selling your coins

Selling Your Coins

Everyone ends up with extra coins or decides to give up on a series they had previously collected. Where and when to sell depends on two things — how quick you want your money and how valuable are your coins?

In the chart below we look at the trade-offs. The numbers are a guide and not absolutes.

Time versus percentage of value received.

Time versus percentage of value received.

If you want your money now you will need to go to a local dealer or pawn shop. Expect to get 75% of value unless your coins are primarily bullion issues with little numismatic value.

If you can wait two weeks consign your coins to GreatCollections, David Lawrence or some other auction house with weekly auctions. Expect 90% of value. Auction fees and the fact you are not selecting an optimal time to sell will affect results. If your coins are common and not particularly valuable this is probably the best choice. A national dealer may also make an offer if your coins fit their needs.

If you can wait a month and survey what rival coins are selling in the same auction you will get more money (hopefully 100% of value). If three other identical coins are in the same auction you will realize less. Other great coins in the auction from the same series should not intimidate you as they will bring in the buyers with an interest in that series.

If your coins are valuable and you can wait two months it is possible to get more than 100% of value. This is where the premier auction houses like Stack’s Bowers, Legend and Heritage come in. Their auctions are well promoted, have catalogs and attract the serious comfortably wealthy collectors.

Best time of the year to sell? I’m a contrarian in this regard. Many say the best time is around the major shows. I don’t see it. Only a fraction of buyers attend shows and I don’t think the average collector is influenced by the show schedule. Demand is best when people can follow auctions on the internet. For that reason I like Memorial Day and Thanksgiving weekends (Labor Day not so good). Summer after Memorial Day is not good. January not good as buyers are broke after the holidays. Spring and Fall are generally okay but can be hit or miss.

If you have extra coins don’t wait to sell hoping the market gets better. Even experts can’t predict the trends. If it is not January or summer consign them and move on. I will take 90 cents now versus a hoped for future $1 every time. Sometimes bidding is anemic (in summer!) and you can pick up coins for 75 cents on the dollar. Better to be liquid to capitalize when opportunity strikes — you’ll never miss that extra 10%.