What To Do If You Inherit A Coin Collection?

Your loving nana passed away, and in the back of an old sock drawer you find… coins? Coin collecting is a very popular hobby, especially for older people and many store coins for years, not telling anyone they have coins until it’s too late. Because of this, many people inherit coins having never known if they existed, what to do with inherited coins, or what value they may have.


For the love of God, I cannot stress this enough. DO NOT CLEAN THE COINS.

Cleaning coins is very bad for them. Although they make look better to the human eye shortly after cleaning, this causes small scrapes on the surface of the coin that can damage the value. Even damaged coins can have more value than a cleaned coin.

Acetone is the only way of “cleaning” a coin I have ever seen moderately accepted by coin collectors, but even that only removes things like adhesives or oils. If your coins have tape or glue, check out this article where I remove tape from a Peace Dollar.


Some collectors organize and label their coins very neatly, others…not so much. If you are inheriting a collection from a not so organized collector, you are going to have your work cut out for you, especially if you are new to the hobby. See if you can get a friend or family member who has some knowledge on coins to help you out. You can pay them, or even offer them a few coins from the collection. (Just make sure you know what you are offering and trust the person.)

Hand in hand with organizing is proper storage, check out this article on storing coins properly. When handling coins, you want to hold them by the rims, and avoid touching the face. Our hands have oils which are damaging to the metal of the coin.

Not every coin is valuable enough to need careful handling. I don’t worry about change in my pocket jangling around, but if you are not sure what you have, it is best to err with caution.

Learn a Little

If you have stumbled upon this article, I assume you aren’t too keen on selling the coins to the first buyer or even worse… dumping them in a Coinstar. This could be good motivation for you to learn a bit about a century’s old hobby.

I think teaching you how to identify a coin is a little beyond the scope of this article. Here are some things to look for:

I won’t get too involved in identifying coins for this article, but a good resource is this article on Coin Roll Hunting.

Consult a Professional

Find a local coin store, coin fair, or a local collector who can help you determine what your coins are worth. I would recommend doing an initial sorting phase beforehand though, so that you have a sense of what may be valuable. This will save your time as well as the consultant. Plus, although I think most coin collector are very credible and honest people, there are some who are willing to profit off of another’s ignorance.

Should I sell coins I have inherited?

This is really going to be up to the individual. Do you need the funds and find very little joy in owning them? Then it’s probably best to sell the coins so they can pass onto someone who appreciates the numismatic and artistic value.

If you don’t need the money, but still find the coins interesting or intriguing, keep them around for a while and see how you feel in a few years. Perhaps another friend or family member will come along and take a greater interest. Maybe you will find yourself pulling out the box of coins and finding delight in them someday.

If you need the money, but love the coins, see if you can find other things to sell to prevent having to get rid of the coins. You may be able to even sell a few coins but keep the most valuable or your sentimental favorites for yourself. You don’t need to have a lot of coins to be a coin collector.

This leads to my next point:

Should I keep the coins I have inherited?

Do not feel pressured to keep coins that you have inherited. There are many reasons a coin could be special to a collector. Maybe it was the first coin they picked off the sidewalk, a gift from a friend, or a coin they spent lots of money on when times were tight. Just because a coin was special to someone else doesn’t mean it will be special to you.

I have dozens of coins in my collection with no value, but the way I acquired them was special to me. I am sure someday my kids will inherit my collection and be baffled trying to figure out why a damaged 1963 penny was in my collection. There is more value to some coins emotionally than there is monetarily, and no two people will have the same emotional connection to a coin.

Don’t get too caught up in the monetary value

Coin collecting is one big treasure hunt, and the thrill of finding a coin worth a lot of money does add to the excitement, but don’t let that idea distract you. Most coins are worth only a small to modest amount. The likelihood you will find a white whale coin and know how to identify it is slim.

Try to take pleasure in the smaller joys of coin collecting. The age of the coin, the weight in your hand, and the art on the coin are all non-value parts of the hobby collectors love. If you set your expectations too high on the value the coins could be worth, you may find yourself disappointed when the collection is only worth a few hundred dollars and cash it out before you get a chance to appreciate them.

How to get Kids Interested in Coin Collecting

Getting your children interested in coin collecting can be a great way to teach children art, history, and economics. It also provides a wholesome way for you to bond without screens. (Why have kids if not to force your hobbies and interests on them?)

If you are wondering how to get your children started as junior numismatists, I have come up with some fun ideas and tips below.

1.) Make it a Treasure Hunt

One of the things that draws adults to coin collecting is the idea that any common coin could be a treasure. Kids also delight in the idea that they could find a rare or valuable coin.

Coin roll hunting is a fantastic game to play with kids! Bringing a box of coins home from the bank and opening all the coin wrappers is fun for children who haven’t yet become interested in the coins themselves.

Probably the best way to get kids interested in coins, and what starts most young collectors, is collecting state quarters. When I was 9 years old, my grandfather got me a book on state quarters and that is what prompted my interest in coins. There are also National Park Quarters!

2.) Buy Your Kids Some Coins

The key word here is “buy”. Someday, your child will be able to appreciate how special it is to be given a coin from someone’s collection, but someone just getting started has no sense of that value. Take your child to a coin shop and let them pick a coin they like for themselves. It doesn’t need to be expensive, just so they can see more coins and get a sense of their own taste as a collector.

Many coin shops have bulk foreign bins as well as inexpensive pennies, buffalo nickels, and mercury dimes. Foreign coins are a great way to learn about other countries. As an added bonus, foreign coins look so different from our own that most people are instantly drawn to them.

3.) Teach Them About Silver/Gold Value

This is best for older children who have a concept of money and savings. Some people are more motivated by monetary gain than by art or history and that is okay. Many collectors find their way from collecting precious metals to collecting coins or from collecting coins to storing precious metals.

4.) Let Them Watch You

It may not always seem like it, but kids love to imitate their parents. You may not be able to encourage a kid to fall in love with coin collecting, but your own passion can be infectious. Talking about your coins in front of your kids, coin roll hunting, or organizing your collection are great ways to passively let children see the enjoyment in coin collecting.

5.) Try Other, Similar Hobbies

Some kids don’t have the patience for coin collecting. A more exciting hobby to try with your children is metal detecting. Metal detecting is great to get kids interested in numismatics because sooner or later they are likely to find a coin they have never seen and will want to learn more.

Exonumia, collecting tokens is another fun hobby for kids. Tokens usually have more fun patterns and styles, and they can find them at their local arcade. (Although arcades seem to be moving away from tokens.)

There is also metal detecting, but that may be tedious for younger kids. I have metal detected on beaches and had many kids come up and ask me what I am doing, and ask me if I found any buried treasure!

Metal detecting is expensive to get into, with most good metal detectors running between $200-$400. I would purchase one for your child if they show an interest, or if it something you think they would enjoy to do with you.

6.) Start Kids Young

I started my interest in coins when I was a kid by being exposed to coins. Coins were how I paid for ice cream and I would exchange coins for dollars with my dad to learn about money. As our economy switches to a more card based digital system, you can achieve the same interest with piggy banks, and even fake coins.

6.) Know Their Interest May Come and Go

Most coin collectors do not spend everyday thinking about their coins and collecting and neither will kids. A kid will likely be engrossed in the hobby for a few weeks before finding a new obsession and that is okay.

One thing to watch is that your child does not sell their collection on a whim.

Should You Buy Foreign Coins in Bulk?

Like any post with a title “Should you-” the answer is always: it depends!

Buying foreign coins in bulk sounds like a great idea, you get lots of coins for a relatively small amount or money. Bulk coin sets can run anywhere from $10-$30 per pound! (I would love to get that value of gold and silver.)

Now some people do great buying and selling foreign coins, since most people collect coins from their own country, they are less likely to recognize valuable or rare coins from other countries. Many people find silver or even gold coins in the foreign bins at their local coin shops because no one else recognizes them.

That being said, it is incredibly unlikely you are going to find such a rarety buying bulk foreign coins online. Most of the time, you will be overpaying dramatically for the conveniece of getting hundreds of coins shipped to you.

Let’s talk cons first.


1.) Shipping prices!!!

I have both bought and sold on eBay and other online sellers. The real profit killer is shipping (although eBay fees are not fun either). Most of your money spent on bulk coins is simply going to the shipping cost.

2.) 99% of coins will be worthless.

Now, you may find some coins that are interesting to you, but that does not mean they have much value outside of your house. The market for foreign coins is simply too small.

I love seeing foreign coins, I have some I collect, but if I tried to collect coins from every country, I simply would not have enough room in my house! Most coin collectors stick to coins from their own country, or at least a country that resonates with them. Those who collect foreign coins are rare, and usually they go for older foreign coins.

Even if you are very knowledgeable on foreign coins, it is still unlikely you will find anything valuable. Most bulk lots of coins online have already been cherry-picked for the most valuable coins.


1.) Lots of coins!


It is really exciting to get a lot of foreign coins! You can keep them in a jar as decoration, or spend time organizing and admiring the different designs.

2.) Great way to learn!

You can look through each one and do lots of research into the coins. It is a great way to learn about other cultures in different time periods.

Since you will get many coins from different countries you can take the time to catalogue them. Find the country of origin, face value, and numismatic value!

Where to buy foreign coins in bulk?

Many different places sell foreign coins in bulk. Ebay is probably the best place to go, as you get the competition from many different sellers.

If you aren’t comfortable buying on eBay, you can also buy bulk foreign coins on Amazon. It will probably be slightly more expensive than eBay, but Amazon is easier to use for many people.

If you are only interested in a different country or time period you can also search buy that specific time and area. While researching for this article I found a few fun niche listings.

Ancient Coins in Bulk

This could be a good way to get your hands on several coins if you are a beginner. Someday you will probably want to buy higher quality coins at better prices, but it is always fun to have a few coins to handle.

(Remember, handling coins is bad for them! Only do so with coins you do mind potentially damaging.)

Final Thoughts

I wouldn’t build a collection around buying bulk foreign coins, but it is a fun way to get your hands on a lot of coins.

Overall, I would saying buying foreign coins is best for beginners, or as gifts for kids. Since kids don’t usually have a great understanding of value, giving them a lot of coins that are interesting to them is a good way to introduce them to coin collecting.

Do you buy foreign coins in bulk? What is your best find yet?

Stop Buying Bulk Coins or Large Coin Sets as Gifts

For the love of god, do NOT buy bulk coins as a gift.

As someone who works at a bank and frequents banks, do not buy bulk coins for someone as a gift! More often than not, that set of 500 uncirculated 2004 nickels will sit in someone’s sock drawer for 3 years until they bring it to the bank to cash it in for much less than it was purchased for.

It may seem fun at first, giving someone dozens or hundreds of coins that you are sure will appreciate in value. I can assure you no matter how fun or neat it is to you, your gift receiver will not be so appreciative. No one wants to have a gift that takes up that much space!

A better option is to buy one or two meaningful (or valuable) items. I think buying silver for a non-collector is a good idea. It is something that takes up much less space than a box of 2,500 uncirculated 2009 pennies. The person is much more likely to hold on to it because of the sentimental value, dollar value, and lack of inconvenience it brings.

Plus, with silver, the receiver can go online and check the rough price easily when (or if) they do decide to get rid of it.

My one exception to this rule would be sets of coins of 50 or less that come in nice containers that you have reason to believe they would actually like. Even then, think carefully about how much space the gift will take in the person’s house. Someone living in a small apartment probably does not want your 12 half-filled Whitman coin folders.

When in doubt, buy a gift with a Certificate of Authenticity!

Not that the certificate of authenticity really has much meaning, but it does mean you are likely buying a single coin with some collector value. It will be easy for the person to price it on eBay or similar sites to find the worth.

If you want more numismatic gift giving ideas, you can check out:

Top 10 Best Gifts for Coin Collectors and What Makes Them Great!

(Thank you for listening to my rant!)

Did you Notice Lady Liberty Disguised on These Two Coins?

Lady Liberty is on more coins than any other person or figure. (With the exception of maybe the Bald Eagle, but it’s a close tie.) In fact, Lady Liberty may be on more coins than you knew. Did you notice lady liberty on these two iconic coins?

Many Interpretations

Lady Liberty is a woman who wears many hats, literally! Many people do not recognize Lady Liberty if she does not have her iconic spiky crown, but Lady Liberty wears more crowns than one.

Lady Liberty has no preordained design, the most iconic depiction is Lady Liberty in the Statue of Liberty, but she has also been seen in many forms.

Lady Liberty is well known on US Coinage. The Peace and Morgan dollars are the best examples of coins we all know to be depicting Lady Liberty.

Well known depictions of Lady Liberty. The Morgan and Peace Dollar Coins.

Everyone knows that Lady Liberty is on both the Peace and Morgan dollars, but if you saw these two women on the street, would you suspect they were the same person? I wouldn’t!

First Hidden Liberty: The Mercury Dime

Mercury Lady Liberty Dime Cutout
Lady Liberty on the Mercury Dime

The Mercury Dime is more accurately known as the “Winged Liberty Head Dime” because this coin is actually depicting Lady Liberty!

Remember what I said about people not recognizing Ms. Liberty if she is not in her spiked crown? On this coin, Lady Liberty is wearing a Phrygian Cap with wings. The Phrygian Cap is another depiction of liberty and the pursuit of liberty, originating from the Roman Goddess Libertas. It was a cap worn by freed slaves in Ancient Rome.

Adolf Weiman, the coin’s designer, added the wings to the Phrygian Cap to depict the liberty of thought. Although the wings have interesting symbolism, they are probably the contributing factor to the idea that this coin depicts Mercury and not Lady Liberty.

Mercury is the Roman god of commerce, he is similar to the Greek god Hermes in . Mercury also wears a winged cap, so it is understandable how these two became confused. (Now that I think about it, adding a God of commerce to coins makes a lot of sense…)

Second Hidden Liberty: The Indian Head Penny

IHP Indian Head Penny Cutout Liberty
Lady Liberty on the Indian Head Penny

I remember this fact blew my mind! I had always assumed the Indian Head Penny (or IHP) depicted a Native American in a headdress, but nope! It is actually Lady Liberty in a Native American Headdress.

The Indian Head Cent was minted from 1859 to 1909 and was designed by James Barton Longacre, the Chief Engraver at the Philadelphia Mint.

Longacre described why he put Lady Liberty in a Native American headdress in an 1858 letter,

“From the copper shores of Lake Superior, to the silver mountains of Potosi from the Ojibwa to the Araucanian, the feathered tiara is as characteristic of the primitive races of our hemisphere, as the turban is of the Asiatic. Nor is there anything in its decorative character, repulsive to the association of Liberty … It is more appropriate than the Phrygian cap, the emblem rather of the emancipated slave, than of the independent freeman, of those who are able to say “we were never in bondage to any man”.

I regard then this emblem of America as a proper and well defined portion of our national inheritance; and having now the opportunity of consecrating it as a memorial of Liberty, ‘our Liberty’, American Liberty; why not use it? One more graceful can scarcely be devised. We have only to determine that it shall be appropriate, and all the world outside of us cannot wrest it from us.”

I am going to save the argument of whether or not Longacre’s intentions were misplaced for another article, but it has been debated in several coin collecting circles whether using the Native American headdress was used to honor Native Americans in the United States or to glory people who were at the same time being oppressed.

The face of Lady Liberty in the penny was based on a statue of Crouching Venus Longacre saw in Philadelphia.

It is interesting that the Indian Head Penny is so often misidentified as depicting a Native American because the Indian Head Penny is one of the most well-known and popular of the older US coins. Of course, it probably does not help that it is always referred to as the “Indian Head Penny”.

Did any of these surprise you? Add a comment below and vote in our poll!

Header American Innovation Dollar Coins Gears

All About the American Innovation $1 Coin Series

The Innovation Series was enacted on January 3rd 2018 the Act reads:

“To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in recognition of American
innovation and significant innovation and pioneering efforts of individuals or
groups from each of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the United
States territories, to promote the importance of innovation in the United States,
the District of Columbia, and the United States territories, and for other purposes.”

If you want to read the full Act that brought this coinage to fruition you can read it here.

A Great Idea On an Underutilized Coin

Once again, the US Mint attempts to make the dollar coin popular. While I love the idea of applauding American Innovation, I am disappointed to see these designs being pushed onto the dollar coins. I doubt these coins will see much use in general circulation.

Even the now-popular Peace and Morgan dollars were not popular from 1878-1935. Where the large dollar coins saw the most use was casinos. Similarly, smaller dollar coins today are usually received as change from parking meters or vending machines. The US population is accustomed to $1 bills and has so far been unwilling to change to dollar coins.

While we are still very new to this series of coins, so far the two most popular have been the Maryland (2020) Hubble Space Telescope Dollar Coin and the Massachusetts (2020) Telephone Dollar Coin.

Notice that none of these coins have people on them, that was intentional! Congress wanted the coins to honor the innovation more than the innovator. The act explicitly states:

head and shoulders portrait or bust of any person and
no portrait of a living person may be included in the
design of any coin issued under this subsection.

Will the American Innovation Series Coins Increase in Value?

I could definitely see the American Innovation Series increasing in value in the long term. Currently, these coins have not gained much popularity with collectors or the general population. Even the Reverse Proof Sets (which collectors usually go wild over) have been slow to sell out even with mintage numbers at 50,000.

My prediction that the Innovation Dollar coins will appreciate in value may be optimistic, however. Consider how many dollar coins the US Mint produces and how little they are circulated. In a few decades we may still have innovation dollar coins that have barely been touched.

If you are looking to make a profit off US minted coins, the Innovation Series is probably not the one to bet on, instead focusing on coins with silver value could be a more profitable long-term endeavor.

The Learning Element

I love when a mint decides to incorporate elements on coins to teach people about the country they live in. It’s interesting to travelers and young kids who often spend more time looking at coins.

The benefit of the Innovation Series being on the dollar coins is that most people are not familiar with dollar coins. Since these coins are scarce in everyday transactions people are compelleed to take a better look at dollar coins when they do get them. (It also causes coin forums to be flooded with photos of dollar coins with the caption “What is this worth?!?”)

Release Schedule:


Introductory Coin


Delaware – Classifying the stars
Pennsylvania – Polio vaccine
New Jersey – Light bulb
Georgia – Trustees’ Garden


Connecticut – Gerber variable scale
Massachusetts – Telephone
Maryland – Hubble Space Telescope
South Carolina – Septima Clark


New Hampshire – Home video game system
Virginia – Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
New York – Erie Canal
North Carolina – First public university


Rhode Island










West Virginia


North Dakota
South Dakota




New Mexico


District of Columbia
Puerto Rico


American Samoa
U.S. Virgin Islands
Northern Mariana Islands

What do you think of the American Innovation Series? Share your comments below and vote in our poll!