How to value a coin?
If you have some old British coins or some reasonably new ones if we are talking about limited edition 50p or pound coins then you probably want to know what they are worth. How can you find out?
Well there are three factors involved in valuing rare British coins in our view and we are going to explain these so you can find your own preferred way. It's very true to say that an old coin, like any other object, is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. However that old economics adage doesn't really help anyone in itself, but it does if you use a bit of brain power to apply it to the price information out there already. Best of all, you can get all this information for free.
So, you have some old coins that you are thinking of selling, how do you value them?
Well before you can find a value, you need to make sure you know exactly what you are selling. This means not only understanding what your coin is (i.e. is it a sixpence, a shilling, a groat etc.) but also understanding how to grade it because condition is everything with rare coins (as it is with all collectors items). Once you are happy that you really do understand what you are selling, and you are aware of any possible rare aspects to your coin (for example, do you have a coin with a rare mint mark, or a rare error?)
So here is our advice on how to value your coins:
1. You need to check the type and condition of your coin. The best way to do this is to refer to a book on rare British coins. You don't necessarily have to buy the book because your local library should be able to find you a copy to look at (it will probably be a reference book that you can't take out, but I doubt if a library will mind you taking your coins IN so you can look them up). However, if you prefer to buy a price guide here is an excellent British Coins Market Values 2017 price guide (just click to find out more).
2. Check current and recent auction prices for the coin you are trying to value. You can do this by looking at the listings here at Rare British Coins and by searching through completed auctions on Ebay as well. Again, make sure you allow for valuation adjustments for condition and any special features of the coin. (See our page of rare coin price guides - link on the right of this page)
3. Finally, and this is where we go back a little towards pulling figures out of the air, you need to form an opinion of the value of your coin by looking at the price guide, and the actual previous selling prices of the coin you are trying to value, adjusting for condition. British coin auction prices can be knocked way off target if there are two bidders fighting for the same coin as this can drive the price up abnormally. Equally, an auction is never a perfect way to sell a rare coin because if someone doesn't find the auction in the first place then they will never get to bid! Therefore you need to allow for all of these factors when trying to sell. Another issue that will affect you if you are selling is how badly you need to sell quickly. In other words, coin auction prices do not necessarily become coin values, but they are a guide.
Let's give an example:
1. You have a coin which is in the price guide as being worth £25.
2. You check online and find that two have sold on ebay in similar condition for £17.
3. You would like to sell it quickly so you can spend the money on something else so you decide to offer it for sale on Ebay as a buy it now item for £15. If you were not in a rush to sell, then you might put it on ebay for £20 and drop the price if nobody has shown any interest in it after a few weeks.
Alternatively again, you could auction the coin and start it at £15 because this then means that there is a chance that it will sell for more than £17 but at the very least, you will hope to get £15 for it. We hope that doesn't sound too overly complicated! If you have never sold anything on ebay, it's really easy to do so. Look at any of our rare coin listings pages and click the link at the bottom which invites you to register with ebay. It's completely free to register and there is no obligation to sell anything so if you decide to sell your coins to a coin dealer instead that's fine. There are fees for selling your coins online and these generally work out to be somewhere in the region of 10% of the sale price overall, give or take a little.
It's not an exact science and the best advice we can give you is to do your homework to check out exactly what you are selling, set a price you are comfortable with and if you sell it, forget it and don't have sleepless nights worrying about whether you underpriced it because if you follow our approach, overall you should work out getting just about the right price for your rare old coins.
If you want some help on valuing a coin please post on our Coin collecting valuations forum.