We often write about valuable coin collections and what to do if you inherit one. When a coin collection transfers ownership from a knowledgeable coin collector to a person who has very little experience with valuable coins, there is often doubt about how the collection should be handled. Should the coin collection be sold to a coin dealer? Should it be kept in storage (because nobody really knows what to do with it)? Should it be divided amongst various members of the family who have shown an interest?

There are often situations in which a valuable coin collection is not mentioned in a coin collector’s will. When a coin collector passes away, and if his or her coin collection was not specifically bequeathed to a certain individual, the next of kin rarely know whom to ask for advice. It’s not uncommon for family members to argue about the value of the coin collection – without having any real knowledge about the collection itself.

Any time a coin collection is part of an estate, it’s extremely important to have a reputable and experienced coin dealer look at every coin in the collection so that an estimate of the collection’s value can be determined. It may be revealed that some of the coins in the collection are highly valuable, whereas others have very little value. If a family is attempting to divide either the coins, or the actual value of the coins after they are sold to a coin dealer, it’s important that this be accomplished with the help of an unbiased professional.

Following is information about inherited coin collections that you may find useful if you are either in the midst of selling an estate coin collection or if you know that that you will be dealing with this type of matter in the not-too-distant future:

  • Make sure there is an accurate and detailed inventory of the coins in the estate collection.
  • Do your own research on the coins. This will give you a better idea of the value of the coins.
  • Avoid cleaning the coins. Like most antiques, some old coins have a greater value when they have a patina. If you eliminate the patina, you might be reducing the coin’s value.
  • If the coin collection is large, enlist the help of more than one family member to account for the coins in the collection. When you’re dealing with hundreds or thousands of coins – you’re going to want all the help you can get!
  • Schedule an appointment with a reputable coin dealer so you can get a good estimate of the coin collection’s value.
  • Work together with your family to decide if you should keep the collection, divide the collection, or sell all or part of the coin collection.