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How to Buy Coin Collections at Garage and Estate Sales

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Coin collecting can be a fascinating hobby or a profitable career. However, you will need to do some homework before you are ready to get a good purchase price on coin collections found at garage and estate sales, since an appraisal won’t be available before you buy. Additionally, you will need to understand how to avoid falling victim to fraud. By taking a few precautions you can learn how to gather the information you need to make a knowledgeable purchase.

Target large garage sales. Things like coin collections are unusual at the average garage sale. Even among people who know nothing about the value of a coin collection, the tendency will be to hang on to the collection for possible appraisal. Coin collections are more likely to show up at a large garage sale to get rid of the household items of a family member who has passed away, or at a moving sale where reducing the number of items trumps hanging on to mystery coins. Check newspaper classified sections, the Penny Pincher ads and the garage sale section of your local Craigslist for listings. Seek out ads for moving sales and large estate-based garage sales.

Look for estate sales and estate auctions that offer coin collections. Read advertisements and auction announcements for a list of the kind of items that will be up for sale. Contact the auction house or the seller offering the coins if possible, to find out what kind of coins are being sold. Try to find out as much advance information about the type and condition of the coins being sold. This will give you a better opportunity to practice due diligence in studying everything you can about the coins and their price range. According to the American Numismatic Association, “uninformed buyers who make hasty purchases often overpay.”

Compile pertinent information about the coins you are considering before the sale. The key to successful coin collecting is knowledgeable purchasing. The American Numismatic Association suggests that you track the daily cost per ounce of precious metals in the coins like gold, silver and platinum. Make up an information sheet on each of the coins you want to take with you to the sale. Include precious metal information, notes on the market value and pictures of each coin.

Find out if the coins you want have been certified by a grading service. Reputable grading services guarantee the coins are authentic and offer refunds if they make a mistake. Use certification information to better value the coins you are considering. Join a national coin collecting organization if you are planning to buy coin collections as a full time hobby or job. If you purchase counterfeit coins or are defrauded by a seller, the organization will offer support to help you get your money back.


Detailed photos of coins you want to buy can help you better assess damages to the coins and telltale flaws in a counterfeit coin.

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