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Find right way to sell collection

Yesterday I was asked by a telephone caller what I would recommend to him for disposing of his collection. He said it was worth $200,000 to $300,000.

My first thought was to mention two major auction firms that are well known for disposing of name collections.

While this holding would probably not rise to name status, the dollar figure seemed like something the auction firms would be interested in.

However, I asked him a number of questions to try to pin down just what exactly he was going to be selling.

I asked if had silver dollars.

He said no silver dollars.

In fact he joked that this denomination was going to be his last undertaking when he could no longer see smaller coins.

I appreciated the humor as I recalled what I was able to make out with the naked eye 50 years ago compared to my abilities today.

But no silver dollars in the collection caused doubt to creep into my thoughts about what type of advice I was giving.

Did he have any gold I asked?

He said he had a little, but he wanted to keep that.

I can’t argue with a collector wanting to keep his gold, but I was beginning to wonder how you reach $200,000 to $300,000 without silver dollars or gold.

He mentioned Lincoln cents and Jefferson nickels.

I asked if his collection was mainly 20th century. It is.

Then he asked about grading services. Apparently there is little or nothing currently in third-party slabs.

I asked if there was a favorite dealer that knows him and with whom he has dealt. Such dealers can be very helpful in buying and selling collections and offering advice on how to dispose of something.

Now a 20th century collection does not preclude reaching a high dollar figure in value.

Top-grade 1909-S VDB cents, 1916-D Mercury dimes and 1916 Standing Liberty quarters can get the cash register ringing merrily.

However, without the reassurance of third-party grading, I repeated several times the importance of talking to an expert local dealer to give his coins an appropriate evaluation.

What the collector has could very well end up in a national auction by a major firm if the inventory is right. But this is not something that I could figure out in a telephone conversation.

Fortunately, he is a collector doing the right thing in the right way. He is not in a rush. He does not want to leave the task of selling to unknowing heirs.

Reaching out to me was just a first step of what I hope will be a successful process of disposal that might tempt him to finally undertake the long-ignored silver dollars.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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