US Coins

Handling inherited coins

A circulated 1954-D Roosevelt dime has worth beyond its face value, based upon its 90 percent silver composition — something coin collectors should document if they wish to pass their collections on to posterity.

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My husband and I inherited a homemade tube of older, silver dimes. What should we do with them?

Jacquelynn Dick

Clovis, Calif.

Inheriting coins from a deceased family member is a common occurrence. Because not everyone is knowledgeable about coins, a person inheriting coins may be unaware of their potential value or may harshly clean the coins in an attempt to “improve” them.

In the initial phone conversation with Mrs. Dick, it was suggested that she open the tube and carefully examine its contents, taking note of the condition of the coins and looking for any scarcer date and Mint mark combinations, such as a 1916-D Winged Liberty Head (Mercury) dime, which could be worth thousands of dollars.

From a subsequent telephone conversation, she reported that the tube, once opened, contained 115 circulated silver dimes.

Of these coins, 12 were Winged Liberty Head dimes and one was a heavily circulated, dateless dime, bearing a reverse commonly seen on Barber and Seated Liberty dimes. The remaining coins were Roosevelt dimes. None of these dimes is scarce.

Collectors seeking to bequeath their collection to posterity should provide documentation about the collection so that inheritors will be aware of what they have inherited and how they should proceed from that point. Documentation could consist of a detailed inventory, including denomination, series, composition, condition, date, Mint mark and possibly even receipts kept from coins purchased.

While an inventory of this intensity might be considered overkill for common, circulated Winged Liberty Head and Roosevelt dimes, a note detailing what was inside the tube and that the coins had worth above their face value would have been helpful in this instance.

The decision to sell inherited coins is one that can only be made by the person who owns the coins. If he or she has no interest in coins and would prefer money from selling them, that benefits both the seller and the coin hobbyists who will have an opportunity to purchase them.

As the dimes in this particular case are common, their value is based entirely on their 90 percent silver content. A coin dealer’s offer to buy the coins would likely be based upon the daily silver spot price, minus a small percentage, as the dealer would seek to turn around and sell the coins at a small profit.

As for these 115 silver dimes, Mrs. Dick reports that her brother actively collects coins and that she is entrusting the coins to his care.

Coin World’s Readers Ask department does not accept coins or other items for examination without prior permission from staff member Erik Martin. Readers Ask also does not examine error or variety coins. Materials sent to Readers Ask without prior permission will be returned unexamined. Please address all Readers Ask inquiries to or call (800) 673-8311, Ext. 274.

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