US Coins

Sight unseen coin appraisal?

Can a coin collection be appraised solely through an inventory list? To some degree, yes, but because many variables affect value determinations, having numismatic collectibles examined in person by an expert is preferable.

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I am seeking to establish a reasonable and honest valuation of my coin collection.

My collection contains approximately 725 different items. It comprises mostly U.S. coins but has some foreign coins and Mint errors. Conditions range from circulated to Mint State 70.

I do not wish to package and ship the collection as it is too bulky and cost prohibitive. Also, I do not desire to have someone come to me to inspect them as I am constrained by other commitments. Consignment is not an answer either as I have no desire to sell the collection.

I have an inventory list reflecting individual items, dates purchased, cost and grade. Can anyone make a reasonable valuation working solely from the inventory list? I would be happy to pay for such assistance.

Donald M. Wyrick

Address withheld

Coin World recommends compiling an inventory, much like Mr. Wyrick has done, whether a collection is to be appraised or not.

As for having a collection appraised solely by an inventory list, Coin World contacted a few persons in the coin marketplace for their opinions on this question. Most stated that it is possible to do an appraisal with only an inventory list, but that it would not be as effective or accurate as examining the items in person.

In determining value of numismatic items in today’s market, the most important factors are rarity and grade. Attractive eye appeal can also greatly affect value. Preferably, the items in a collection should be inspected by a person both knowledgeable in identifying types and varieties and well skilled in grading coins to standards acceptable in today’s market.

If Mr. Wyrick believes his inventory accurately identifies each coin by type, variety and grade, then he could use a retail guide such as Coin World’s Coin Values or A Guide Book of United States Coins (the “Red Book”), or other retail guides available on the Internet. If he prefers wholesale pricing, then the Coin Dealer Newsletter (the “Grey Sheet”) could be consulted.

Many dealers will provide a free appraisal, if they are reasonably assured an opportunity to purchase the coins. Individuals who are knowledgeable about coins and will appraise them without buying can be expected to charge a fee, usually hourly, and usually will personally inspect the coins.

At the American Society of Appraisers, Mr. Wyrick may find professionals who specialize in numismatic items. For more information, visit the ASA’s website — — or call 800-272-8258.

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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