Stamps and Coins at Yard Sales!

Featured Guest Blog by Ed Augusts

Ed AugustsDo you want to SELL some old COINS?  Putting-up a nice coin collection at a yard sale or any other kind of sale may be the wrong thing to do, for several good reasons; and that is why it is so seldom done.  You can look far and wide and not see coins being mentioned in classifieds about yard sales.  The only silver you’re likely to read about is “silver plate” — not silver coins!  Gold?  Forget it!  Gold at yard sales is a color, not a precious metal.  BUT — guess what?SOMETIMES I’M WRONG!  Sometimes, though very rarely, you can find a FORTUNE in gold and silver at a yard sale, garage sale, moving sale or estate sale.

Old Coins used to be more plentiful, back when they were younger!  Forty or forty-five years ago , the Dark Ages to many of you readers,  but a golden era to those folks who were around then,  there were coins galore on sale at various venues, from yard sales to fancy Estate Sales.   At the San Jose Flea Market in 1971 or so, I could have bought up to a hundred very nice silver dollars for just $2.00 each.  (My new bride Karen at that time, said, “Don’t you dare!  We NEED that money!”  I replied, “Yes, we need those COINS!”  I knew darn well that the price of silver was already MORE than they were asking for those coins. “No we don’t!”  In the end, I was proved right since all those $2.00 uncirculated silver dollars would now be worth $40.00 each or more.  We might have even kept up with inflation! 

At that same flea market — ever looking for curiosa and numismatica, I bought a 1513 Transylvanian or Hungarian silver coin — a little tiny thing!  I paid a couple of bucks for it.  To this day I don’t even know if it is genuine or not.

In those days, many vendors had trays and trays full of foreign silver.  I think I bought a couple of tiny Mexican gold coins on that same visit.   Today you would have to look through lots and lots of glass-topped jewelry display boxes, and hope that among the costume jewelry, the old Presidential campaign buttons, the war medals and bus fare tokens and matchboxes and other little goodies, the seller has a couple of dozen nice old coins.  Just cross your fingers none are counterfeit, and also that he or she doesn’t have the current silver or gold prices at their fingertips!

The late ’60’s and early ’70’s was before the price of gold and silver shot up into the stratosphere. These days, if you do see coins at sales, they are usually either foreign coins, copper or nickel coins.  Yes, people might sell their old Buffalo Nickels or a few old Indian Heads or Lincoln Pennies.  But if someone is offering a really nice selection of coins, I always feel like asking, “Why?”

These days you can walk into a Coin Shop or a metal trader, perhaps working right out of one of those little “Check Cashing” stores, and get a certain percentage of the current silver or gold value.  In the case of high-end individual coins, a coin shop needs to make a profit, so they might only pay $100 for a coin they might sell for $800, but at least they have the money, very seldom do you have to wait.  You just bring in your coins and they give you cash.

A Coin Shop or Money Store gives you a SECURE surroundings for such a sale. The same cannot be said for a garage or back yard!  A person who sets-up a really nice coin display on a couple of tables of his Saturday sale is taking a big risk that the coins will attract the interest of scammers or thieves.  A person who offers valuable silver or gold coins in a yard sale or garage sale is running the risk of being robbed some night by thieves.  If you’re going to have thousands of dollars or rare coins around the house, you’d better have a great alarm system, or better yet, one or two BIG DOGS that like to bark.  Keeping a weapon or two within easy reach is not a bad idea, either!

Now!  If you are a shopper looking to BUY coins, you have your work cut out for you, but you JUST MAY succeed where so many others have failed.  You may find some nice old Grandpa who is selling-off his dad’s hoard of old coins, and not being too fussy if he gets the full bullion silver or gold value for the coins or not. This is another “Don’t Wanter” kinda fellow, a wonderful guy to meet, because he sincerely just wants to GET RID of his stuff, and won’t fuss with you over price.  You would be doing very well to find someone like this. His coins were probably collected 50 or 60 years ago.  They are probably NOT stolen.   You buy them for cash and they become yours.

Old Coins were always bad news for me.  I would buy them as cheaply as I could, but inevitably buy some from local coin shops. Twenty-five years later I would need to sell my coins to get ready cash, and I’d bring those same coins in to those same coin shops, and they would offer me HALF of what I PAID for them, twenty-five years before!   So IT IS TOUGH making money with coins,  unless you chance to buy a precious metal coin when it is very LOW in price.  Doing that right now is probably not in the cards.  But finding “Don’t Wanters” who give things away at less than true market value, is ALWAYS POSSIBLE — SO KEEP LOOKING, America!

Here’s a practical word of warning:  Don’t give someone a map to your house by writing them a check, etc., when transacting business regarding coins, especially those in precious metals!  You might as well walk around with a bull’s eye painted on your rear end or a helicopter landing zone on your rooftop!

I know people who have sold coins privately.  When someone calls them on the phone and wants to see a certain valuable coin, they arrange to meet them at a certain time at THEIR BANK or some other extremely public place... a quiet table in back of the local Public Library is another good choice.

Remember that in the early 1930’s, the U.S. Government called for people to turn-in ALL their gold coins.  Those who didn’t became criminals, and for many years had to trade coins via underground methods.   We NEVER CAN TELL what the FUTURE WILL BRING,  we hope, think and prey that we live in s FREE COUNTRY, but when it comes to having quantities of precious metals — security and privacy are of ultra-concern!

My fun & fact-filled e-book “Get Rich Buying at Yard Sales” is available at


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