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Estate Sale Coins: Is This Typical?

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New Member

United States
19 Posts
 Posted 09/14/2019  12:39 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add jbohanon to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
So when I recently started collecting, I thought maybe estate sales would be decent places to find bargains and searched listings for any mention of coins. One of the first ones I looked at mentioned a "Large USA Coin Collection", so I headed there. There was mostly some silver Washington quarters and Kennedy halves and a handful of Morgan and Peace dollars as well as some slabbed coins. A few weeks later, I went to an estate sale by the same company, and, wouldn't you know it, they also had a coin collection, per the ad. I wish it hadn't taken me this long, but going to a few more by them, I realized that every last one of the sales they put on has coins, and by taking pictures at one sale of the slabbed ones, I verified that it's the same coins from week to week more or less.

What's worse is, I frequent an auction house in the area and saw this guy and his whole crew there low bidding on items and grabbing up lots of jewelry and junk silver coins as well as rugs and what-not. The next sale of his I went to, there were some of them for sale at prices well above Red Book values. There was actually a line at the door when it opened and I saw two guys rush to the coin table and instantly walk away because there weren't any deals to be found. The guy has four sales in the next month and all of them promise coins. The one today actually says "One of the finest collections of high quality US gold and silver coin collections, we have seen in years" and I'm pretty sure I've seen a picture of a bunch of coin flips in a box used more than once.

Anyway, I'm curious if this is typical. Do some people who run estate sales just use them as a way to sell of bargains they get at auctions? I understand that coins aren't like an old sofa that you have to get rid of or junk so you'll sell for super-cheap, but this seems quite skeezy to me.
Pillar of the Community
United States
3490 Posts
 Posted 09/14/2019  1:02 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add KenKat to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Well this explains why everything I've ever seen coin-wise at an estate sale is overpriced.
Valued Member
United States
157 Posts
 Posted 09/14/2019  1:22 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add HGK3 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
What you've described is quite common.

Many estate sale companies will offer to buy the entire estate up front, thereby guaranteeing a sum to the sellers, before the sale is even conducted. Anything not sold can be dumped to some other seller in bulk, donated or taken to the next sale (especially small easy to transport items).

Even if the owners don't sell the entire estate up front, the estate sellers will offer to buy the leftovers at pennies on the dollar because the sellers don't want it and, again, transport it to the next sale.

There are a lot of auction houses that do this as well. They buy an entire estate and then piece out the best items at an auction, selling the lesser value items at bulk prices to shops and other auction houses, thereby reducing their risk at the same time as maximizing their profit.

These tactics are especially true of auction and sales that have a wide variety of items, such as porcelain, guns, coins, etc.

Auctions of just specific items, such as cars and coins, are a little less likely to do this, but even in these instances the houses will consider outright buying the items if they can as it gives them more flexibility and the chance to make more profits. Look at the web sites of some of the better known coin auction companies for instances and you'll see that they offer to buy as well as accept consignments.

New Member
United States
19 Posts
 Posted 09/14/2019  1:29 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbohanon to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Yeah, I kind of figured that might be the case. Even so, it's irritating that he lures people to his sales by claiming that the coin collection is extremely high quality when most of them are run-of-the-mill silver quarters for 7 bucks apiece.
Bedrock of the Community
United States
17900 Posts
 Posted 09/14/2019  1:37 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add moxking to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
There is nothing immoral about making a profit. Likewise, almost any advertising for anything has some puffing.

The only time you will purchase coins at a bargain price is when your knowledge is greater than the seller or any other buyer.
Pillar of the Community
Learn More...
United States
1325 Posts
 Posted 09/14/2019  7:42 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add fortcollins to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Many local auction houses "salt" the sales with a few items they know will attract bidders: coins, old books, original paintings, cars, recognizable collectible series, etc. Most of these items are junk bin specials, but they attract bidders.

I met with a few of the auction companies and let them know what interests me. Most of them took notes, and I periodically receive pre-auction calls about things that I may want. I'm not getting special treatment. They do it for any serious buyer, because it gets sales and better prices. Still, I've had some decent "heads up" calls and made some decent purchases. Sometimes my wife wonders what I'm thinking, such as the day I came back with 13+ bags of wheat cents (at a really good price), but there are deals out there. A few of the weird things I've snagged include a shoebox of Canadian large cents, a literal wheelbarrow filled with steel cents, and a ridiculous amount of junk silver dimes a little bit below melt. A year later, I'm still unloading the wheat cents, though.
Bedrock of the Community
United States
19315 Posts
 Posted 09/15/2019  09:00 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add just carl to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Some time ago I went to a store closing sale. I met an old friend there that was working the sale. He explained to me he actually works for a company that buys up stores, estate sales, some yard and garage sales, etc. They then have so called closing out sales themselves at some of the stores they now owned and were closing. They raised the prices and then cut them so it looked like a real sale. He explained it is amazing how many people fall for this yet there are actually some decent values there. Always a few really great deals to draw in the suckers. As the amount of products decreases, the company moves the rest to another place and repeats the sales.
just carl
Pillar of the Community
United States
3757 Posts
 Posted 09/15/2019  8:28 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Joe2007 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I agree with the comments made above. Here in Ohio coins, guns, and tools draw crowds and thus auctioneers and estate sale promoters aggressively seek them out to add to their sales. One of the auctioneers in my area frequently buys a lot of low end stuff from a couple of coin shops to put into their sales. Early coins with problems or heavily worn work well for this purpose apparently and some regular auction goers bid junky type coins to the moon and back so it is profitable for the auctioneer. They add some of their own stuff to every sale, even the ones inside someone else's home.
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