Selling Coins

Dec-2016: I still keep getting quite a few queries on selling coins. The general perception for quite a few is that, they can sell old coins and make money. Quite a few novice collectors / individuals believe that the coins they have are of huge value, just because they read in some paper as to how an old coin went for few lacs or crores. Add to this is eBay / Quikr listings that are not moderated and one sees junk coins and notes being listed for 2 lacs or 5 lacs. What people don't realize is quite often these listings do not get sold. One can list the coins for any value, but selling is another story.

So if you have question like the ones below read the complete article;

  • How to sell old Indian coins online for cash
  • Price of old coins 
  • Value of old Indian coins including British India, India Princely States, Portuguese India, or older kingdoms
  • How to Create Online Coin Shop for selling coins

As given below there are quite a few avenues to sell old coins. However selling involves quite a few aspects. There is no get rich method, else everyone would be rich :)
Knowing if your coin is valuable or not is very important. Read the article on Rare and Expensive coins or similar article Rare and Expensive Currencies.

The price for common commemoratives is available here. As you can see most coins are very cheap in the range of Rs 50, only select few are expensive. Here also it is important to note that although the coin may look same for novice collector, the price is actually dependent on minute details, like Mint mark or Die Variety. A complete price list is available as Excel for easy reference instead of PDF.

With Quikr one can list the coins without any listing fees, but generally the coins listed do not get sold. Serious collectors do not visit this site as 90% of the coins listed here are fakes or are of very low value.

April-2016: Its been a while since I wrote this, off late the buying and selling has moved to other online avenues like Facebook. It is slowly showing trend of moving towards watsapp. The risks are similar to other online avenues. However the advantage in social media is one can to an extent know the other person and a cheat can’t get far away. There would still be issues with items not getting delivered to exact quality etc. But quite a few of the activity from eBay has moved over to these new avenues.

Original Article: This article discusses the various aspects of selling coins. Although it may sound simple, buy selling is more difficult than buying coins. At times this can wipe out a substantial amount of expected profit from the collection. Investors must understand this aspect if they are buying coins just for the purpose of selling.

There are various avenues that are today available for selling coins. However in-spite of these avenues selling is not simple.
The various avenues broadly classified are;
  • Sell to Dealers: Easy way to get money fast without any hassle
  • Sell on Ebay or similar online stores like Quikr, OLX, PayUMoney, etc
  • Sell directly to collectors
  • Become a Coin Dealer to sell online or offline
  • Sell to Auction houses

Sell to Dealers:
The easiest way to sell the collection is to dealers. This has the advantage of getting the money without much hassle. However as always there is a catch. The dealer will obviously not give you the market value of the coin. The value is discounted by as much as 30 to 50%. There are cases where I had purchased certain coins from dealers for a value after couple of years got bored of the particular subject, to my surprise, the price dealers were willing to give was much less than what they had sold it to me. At the same time they were selling the same coin for a higher price to others. When questioned, they come out with fancy explanation that the coin they have is of better quality, or they have margin to make, or the prices of the particular coin has dropped. If you hold the coin for much longer say 10 years or so, you will get a price more than you had purchased for provided the market is still interested that subject. But it will definitely dent your overall returns.

Sell on Ebay:
Another way is to sell directly on Ebay. Selling on eBay is again not as easy as it sounds. Of-course registration is free, but to list an item one has to pay a listing fee of typically Rs 5 per listing as of 2011. Plus pay another 5% on the final sale value. Sounds good. Now if you are not selling in volume; add other costs; the envelope and packaging on a simple coin would be around Rs 5. The visit to post office if it’s not next door, another Rs 40 to Rs 50. Plus around hour’s time on the internet to list the coin on internet, package, visit to the post office. So if one is selling say a low value coin of Rs 25 – Rs 50, the cost is much more than the returns. Hence this makes sense if one is able to sell quite a few items and leverage the costs & time across multiple items. It also makes sense if one is selling few high value items. Also note that apart from this, there would be times when items get lost in post, transit etc, and one has to refund the buyer. The entire time window for doing this is quite tight.

To get more value, one can do a global listing and sell outside country, however this also has challenges, international shipment is more time consuming, and fraught with issues of customer and pilferages. Old coins cannot be shipped out of India and is illegal. There is also restriction of circulating coins being sent, there are quite a few times these would land up in Indian customs. The cost of Global listing is also quite high.

Other point to note is that of the 100% percentage of listing, only 10% actually get sold. Thus one has to keep the price low enough to be attractive and sell it in first go, because every failed attempt means loss of the listing fees. If the prices are kept slightly low, one is taking a hit on the returns.

Thus if you have invested this as investment, then the time and effort to sell on eBay is not for you. The eBay is more adept for sellers who have ample time like house wife’s or students looking at making few extra bucks or for serious full time dealers who’s only job is to sell stuff. There are quite a few dealers on eBay would sell more that 10 – 20 items a week.

Sell Directly to Collectors:
The other option is become a pseudo dealer and sell directly to collectors. Doing this requires quite a bit of time. The easiest way is to visit the exhibitions and try to sell without having a stall. It takes time to build a good client base, and once you have put in 3-4 years, you can have your own set of customers who would come directly to you. One would typically be restricted to your city to engage in this kind of activity. The returns would be better but very slow to materialize.

Become a Dealer:
If one has ample time and is retired, one can turn into a full time dealer and visit exhibition to exhibition, buy space and sell directly. Remember if you are dealing in only one subject and do not have enough volume, one does not make much money compared to the rental one needs to pay. Plus for a dealer to gain trust it’s a long haul before you get a good set of buyers coming to you.

Selling to Auction House:
There are quite a few Auction Houses that take consignment from sellers and put them in auction. For example Classical Numismatic Gallery. If you have a coin worth few thousand, they will be happy to sell these for you. As these are large auction houses, they have a large number of buyers, the auction house also ensure that the coins are genuine and classify them correctly. This ensures a peace of mind for buyers and they prefer to buy from reputed auction house even if they pay slightly more. The Auction house charge around 14-15% commission from buyer and equal from seller. So if a coin gets sold for Rs 1,000/-, the Seller gets Rs 850/-. The buyer pays 1,150/-. Thus the auction house makes around Rs 300/- as profit. However they print catalogues, and employee experts to classify the coins thus some of this Rs 300 is an expense.

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