How I made my first million?
December 9, 2013 10:19 AM   Subscribe

About 10 years ago I inherited my grandmas small fortune of paper and coin currency she amassed during the 70's and 80's while visiting nearly 100 world countries. The shoebox-collection contains maybe 200 coins and 100 paper notes, and some of them are really quite impressive! I've been lugging this box around for years and the time has come to finally part with it (sorry grandma). I'm not a coin collector and really don't know much about any of it, but with the help of a few books I researched a handful of coins and notes only to find out they're not worth diddly (<$1, if that). I have a feeling most of the collection is like this except for a few gold Rand coins and some notes that were previously appraised. Hivemind: what are some ways to liquidate my collection?
posted by mrrisotto to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have a child in your life you could give them to? Children adore "worthless" coin collections.
posted by RedEmma at 10:24 AM on December 9, 2013 [16 favorites]

In support of RedEmma, see previously and previously.

(We got a pound of foreign coins and divided it up into goodie bags for our son's 6 year-old birthday party. Big hit.)
posted by alms at 10:38 AM on December 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Leave them as tips in bars (in addition to your regular tip of course). Lots of bars have foreign money taped on the wall behind the cash register for decoration.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:50 AM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ones from countries that no longer exist (or just currencies that no longer exist) might be worth selling on eBay. The shipping on each note would be minimal, and even if they sell for less than face value it's all profit to you.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:52 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

So, you are almost certainly right that most of the coins and notes are probably only worth face value. You may get lucky and find that some are valuable, but this is unlikely.

My father was an avid coin collector and ended up buying some really high-end stuff (encapsulated, proof, nearly best of a given minting kind of stuff). He even identified a new variant that no one had noticed before. What I learned from him is that it is only the very best examples of any given coin that is worth much more than face value. This is because the kind of person who would pay a lot for a coin is the kind of person who expects the best. After my dad's death, I liquidated much of the collection exactly as he had suggested by contacting his auctioneer at Heritage Auctions. They basically make their money by charging the buyer a percentage of the auction you pay them when you buy a coin and they get paid again by the new buyer when you resell it....quite a nice little gig that is still one of the best ways to buy and sell rare coins even with them taking a cut because their cut is still smaller than what you would probably pay elsewhere. You may be able to contact them and have them evaluate your collection. Given what you have written, they might not be very interested, but you might get them to tell you which ones are worth more than you would get if you just changed them into $US. And of course, gold and silver are worth their weight in gold and silver no matter what face value they say.

Also, if they are not taking up much space and even if they are not worth much, they may make a great family heirloom just because of the family history around them and the 'world travel' that they represent.
posted by BearClaw6 at 10:56 AM on December 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

The currency that is still in circulation can be donated to UNICEF through the Change For Good program.

Also, if you are in Washington, DC; Charleston, SC; or near any other locations of the State Department Federal Credit Union, they have collection boxes for foreign currency that goes to fund emergency relief locally employed staff of US Embassies, Consulates, or other posts abroad that are hit by natural disasters.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:03 AM on December 9, 2013

I will send you twenty or twenty-five bucks for them, and enjoy them a great deal. I will also use them to teach my kids.

(I don't say this to be cruel, as I have tons of comics that are similarly languishing. Based on my experience a dealer or EBay may not offer you much better.)
posted by wenestvedt at 11:27 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses everyone!

For curious eyes, here is a picture of about half the bank notes in the collection. Some are real works of art, and many are uncirculated.

While I have no doubt that there might be some valuable pieces here, my experience with selling collectables in the past has been a big disappointment. I tried to sell a collection of records years ago (also inherited), but similarly I found that most of them were only worth a couple of bucks if anything and not worth trying to a) figure out what the hell I was looking at and b) take pictures, write up a description, list on eBay, ship, etc.

I do like the idea of gifting them to children or donating them to a school, however...
posted by mrrisotto at 11:47 AM on December 9, 2013

I did a version of this display with my great-uncles' (c) WWII coins from around the world.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 12:29 PM on December 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

My uncle works in the rare coin and currency business, and he sees situations like this 5-10 time a week, sometimes more. To get any understanding of value, reach out to the local coin shops via phone in your area and give them a description of what you have in the collection. Be prepared to answer their questions, and most unfortunately be prepared to be quickly disappointed in their valuation, if any. Sorry.
posted by lstanley at 3:05 PM on December 9, 2013

My 12 year old son belongs to a Note, Coin & Stamp Collectors club, which is made up of about a dozen elderly people and two 12 year old boys.

A new member joined a few weeks ago, and his 'thing' is collecting coins based on the value of the metal they're made of. So, a common coin made in 1940-whatever which is 60% silver is much more valuable to him than an ultra-rare coin made in 1950-whatever out of less valuable metal.

Is it possible you have a similar club in your area? Our club members love it when people drop in on a meeting with a boxful of possible-trash/possible-treasure to sift through. I can't promise they'll offer you top dollar, but it would be an interesting way to get a perspective on exactly what you've got and what it's worth.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 5:20 PM on December 9, 2013

In the bottom left hand corner there you have an Australian $1 note and a $2 note. These are out of circulation now, replaced by coins. I have a "mint condition" $1 note that my grandfather bought me just before they went out of circulation. I asked a valuer about 2 years ago and he said "$1.50, maybe $2"... And yours aint in mint condition.

Maybe if you had 500,000 of them?!?

Sorry :(
posted by Diag at 4:02 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

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