How to auction coins

Selling coins at auction has consistently proven to be one of the best ways to achieve the highest possible realisations for your collectables.

As a leading UK coin valuer and auctioneer which has operated in this specialist field since 1958, we are well placed to provide advice about how to sell coins at auction - and the process involved.

Whether you want to sell gold coins, silver coins or old coins, our experts can advise you about the best way to bring your items to market.

Once you’ve decided to sell, your main priority should be getting the best possible price. To do this, you need to choose the right auction house to sell them.

It goes without saying that a horde of rare Roman coins will always be worth far more than any modern coin - no matter how rare it may be. But if you can attract the right buyer, even recent collectables can fetch a fair price when sold at auction.

Selling your coins at auction makes sense

The main benefits of selling coins at auction are:

  • A large international base of enthusiastic buyers
  • Extensive advertising in numismatic magazines and promotion via social media and online.
  • Combine live auction with internet and phone bids to achieve best price.
  • You’ll generally get a price which is closer to the coin’s ‘retail’ value.
  • When bidders compete for coins – the price can quickly escalate.
  • Coins can be placed into the most suitable ‘type’ of auction.
  • No charges for insurance, lotting, valuation or transport.
  • Reserves can be set to ensure they only sell for realistic values.
  • Discreet and high quality advice from experts coupled with competent valuations and descriptions.
  • You don’t need to attend the sale - but are welcome to come and share in the excitement of the day.

This Elizabeth I fifth issue half pound, mintmark tun, nearly extremely fine, achieved a realisation of £3,795 at a Warwick & Warwick coin auction.

How to sell coins at auction - 7 simple steps

Step 1 Contact a specialist auction house

Rather than rely on your nearest auction house, it’s a good idea to find one which specialises in coins because they’ll have a more detailed understanding of the numismatic market and a customer base which is likely to pay a premium.

At Warwick & Warwick, we have an extensive database of coin collectors and dealers from all over the UK, Europe and around the world. We can use our skills and experience to advise you whether to sell a coin collection intact or break it down into parts in order to ensure the maximum possible realisation.

Step 2 – Get an expert valuation

If you’re considering selling coins at auction, it’s important to be well advised at every step – but none more so than the valuation stage. Always get your items appraised by an experienced expert, who should be willing to advise you about their value (in writing) for free. At no point should you be under any obligation to sell.

All of the coin valuations we conduct at Warwick & Warwick are carried out in this manner in our offices, where we can refer to a library of technical books, previous sale catalogues and a database of information concerning recent realisations and sale prices.

Step 3 – Decide whether to sell or not?

Once you’ve received a valuation, it’s time to decide whether to sell your coins or not. You may end up deciding that you want to keep your items. Take your time to decide and, whatever the outcome may be, don’t be swayed by the persuasive nature of a valuer, dealer or auctioneer.

At Warwick & Warwick, we believe our role is to present you with as much evidence as possible so that you can make your own informed decision. If you do decide to press ahead with an auction sale, we will execute your wishes as effectively and efficiently as possible. However, if we believe a Private Treaty Sale is in your best interests or better suited to your specific type of collection, we may recommend this method instead of an auction. Ultimately, though, the final decision should always be yours.

Step 4 – Set a reserve

If you choose to proceed with a sale at auction, you’ll need to decide whether to place a ‘reserve’ on your items – the minimum amount you’re willing to accept.

At Warwick & Warwick we are valuers and auctioneers, so our experts can use their extensive up-to-date knowledge to recommend a reserve which is reflective of current market trends – ensuring your coins are not knowingly under-sold.

Step 5 – Describe and market your coins

Although this is probably the most important part of the auction process, there’s no need to actually do it yourself – a specialist auction house will do it for you, using relevant numismatic terms to attract the highest possible interest. If you consign items for sale at Warwick & Warwick, our experts will take care of this on your behalf.

Step 6 – Enjoy the sale day

If decide to sell items in a coin auction, you’re obviously welcome to go along and enjoy the salesroom experience but you don’t have to attend if you don’t want to. At Warwick & Warwick, auction realisations are normally available online on the evening after the sale.

Step 7 – Get your money

Settlement is normally made 30 days after the date of sale and will reflect the hammer price less commission. At Warwick & Warwick, our total deduction is 21% of the hammer price - a 17.5% commission plus VAT on auction lots reserved at no more than 60% of estimate. These are deducted from the final settlement, which is paid by cheque in sterling. Even after commissions are deducted, it’s normally possible to get a better return by selling coins at auction because you’re closer to the retail price.

A very fine William IV 1837 sovereign, which realised £529 at a Warwick & Warwick coin auction in 2015.

What types of coin can be sold at auction?

Coins which have a cultural or historical value are always of interest because they capture the imagination.

Other coins which usually fare well when sold at auction include:

  • Antique and rare coins
  • British gold coins             
  • British silver coins
  • Collectors coins
  • Florins and double florins
  • Gold bullion
  • Gold proof sets
  • Gold sovereigns, guineas, crowns, half-crowns
  • Krugerrands
  • Maundy (oddments and sets)
  • Rare gold £5 coins                 
  • Rare gold £1 coins                        
  • Rare gold £2 coins                 
  • Shillings
  • Sixpences

Don’t be afraid to seek professional help & advice

Many collectors spend years, or decades, compiling a cherished coin collection.

In most cases, they do so because of their love for the hobby and the enjoyment they get from researching coins - not because they view them as an investment.

Should you need more information about an item's potential value, our How much are coins worth? guide is a good place to start.

Whether you’re a passionate collector, or someone who has inherited a collection, there may come a time when you want to consider selling one or more of your coins. No matter how you acquired your collection, you need to be careful when you decide to sell – and always seek professional advice before doing so.

Of course, there are many ways in which you can now do this – all of which are outlined in our comprehensive How to Sell Rare Coins guide. However, selling coins at auction remains one of the best ways – as it allows a seller to achieve a realisation which is close to the retail price.

At Warwick & Warwick, we hold six specialist coin auctions throughout the year -and help to sell thousands of rare coins and collections. We can also provide fast, accurate and reliable coin valuations – with no obligation to sell.

Obviously, we are not the only organisation offering these services in the UK. But, as specialists with more than six decades’ experience, we are well known in numismatic circles for our knowledgeable staff and professionalism.

If you’d like to take advantage of the simple, transparent service we offer, please get in touch – one of our resident experts will be happy to help.

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