You Don’t Know What it’s Worth Until You Try to Sell it

This is the question we are asked hundreds of times a day. There are many possible answers; there is the current prevailing retail price, the catalog value, the wholesale market bids and asks, the insurance replacement value and many more. When customers come to our store, they almost always want to know what Liberty Coin Service would offer to purchase the item.

If you are trying to find out how much you can receive by liquidating your collectibles, you can find a lot of research on the internet and search online auctions for recent sales of the same product in identical condition. You can also check the archives of prices realized in past auctions that are frequently posted by most active auctioneers or search for what current selling prices might be. This last option might not tell you what you could sell your holdings for, but it will give you an idea of the range of what you might get.

In doing this research, you have to be extremely careful that you are comparing the exact same item in identical condition to what you own. Recently, I received an email from a woman who insisted that she owned a scarce 1957 $1 Silver Certificate that her research led her to believe was rare and possibly worth $2,500. I tried to explain that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing had produced 718 million specimens of the note she owned, so it wasn’t rare. I also explained that Liberty Coin probably had hundreds of them in stock (also a sign that it was not rare) and that she could purchase all we had for $1.50 per note — she didn’t like that answer, but the truth can be a hard pill for some people to swallow.

When my company sells large quantities of physical bullion-priced gold to retail, it is not uncommon for the price we would pay the public to purchase the same merchandise at the same time to be 95 percent or more of our retail selling price. For smaller quantities and for other products we handle, we offer less money relative to our retail selling price. It is not unusual that we might only offer $25 for an obscure collectible that we might be able to retail for $50 or more.

From decades of buying and selling many forms of collectibles, I know that many collectibles have a huge difference between their retail selling prices and what dealers would pay the public to purchase them. It is often a much wider spread than collectors realize.

For this reason, I often encourage a collector to try to sell one or more of the pieces in their holdings — for the sake of learning the spread between buy and sell prices. It may happen that the results leave the collector comfortable with continuing to amass their holdings. But I also know of many instances where collectors who thought they were making a fortune with what they purchased, found out that they were, in fact, taking unacceptable losses. Invariably, their enthusiasm stopped right then.

If you own collectibles because you want to own them, without regard to the financial consequences, that is fine. I know many people who have made nice profits on a wide variety of collectibles. On the other hand, I know members of my own extended family who no longer purchase, for example, collector plates or figurines, because they are virtually unsaleable at all and are certainly not worth anywhere near what they paid.
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