Non-collectors who own coins have a real challenge when it comes to realizing their value. Part of it can be their own inertia, a sort of freezing up at the thought of having to do something.
I was contacted by someone I happen to know in Iola whose father had died and left some Morgan silver dollars to his heirs.
How should he go about determining their value?
I told him that silver dollars at the time had a floor value of about $30 each. I gave him a copy of Coin Prices magazine so that he could look up values for any rare dates he might find when he traveled the great distance to his home state. I explained where the mintmarks were.
Months passed. An email arrived.
How do you determine the value of the Morgan dollars? And another question: How can he get them graded?
Apparently nobody has looked at the coins because he still doesn’t know their condition or dates. I did not ask that he grade them, only to give me an idea whether they have wear on them.
Also, nobody has looked at the dates either. Mintmarks? Never mind.
One new fact that has surfaced in our email communications. There are 100 of them.
I responded that getting coins that are worth $30 each graded is an expensive exercise that will simply reduce the ultimate value realized if they turn out to be worn common coins. Somebody has to look at them to make a quick eyeball assessment.
If a family member in the distant state can’t do it, there is little choice but to walk them into a local coin shop, I emailed.
What was the response to my email?
Back to square one: How do we get them graded?
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."