How and Where to Buy Coins
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There are several ways to effectively buy coins, each method has pros and cons that are unique. Below we list the various ways and try to guide you through the process:
Local Dealer - One of the best ways to find quality coins is to find a local dealer you can trust. Not only can they help guide you through the process of buying, they can educate you on what to avoid. Most local dealers are fairly well connected and can help you find coins from their sources. In addition, many local dealers have buy or bid boards where local collectors can post their coins for sale.
Coin Broker - There are brokers around the country that specialize in procuring coins for collectors. They will take a commission on the sale and are generally experts in numismatics. They typically specialize in hard to find, rare coins at higher price points. Many can be found advertising in coin magazines.
Coin Club friends - By joining a local coin club you make connections and find friends that can help you buy or trade coins.
Coin & Money Shows - Coin shows are great places to buy coins. The selection can be very large and diverse and you can compare grades, prices, and eye appeal. There is some competition between booths, so prices are usually reasonable. Check Coin World magazine for listings in every state. There is also a national database at www.coinshows.com.
Mail Order - Many companies advertise in national magazines or distribute catalogs nationwide to collectors. Buying through mail order means that you cannot see they coin before you get it. This can lead to disappointment, especially for older coins. It is safer to buy certified coins, modern issues, bullion, and mint sets through mail order. Find a dealer with a good return policy and develop trust before making major purchases. You can get bad coins from any source, but via mail order you need to be careful about cleaned coins and polished coins being sold, as well as AU coins sold as BU. One of the largest is Littleton Coin.
Online Store - This is a growing area for collectors. We list numerous sites that sell coins online. You get to see the coin scans and can make better purchasing decisions via an online store. This has been a big advance for the coin collecting community. It is possible to substitute coins and fake photos, but this has not been rampant on the online sites. We list a number of major dealers in our directory.
Online Auction - eBay and Yahoo have large auction sites for coins. eBay has probably the widest selection in the world. There are also major Auction houses with a presence online. Many widely respected companies such as Heritage, Bowers and Merena, and Teletrade have online auctions as well. See our auction listings for more sites. You can find good deals, here, but I have found that online competition is high, so you have to invest time in searching and bidding.
For eBay and similar online sites that allow anyone to sell: Be aware of the reputation of the person you are buying from - there are risks similar to Mail Order, especially from smaller dealers and individuals. [We have seen coins marked as MS63 that are XF advertised on eBay for instance.] This is a fun, easy way to buy, but we prefer to buy slabbed coins (with photos) this way.
Local Auction or Estate Sale - You can watch you local auction houses and newspaper for coin sales. This takes more effort but can be fun and provide you with access to larger collections.
The U.S. Mint (or any mint) - One of the best places to get modern issues. Their online site is easy to use and even provides free shipping for online orders. Subscribe to their email newsletters for alerts on new products. See our listings of other mints across the world.