Telephone Call

Take a moment and “listen in” on a common telephone conversation in coin shops around the country.

It’s mid-morning in the coin shop. Mr. Coin Dealer and his staff are working with customers in the store and answering telephone queries about coins and the metals’ market, in particular gold and silver.

The telephone rings again. Mr. Coin Dealer answers, “Hello, you’ve reached XYZ Coins and Metals, how can we help you?”

The caller, Jane, responds, “I have lots of those Roosevelt dimes dated 1964 and earlier. What are you paying?

Looking at the current silver prices, Mr. Coin Dealer says, “I’m paying $1.90 per silver Roosevelt dime.”

Sounding somewhat offended, Caller Jane comes back with, “My brother says these dimes are worth $25 a piece.”

Frustrated, but still pleasant, Mr. Coin Dealer comments to Jane, “If your brother thinks they are worth $25 each, then sell them to him.”

“But, my brother doesn’t have any money.”

Mr. Coin Dealer repeats, “I’m paying $1.90 per dime.”

Two lessons can be learned from this story.

First, if you have old coins, learn about them and their value. Jane learned that her dimes were silver and worth more than face value.  

Second, make sure you research your coins and their value from both knowledgeable and reputable sources. Unfortunately, Jane gathered her knowledge about the dimes’ value from her brother. Perhaps he read about a valuable dime, heard someone else speculating on silver values or decided that’s what the dimes should be worth without knowing any facts.

Though silver is over $25 per ounce, a silver Roosevelt dime contains less than one-tenth of an ounce of silver (0.07234 oz pure silver).

Working backwards mathematically, Mr. Coin Dealer’s offer of $1.90 per dime equates to a silver price of more than $26 per ounce. ($1.90 divided by 0.07234)

Remember when you sell your coins for silver, Mr. Coin Dealer will not pay full silver bullion prices because he has to sell the silver to another business with the ability to refine the metal.

On the other hand, many of the coin dealers will pay in the range of 80 to 90 percent of the bullion price (unlike some businesses that pay only 10 to 20 percent). In many cases, with their sources in the metals’ industry, coin dealers offer the best price for silver and gold.

Learn lessons from Jane. It pays to do your homework to insure you know whether your coins are worth more than face value and to get an appropriate idea of their value. If you are selling your silver coins (or gold jewelry), it also pays to learn which business pays the best price for the metals.