If you have ever searched a coin online, one of the first Google suggestions was likely a link to an Etsy Store for someone selling the coin for thousands of dollars.
You may have been excited and confused to see the price. Could this coin really be worth thousands? More, than likely, it’s not.
Etsy is an online shop where users can sell items they have made or sell used items. There is a great market for antique items on Etsy, but coins are generally way overpriced.
Here is a screenshot of a Google Search for a 1979 Susan B. Anthony dollar:
The coin listed is not worth $49,999.98. Even for someone who overpays for this coin, $10 would be a ridiculous price. Susan B. Anthony dollar coins are still widely available in good condition. I could go to my local bank and get 10 of these right now.
There are two prevailing theories for why these listings exists.
Theory 1: The sellers hope buyers don’t know any better.
Many coins are bought for ridiculous prices because buyers don’t know how to price coins correctly.
The idea that someone would spend almost 50 thousand dollars on a coin without doing any research is crazy. But, I suppose these Etsy sellers only need one gullible buyer to make an immense profit. Selling $1 for $50,000? Ka-Ching!
Just because a coin is old, or not often seen in circulation, does not give it inherent value. Always research the price of a coin before you buy.
Theory 2: Money laundering.
I am but a humble coin collector, not very up-to-date on organized crime, but I have heard the idea floating around that these sellers are part of drug money laundering schemes.
The way this would work is sellers list coins for high prices, pay someone to buy the coin, and then the money is returned. The money is now “clean” because it has been used for a valid transaction. (If you want to know more about money laundering watch Ozark on Netflix.)
In some ways this makes a lot of sense, coin collecting is more art than science. Art has always been used for money laundering. Any item that has a highly speculative value can be used for these kinds of schemes.
I’m not sure if this theory holds up, however. Someone looking to launder money could do much smaller, less obvious values. Do people laundering money really worry about Etsy fees cutting into their profits?
Cheaper places to buy coins than on Etsy:Honestly, there are very, very few places more expensive than Etsy. Even Amazon often has cheaper coins! Browse through Amazon’s collection here: Amazon Collectible Coins
I would recommend buying from a trusted coin dealer on eBay or even a gold/silver distributor like SD Bullion or Money Metals Exchange. By shopping at either of these sites by clicking a link from American Coin Stash, you also support this site! American Coin Stash is an affiliate advertiser of SD Bullion and Money Metals Exchange because I trust both of these companies.
If you are looking for very specific coins, not in a lot and have a good eye for spotting genuine coins, eBay is a great resource! Just remember to know what you are looking for, it is easy to get addicted to eBay bidding. Plus, eBay is more likely to have fake products or mislabeled items. Sometimes the sellers don’t even know they may be mis-advertising a coin!
Add a comment below on which theory you think is more accurate, or share your own!
3 thoughts on “Why Are Coin Prices So High on Etsy?”
[…] Since counterstamped coins aren’t valuable there are very few people selling them. You could check Etsy for counterstamped coins. Most common counterstamped coins are sold for 3-5 dollars on Etsy. Etsy historically has pretty overpriced coins so it’s not a surprise. Click here to read more about expensive coins on Etsy. […]
The scammer angle did occur to me, but your money laundering theory is a good one too. It gives me the germ of an idea to put in a short story (horror, maybe): someone makes a deal and buys a $50,000 coin, worth about $5.00, off Etsy for money laundering purposes with the understanding that she will keep $500 for her trouble, but instead she keeps all of the money and the coin too. I have some other ideas, if I want the story to have supernatural elements….
Anyway, interesting theory and quite plausible.
Lets say you are a drug dealer. The safest thing to do with your cash is to get it into a bank. Of course depositing large amounts of cash immediately sets off alarms. So you need to clean (launder) the money. You put up common coins with little or no numismatic for sale on Etsy for thousands of dollars. Etsy has offline POS sales (Etsy Square) with credit card, Paypal, and CASH sales. The drug sale (coin sale) is made in cash and you give him the coin. and drugs. There is now a record of the coin sale, Etsy and Square get their fees, receipt is given. You have made what appears to be a legitimate coin sale. You put the now laundered cash in the bank and you pays your taxes.