I Inherited A Coin Collection – Now What?

The ultimate guide for inherited coin collections.

I Inherited A Coin Collection – Now What?

Aug 26th, 2022 · 10 min read

I Inherited A Coin Collection – Now What?


Inheriting a collection of coins should be a positive experience. After all, someone has taken the time to pull this collection together and thought highly enough of you to bequeath it. The truth is when you inherit a coin collection, it can often lead to a lot of confusion and stress – especially when it’s not your area of expertise.

This article outlines the vital information you need to know to ensure you get the highest price for your inherited coin collection – whether you intend to sell your coin collection whole or need to break up your coin collection to share amongst other beneficiaries. If you cannot see your questions answered here, please feel free to reach out to our expert team of numismatists, who will be more than happy to help.


So, you’ve been handed the responsibility of deciding the fate of a loved one’s carefully curated coin collection. A collection you may not even have known existed until now. So, what happens next?

When people inherit a coin collection, many decide to sell it on to a collector. It sounds simple enough, but that’s often where the problems start.

Now you’re left with a host of new questions to consider, like:

  • How do you get rare coins valued?
  • Should you touch the coins, or is there a risk you might damage them?
  • How do you divide up a rare coin collection between multiple beneficiaries?

How do you know if the coins are rare or valuable?

No one wants to make the wrong move and sell their coins for less than they’re worth, but that can be easier said than done. First, you need to understand how to get a coin appraisal carried out by someone you can trust.

But working out who that someone is can be frustrating, and the fear of being ripped off can even put some people off selling at all. So…often, they take matters into their own hands.

How much can a coin collection be worth?

Trying to value your own coins is one of the biggest mistakes people make when they inherit a coin collection. They do their research on the internet – but that really is not an exact science you want to be relying on.

See what comes up when you Google “How to sell my coin collection”.

You’ll find an enormous amount of information explaining what your inherited coins are worth. Some of it will be conflicting, and none of it can be considered accurate without seeing the rare coins you actually have in your possession close up.

What you see on screen is not always what you have in your hand. It’s very easy to miss a tiny detail that could impact the value of your coin by thousands of dollars. Some minor flaws can easily be missed and make the difference between inheriting a rare coin that’s going to make you rich beyond your wildest dreams to having one that is actually worthless.

So, avoid making assumptions about your coins based on what you think you’re looking at on the internet. At Coinfully, our experts have years of experience and can spot these things in an instant in our free appraisal service.


High valuations for rare coin collections – are they clickbait or the real deal?

Sky high valuations that seem too good to believe when compared with other coin evaluations are likely to be just that. There are a lot of online sites that use sensationalized prices to entice customers, but the price actually bears no relation to what you could realistically get for your coins at market. These sites often make money purely based on the number of clicks they get to the site in the first place – as they’re serving advertisers’ best interests rather than yours. So, steer clear of any proclamations that ‘Your penny could be worth a million dollars’. The chances of you finding those pieces in your jar of coins is almost zero.

When you get your coins evaluated, make sure you ask for a clear valuation that follows a transparent process to ensure you’re getting a realistic price. We offer a free evaluation service and are happy to walk you through the criteria we use to establish that value – so you know it is completely justified.  Schedule a call to discuss your collection!


How to value an inherited coin collection

When you want to get your inherited coin collection valued, you may have no idea what you’ve got. Realistic valuations can be hard to come by. When you try to value your own collection, you’re at the mercy of so many variable factors – like whether the online site is reliable.

What’s a fair price for a coin collection? When one dealer tells you your collection is worth $30,000, but another says it’s worth $150,000, you can end up down a rabbit hole, trying to figure out the truth.

Whoever you go to, to get your inherited coin collection valued, you need to ask them for complete clarity on the appraisal – and don’t be afraid to question how they came to that figure in the first place.

At Coinfully, we walk all our customers through every step of the coin valuation, so you know exactly how we make our calculations and spare you dozens of wasted hours driving all the way to the coin shop for a lowball offer.


Is my coin collection worth anything?

The other factor in this equation is existing valuations. When you receive your inheritance, it may already come with a valuation. That coin collection valuation was likely perfectly accurate at the time it was made. But the value of coins fluctuates all the time. An online price could change dramatically over the course of just a few months, depending on market fluctuations. So even if you have a valuation less than 12 months old, it is still worth renewing that. Look for a reputable free coin appraisal service like the one we offer. That way, you can be sure you know a realistic price of what your inherited coin collection is worth today.


How to prepare a coin collection for sale

You want to sell your family heirloom coin collection, but the coins don’t exactly look in tip-top condition. Before you launch into the kitchen cupboard to drag out the Lysol and an old toothbrush, make sure you’ve done your homework – or you’re at risk of significantly devaluing your inherited coin collection.

While you want your coins to be well presented when it comes to attracting buyers, cleaning them destroys what lays beneath that layer of dirt. This is something we sadly see happen time and again – where someone with the best of intentions wrecks their inheritance with cleaning products.

When cons are graded, experts consider different factors, including:

  • Strike
  • Luster
  • Eye appeal
  • Condition

Dirt and grime can be superficial and have a trivial impact on a coin’s value. However, damage permanently impacts the value of a coin.


Do coin collections go up in value if they have patina?

Natural surface changes to coins over time can even result in toning or patina, an often-desirable trait that can increase the value of an item. In some cases, collectors will be looking for it before deciding whether to buy. Without that, it may be seen as a sign the coin is fake or has been improperly cared for. So never try to remove the patina.

When it comes to cleaning, we suggest getting expert advice once you’ve had your inherited coin collected professionally valued.


Keep handling your coins to a minimum

With an inherited coin collection, you’re likely to feel a connection through the coins to your loved one. But touching your coins even briefly can damage them.

At Coinfully, we always advise against touching your coins if possible because:

  • Coming into contact with bare fingers may expose the coins to oils, chemicals, soaps, and even bits of grit which can discolor a coin or scratch it and decrease value. Wear latex gloves and only touch coins on the edge, holding it over a soft surface to avoid drop damage.
  • Many coin collections come in presentation holders, which often have grading information that will be vital for any prospective buyer. Removing coins from their holders can cause problems down the line so leave them intact until you can get an expert appraisal.

All in all, we would always advise minimal direct physical contact wherever possible to avoid creating more work for the appraiser – and bringing down the value of your inherited coin collection.


Get a coin evaluation at home and avoid the risk of damaging your coin collection in transit

Moving coins is probably the easiest way to damage them. A drop or scuff can have significant impact on value, and often coin collections get disrupted during transit, knocking them out of position, which will make it harder for your buyer to value.

So, what options do you have when your coin buyer is across state? You could pick a shipping company – if you head down this route, check online for recommendations from other collectors – and find out who to avoid too!

Or, you could just stay home and eliminate all risk. And still, get a great price for your coins. Coinfully offers a concierge service for large or historically important collections where one of our numismatists will travel to your place of your choosing, carry out a full appraisal and make a top-of-market offer on your collection. Schedule a call with a numismatic expert to find out how Coinfully can be of maximum service to your large collection.


What’s The Best Way To Sell Inherited Coin Collections?

Do your homework first.

With an inherited coin collection, you may well be representing the interests of family members, too, who could have differing views on how much your coin collection is worth. So, the more information you can provide for them at the outset, the smoother the process will likely be and the better your chances of achieving the best possible price.

Beware of outlandish, sensationalist claims from internet dealers which have no foundation and don’t offer solid information or a fair valuation of your inherited coin collection. And be wary of coin shops who give you a lowball offer with little information.

Before agreeing to a sale, ensure you fully understand the value of your coins – this means getting an appraisal that is clear and transparent, with detailed reasonings provided.


Find a coin buyer you can trust

There’s a lot riding on you getting this right, and while multiple factors dictate the value of your inherited coin collection, a lot comes down to trust.

To what lengths has your buyer gone to in helping you understand the valuation?

When you inherit a coin collection, you can suddenly find yourself having to learn a whole new world of information very quickly – that’s why at Coinfully, we make educating you a priority. Our coin appraisal service is free and always without obligation. We’ll provide you with a completely transparent breakdown of your valuation so you can clearly see how we have landed at that figure.

It’s really important that you feel empowered to sell your collection with complete confidence – whether through our buying service or somewhere else. Negotiating a sale becomes much harder when you don’t have the information you need.


Never rush into a sale

Often sellers rush into accepting the first offer – only to find when it comes to exchanging the goods for cash, the ‘offer’ is significantly reduced. By that point many buyers feel they’re too far down the road to challenge this and with the cash in hand, it can feel easier to just accept defeat and hand the collection over for a fraction of its true worth.

Never feel pressured into selling.

If you think the buyer is putting the squeeze on, back off and have a think about why they might be doing it. Maybe they’re offering you less than the collection’s worth and are keen to get the paperwork done. Maybe they’ve spotted a rare gem amongst your collection, and they’re trying to speed things up before someone alerts you to it.

So, take a step back, and ask for more time to make your mind up, especially when you feel you’re being put under pressure. Take that as a warning sign that they have a vested interest in closing that deal on your legacy coin collection fast.

At Coinfully, we do things differently when it comes to buying coin collections. Our 3-Step Clear Appraisal Plan saves you time and guarantees you a market-leading price from a simple online appraisal. All of which means you get the best value for your collection without ever leaving your armchair. Customers trust us because of our open no-pressure approach and our commitment to always offering a fair price for your coins.


How do you divide up an inherited coin collection equitably?

There are often multiple beneficiaries with an inherited coin collection – so how do you divide up your coins and stay fair to everyone without damaging the overall value – especially if some members of the family want to keep the coins while others wish to sell them.

Dividing a coin collection equitably can be a complicated affair and requires expert advice. Some individual coins, like the 1916 Quarter, for example, or the single 1889-CC Silver Dollar, are worth much more than others, so how do you decide who gets a single coin?

The good thing is you don’t have to settle for one collection appraisal value that forces everyone to either sell up or buy the other parties out. There are other solutions.

A numismatic (rare coin and currency) expert will appraise the coin collection make recommendations on how that collection could be split equitably, based on the individual and accumulative value of the coins. This enables all beneficiaries who wish to retain their part of the collection the opportunity to do so. In an equitable distribution, over time, each division of the collection will be similarly impacted by the precious metals market, numismatic premiums and more. Different types of coins appreciate or depreciate very differently.  For example, a collector coin with a meaningful numismatic premium may have a fairly predictable rate of appreciation over time.  On the other hand, a coin that derives its value primarily from its precious metals content can fluctuate wildly based on the trends in the macro metals markets.  So, if you are breaking up a collection these various types of materials need to be balanced by an expert so that one beneficiaries’ holdings don’t end up outpacing another by 30% the next year.


Leave your legacy collection in expert hands

Without expert insight, you risk wasting a ton of time and settling for a low-ball offer for your inherited coin collection. That’s not what was meant for this legacy. The responsibility and pressure on you to achieve the true value of your collection is a lot. When you’re not an expert, it can be difficult to know who to trust. Here’s the thing – coin appraisals with a true numismatic expert should be easy and transparent. And if it doesn’t feel that way, walk away.

Coinfully is a proud American Numismatic Association Partner!  Whatever team of numismatists you decide to have appraise your collection, we deeply suggest you choose an approved ANA Dealer Member from the ANA website.  This will ensure that you are choosing from the most reputable people in our industry.

Coinfully promises a low pressure, expert coin appraisal from the comfort of your own home. We’ll educate you about your collection to empower your decision-making and let you know the pitfalls to avoid. People who choose to sell their collections to us benefit from our network of buyers around the world that drive up the offer price. Our whole business model is based around helping coin sellers like you get the best value for their inherited coin collection. Call our team 704-621-4893 now or schedule a call for solid advice you can rely on.

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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