I recently was offered a fairly large collection of Germanic material from a pawn shop dealer. As soon as I saw the group, I immediately knew whose collection it was. A long-time client of mine had purchased most of this collection from me over the years, and this past winter, he had stopped ordering. As many people go through phases where they are in and out of collecting, I did not think much of it. However, after I purchased this group, I googled his name, and was saddened to see his obituary pop up. Given the price I paid from the pawn shop dealer, whomever was his heir did not net even a fraction of the fair market value.
It is a sad truth that many of family members and potential heirs do not share the same passion we coin collectors have. While not a pleasant thought, I feel it is paramount for coin collectors to assemble some sort of documentation they can put into their safe, safety deposit box or wherever they store their valuables which would help any future heirs to liquidate at fair market value if there should be a need to in the future. While it is a bit different for me with the business, my employees are aware of where I have a list stashed with instructions on how to liquidate our inventory in the most profitable manner should something happen to myself. As for my personal collection, I have prepared a list of dealers and auction houses I trust which I keep in my safe deposit box with other important documents so that if anything were to happen, my wife would know exactly who to contact to maximize returns on these pieces. Around once a year, I’ll update these documents, to ensure they are current and up to date.
Here’s my advice for all my clients. Even if it’s just a business card, put some sort of information with your collection. Make sure your heirs know of a dealer you trust- It certainly doesn’t have to be me, although I have assisted with making arrangements for several of my clients who wanted to make sure everything was in order. If you’ve spent a lifetime working on your collection, it would be a shame to see it sold for a pittance by well intentioned but unknowing family members.