6 Tips for Selling an Estate Coin Collection


For most people, an inherited rare coin collection is a part of a larger estate, which may also include property, IRAs, investment assets, cars, or land. Since the coin collection is usually a smaller part of the inheritance, the inheritors often would like to liquidate the collection. As a Grand Rapids coin dealer, we have had many opportunities to assist with estate coin collections, and can offer few suggestions for how to proceed (although please understand that I am not an estate attorney):

  1. Resist any temptation to clean the coins. Again, do not clean the coins, because much of the value of coins is their “original” condition. You will devalue the coins if you clean them.
  2. Look for any written directives about how to divide the collection, or documentation of the collection. If everyone involved decides to sell the collection and share the proceeds, in most cases it’s necessary to determine the value of the collection as a part of the total estate.
  3. Get a general sense of the value of the collection. In the absence of an inventory, you can do a little sorting and value estimation on your own, with the help of coin books and websites, depending on the time and interest you have. For non-experts, the main issue with selling an estate coin collection is to determine whether you have a collection or an accumulation. An accumulation may be either pocket change, or a group of coins that interested the owner but has no real numismatic value. It can be helpful if you can find some indication of where the coins were originally purchased and what was paid. This information could come from an inventory, or original flips (the old coin holders), or receipts and notes.
  4. Seek the help of a reputable coin dealer for a valuation of the collection.   Check to see if dealer is a member of the local Better Business Bureau, the local Chamber of Commerce, and state and national coin organizations such as the American Numismatic Association.   If you would like to work with a Grand Rapids coin dealer, contact Mullen Coins for a free coin valuation.
  5. Decide whether you’d like to keep any part of the rare coin collections as a memento. How do you decide which coin(s) are representative of the collection? You can always choose a rare coin that has most interested you over the years, or one that you know was the collector’s favorite. If you’re not sure which coin reflects the collection, you can always ask when you have the collection evaluated. One of the things we find most fascinating at Mullen Coins, when evaluating a coin collection, is that we get a real sense of the interests and workings of the collector.
  6. Sell the collection. The way you sell your coins most profitably will depend on their value. Several of the avenues for selling your coins follow:

  • You can try selling the coins through an estate sale, although this often yields one of the lowest return rates.  Estate sales fees can be high and often there are few coin buyers attending.
  • If you have the time and interest you can sell items via eBay or other online services.  With online auctions you will pay the sales and PayPal fees, and you will need to invest in marketing and learn how to safely ship coins.  EBay does not offer insurance for coin and currency shipments. 
  •  Without pointing to any specific business, I would suggest avoiding the “we buy gold for cash” type shops and hotel buyers. While these buyers do offer instant cash for your treasures, my experience suggests the prices paid are often a fraction of the real value.   
  • We highly recommend you speak with a knowledgeable dealer to determine which approach is best for your collection.   Every collection, and individual coins within collections, demands different sales approaches to maximize value for the owner.  At Mullen Coins, we discuss multiple approaches to selling collections.  Often we evaluate and purchase the collections outright.  This affords a fair price and immediate sale of coins.   We also consign important coins of significant numismatic value to national public auction.   Selecting the best auction venue will depend on type of coin, grade, and approximate value.    In some instances we will accept coins on consignment and sell via MullenCoins.com for a commission on the sale of the coin.

While selling options may be numerous, the ultimate objective is to get the highest price for your collection.   Unless you have expert knowledge, it is not always obvious which coins are most valuable or how to sell a collection that is part of an estate.  That’s where Mullen Coins can help.   We will sit down with you and explain the options and answer any questions to help you make the best decision.   If you find yourself in the position of selling an estate coin/currency collection, contact Mullen Coins for a free coin valuation.

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