How to appraise your coins

How to appraise your coins

Sep 7th, 2022 · 3 min read

What’s the best way to value a coin collection?

If you’ve got a collection of coins you’re thinking of selling, there are several things you’ll want to know.

Just how rare is that 1965 dime? More than the example I’m looking at online? More than face value?

Does it matter that my antique 1923 Peace Silver Dollar has a tiny chunk missing?

Rarity, grade, denomination – have I got the knowledge to understand these terms properly? What’s a mintmark? Should I change my coins to paper money? And will a good clean-up increase the value of my collection?  Sneak peak: Never clean your coins!

All interesting questions. But one query looms clear and high above all the others in the world of coin collecting – what’s the collection worth? Even if you’re not thinking of selling, but especially if you are, you will want an accurate valuation for your coins, investment or otherwise.

The trouble is that there are many ways to get an incorrect appraisal and far fewer to get one right on the money. Think about it – unscrupulous buyers want to lowball you so they can sell your collection on and bag the profits. And incompetent valuers will pluck a purchase price out of the air to get a quick deal. Put your nickels and dimes on eBay and you’re just asking for trouble.

At Coinfully, we give fair, accurate appraisals on coin collections based on many years of experience and expertise in the field. We’ve seen all the tricks, met countless scam victims and know the difference between a good appraisal and a bad one. We know how difficult it is for you to feel certain you’re getting the right coin values – and the right price.

Selling coins - what are the options?

Onlineonline coin appraisals take a lot of the pressure out of the process. For a start, you don’t have to leave your armchair and there’s no salesperson standing over you brandishing a ‘one-time offer’ they’ve plucked out of fresh air for your gold coins. Coinfully’s online coin selling process is simplicity itself, with very few steps. You just send us an email or text with some photos and basic details of the coins you’re looking to sell, and we take it from there. We may ask for more information or an extra photo, but that’s it.

In-person – coin dealers can visit you in your home, or you can go to them so they can get a good look at what it is you’re selling. One major disadvantage of face-to-face appraisals can be that you are put under pressure. Transporting them to a coin shop or a dealer’s business office in some far flung place in the US also comes with risks and issues, and with someone in the room urging you to part with your collection for a price you cannot be certain is fair, you may feel more pressured to part with your coins than if they were on the phone or online. We cover this in more details lower down in this blog.

At auction – the advantages to selling your coins at auction are instant access to a global field of bidders and the chance of a bidding war driving up your returns. Specialist coin auctions tend to attract an expert customer base. You can usually expect a pre-sale valuation before you agree to put your coins up for sale and you have the option of putting a reserve price on the items, the minimum amount you’re willing to accept. However, there is a major downside to selling at auction in that fees and commission will claw away at your profits, often by as much as 25%. Not to mention an auction cycle can take up to 5 or 6 months to sell and then pay you for your coins.

What are the potential pitfalls of a coin appraisal?

Valuations should be a pleasurable experience ending in common agreement, confidence that you’ve got the right amount of cash in your pocket and  that your collection will go to someone who knows how to look after the coins. That’s the ideal – but oftentimes not the experience.

Pitfall: A sky-high estimate followed by a gutter-low offer. Someone’s seen your coins online and guaranteed you a top price if you can bring them into their shop. When you get there, the offer’s missing a couple of zeros because they weren’t quite in the condition the dealer claims he thought they were in. Awkward conversations follow…or worse, you feel under pressure to accept the offer.

Answer: Get more than one valuation. They should be free and with no obligation to sell. And beware of anyone coming top of online search returns when you type in ‘coin dealers near me’ that use phrases like ‘the VERY best price guaranteed!!!!!’ and ‘we’ll beat any other offer you get’ – these should ring alarm bells. Take your time, do your homework and stay alert. Coinfully offers a completely free coin appraisal service which we can even conduct in-person for larger coin collection valuations. No pressure to sell, just honest advice.

Pitfall: You don’t agree with a valuation you’ve been given. Even a dealer you’ve come to trust might surprise you with a low assessment on a coin you’ve been led to believe elsewhere is worth more.

Answer: Walk away and get another opinion. Valuers are there to help, not oblige you to sell at a low price. The dealer may be right, and your google research may be off (in our experience, info on the web is often out of date and can be misleading). Whatever the situation, take a minute, research the offer and then decide how to proceed. You may go back to them and say ‘you were right’, or you might be telling them you’re taking your collection elsewhere. A good appraiser will explain in detail how they’ve arrived at that figure and why, so you have a clear understanding of the solid information to base your decisions on. A bad one will give you a vague coin valuation and will fob you off by putting pressure on you to sell fast. At Coinfully, we put educating our clients first and foremost. Then the decision’s down to you.

Pitfall: You’re not sure if you can trust your appraiser. With so many sharks circling, it can be hard to know if a dealer is trustworthy and honest.

Answer: Do your homework. Testimonials on their website tell you a great deal. If there aren’t any on there, ask yourself why that might be. Get on Trustpilot and read Facebook reviews – what do they say about your coin appraiser? Read them properly – half a dozen reviews with full names attached is a good sign. ‘The best coin dealer in the Pacific Northwest – JG, Idaho’ was probably written by the appraiser’s mom.

Preparing your coins for a valuation

There’s always a temptation to handle your coins to get them ready for appraisal. If you’ve inherited a coin collection, the last person to touch the coins may have been your parent or grandparent and handling them yourself may give you that sense of connection, a physical link to them, their history and their estate.

But, in the worst case scenario, prising your coins out of their albums or display boxes and touching them – even for a few seconds – can be enough to wipe thousands of dollars off their value, whether it be a nickel, quarter or penny.

At Coinfully, we always encourage people to refrain from touching their coins. Contact can expose the metal to oils, chemicals, soaps, and even bits of grit. All of these can discolor a coin or scratch it and badly affect its grade and quality.

You might also drop a coin which could dent it and again reduce what it’s worth. If you really must touch a coin, wear latex gloves and only touch it on the edges. Hold it over a soft surface, such as a cushion, to avoid the risk of damage.

A coin previously owned by a collector may have been put into a presentation holder, which give enthusiasts a good view of the coin and its condition while keeping it safe. These holders can contain grading information which would be vital to a prospective buyer – always leave the coins in them if you can.

The easiest way to damage your coins is to move them. They can be dropped or scuffed, or they may end up out of order by the time you get to wherever you’re going.

Keeping these risk factors to a minimum is absolutely crucial if you want the highest possible valuation for your collection. At Coinfully, we offer an at-home appraisal service for larger collections. One of our coin appraisers will travel to your home in order to appraise and make a top-of-market offer on your collection.

Find a coin appraisal expert you can trust

Proper appraisals require experts – it’s not something you can do on your own. Choose Coinfully, and you’ll get a low-pressure, expert coin appraisal from the comfort of your own home.

We don’t buy everything that comes our way, but we can guarantee you a fair, free appraisal that puts right the misleading or confusing information you may have got elsewhere.

We’re not about pressuring you into selling your coins fast for the lowest possible price. Our appraisal process is all about accompanying you on your journey, ensuring you understand everything about your coin collection from the outset.

At Coinfully, we offer a reliable, realistic and transparent valuation based on prices buyers are willing to pay right now. We’re coin collectors ourselves, with decades of numismatist experience and we know how to get you the best outcome. It’s more than just a job for us.


Wyatt McDonald President & Co-Founder of Coinfully. A student of numismatics and trained in the ANA Seminar in Denver, Wyatt is the face of Coinfully and a true expert. After spending a decade buying coins over the counter at a coin shop, he knew there had to be a better way, for everyone involved.

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Image of appraised coins on a table

Don’t put in all the work for an in-person appraisal just to be offered pennies on the dollar.