Don’t sell coins based on weight — here’s why

April 28, 2015 By ekr

By Tony Davis
Atlanta Gold and Coin Buyers

We recently met with a customer who had approximately 25 pounds of various coins in a cardboard box that he was interested in selling. He mentioned that he previously consulted with another local coin dealer who didn’t want to spend the time going through the collection. Rather, this coin dealer proposed that they weigh the coins and make an offer based on the weight. Fortunately our customer sensed that this probably wasn’t the best way to sell his coins and ended up contacting us. We went through this individual’s entire collection, which took over an hour, and found several coins for which we paid a premium. In this article, we’re going to discuss why you shouldn’t sell your coins based on their weight. We’ll discuss three specific reasons why this is the case, will touch on how to sell your coins, and will even provide a resource that will allow you to identify key date coins in advance of your appointment.

Key Date or Semi Key Date Coins

While it’s certainly not a given, many large collections include key date or semi key date coins that should demand a premium. With respect to key date coins, we’re specifically referring to low or lower mintage coins. As we’ve previously discussed, some coins can fetch a substantial premium based on where they were minted and the total number produced. Granted, most coin collections don’t include a hidden gem coin worth thousands of dollars, but unless you take the time to properly evaluate the coins, you’ll never know if your collection included one of these valuable coins. This is one reason why you shouldn’t sell your coins based on their weight. For those individuals who are interested, we produced a rare coin guide, which can be found here. This will allow you to research your coins in advance of an appointment, if you desire to do so.

High End Condition Coins

Another reason why you shouldn’t sell your coins based on their weight is because you’re not being compensated for higher end condition coins that should sell at a premium. The condition of a coin, in addition to the mint location and number produced, are the primary factors that affect the value of coins. Not all coins will demand a high premium based on their condition, but some certainly will. In general, recently issued silver coins, such as Kennedy half dollars, Roosevelt dimes, and Washington quarters are quite common and have nominal collectible value. However, premiums begin to spike for some better date Franklin half dollars, Mercury dimes and Standing Liberty quarters in higher end condition. Earlier issued coins, such as Walking Liberty half dollars, Barber dimes and Barber quarters will sell at even higher premiums in almost uncirculated to uncirculated condition. Be sure that you’re being properly compensated for the condition of your coins.

Value Lost Due to Weight

Silver coins that have been circulated oftentimes have some wear that reduces the total silver content of the coins. When you sell your coins by their weight, you’re being paid less per coin than if you were to sell your coins individually. I can almost guarantee you that the coin dealer who is buying your silver coins by the weight is turning around and selling the coins in coin tubes or by the bag based on the number of coins included – not the weight. Most coin dealers have high capacity coin counters that can provide you with the total number of coins in a matter of a couple of minutes. You should insist on being compensated for your silver coins based on the number, rather than the weight, especially if they’re in average condition or better. However, if you happen to have silver coins that have above average wear, damage, heavy toning or oxidation, or that are otherwise off-quality, it’s appropriate to expect an offer based on the weight.


In conclusion, we’ve discussed a few reasons why you shouldn’t sell your coins based on their weight. First and foremost, you’re not being compensated for any low mintage or key date coins that might be included in the collection. While there’s no guarantee that you have one of these coins, it’s always a good idea to check. Secondly, selling your coins based on their weight doesn’t compensate you for higher end condition coins that should warrant a premium. Thirdly, circulated coins tend to have a bit of wear, so when you’re selling by the weight, you’re receiving less per coin. However, as mentioned above, it’s perfectly acceptable for a coin dealer to make an offer based on the weight if your coins have above average wear, are damaged or are off-quality. We hope that you found this article helpful and welcome you to contact us with any questions that you might have.

Tony Davis is the owner of Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers, a full service Atlanta-based coin and bullion dealer specializing in buying, selling and appraising coins and coin collections of all types and sizes. Tony frequently writes on various economic and numismatic related topics affecting the coin and bullion markets and has been published on some of the industry’s leading websites, including Coin Week, the American Numismatic Association, Coin Collector, Coinflation and Coin Auctions Help, just to name a few. Visit Atlanta Gold & Coin’s website at to obtain additional information on the products, services and educational resources offered by his company. Tony can be reached at or at 404-236-9744. 
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