Best way to sell gold coins

About ten years ago, I got an inheritance and bought about $1,500 of gold coins - a double eagle, various five dollar indians, a few antebellum dollar liberties, and so on.

Well, I thought it’d be cool to keep them around, but now I’m kind of bored with them, so I thought I’d sell them and do something else with the money. However, I have no idea what is the best way to sell them.

I could go into a coin shop, slap 'em down, and see what I could get, but I doubt selling them to a retailer would get me the best dollar. Then there’s those coin trading shows, Ebay, and god knows what else… and I don’t even know how much these things are now worth.

Help me out - how can I best best dollar for these gold coins?

ebay tends to sell things at market value, so you’d usually get a fair deal out of it. At the very least, you could list it with a reserve value at the price you’d hope for and see if it sells. If it doesn’t you’re just out a few bucks.

Your best place to start might be to e-mail samclem who is our resident rare coin dealer.

I recommend EBay, with a reserve you can live with. I do not recommend a coin dealer - my experience is that you might be lucky to get 1/4 of what you paid for them from a dealer.

You should also know if they are uncirculated or proof. Uncirculated coin’s value is based on the price of gold. If gold is selling for $400 an ounce and you have a one ounce coin it is worth $400. If you took a one ounce coin to a store buying gold they will give you the market value minus whatever commisions or premiums they may charge - that is how they make their money.

But like all collectable stuff there may be some rare coins whose price is not based on the market value of gold but on what other collectors are willing to pay.

Proof coins have a numismatic value that may be higher than the spot market for gold. If you buy proof coins you are paying a premium over the market value of the precious metal.

Go get the official Red Book And find out what they’re actually worth based on their condition. That will give you an idea of what reserve price you’d want to set in the first place. Also, if you have any complete sets, sell them as a set. They’re worth more as a set, not individually.

If you only got 1/4th of what you paid for them, there could be multiple explanations.

  1. Una’s correct and the dealer cheated you.
  2. You bought them at the top of the market and are selling at the bottom. But you got about what they were currently worth.
  3. You overpaid when you bought them and the current dealer is offering you a fair price based on what they are actually worth.
  4. on and on…

Ravenman. Let’s take just one example from your list of coins. You bought a double eagle($20 gold piece) about 10 years ago. Where did you buy it? What is the date? What was the grade? What else can you tell me about it.

Assuming you had enough trust to buy it from a dealer 10 years ago, why not take it back to the dealer and see what he offers? We(he) work on smaller profit margins than you might think. And, if a customer bought a coin from me, I feel obligated to pay him a little more than someone who brings in a coin that was purchased elsewhere.

Let’s take an approximate idea of your $20 gold coin today. Assuming it’s uncirculated, but not certified as being the finest known example, you might get $425-460 from a dealer. He should be selling the same coin right now for $475-500. Not a big mark-up in the retail world. Try buying a couch and selling it 10 years later. :smiley:

The percentage profit margin on the $5 Indians might be a bit larger. Also, the $1 pieces.

Give me some specifics, either in email or in this thread, and I’ll try to help.

My guess is that you’re not gonna be happy, as coin prices on US older gold pieces haven’t done a lot in the last 15 or so years. Depending on the exact time you bought, they could have gone down. That’s the fault of the market, not the dealer.

But isn’t going through a dealer just involving another middleman who wants to take their profit out? Sure eBay takes a percentage but it’s probably less than a standard retail markup.

You could also take a chance (and save a few cents) by making the opening bid an amount could live with if you sold it.

samclem, this is your business, so correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe getting “best price” for a bunch of not that rare gold coins is more a matter of following the commodity prices on the gold market than anything else - for a relatively common coin, the “melt price” is going to be a significant percentage of the value at any given time. The double eagle is a little less than an ounce of gold, somewhere a little south of $400/oz. right now, representing 80-90% of the range just quoted in a hypothetical offer. It has been down to the vicinity of $250/oz, and up into the low $400’s over that 10 years, swamping the “collectible” part of the value.

You’re correct as far as a $20 gold coin goes. The bullion value of the gold is a major component of the value. Not so with small old US gold coins…$1, $5.

$20 gold pieces can have a slight ($50-75)premium over their intrinsic gold value and they can, in some investor-driven markets, command $200+ premium in excess of their gold content. I’ve even been in markets in the crazy 1980’s when I paid $700 for a $20 gold coin, and the gold “spot” price was $375. I was getting $750 for them at the time.

A $1 US gold coin from the 1850’s in choice extremely fine-almost uncirculated condition has sold for ca. $150-190. for 20 years now. They haven’t moved much. And there’s only about $20 intrinsic gold value in the coin.

SmackFu said

You’re assuming that bids on eBay will be retail. If it were that easy, we in the coin business would be merchandising everything we have that way. We don’t. eBay, in my experience, on average coins, and even on most rare coins, just doesn’t produce retail bids. YMMV.

My experience was trying to help a friend who had a HUGE set of Morgan dollars, of various mint marks, conditions, and years. She had about 300 of them, and from my old, old days as a coin collector I’d say the vast bulk of them were Fine to Extra Fine. Many were New Orleans and IIRC some Carson City. I looked up the Red Book prices of several of them, and figured she should get $3000 or so for the set even allowing for a downgrade in quality.

Instead, we went to four dealers, who told her the following:
Dealer 1: “$2 a piece, and that’s a ‘fair deal’, because Morgan dollars are so common people still get them in change.” :rolleyes:

Dealer 2: Refused to buy the lot, but cherry-picked out a dozen or so of the best/rarest ones and offered $50 for the 12 (I figured the 12 should have been worth $400)

Dealer 3 offered $2 a coin, like Dealer 1. They got angry with me when I asked why they were offering so much less than the Red Book, and told us to ‘leave the store’.

Dealer 4 was contacted by phone, and told us that their standard rate was $2.50 a coin, regardless of condition, mint, or year.

At that point, I gave up and said I would pay Red Book price for two of the best and rarest coins, which came to about $150. Instead, against my advice, she took the whole thing and sold them to the $2.50 guy - who then charged her a bulk purchase fee for buying so many coins, and thus she only got $2.00 a coin after all.

My other experience was when I had to sell my coin collection for food and college tuition long, long ago. I barely got 25% of Red Book, and I knew what the coins were worth.

So you might say that my experiences were very poor. However, I don’t think that this means the coin dealers were crooked or ripping people off - it’s a free market, and they pay what the market will accept. It’s just that I was shocked at the huge difference between their “buy” and “sell” price. That’s why I recommend Ebay, where the market is not only more broad, but seems to be more fair.

I’d hold onto that gold, at least for a few months – conspiracy theorists are all atwitter about some of the recent actions of the Federal Reserve. Rumor is that the price of gold could dramatically increase. If you don’t need the money right now, it might be worth waiting until the end of the summer.

Before anyone starts flaming me, no, I’m not endorsing the tin-foil hat folks views. I’m just suggesting that it couldn’t hurt to wait.

In any case, every investment advisor I’ve read or heard, recommended that some of ones investment be in gold or other precious items.

One caveat about eBaying:

Though specialty items may be different, I’ve found that sellers with low ratings (i.e. a handful of transactions, not significant negatives) often get substantially less than those with enough points to indicate that they know their way around. I’ve picked up many great bargains from sellers with less than 10 (or even 25) ratings, while identical, or even slightly inferior, items in other simultaneous auction went for more.

People don’t want to bother with newbies. In 5 years, almost all of my mutually cancelled transactions and most of my “post deal haggles” were with new sellers. The process is quite straightforward, but when I talk a newcomer through it, I realize how much I’ve picked up along the way. To me, it just means (possibly) a couple of extra rounds of e-mail, and a little politeness. Apparently, many buyers are more skittish: often my initial bid is uncontested.

Ebay is a great option for if you’re already an eBayer. I wouldn’t advise anyone to open an account and immediately sell items of any substantial value.

Una I had NO idea that you were older than I, and I’m 60 this year. If you went to coin dealers and they offered $2-2.50 per coin for silver dollars, that had to be 1970 or before. The market was WAY different in those days. I have red books going back to 1947. I could look at one from the late 1960’s(when I assume you went with your friend?). Any idea of what year you did that?

The coin biz WAS different in the 60’s. It was a transition time from silver coins being in everyday change, to NO silver coins in change. The US government was giving out bags of silver dollars in 1967-68 in exchange for silver certificates which were being withdrawn. Silver certs were being redeemed by local coin dealers at the time for $1.50-1.75 each. If you could get bags of silver dollars, some bags even being original uncirculated bags of 1878-1904 dollars, WHY would you pay a coin seller much more, unless they had CC dollars, etc.

Okay, so what I’m beginning to piece together here is that Ebay would be a possible option if my coins had been graded/rated/whatever the proper term is, and if I had a decent seller rating, I’d probably get better offers. I’m basically oh-fer-two on that count.

The less risky and perhaps more conservative option is to find a coin dealer and just see what they offer, because their profit margins are sometimes not as large as I initially figured.

With samclem’s kind help by email, I’ve at least established that the value of my coins have probably dropped a wee bit in the past eleven years. Maybe I’ll hold onto them a little longer to see if Danalan is right… :slight_smile:

Thanks all for your help. It has been most useful.

It was about 1990. And that’s what 4 different dealers here in KC were paying - $2-$2.50 a Morgan Dollar, no negotiation, final offer.

The bad thing was not only was I going to pay my friend $150 for the two best coins, I had told her that if worst came to worst I would pay her $10 a coin for the whole set of them. So when she sold the whole lot for just $600 or so, I said “why didn’t you call me, and get $3000 or so?” The answer: “You weren’t home when I called on Saturday.” (What did she need the money for so quickly? Nothing, actually. She just didn’t want them around “cluttering” up the place another day. Damn, people really are stupid…)

Before Kid Charlemange shows up, I’ll second this. Remember that most well-balanced portfolios include either numismatics or PMs in their balance. However, despite gold hovering around $400, it’s still got some time to go before it’ll be heating up like it did last year.