One of the greatest challenges faced by the typical numismatist is keeping track of his or her collection. A typical coin collection often consists of thousands of individual items of many different types.
There may be coins of great individual value in certified coin holders, many individual pieces of moderate value in albums, certified holders, or flips and also bulk coins in boxes or tubes. Collections are typically acquired over many years, during which the collector is unable to apply sufficient time to maintain a comprehensive inventory.
As a result, many collectors do not have a comprehensive up to date catalog of their collection. Lack of an up to date inventory results in several significant problems. Without a detailed inventory, it is impossible to assure that a collection is properly insured (adequately covered at an optimal expense). It is also impossible to assure that items are properly protected from theft as well as potential environmental damage. Lack of a current inventory may result in the unnecessary purchase of duplicate items as well as a lack of certainty regarding financial resources associated with a collection.
These problems are greatly magnified when collectors pass on their collections to heirs who are further disadvantaged by lacking adequate knowledge to handle the collection properly.
A well-designed record-keeping strategy should enable a collector to simply answer the following questions:
• What is my collection worth?
• Is my collection properly insured?
• Is my collection adequately protected?
• Is a particular coin in my collection?
• Where is a particular coin?
• What coins am I interested in acquiring?
• What coins in my collection would I like to trade or sell?
• What are the most effective means to sell each part of my collection?
• What is my profit/loss on the sale of some of my coin(s)?
• Are there any items in my collection of particular significance to my family?
Fortunately, modern coin inventory software provides an effective solution to this problem. Well-designed coin inventory software provides efficiency to the cataloging of a collection, estimates values, generates an array of reports intended to address a wide variety of needs, helps facilitate coin collecting objectives, and also provides essential guidance to heirs.
In this article, I will review some of the basic features needed to meet proper record-keeping requirements as well as developing a strategy if time is a concern.
APPROACHES TO CATALOGING A COLLECTION
Some collectors enjoy the process of recording his or her collection and are willing to spend as much time as it takes. Others find the effort of cataloging to be burdensome and would like to spend less time on the task. The approach one selects should be considerate of time and not unnecessarily cause a collector to spend countless hours performing tasks that are not seen as enjoyable.
Often, much of the time expended in recordkeeping is unnecessary and can be greatly diminished by incorporating various elements into a strategy.
Avoid detailed cataloging of low-value items. If you have hundreds of Indian Head cents of very low grades, most of which are worth a few dollars or less, it is certainly not worth the effort to record detailed information about each coin. One effective strategy would be to search the coins for the few key dates and record the remaining coins as a bulk lot with an average value.
The same strategy can be taken for common coins of mid-range value such as common date Morgan dollars at grades that place their value at less than $100 per coin. One could take the time to record each coin individually, including cost, certification ID number, and purchase history, but a lot of time could be saved by combining entries.
Coins that are worth bullion value could also be recorded in a few lots based on metal content with an average per-ounce cost to facilitate profit calculations.
Collectors will want to spend record keeping time focused on those coins that bear the highest value or other significance to a collection. Usually, the number of such coins is a relatively small portion of a collection and can be cataloged with a modest effort.
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