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have coin collection


BER
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I acquired a coin collection about 30 years ago.

Sounds stupid but I know nothing about coins and would like to get values on these coins.

How do I go about it without getting ripped off if there are valuable coins in the collection?

Warm regards,

BER.

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To start with don't go to a coin store and ask that question. Sort of like going to a used car lot and saying I want a car but don't know about them.

First thing you need to do is try to acquire a copy of the Red Book by Whitman Publishing. They make them every year and have been since 1946. The latest edition is dated 2011 but you really don't need a brand new one for just finding out what you have. You could try Amazon.com., the Walmart web site for books, a coin show, used book stores, flea markets, garage/yard sales, etc. Even a Coin or hobby store.

The main thing you have to do is get familiar with what you have. The prices and values are really vague on many of the so called price guides. What you really want is to know what you have. Right now your in a situation similar to if someone gave you a car but you don't know what make, model, year, condition it''s in.

The main thing is to not trust anyone, anywhere about them until you know what you have.

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To start with don't go to a coin store and ask that question. Sort of like going to a used car lot and saying I want a car but don't know about them.

First thing you need to do is try to acquire a copy of the Red Book by Whitman Publishing. They make them every year and have been since 1946. The latest edition is dated 2011 but you really don't need a brand new one for just finding out what you have. You could try Amazon.com., the Walmart web site for books, a coin show, used book stores, flea markets, garage/yard sales, etc. Even a Coin or hobby store.

The main thing you have to do is get familiar with what you have. The prices and values are really vague on many of the so called price guides. What you really want is to know what you have. Right now your in a situation similar to if someone gave you a car but you don't know what make, model, year, condition it''s in.

The main thing is to not trust anyone, anywhere about them until you know what you have.

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First thing you need to do is try to acquire a copy of the Red Book by Whitman Publishing. They make them every year and have been since 1946. The latest edition is dated 2011 but you really don't need a brand new one for just finding out what you have. You could try Amazon.com., the Walmart web site for books, a coin show, used book stores, flea markets, garage/yard sales, etc. Even a Coin or hobby store.

Of course, if you have foreign coins, you'll need other sources besides the red book which covers only USA and a few territorial issues (Philippines, Hawaii, etc.), commemoratives, a few tokens, and some early colonial issues. Krause-Mishler is OK for prices from some countries, but certainly NOT for Russia (and perhaps others as well). However, you can get a good idea of relative rarity from that catalog, and if you know more or less what the prices for some coins SHOULD be, you can probably scale the prices of other coins up to today's realistic market prices.

 

What you have to watch out for with ANY catalog is that no single reference can cover all of the possible varieties. You might have a rare VAM variety of silver dollar, for example, but you'd have to consult either the VAM website or the VAM book to find out what it might be worth.

 

Quite often, coin shops will offer the previous years' red book at a discount as well as the current issue. Or look on eBay for used ones. I find that one red book prices are usable for at least three years after they are issued. I used the 2005 book until 2009 when I bought the new 2010 issue. Won't need to buy another until 2012-2013, I think.

 

Also, for USA coins, you can compare the red book prices with the PCGS prices here.

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Carl and bobh gave some good sound advise. However, a collection can range anywhere from being a few handful of coins to a few thousand coins. If you have a moderately small number of coins you are dealing with here in your collection, then a possibility is that you can take photos of your coins as a whole and the forum members here can help to identify them for you.

 

First and foremost, you need to know "what" you have. Valuation can come later.

 

If you have a good number of coins, photo identification is still a good idea. The photos do not have to be such a high resolution as to be able to give a grade or variety attribution. They simply have to be good enough to actually read important identifying aspects such as legends and dates clearly. Putting the coins into rows, like 10x10, and taking a high resolution photo of the obverses, then another photo of the reverses can help allow someone to photo identify your collection in as little as 20 photos for 1,000 coins.

 

For the online space to keep the photos, an online service like Photobucket is good and you can simply put links in the forum instead of having the massive load-times for those not interested in trying to identify the coins.

 

And, even if members do not want to take the time to identify each individual coin, seeing what you actually have in hand could help to give better advise on actual books that may be a better resource than the generic Red Book and Krause Catalog.

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It is sort of true that books such as the Red Book or many others are limited. This is due to each company or individual writter being also limited with information or just space. Regardless of the reasons, books on coins is really limited to a real basic understanding of what you have. Actually it could really get boring if not truely interested since in some cases, one coin could have numerous variations or what is called varieties. And example of this is the 1972 Lincoln Cent with about 7 different types of doubling on the obverse. Almost everyone goes nutty trying to see the differences in the large and small dated 1970S cents too. Some just save them all just in case.

One decent suggestion is to start documenting what you have or what you think you have. Then if you have time, start investigating what they are selling for on our really fantastic, wonderful, honest, truthful, ebay. :hysterical:

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