Good dealer of Antique coins in Twin Cities area
March 17, 2014 8:06 AM   Subscribe

Pursuant to cleaning out my parent's storage basement, I have been charged with finding the value of, and selling, a small collection of what appear to be antique coins and paper currency. Who is a good dealer to show this cache to?

These items probably date to the 1850-1900 range. It all fits easily in a 6x8" wooden box we found and likely belonged to my great grandfather. My parents know little about the coins or their provenance and I haven't had the time to look them over except to see they are plainly very old, but I intend to photograph and catalog the items before taking them around anywhere.
posted by BigLankyBastard to Shopping (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Depending on their condition, some of them may be quite valuable while others will not be worth much at all.

One piece of sure that you make it clear to the person who is helping with valuation that you are not planning on selling any time soon. This will help cut down on getting scammed.

If you are thinking of selling, then one thing you can do is contact Heritage Auctions (one of the biggest auctioneer firms for rare coins and memorabilia). You can probably get a quick estimate for which ones are worth getting looked at and which ones are not by simply giving them a list of the types of coins/paper with general condition, dates and any mint stamps (like 1909p penny where I can see the individual wheat lines on the back, sort of thing). This can probably be done via email without ever actually having to have them see the coins in person (at least at first).

Finally, you might get some values from a numismatic grading site like NGC or PCGS. Just either join for the free month and really remember to cancel before the first paid month or don't join and just look around the site.

And finally, you can get a good idea of what some people think they are worth by looking on ebay for similar items....just know that this is what people wish they were worth rather than what they actually are worth most of the time.
posted by BearClaw6 at 8:23 AM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

One bit of advice for using ebay as a pricing metric.

Go to advanced search and click on "SOLD".

Doesn't matter if I have the same thing listed for $1000. I can keep re-listing it over and over and hope someone buys it. If the last 15 of them sold for ~$200, that willl give you a better idea of what it's going for, at least on ebay.
posted by PlutoniumX at 9:58 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Aside from contacting auction houses and grading services, there are a few excellent resources that your can find at either your local library or coin shop.

The gold standard for researching coin values is A Guide Book of United States Coins "The Red Book", which is published by Whitman Publishing). This contains color photographs and mintage data on each coin minted in the United States since the Revolution. Additionally, each particular coin has a guide to estimate the grade, or quality, of each type of coin in the collection. Average purchase prices are provided coins based upon their quality. Now, this is not a guarantee that you will recieve that amount, since bullion prices and scarcity also influence values, but it will give you a great start. The Red Book is updated annually.

Its companion is the Blue Book, also published annually, provides an estimate of what dealers would usually buy a particular coin either from other dealers or the public.

If you are interested in finding a "spot" price for coin rather than waiting for the next edition to be published, the Coin Dealer Newsletter is the guide that serious collectors use to haggle (see Coin Dealer Newsletter).

For paper money I use the Standard Catalog of United States Paper Money by Cuhaj and Brandimoore, published by Krause Publications. Like the Red Book, this guide has color photos, grading information, and values of all American paper currency.

I have been collecting coins for a decade and recently started learning about American paper money. It's a great hobby.

Best of luck researching this collection!
posted by royals at 12:40 PM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

There are a number of sub-reddits about coin collecting (r/coins is one that I follow). You may get more detailed answers there.
posted by The Blue Olly at 7:26 AM on March 18, 2014

Sorry, meant to include a link with that last one: r/coins. In the far right column, if you scroll down far enough, you will see a list of Related Subreddits that might provide additional avenues for your research.
posted by The Blue Olly at 7:36 AM on March 18, 2014

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