• 48°

By JERRY SAMPSON

Question: Mr Sampson, I’ve sent several notices to you regarding a coin collection that I have. I have not heard from you regarding them. Most were my father’s and grandfather’s. Many are foreign with a good many American coins from the 1880s. Some are silver dollars that I drilled holes into to wear on a cord when I was a child. Can you please feature these so I can inquire about insurance coverage on this collection? Thank you for the time that you’ve invested into this.

Answer: Firstly. You’ll notice in the blurb under, or near my photo, that I request those with

questions, not to submit questions regarding coins, and other items. Questions are answered totally, by my approval and selection. Secondly, these answers are not to be used as a basis for insurance coverage. You’ll need a written appraisal for that.

Now that being said, let’s tackle why I don’t, in this case, pass value judgments, on coins.

To put it simply, coins are either a world you live in, or you don’t. I don’t live in that world. The same applies also to stamps, comics and sports cards. I know a lot about a lot of things. But other than a few categories, I don’t focus my training on one specific subject. These fields require an amazing amount of time and a good amount of skill to really be proficient — I think especially in coins and stamps. The merest defect can and will alter the value. 

Even to touch a coin with bare hands is considered value altering. I mean these guys use microscopes.

Let me share with you what I do know. When someone mentions to me that they have coins, I always ask first, “Are your coins in books or sleeves or are they in a coffee can?” The answer to that question helps me to determine if they have a serious collection or a serious mess.

Real coin collectors would never store coins in this latter manner. So, that leads to me to think that it’s a “Grand Pa collection” of coins just picked up along the way. I’m not saying that it might not have value, but it’s not a fine collection. 

If you have coins that are carefully cataloged, even if they look rough, you need

to seek professional help. 

Now, I can tell you that the silver dollars you drilled a hole in are ruined for serious collectors. Also, you must bear in mind the values of the silver and gold, just from a scrap value perspective. 

Never use a pawn shop. They just see them as the metal, and a rare historic coin will be totally ignored. Again, seek professional help. 

As far as foreign coins, many professional dealers won’t handle many of them. I know my scrap dealer won’t touch them because the silver content can vary wildly in quality. So, most foreign coins are a real bugger to mess with.

Now, where to find professional help? You are not likely to find good or profitable help in small towns.

I would google for coin shops, or the proper name, numismatics, in larger cities. Call and ask for help. And please, inquire if there is a fee involved in looking at your coins. Yes, they and we charge for such things.

So there in a nutshell is why I don’t deal in or sell coins. It’s a complicated world.