Read This Before You Consign Coins or Paper to an Auction Company

Consigning to an Auction Company?

Be Sure to Avoid These Major Pitfalls

Before you consign to an auction house, be sure you have done everything in your power to maximize auction results and avoid the major pitfalls that are part of the auction process. Learn as much as you can about selling at auction or consult with a professional numismatist who is qualified to advise you in these matters.

When lawyers and bankers represent clients with numismatic collections they try to learn as much as they can about the auction process, and they seek qualified professional assistance. That is what is meant by “exercising due diligence.” Shouldn’t you be doing exactly the same thing?

Auctions can be an effective and easy way to sell coins or currency and it all seems so simple. Choose an auction house, sign a consignor agreement, deliver your collection to the auction house and wait for a generous settlement check to arrive sometime soon. It seems simple, but as a former auction director for over twenty years I can assure you that selling at auction is quite a bit more complicated than the auction companies lead you to believe.

Here are just some of the questions you should ask yourself before consigning:

Are all of your items suitable for auction or should they be sold through some other method?

Did you really pick the right auction house to sell what is in your collection?

Did you negotiate the best possible seller’s fees and the best possible terms?

Did your consignor agreement specify the commissions charged to potential buyers?

Could the auction house change the promised date of sale without consulting you?

What happens if an item is lost or damaged?

Are reserves appropriate? Who will determine what they should be?

Will your collection be properly insured as it travels to the auction house, as it sits in their vaults, as it goes to shows to be viewed, and as it is shipped out to winning bidders?

What happens if a buyer fails to pay for an item or if a lot is damaged or lost?

Who will catalog your collection? Will it be a recognized expert who knows your items and their market value very well or will it be someone less qualified?

Did you read and fully understand all of the fine print in the consignor agreement?

These are just a few of the questions that should be addressed to your satisfaction before you sign a consignor agreement.

How Can You Obtain

Expert Auction Consulting Advice

That Virtually Pays for Itself?

If your collection is large enough, I may be able to negotiate a very favorable seller’s fee and address all of the issues covered in the previous paragraphs. Savings may exceed or equal the cost of my services.

If You are Thinking of Selling Your Collection at Auction

or If You Want Help with the Auction Process

Please give me a call at 516-996-0371 or contact me by email at You’ll be glad you did.

Stephen Goldsmith,  President, American Paper Money and Coins

Past President Professional Paper Money Dealers Association

Member ANA 

Member SPMC

Former Director of Numismatics – Stack’s

Former Executive President -R. M. Smythe

Former Head of Numismatics – Spink USA