How to sell your coins

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22 July 2021
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Have you inherited a coin collection that you're interested in selling or are you curious to know the value of your collection? Find out what to do and who to speak to with our in-depth guide to selling a coin collection and getting the best price.

How can I tell if the coins are valuable?

Does your inheritance consist of dirty, random coins in or boxes or is it a painstakingly assembled collection of good condition coins, carefully stored, catalogued and numbered? The neater the collection the more likely it is to be valuable.

The coin collection may be valuable if:
  • The coins date from before the Queen's reign (pre-1952) or even earlier
  • The albums are neatly arranged (and with notes), with clear care taken by the collector
  • The collection is focused on one country or theme, rather than a mixture
  • The collection includes higher face values (the denomination on the coin itself)

If the coin collection had value to your relative, then it's a fair bet it'll have value to someone else too.

Bear in mind, catalogue values are often inflated, with most coins actually being worth around 40% of the value detailed in the price guides. Like anything else, it's a case of supply and demand affecting the final price.

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Take an inventory of the coin collection

  • Note how many albums/coins you have and if there's an obvious theme which would appeal to a dealer. What dates, countries or empires does the collection cover?
  • Keep letters or bills of sale which might provide clues on how much your relative spent
  • At this stage, do nothing else to the collection

NOTE: Save any coin books or catalogues. Keep any numismatic literature too (such as coin catalogues, old auction catalogues) as this can have a value of its own.

How to get the coin collection valued

Even if you're not selling, you may want to know the value of your inheritance for insurance purposes. There are a range of people who will be able to help you.

  • Speak to collectors. Was the owner of the coin collection a member of a numismatic society? If so, go along and ask the members for advice. 
  • Auction sites such as eBay and delcampe will give you a good idea of the value, especially for single coins, but do bear in mind that some coins have very subtle variations affecting their value. If you see a similar coin sell for thousands on eBay keep calm, it may have a small difference to your example that makes it rare.
  • Some auction houses/dealers charge for valuations, while most will charge a commission for each sale
  • Search our 'Find a Dealer' Directory for a dealer in your area

Always try to get at least three valuations as different dealers sell to different markets.

Should I be selling the coin collection?

Now you know a little more about what you're dealing with, you have some options:

  • Do nothing. Store the coin collection safely and look at it again when you have more time.
  • Give the collection to someone who would appreciate it.
    This needn't be a friend. Charities like Oxfam employ specialists who will make the most of any donation
  • Keep it and add to the collection yourself - find more information on collecting coins with our popular coin guides.
  • Sell it… read on for how to sell the collection…

How to sell your coin collection

If you've decided to sell, there are a number of options open to you:

  • If you want to convert your inheritance into cash quickly, selling directly to a dealer is probably your best route.
    Search our 'Find a Dealer' Directory for a dealer in your area
  • Selling at auction may ultimately generate more money, however, auction houses may sell your collection in separate lots over several months - and there's no guaranteed price.
  • Selling the coin collection yourself may achieve the highest price. This is tempting to many, with eBay often being the first port of call. Do bear in mind that if you sell the coins individually, the more valuable coins will most likely sell, but the less rare examples won't, leaving you with coins that dealers may not be interested in.

Don't miss a good sale price by holding out for that unlikely better deal'. As a general guide, expect to make no more than 40% of the catalogue price.

NOTE: Avoid tax problems!
Inheritance Tax as is generally paid out of the estate before you get any inheritance. However, Capital Gains Tax may be payable when disposing of inherited assets. If in doubt, check before you do anything!


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