Tips on handling an estate coin collection

By Thomas Bellamy,        

Dec 4, 2017

So you’ve been handed down a coin collection and you’re wondering what to do with it and most importantly, what it’s worth. Perhaps you are in charge of an estate, which requires selling the collection and dividing the proceeds. Whatever the case may be, here are a few tips to get you started. 


 Find out where it came 


fromCoin Collections come in all shapes and sizes. Some collections come highly organized, separated into different albums, with each coin being carefully itemized and noted for all its characteristics and approximate value. Others are more of a hoard of coins, and come in a variety of old coffee jars and crown royal purple bags. The first question you need to answer to yourself is, “do I have a coin collection, or just a random accumulation of coins?” 


 Avoid cleaning the coins 


 You’ve probably heard this one before, but what is the reason? Simple, it’s usually not dirt that’s stuck on the coins. The dirty look is actually a natural patina that has accumulated over time. Cleaning that patina requires abrasive methods, and will only damage the coins. Besides, coin collectors don’t care about the patina as much as the overall condition of the coin. 


 Divide and conquer 


 Separate the coins as best as you can, into countries and denominations. From there, try to separate them into age groups. Separate anything before 1968 for Canadian coins, 1969 for US coins, 1947 for British. Other countries should be divided to before 1950’s and after. Those older coins are mostly silver, which makes them worth at least the silver value, and more if it’s a rarer year, better condition, or some type of error or rare variety. 


 Find out what they’re worth 


 Research a few of the coins to start with, either by looking at what they sell through online auction sites (makes sure you note the sold price, not the asking), or by buying a price guide (Charlton’s Coin guides are the most popular ones in Canada).



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