How to sell rare coins

Whether you've inherited a collection of coins or spent years assembling an impressive collection, there may come a time when you wish to sell your coins. For many with little experience of selling collectables this can be a daunting process.

When researching how to sell rare coins, the internet tends to be the first resource people turn to. Online auction sites are always a popular port of call and there are now hundreds of websites offering to convert your coins into cash.

It is important to understand however that the vast majority of these online platforms are not necessarily designed to help you achieve the best possible price.

Warwick & Warwick has been in business since 1958 and our team of coin experts are always dismayed when we hear tales of valuable coins sold for a fraction of their real worth by inexperienced sellers.

To prevent further heartache, we have compiled this guide to help anyone who is considering how to sell rare coins but has no idea where to start. We hope you find it informative, but it should be used for guidance only.

To obtain a FREE coin valuation, please get in touch or call 01926 499031 and speak to one of our experts.

Start by researching the value of your coins

Always remember that your collection is a valuable asset and only when you know its true value can you appreciate how your investment should be marketed.

Every day, we receive enquiries from collectors around the world who are intrigued about a distinctive coin in their possession. They often want to discover more about its design, origin and history. But 'How much is my coin worth?' is the most common question we are asked.

Whilst this is always a difficult one to answer, take a look at our in-depth How To Value Old Coins guide and you'll be able to discover the most important factors to consider.

It is not unusual for collectors to over value coins in their possession, but unfortunately, some people also under value what are actually truly rare coins.

Once you have an accurate understanding of a coin's value, you can decide what figure would be 'reasonable' if you were to sell, and you will need to choose the best place to do just that.

What are the most common ways to sell your coins?

If you want to sell rare coins in the UK for the best possible price, the following seven methods are tried and tested by the numismatic community...

Sell to a coin shop: Whether they're an online only outlet or business with a physical store location, coin shops will be pleased to make an offer for your coins. They're a business, however not a charity - and will factor a substantial profit margin into their offer. They're great for securing a quick sale, but expect to receive between 20 to 40 per cent less than true market value.

Coin shows: Held at various locations throughout the UK, these events are popular with coin dealers and collectors alike, making them a good place to meet with numismatic enthusiasts. Selling at coin shows can deliver mixed results, though, because dealers will not have the opportunity to research your coins.

Online coin dealers: This is a good way to get in touch with people who actively buy coins - usually quickly and efficiently. But to maximise your return, you need to match your coins with a dealer who has similar interests.

Online auction sites: Although sites like eBay give you access to a worldwide audience, the fees charged to list an item with a 'reserve' fee are expensive. If no reserve is placed on an item, you run the risk of losing it for a fraction of what is it actually worth. Buyers may also be reluctant to pay a premium for an item they have been unable to inspect at first hand.

Coin dealers: A great source of information, coin dealers are similar to collectors in so far as they tend to specialise in a certain area of numismatics. Like every retail business, they will only pay a wholesale or discounted price to allow them to sell your coins on for a profit. They'll help you secure a quick sale, but don't expect to achieve the best price possible.

Auction houses: Coin auction houses offer a high level of exposure by combining live auctions with internet and telephone bidders who are all competing for your coins. Usually, they will have a database of people who are interested in the types of specialist items they sell. At Warwick & Warwick, we have an extensive list of coin collectors, dealers and numismatists who live in the UK, Europe and around the world.

An auction house will charge a seller's fee to place an item in a sale, which is either a flat fee or a percentage of the sale value. At Warwick & Warwick, we charge a 17.5% commission charge plus VAT for a sale by auction on lots reserved at no more than 60% of estimate, a total deduction of 21% of the hammer price. There is no additional charge for insurance, lotting, valuation or transport.

Even after taking into account commission, it is often possible to yield a better return by selling your coins in an auction because it allows you as the seller to be closer to the retail price.

Private Treaty Sale: Selling coins at auction is an excellent way to achieve a good price, but a Private Treaty Sale can remove the uncertainties of the auction room and allow sellers to know exactly how much they will receive. Because private treaty sales are not subject to commission, they do not incur any other charges such as insurance or transportation and seller's fees.

At Warwick & Warwick, this type of sale is underwritten by us and based upon a fair and accurate current market valuation. If a seller chooses to accept our figure, they sign an instruction form and a cheque is sent out as soon as this is received.

Four things you should NEVER do when selling your coins!

Do not clean your coins: You may be surprised to know that cleaning a coin can often reduce its value - so don't do it! Consult a numismatic expert and, if appropriate, they will clean the coin on your behalf.

Don't pay too much attention to online price guides: It is easy to misinterpret online price guides, particularly in respect of the grading standards employed.

Don't try to sell coins in print media publications: Whilst there are some excellent specialist numismatic publications, we would not advise trying to sell your coins by placing an advert in one of them. There are far safer ways to realise a coin's value.

Don't go to a pawn broker: Pawn shops and 'cash for gold' stores might give you cash up front, but they will only ever pay a fraction of your coin's true value - before selling them on for a substantial profit.

Three ways to get a free coin valuation

Established in 1958, Warwick & Warwick is a member of the three most highly-recognised trade organisations in our industry and our in-house experts boast years of numismatic experience.

We can provide a free coin valuation in a number of ways:

In person at our offices: Most valuations are carried out in our Warwick showrooms, where we can refer to a library of specialist literature, previous sale catalogues and a database of information concerning recent realisations and sale prices. Our accounts office in Chester can accept coins for transportation. Callers are always welcome by appointment during normal office hours - 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday.

If required, we can arrange to collect your material from your home so that you can take advantage of our professional expertise.

Home visits: If you own a large coin collection, it is possible to visit your home to conduct a free valuation at a time that's convenient for you. Please contact our coin experts to arrange a suitable date.

Please note: We do not charge for any of the services mentioned above and there is no obligation to sell after obtaining a free valuation. For more details, please get in touch or read our How much are my coins worth? guide to learn more.   

Seek professional advice about your investment

If you want to sell rare coins in the UK, for the best possible price it's important to know the true value and understand the sales platform which will attract the best potential audience of buyers.

The best way to stay up to date with current valuations is by continually buying and selling coins, as we do here at Warwick & Warwick, because you can notice any changes in collecting habits and closely monitor their impact on realised prices.

Whether you choose to sell to a dealer, via an online auction site, through a private treaty sale or in a traditional auction house; a coin is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it.

If you can generate interest in it from two passionate collectors, the price may increase significantly.

We hope this guide has given you a better understanding of what you need to know before you sell your coins and (hopefully!) it will help you get as much money as possible in return.

If you intend to sell a rare coin or old coins that may have a high value, we would always advise seeking professional advice before doing so. To obtain a free coin valuation, please call 01926 499031 and speak to one of our numismatic experts.

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