Collecting Coins?

My wife & I took her Dad’s collection of old coins to an appraiser last week. Her father had collected them his whole life. We weren’t at all sure how much they might be worth.

We learned a lot about the state of coin collecting today from the floor manager. It turns out, it’s not good. Not many young people are collecting coins anymore, they said. It’s really changed over the last 20 years. Still, it’s this shop’s business and the guy there sorted through all of the coins and separated out the ones that have value.

The price of the coins is basically tied strictly to the price of silver. The pre-1965 coins generally have 90% silver content (a few pre-1965 half dollars are only 40%). Those are the valuable ones. As far as historical value – unless they are very, very old, especially rare, or in incredibly mint condition, there really isn’t any.

Silver prices really spiked with the pandemic and it is worth $21 an ounce right now. That’s pretty good. It was as high as $140/share in the early 1980s when the Hunt brothers tried to corner the market on ‘Silver Thursday’, but that didn’t last long. It spiked again during the start of the Great Recession.

My father-in-law’s collection had a good number of 90% silver dollars ($26/ea), half dollars ($16/ea), and quarters ($8/ea). His oldest coins were Morgan silver dollars from the 1890s. They were named for George T. Morgan, who was the designer of the coin that features Liberty on the front.

The collection we had appraised also had a lot of ‘Wheat Pennies’ which are valued at 3-5 cents. That said, this shop only offers 2 cents for wheat pennies because he said they “have about 100,000 of them in their vault and no one wants them”.

Coins from 1965 and after don’t really have silver in them and the coin shop only values them at face value. Even post-1965 Eisenhower dollar coins aren’t worth more than a dollar to the shop. “You might as well just deposit them in the bank” he said, “or go out for a nice lunch.” I do see people selling ‘Ikes’ for about $1.50 each on eBay, though).

My wife is planning on keeping all of the silver coins and likely cashing out many of the post-1965 coins. Her dad had a particular fondness for the State Quarters that came out 20 years ago, but those were widely collected. She may also keep a bunch of 1976 $2 bills he had put away.

All-in-all, it was interesting to see what her Dad’s collection was worth. Because of the number of silver coins, both her and her sister ended up with a with a neat keepsake from his hobby.

I only wish we had thought to take him to the coin shop sometime over the last few years so he could have seen what his collection was worth himself. I think he would have enjoyed talking with the coin expert there. Unfortunately, family collections like this are often left for others to get appraised.

Are you a coin collector to any degree? Ever had your collection appraised?

Image: AI Generated

2 thoughts on “Collecting Coins?

  1. I’m not a coin collector, but you did inspire me to roll up all the coins we had in the closet. Went to the bank today and got $54.00 in bills. I’m taking my husband out for happy hour!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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