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.

Cons:

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.

Pros:

1.) Lots of coins!

Wooo!

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?

5 Hobbies That Go Great With Coin Collecting

What do coin collectors do when they aren’t looking at coins?

Coin collecting is a super fun hobby, but sometimes you lack motivation. Maybe you have just finished a type set, or spent lots of money on American Gold Eagles. It’s common to feel burnt out on a hobby every once in a while.

What should you do while you put coin collecting on the back burner?

Here is a list of 10 hobbies that don’t revolve around coins (but still feel similar.)

1.) Stamp Collecting

Stamps, courtesy of Mason B.

Part of the fun of coin collecting is that you get a new lens on US history. Stamp collecting is a great hobby for people who love coins for their history.

Stamps were first invented in 1837, so there are stamps that are over a century old. Plus, many stamps commemorate historical events. Just like coins, there are stamps for national parks, states, and historical figures. (Also lots and lots of Lady Liberty!)

There are stamp collecting albums for storage similar to coin albums as well as informational books.

2.) Metal Detecting

My Garret Ace 400

I got a metal detector to help me find old coins lost in the ground, but a metal detector can find much more than coins. I have also used my metal detector to find jewelry and help clean up trash. (You will find lots of trash metal detecting!)

Metal detecting gives you an excuse to walk along the beach or hike through the forest in search of treasures. It reminds me of coin roll hunting because there is a sense of searching for forgotten treasures.

I have a Garrett Ace 400 which is a great metal detector for finding coins. It even has a coin setting which helps you find coins faster.

3.) Woodworking

Woodworking Photo courtesy of Dominik Scythe

Any good coin collector eventually reaches the point where they have too many coins to fit in an old Altoid tin. You could move the coins to an old cigar box, but isn’t presentation almost as important as the coin itself?

Making your own coin box, or coin holders, is a super cool way to show off your coins. Plus, you could learn how to sell specialty coin boxes on Etsy! More money = more coins!

I love coin collecting, but often lament the fact that this hobby doesn’t give me the chance to create. By combining coin collecting with woodworking, you have a trove of woodworking ideas and the ability to create something.

4.) Photography

A camera wistfully pointed at the sky. Courtesy of Christian Wiediger.

Photographing coins is HARD. Since coins are so small and have a reflective surface, getting a clear picture is challenging.

I have little to no photography experience so learning to take pictures of coins has been an uphill battle. You need a good camera, natural lighting, and the perfect angle.

Even if you are not photographing coins, photography is a great reason to get outside and explore new places. You may learn about new animals and attractions in your area.

5.) Paper Money Collecting

A 2$ bill hanging in my room.

Collecting paper money is not as fun as collecting coins, (Sorry, paper fanatics!) but it is a good complimentary hobby.

You can look for misprints, mis-cut bills, star notes, and fancy serial numbers. Old paper money is often harder to find than old coins, as paper is less durable.

If you are looking to get started, buy some money holders to keep them safe and start looking through your wallet. You can even go to the bank and ask for a stack of bills to search through!

I’d recommend first searching for 2$ bills, silver certificates, foreign currency, and older bills.


Anything I missed? What complimentary hobbies do you have for coin collecting?

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Why Are Coin Prices So High on Etsy?

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:

Why are Etsy coins so expensive?!?!

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.

A 1979 SBA Dollar I got in change from a vending machine.

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.)

Buy Gold and Silver



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.

Buy Gold and Silver

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!

Coins on Wrappers

Is Coin Roll Hunting Profitable?

Coin roll hunting is like a sport for numismatists. I have spent countless hours with boxes of coins searching for anything that would make a good addition to my collection.

Whether you are a coin collector or not, you have probably wondered if you can make money by coin roll hunting. It sounds easy on paper, simply find a valuable coin and cash in on potentially thousands of dollars!

In reality, few people make money coin roll hunting. The good news, is that you can coin roll hunt without losing any money and increase your potential for making money.

First, know what to look for.

Each denomination has its own unique characteristics that add value. As you begin searching, you will have to at the same time increase your knowledge of coins.

You can look for silver, errors, and low mintage numbers. Silver is easiest to learn, as you can usually go by the year. Quarters and dimes minted before 1965 are all 90% silver. Profit!

Errors are more difficult. Errors are damage that happen while the coin is being minted. There is almost never any extra value added to coins damaged after they have left the mint. A flaw that the coin obtains after it has left the mint is called post-mint damage, or PMD. Learning about the process of how coins are made will make it easier to know what kind of error you have.

Low mintage coins can be in very high demand. You can make decent money by selling these coins on Ebay. To know what coins are low-mintage you can look at the mintage numbers online or use a book that tells you the mintage numbers. Remember, to check the mintage you need the coins year and where it was minted.

How to cut down costs.

You want to reduce costs so that even if you don’t find any valuable coins, you can return the coins to the bank for the same value you got them for.

First, get your coins from the bank. It may be tempting to buy ‘unsearched’ coin rolls on Ebay, but this is the more expensive route. Sellers will charge you for shipping which is expensive, then they add a premium for calling the roll ‘unsearched’. It is very rare that the roll you buy off Ebay is actually un-searched, and even more rare that you will find anything valuable.

When you are done searching, wrap the rolls yourself by hand to return them to the bank. You can get coin wrappers on Amazon in bulk for decent prices, or ask your banker for coin roll wrappers.

Coin Roll Wrappers: Pennies, Nickels, Dimes, and Quarters


If you are looking to make money off this hobby, I would not recommend using a CoinStar. Although CoinStar’s are convenient, they are very expensive. If you do opt to use a CoinStar, convert the coins into a gift-card instead of cash to avoid the 11% fee. You could also donate the money to charity and use it as a tax write off.

Is it worth it to save copper pennies?

One way hunters try to make money is by saving all pre-1982 pennies. Pennies minted before 1982 are made of 95% copper and only 5% zinc. Depending on the price of copper, a penny could be worth more than a penny.

Although this sounds easy, there are many logistical problems.

You would need a lot of pennies to make any money at the current price. As of today, the best price for copper is about $2.75/lb. You would need 153 pennies to have a pound of copper. So, you would have a profit of about $1.22 cents per pound of pennies.

That means you would need about 82 pounds of pennies to make $100. If that sounds easy to you, also consider that you would have to store and transport 82 pounds of pennies. (Plus, 2.75 is for very pure copper, you may get less for pennies unless you purify them yourself.)

If you believe strongly that copper prices will go up considerably, then hoard copper pennies. If it sounds like too much work then don’t lose any sleep over returning copper pennies to the bank.

But is Coin Roll Hunting Profitable?

In general, I would say it is not as profitable as most people hope. It does however, not cost anything when done correctly.

Most coins are only worth a few cents or dollars over face value, barely enough to cover the cost of selling. You could likely make more money flipping coins.

I love and completely recommend coin roll hunting, but do it because you love coins, not to make a quick buck.

Collection of Assorted US Cents Colorful Background

What is Coin Roll Hunting?

Coin Roll Hunting for Beginners

I had not been a coin collector long before I heard of coin roll hunting, and it sounded so exciting! I imagined trekking out into a forest in search of old forgotten coins.

Coin roll hunting is not that exciting, but it is a great activity!

Coin roll hunting, abbreviated CRH, is when you get wrapped rolls of coins from the bank and open them in search of certain coins. Some people coin roll hunt to fill Whitman albums while others look for valuable and rare coins.

How to get started

First, you will want to head to the bank and ask for a few rolls of coins. I would recommend starting out with pennies as there are many varieties and a greater chance of finding something old.

Pennies come from the bank in rolls of 50 cents. 10 rolls is a good starting number, so you will ask the banker for 5 dollars in pennies. Bring something to carry them like a plastic bag or a small box! And ask the banker for some coin roll wrappers so that you can re-roll your coins after.

Set yourself up at a desk or table. You will want to have with you: a trash can, a box for discarded pennies, a magnifying glass, a bright light, and a box for pennies you want to keep.

To open the rolls will depend on the type of coin roll wrapper the banker gave you. If the tops are crimped, with a thinner paper, then those are bank wrapped rolls. You can open bank wrapped rolls by tearing them in the middle. The paper is not reusable.

If you can take the coins out simply by unfolding the top of the paper, then those are hand wrapped rolls. Hand wrapped rolls are great because you can reuse the paper. (Plus, coin wrapped rolls are more likely to be part of someones old collection.)

Make sure to look at each coin carefully. When you start coin roll hunting, you will know very little about what makes a coin valuable, but your knowledge will grow. The goal of your first round of coin roll hunting is to get comfortable with what each coin looks like so you can spot anomalies.

Set aside any coins that are old or look different so that you can research them later.

What to look for when coin roll hunting?

This will not be a comprehensive list, as there are so many different varieties or coins and errors. But in general,

Pennies:
Pennies minted before 1982 are all made of copper. Some collectors keep pre-1982 pennies for their copper value. If you decide to do this, make sure you have a lot of space available.

A Circulated Wheat Back Penny


Look for Wheat back pennies. These pennies were minted from 1909 to 1956. The obverse (fancy word for the front of the coin) is the same Abraham Lincoln image used today. The reverse has the words “ONE CENT” surrounded by two leaves of wheat.

As of 2020, I usually find about 1 wheat back penny for every 300 pennies.

Indian Head Pennies are more rare, but can sometimes be found. Indian Head Pennies have an image of Lady Liberty in a Native American headdress on the front, and “ONE CENT” surrounded by either a laurel or oak wreath depending on the year.

Nickels:
Nickels are my second favorite coin to coin roll hunt for. Since only two years of nickels have been made of silver in the last century, very few people look through nickels.

Hunt for wartime nickels. These were minted from 1942-1943. Since nickel was in high demand for artillery in World War II, the US Mint used silver instead of nickel. With a composition of about 35% silver, silver Wartime nickels are worth more than 5 cents.

Buffalo nickels were produced from 1913-1938. There are no silver in these nickels, but are regarded for their design. The buffalo nickel is one of the most iconic designs in US history. Due to poor design on the date, however, some dates are difficult to find in good condition. Look for buffalo nickels with clear dates.

Dimes:
Dimes are very quick to search through, but very hard to find anything rare in.

Any dime minted before 1965 is made of 90% silver. So, any dime 1964 and older is worth more than 10 cents. Unfortuntely, many of these have already been taken out of circulation. You will likely have to go through thousands of dimes before finding a silver one.

A Small Collection of Silver Dimes


From 1916 to 1945, the US Mint printed Mercury dimes. These are gorgeous silver dimes depicting lady liberty in a phrygian cap. These are worth their value in silver, and probably slightly more since they are highly regarded by coin collectors.

Quarters:
Quarters are great for kids, as there are so many varieties in the State and National Parks designs. You can spend hours trying to fill a coin folder. Quarters are a great way to get children interested in coins.

A 1964 Silver Quarter.


Searching through quarters for silver is a very difficult endeavor. As with dimes, any quarter before 1965 is 90% silver. Because they are worth much more in silver, most older quarters have already been taken out of circulation.

In all coins:

Check for the ‘S’ mint mark. The ‘S’ mint mark means a coin was minted in San Fransisco. This mint produced very few coins for circulation, so the ‘S’ mint mark adds to the rarity of the coin.

Proofs! Proof coins are a special strike of coin meant to be sold in proof sets. Although originally sold in hard, plastic containers, many were broken out of these containers and can be found in circulation. It can be hard to differentiate a proof coin from an uncirculated coin. Check for the ‘S’ mint mark, as all proofs are minted in San Fransisco.

Remember all proofs are minted in San Fransisco, but not every coin minted in San Fransisco is a proof.

What to do with coins you don’t want?

You will probably end your search with many more coins you want to get rid of than to keep. Coin roll hunting is a numbers game, you find more valuable coins by searching through as many as you can.

Getting rid of coins is the biggest hassle of coin roll hunting. There are two ways most coin roll hunters get rid of their coins.

Most common, is to re-roll all the coins and bring them back to the bank. This is easy for smaller amounts, but is tedious in large quantities. Plus, not all bank tellers appreciate having to give out coins that are being brought back the next day.

Another option is to take all the coins to a coin counting machine. The most common coin counting machine is a CoinStar. CoinStars are super easy to use, but if you want the money back in cash, you have to pay an 11% fee. You can get the money put on a gift-card in most locations. Check if your local CoinStar offers Amazon gift cards, as they are the most versatile.

If you are super lucky your bank will have it’s own coin counting machine. This is much better than a CoinStar because they are usually free to use. In fact, if a local bank has a coin counting machine it may be worth opening an account with them just to use the machine.


Are you a Coin Roll Hunter? Share your best finds in the comments below!

If you are looking for help getting started, check out: