any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

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LearningAlot
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any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by LearningAlot »

My 88 year old mother has a jar of old coins in her lock box and has asked me to see if they have any value.
They are mainly US coins from the late 1800's and early 1900's. I am starting from scratch on this from a
knowledge perspective and would appreciate any suggestions.

Thanks in advance!
abyan
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Re: any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by abyan »

Oh there are lots of good sites you can use to check the value. The big problem, however, is that the value varies WIDELY based on the quality of the coin. You'll see on the coin sites that they describe the quality as good, very good, fine, very fine -- written as G, VG, F, VF -- stuff like that. It's not easy for a novice to figure out those various grades. But at least you can look at the grades and see whether you have a coin that even at a lower grade appears to have great value, and then go from there. My guess is you should assume the coins are perhaps F (fine) and use that as a starting point. But again, you'd have to know the grade for real in order to have a real price -- and then again, there is no real price until you find a buyer willing to pay that price :) Here is one such site: https://www.ngccoin.com/price-guide/united-states/
bsteiner
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Re: any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by bsteiner »

This popular book shows values for coins: https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Book-Unite ... way&sr=8-1. You can usually buy them for a lower price that what's shown, and you'll get less than that if you try to sell them, but it will at least give you a starting point.

You may also want to look on eBay. There are over 200,000 U.S. coins listed.
RudyS
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Re: any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by RudyS »

If you have the time, check eBay. Look at completed/sold listings. Ignore listings with ridiculous ask prices, concentrate on what sold.
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Re: any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

"In a jar" would indicate these were picked out of circulation at some time. Google "key dates" for whatever coins you have. Beyond that, most are going to be "junk silver". Yes, there are various grades for this, but you're not talking uncirculated. My dad collected this way and so did I....pulling silver coins out of the cash register at Burger King when it was slow and replacing them with paper dollars in my pocket as a 16 year old. Even back then (early 70's), they were worth 3x face value. Today, somewhere near 10x face value. $1 in cash in 1972 bought about 6 times what it buys today. So silver coins have increased in value half as fast as inflation. I guess I feel lucky that my early silver coins were cashed to pay college costs.
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prudent
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Re: any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by prudent »

I'm going to assume a couple things
- your mother did not purchase any of these coins as collectibles - she just held on to the ones which happened to come into her possession
- none of the coins are in any type of protective holders

If that's true, the book bsteiner recommended is a good place to start. Most libraries have a recent copy and values don't vary much year-to-year. It has photos to help you evaluate the condition (grade), and prices for each coin in the various conditions. Best to go through all the ones of the same type (Indian head cents, e.g.) at the same time so you're not flipping around the book every time you pick up the next coin. Be sure to check for mint marks as they can make all the difference in value. That book will show you the location of mint marks on every coin type.

What you're looking for are any of the particularly valuable pieces you're lucky enough to find so you don't overlook any. That book will also show pictures for certain varieties (coins that are a little different from the normal ones from that date and mint. Check for those too.

The prices in that book are retail (often way over retail) prices. And many of the coins you're likely to have are actually very common. So just to prepare you for reality, expect to get a small fraction of the book values.

The value of the silver coins at least have a certain minimum value based on the silver content.

Once you've sorted through what you have, ebay is a good place to see what the actual value might be. As noted, only completed sales count, not asking prices. I've seen coins worth $10 offered on ebay for 1,000x the value.

Feel free to PM if you have questions. I'm pretty connected to the coin biz.
PoppyA
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Re: any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by PoppyA »

We have a quarterly collector show in my town. It is mostly coins. They bring in a professional “grader”. He will look at your coins for free to give you an idea if they are valuable. He does not grade your coins.

Perhaps there is something similar near you.
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Kenkat
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Re: any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by Kenkat »

Here’s a pretty extensive guide as well as a site where you can post specific questions as well:

https://www.coincommunity.com/appraisin ... ollection/
Nowizard
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Re: any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by Nowizard »

Dealers will not look at each coin individually if they are circulated but will offer next to nothing for non-silver, bullion prices for the other. It can be an interesting experience, however, to go to one of numerous web sites selling coins and quickly look up those prices in case you happen to have a more valuable coin. If you have a son, daughter, niece, nephew, etc., they might enjoy doing this if you do not want to. Count on a dealer offering about 50% for any item that has value over bullion.

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TGLA
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Re: any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by TGLA »

I can help with this and make it fun and quick and not a daunting task to figure out what you have. Been lurking for a while on Bogleheads for a while and decided to join and help your mom as she probably has a jar full of silver!

Literally today I finished going through my old coin collection from when I was a kid to see what has gone up in value and to get an accurate count of how much silver is in those coins. Here are the resources I use to do this and have used these over the years to calculate 'junk silver' content. Meaning, Dimes, Quarters and Half Dollars from that time period are 90% silver content, so even if it's quite worn and there is nothing special about the year or mint mark (where it was made) it's still 90% silver! In bulk you can expect it to fetch $1 under spot price of silver if selling to a dealer, if you sell on craigslist you can ask for spot or even more as silver is on the cusp of a little break out.

Take a look at this link and it will make going through your coins so much easier to match up what you have, especially since it's from a certain time period, it's so much easier to just visually match up:

https://www.usacoinbook.com/coin-melt-values/

Then use this link to help you understand the difference in grade quality, it's possible you might find an actual diamond in the rough, like a 1916-D Mercury Dime:

http://coinauctionshelp.com/How_To_Grad ... TkZsaY9_M8

Here's an alternate source to help identify your coins, it's a different layout so it comes down to preference (and I think their pricing is more realistic)

Lastly, and to put it all together, there is no need to tabulate everything by hand, use this calculator to plug in how many dimes, quarters etc. you have and it spits out the total Silver content in OZ:

http://www.coinflation.com/coins/silver ... lator.html

I hope these help, it should be easy enough to dump the jar and start sifting and stacking based on denomination, then check the year and mint markings in the catalog to see what has value. Remember to be honest with yourself about the condition of the coin.

Good luck!
GAAP
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Re: any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by GAAP »

FWIW, I had a similar situation a couple of years ago. In most cases, the coins were general pocket change from the time and therefore worth only the precious metal content. True coin collectors have quite high standards for coin quality...
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Re: any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by LadyGeek »

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (coins).
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Watty
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Re: any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by Watty »

I am not a coin collector but one thing I do know is that you should not try cleaning them since that can dramatically reduce their value.
spectec
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Re: any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by spectec »

TGLA wrote: Wed Jul 24, 2019 10:27 pm I can help with this and make it fun and quick and not a daunting task to figure out what you have. Been lurking for a while on Bogleheads for a while and decided to join and help your mom as she probably has a jar full of silver!

Literally today I finished going through my old coin collection from when I was a kid to see what has gone up in value and to get an accurate count of how much silver is in those coins. Here are the resources I use to do this and have used these over the years to calculate 'junk silver' content. Meaning, Dimes, Quarters and Half Dollars from that time period are 90% silver content, so even if it's quite worn and there is nothing special about the year or mint mark (where it was made) it's still 90% silver! In bulk you can expect it to fetch $1 under spot price of silver if selling to a dealer, if you sell on craigslist you can ask for spot or even more as silver is on the cusp of a little break out.

Take a look at this link and it will make going through your coins so much easier to match up what you have, especially since it's from a certain time period, it's so much easier to just visually match up:

https://www.usacoinbook.com/coin-melt-values/

Then use this link to help you understand the difference in grade quality, it's possible you might find an actual diamond in the rough, like a 1916-D Mercury Dime:

http://coinauctionshelp.com/How_To_Grad ... TkZsaY9_M8

Here's an alternate source to help identify your coins, it's a different layout so it comes down to preference (and I think their pricing is more realistic)

Lastly, and to put it all together, there is no need to tabulate everything by hand, use this calculator to plug in how many dimes, quarters etc. you have and it spits out the total Silver content in OZ:

http://www.coinflation.com/coins/silver ... lator.html

I hope these help, it should be easy enough to dump the jar and start sifting and stacking based on denomination, then check the year and mint markings in the catalog to see what has value. Remember to be honest with yourself about the condition of the coin.

Good luck!
Thanks for that thorough and informative post. I have a random collection of coins I've been meaning to try and value at some point. You've provided a great place to start.
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TheDDC
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Re: any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by TheDDC »

Wow this is great! I also just happened upon a rather large coin collection. This is helpful.

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SemperFi79
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Re: any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by SemperFi79 »

So thankful someone posted this!! Right now I put it all in a safe to deal with later considering there's books and stamps to also deal with! I'm curious if anyone has dealt with a "bag" of coins? In my quick reading on some coin forum, the real go getters say to open the bag and look at all of them. That would mean 1000+ quarters... Or I could sell the bag. I think as many have mentioned, you either spend a lot of time on your own reading and researching or take to a dealer. A friend gave some advice about the "taking in your coins" to a dealer, and said to not take the whole kitten caboodle! Instead to bring a small amount, and pace it that way going forward. That allows for the dealer to be thoughtful about what you bring in, and give some time looking through it. I have boxes from the US Mint for the coins my father ordered and have so far not seen any windfall in a coin set having a big return. If he paid $40 for the silver coin set, it's not going to be worth that today. I'm curious if anyone has found a rare coin in their collection? I do concur with other recommendations to divide them up, and that is very helpful to know what you have. Good luck! and Wish me Luck!
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prudent
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Re: any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by prudent »

A dealer is not going to look at individual coins someone wants to sell unless they are very old coins. And even then they are going to give a quick look and decide if it's worth more time. I suppose it's possible to catch a dealer on a slow day when they are in the mood to pick up each coin for a look, but unlikely.

Was having lunch a couple years ago with 3 coin dealers and one was telling a story of a customer who came in with 10 old silver dollars to sell. The dealer went through them individually and said something like, "These 9 are common, I can pay $18 each. This last one is better, I'd pay $200 for that one. So $362 total." The customer said "I'll keep that good one and sell the other 9."

In fact, the dealer didn't need or necessarily want 9 more common silver dollars but was willing to buy them to get the better one. The other dealers told him never to price them individually because it always ends up the same way - the customer keeps the better coins, which are the ones the dealer was hoping to buy. Now, he just says "for that type of coin, I can pay $x each" without examining each one. To the dealers, they see it as a waste of time to examine each coin knowing what the end result will be - customers will sell the common coins, and keep the better coins.

Just like anything else, the seller needs to know what they have and what it's worth. A potential buyer isn't going to do the seller's homework.

Oh, and I have found some rare varieties going through accumulations of coins but I had enough knowledge to know what to look for. I offered to go through a friend's small accumulation of Mercury dimes he inherited from his father. Two of the roughly 200 coins were rare 1942/41 overdates worth about $800 each. I pointed out to my friend, using a magnifier, what made the coins rare and he couldn't believe that little difference made that much difference in value.
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Kenkat
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Re: any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by Kenkat »

I have gone through a few collections for people and in general, most people might have some silver coins worth their melt silver value, some mint sets worth less than you might hope (often less than original purchase price from the mint) and maybe a few coins worth a modest premium. For example, the last collection I went through had a bunch of melt value silver and a few Morgan silver dollars worth $25-50 each. There were also a few foreign coins worth $20-30 each. No $1000 coins typically.

Most coin collections are casual collections, as above. If you come across a collection where many of the coins are in albums (where you can see both sides of the coin) or in plastic holders (slabs) with certification service lettering describing type, year, mint mark and grade (often with a hologram on the back), then you’ve probably got a true collection where the coins were purchased over time and could be quite valuable. For collectible coins, here’s a good price source:

http://numismedia.com/fmv/fmv.shtml

This requires you to learn a little about grading, but if you use worn = G grades, nice but some wear = VF grades and looks untouched as AU or low MS grades, you can get a general idea if you’ve got something valuable.
Kensington
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Re: any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by Kensington »

A few years ago I sold my dad's coin collection to Suzzanne Johnson at https://www.coinappraisal.org/. I'm going to disagree with prior posts that say that a dealer won't look at individual coins. Suzzanne set up a video chat appointment with me using my iphone, gave me instructions for how to get organized in advance, and then looked over all the coins I had. She was incredible to work with, I felt I got a fair price based on one other online offer I got for the coins, and beyond that I felt comfortable working with her. Then I shipped her the coins.

My siblings and I had a few coins we wanted to keep for sentimental reasons, but which also had some monetary value. She gave us advice about how to split them evenly among the 4 of us; that was nice.

This was, probably, 2017? But it looks from the website like she's still in business.
fourwheelcycle
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Re: any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by fourwheelcycle »

Kensington wrote: Wed Jul 31, 2019 1:43 pm A few years ago I sold my dad's coin collection to Suzzanne Johnson at https://www.coinappraisal.org/. Suzzanne set up a video chat appointment with me using my iphone, gave me instructions for how to get organized in advance, and then looked over all the coins I had.
If Suzzanne still does this calling her could be the best way to go.

If you learn how to assess basic coin grades and go thru all the coins to compare them to dealer price values you'll basically become coin hobbyist yourself! It is not a quick, simple task. I am a hobbyist and looking thru true "un-picked-over" coin jars from the late 1800s and early 1900s is lots of fun.

If you come across a 1909 S VDB penny you'll be hooked for life.
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Re: any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by Quaestner »

While I'm glad some of the posters here felt they were dealt with fairly by 'appraiser'/buyers, how would they know for sure? I think it is an unethical conflict of interest for an appraiser to make you an offer (on coins or anything else they are paid for appraising). One can do their own preliminary research on coin prices using some of the links above. After doing this, you'll have a good idea if you need an appraisal. If needed, pay for one with someone who has the right credentials. If you don't need an appraisal, at least get multiple offers from dealers.
Trader Joe
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Re: any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by Trader Joe »

LearningAlot wrote: Wed Jul 24, 2019 9:42 am My 88 year old mother has a jar of old coins in her lock box and has asked me to see if they have any value.
They are mainly US coins from the late 1800's and early 1900's. I am starting from scratch on this from a
knowledge perspective and would appreciate any suggestions.

Thanks in advance!
This is so exciting. Ebay is a great source for assessing market value.
garzjoh
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Re: any numismatists (coin collectors) out there?

Post by garzjoh »

Coinstudy.com is an easy to use resource that is pretty comprehensive with values that are representative of what you could sell a coin for (dealers will always offer more or less based on their inventory and needs).
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