dealer, it’s important that this be accomplished with the help of an unbiased professional.


Following is information about inherited coin collections that you may find useful if you are either in the midst of selling an estate coin collection or if you know that that you will be dealing with this type of matter in the not-too-distant future:


•Make sure there is an accurate and detailed inventory of the coins in the estate collection.

•Do your own research on the coins. This will give you a better idea of the value of the coins.

•Avoid cleaning the coins. Like most antiques, some old coins have a greater value when they have a patina. If you eliminate the patina, you might be reducing the coin’s value.

•If the coin collection is large, enlist the help of more than one family member to account for the coins in the collection. When you’re dealing with hundreds or thousands of coins – you’re going to want all the help you can get!

•Schedule an appointment with a reputable coin dealer so you can get a good estimate of the coin collection’s value.

•Work together with your family to decide if you should keep the collection, divide the collection, or sell all or part of the coin collection.

Selling your coins

If you own a single coin that is either rare or unique, or if you own an entire valuable coin collection, you may be interested in selling the coin or the entire collection to a rare coin buyer. There are many reasons people who are coin collectors (or people who own a single valuable coin) elect to sell them.


Some of the most common reasons people decide to sell valuable coins include:

 1) they no longer have a desire to collect rare coins, and they want to liquidate their collection;

 2) they inherited a valuable coin collection and would rather sell the coin collection than keep it stored in a safety deposit box for years on end; and

 3) they own a single valuable coin, and they do not have an attachment to it, nor do they want to pass it down to their children and/or grandchildren – and they’d rather sell the coin for top dollar and have its cash value in hand.

If you are at a point of being ready to sell either an individual rare coin or an entire valuable coin collection, it’s incredibly important that you work with a rare coin buyer who is reputable and honest. Unfortunately, incidents occur every single day in which the owners of rare or valuable coins are taken advantage of by rare coin dealers that are not honest.


Following are two tips on how to get an honest appraisal of your rare coin or coin collection and how to find a reputable coin dealer who will give you top dollar for your items: 

1. Don’t settle on the very first rare coin dealer you meet. It may turn out that you ultimately decide to sell your individual coin or entire coin collection to the first coin buyer you find.   However, you owe it to yourself to interview several coin dealers before settling on one. Remember, there is no rule that says you have to use a coin dealer who makes you feel uncomfortable about the transaction or a coin dealer who is pressuring you to sell your rare coin or entire coin collection for a value that seems too low. 

2. Know what you have. Knowing what you have does NOT mean you should make a generic list of the coins in your coin collection that looks something like this:

 •10 brown coins

 •20 silver coins

 •35 small coins


Instead, you should create a list of each and every rare and unique coin in your collection. Your list absolutely must be detailed and complete. Make sure to look closely at each and every coin, and then make a list that includes very specific details of each one. This type of list might take longer to complete, but it will only benefit you in the long run. An organized inventory will prevent you from getting ripped off, and it will allow you to have confidence that you are getting the true monetary value for each and every valuable coin in your collection.