Should I get my coin collection appraised?

E.D.W writes: I have a collection of old coins and paper money that was given to me. Should I get the collection appraised and if so where can I find an appraiser in or near Knoxville, Tennessee?

Check online or your yellow pages for numismatists or coin dealers in your area. You can also contact the American Numismatic Association for a list of dealer members in your area.

Hire a professional numismatist to evaluate your collection in writing. Fees range from about $100 to as much as 5% of the appraised value. A good appraisal can save a great deal of money. Appraisals include attribution, authentication and grading and should list approximate wholesale values (for selling) or retail (for insurance), that is, what you might realize if you sold the coins to a dealer or what it might cost to replace in the current market. You wouldn’t sell the coins to the appraiser, this is unethical.

Appraisals are different than sight “offers” that are done gratis at a coin shop. Obviously, the dealer has an interest in purchasing your items at the lowest price. Also, a dealer might be overstocked in a particular item that you are offering for sale and therefore might pay less than market if he has to buy it. Appraisals allow you to gain an experts expertise so that you know for sure what you are selling and that you receive a fair price for your material.

Very valuable pieces might be sold at auction, common material can be sold at a local coin show or to a local dealer. If you can’t find a local dealer, get a copy of Coin World at a newsstand and check out the buy lists and prices in the back of the newspaper. You can successfully sell to dealers by mail if you can’t do it locally.