Published 12:01 pm Friday, September 25, 2020


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

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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.