Gold coins have been used for commerce for thousands of years. They are prized for their historical and artistic value as well as for their gold content. If you want to negotiate the best price for your gold coins, you have to do some research. The rarity and condition of gold coins has a significant impact on how much cash you will get. Some are worth much more than their weight in gold.
Handle all gold coins with great care. You should never touch them with your bare fingers or anything that could scratch them. Every ding, scratch and fingerprint reduces the value of a gold coin. Wear gloves or use padded tongs when handling them. Absolutely never clean a gold coin even if it is dirty. Many gold coin collectors will not buy cleaned gold coins.
Identify the country that minted the gold coin. This is always engraved on the coin, but may be in a foreign language. If you have difficulty figuring out the country of origin, see the country list link in the Resources section below.
Find the year the gold coin was minted. This is also engraved on the coin and generally is a year from the Western calendar. Some gold coins minted in Asia and the Middle East use other dating systems or different numbering. For example, Japan numbers coins based on the year of a particular emperor’s reign and the figures are in Japanese. If you can’t figure out the year of the gold coin, see the coin numbering link in the Resources section.
Locate the denomination on the gold coin. This is the stated value on the coin. It is used mainly for identification purposes, not as an indicator of what the gold coin is worth. For example, the United States used to mint a $20 gold coin. They are all worth more than $1,000 now.
Understand the difference between gold coins and gold bullion. Technically, a gold round piece must be monetized by the government to be called a coin. Gold bullion often looks like a coin and can even have a value stamped on it, but it is not really money. Its value is in the gold it contains plus a small minting premium. Gold coins tend to be older. Most were minted prior to 1933 when the United States went off of the gold standard. Their value is much higher because of their rarity and historical significance.
Consult gold coin charts to determine the general market price of a particular gold coin (see Resources). To use them, you must know the country of origin, date and denomination. The charts will give you a range of price depending on the condition of the gold coin.
Estimate the condition of the gold coins. This is the subjective part of determining the price. Many people can look at the same gold coin and disagree about its condition. An uncirculated coin must have no wear on its surfaces and have mint luster like when it was new. The value increases dramatically if a gold coin is uncirculated.
Trade the gold coins for cash by finding a willing buyer. Gold is in high demand since it holds value when currencies fail. Coin dealers will offer you the lowest price. They are in the business of buying low and selling high. But as a means of testing the market, show your coins to several dealers. But you'll get the best price by selling directly to collectors. Internet auction websites like eBay are popular with gold coin collectors. Based on the gold charts and dealer offers, you can list your coins with the confidence of knowing when bids are too low. Another option is to attend a coin show, where you can sell to collectors face to face; visit coinshows.com for a state-by-state listing.
Kent Ninomiya is a veteran journalist with over 23 years experience as a television news anchor, reporter and managing editor. He traveled to more than 100 countries on all seven continents, including Antarctica. Ninomiya holds a Bachelor of Arts in social sciences with emphasis in history, political science and mass communications from the University of California at Berkeley.