I received lots of great feedback on my Gold and Silver Buyer's Guide published last week.
In addition to the great feedback, I also received some corrections. For instance, I learned that pre-1964 nickels did not contain silver, apart from a short period of time during World War II.
But perhaps the most lingering question my guide left readers with was "how do I sell?"
It's a truly excellent question.
My first recommendation would be to make sure you THOROUGHLY understand your bullion vendor's buy back policies. Call up their customer service number and ask lots of questions about what discount under spot they'll pay, how the bullion needs to be shipped, how soon you can get paid and if there are any limits or exceptions.
One reader wrote in and told me that he had a great experience selling silver coins back to Blanchard. He sent them what he thought was 10 ounces of silver, but they sent him a check and an invoice for 11! Apparently, he mistakenly included a two ounce silver coin in with 9 one ounce silver coins.
I'm not a paid or reimbursed by Blanchard to tell you any of this, by the way, and I know they're not the cheapest bullion vendor, but this type of honest business practice is exactly why I use them - as well as Kitco.com.
If you're extremely curious about the selling process, I'd advise you to sell a few coins. You'll learn more about selling by actually doing it than by reading anything I can write here.
That way, you'll be a seasoned veteran when the time comes to sell the bulk of your holdings.
I had another great question related to selling that I think underscores my strict adherence to non-collectible, non-numismatic bullion.
Jim B. writes:
I have a question.
I had a 1986 proof Gold Eagle. I would think it was MS70 and encapsulated. When I bought it in the 1990s I paid a 10% premium. When I sold it a few weeks ago the dealer paid me spot price for it. His explanation was, `Gold prices have exceeded collectors' prices. Therefore I can only pay you for the gold content.' Was he being honest with me?
I hate to give you this answer, but I swear I'm not being glib: I don't know. And I tend to assume ignorance over malice, so I'm betting your dealer got an okay deal, but he probably didn't intend to rip you off. Ripping people off isn't a great way to get repeat business.
You can look up your specific coin at this website - but I really don't know too much about the specific value of any given coin.
What I do know about collectibles is that most coins simply aren't very collectible. Most ordinary golden eagles - even in proofs, even encapsulated and rates - aren't very collectible. That's because there's so many of them minted every year.
The really collectible coins (and again, I'm not a numismatic expert by any stretch) are rare - like the original Saint Gaudens coins minted in the early 1900s.
They're not making them anymore, and they're widely considered to be among the most beautiful pieces of gold coin art on the planet.
That's great - if you're a rare art collector.
But I'm not. I'm a regular guy, looking to protect his wealth from inflationary policy and currency crisis. I just want to own some portion of my wealth in real, honest, sound money. So, I use regular old, garden variety bullion.
I know what regular bullion sells for - it sells for around the spot price. I can shop my coins around and find a vendor or another bullion buyer to give me the best price - and none of my buyers have to know anything at all about rare works of art or different coin ratings.
I never have to guess or do a coin price lookup on my bullion. I never have to worry that my collectible coin might be going out of fashion.
So, that's why my rule of thumb is to always pay as little over spot for your bullion as you reasonably can.