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Eric P. Newman, a 102-year-old retired lawyer from St. Louis, recently auctioned off his unparalleled 1,800-piece coin collection in New York City. Newman began the collection in the 1930s and, all told, spent about $7,500 on it. The sale, hosted by Heritage Auctions, took two days, and in the end earned Newman a grand total of $23 million.
That’s all well and good for a rockstar collector like Eric Newman, but what about the rest of us? Many collectors have only been amassing their collections for five to ten years, and many need to sell their coins in a pinch. Consigning coins to auction can be a very complex process with numerous factors to consider:
- Have you had trouble selling these particular coins through other channels? If so, there’s a very good chance they’ll have trouble at auction too. Avoid selling your best pieces elsewhere and saving your least popular for the auction block. Instead, sell the low quality coins as soon as possible, at a discount, and save your best ones for auction. It seems intuitive, but a lot of people make this mistake.
- Is your collection too large/expensive to be sold together as one unit? If so, many potential buyers won’t be able to afford your collection, or they might be uninterested because they’ll already have some of the pieces. Generally speaking, it’s usually better to break up your collection into individual coins to yield yourself the most profit. Of course there are exceptions, for example in cases where buyers would prefer an original, matched set.
- To place reserves or not to place reserves? While not placing a reserve can be frightening, coins consigned without reserve are usually given the best commission rates, and bidders are often more excited by unreserved coins. At the same time, if your piece is part of a specialty field or an otherwise thinly traded market with a low number of buyers, you would do well to place a reasonable reserve to prevent the first bidder from snatching it up for an unreasonably low price. Of all the factors on this list, reserves are probably the most complicated, so I recommend seeking help from a specialist who knows your case.
- What type of sale should you choose? If your collection is small, you could get easily lost or outperformed in a huge convention auction. At the same time, if your collection is very valuable, commission rates can be higher at these types of auctions. Internet auctions are also a possibility, but these don’t always have the excitement of an old fashioned floor auction. When it comes right down to it, the most important thing is to find an auction that fits your collection.
Coin collections are very precious things. Oftentimes, you’ve spent a great deal of time, money, and energy amassing one, and you don’t want it to be all for naught. Always know all your options and always get advice from an expert before making any big decisions.
via Andrew Brunhart’s Coin Collecting http://andrewbrunhart.org/2013/12/05/how-to-sell-coins-at-an-auction/