Do museums ever sell their coins?

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by Gam3rBlake, Jun 27, 2022.

  1. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    This is kind of a 2 part question:

    1). Do museums ever sell their coins because they just have too much clutter that will never see the light of day and could make use of cold hard cash for preserving & displaying their better stuff?

    2). If a museum goes out of business or loses funding would they sell them then?

    I’ve just noticed some of the most beautiful coins are in museums and many of them probably aren’t even on display and I’m curious if there’s any way to LEGALLY get my hands on museum pieces?
     
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  3. baseball21

    baseball21 Well-Known Member

    The quickest way to make sure something is never seen again is to donate to a museum. And yes if they went out of business they would have to sell everything and return everything on loan to the owners, other than that no they really dont sell anything they just stick it in a building somewhere to collect dust
     
  4. buddy16cat

    buddy16cat Well-Known Member

    I have heard of the collection they have at the Smithsonian. Here is a copy of one of the pattern coins they have there. My copy is in silver. The original is gold.

    1906pattern.jpg 1906patternrev.jpg
     
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  5. JeffC

    JeffC Go explore something and think a happy thought!

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  6. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    Ah yeah I agree plus it’s better for coins to be scattered among the globe than concentrated in a few places. All it takes is one big fire and boom dozens of one of a kind and hundreds or thousands of extremely rare coins are ruined.

    Private collectors keeping them in small collections around the world prevents one disaster like that from causing catastrophic damage although it would still be very sad.

    I know my goal is to simply keep the coins I have in the same condition I got them until I pass them on for future generations to enjoy and preserve.
     
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  7. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the reply Jeff!

    Hmm that looks like mostly commemorative stuff though no?
     
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  8. BRandM

    BRandM Counterstamp Collector

    Agreed, none look like items from the ANA collections just souvenir type stuff.

    Bruce
     
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  9. baseball21

    baseball21 Well-Known Member

    It's basically duplicates and stuff they just dont want. They arent selling any major pieces or really anything of note. It's all low/lower value stuff people donated that they just dont want to keep finding space to store in boxes somewhere. At least some percentage of the stuff was likely donated with the intention of them selling it as a way of making a donation and killing two birds with one stone
     
  10. baseball21

    baseball21 Well-Known Member

    Short of the building getting hit with a bomb thats generally not really any sort of concern for major museums with the vaults they keep things even and even the display cases if something is actually out.

    That said, the majority of stuff they do have will not be on display and they'll just be sitting on it somewhere especially for coins. People really dont go to a museum for coins in general so the major ones that have the best stuff dedicate very little space to them. If they did get some massive mega star coin they would just make it its own display but even then people are going for multi million dollar art, dinosaur bones, space artifacts etc things of that nature

    Donating your collection to a museum if you have important things is really one of the worst things you can do as far as accessibility for people in the future and this isnt unique to coins either. For example the Smithsonian has massive warehouses full of things in multiple locations that will never get displayed or havent been seen by basically anyone but the staff in decades
     
  11. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    As said already there's pretty much no chance of collectors ever getting their hands on meaningful pieces from museums.

    But then, with a few exceptions, many collectors wouldn't want them even if they could get them. That's because in a great many museums most if not all of the coins have been harshly/improperly cleaned and or polished by the museum staff over the decades. Sadly this is especially true of the Smithsonian collection.
     
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  12. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Museums do sometimes deaccession items from their collections, including coins. I seem to recall that the Boston Museum of Fine Arts sold a number of their coins at auction in the 1980s.
     
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  13. ldhair

    ldhair Clean Supporter

    I'm sure you know airplanenut. He helped the Smithsonian move part of the collection they hold. He reported the same about some great coins. It is sad.
     
  14. paddyman98

    paddyman98 I'm a professional expert in specializing! Supporter

    Why buy when you can just do a quick museum heist? :wacky:

    Cupace20220628081853.png
     
  15. beaver96

    beaver96 Well-Known Member

    Yes museums and libraries can and will sell their coin collections, google the Byron Reed coin collection. One of the best collections to ever have been donated. And now broken up. Oh the humanity!!
     
  16. masterswimmer

    masterswimmer Well-Known Member

    Seems like that sale was the exception rather than the rule. But duly noted. Thank you for that heads up.
     
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  17. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Yeah, I really hate museums for all of the reasons cited. If they did what they used to do, and actually display their items, I would like it. I remember as a kid going to the Smithsonian and seeing the 1849 double eagle and other rarities because they were all out. I went a few weeks ago and it was garbage. Seriously, garbage. I personally owned half of the items on display. None of the great rarities they own were on display, sure a few nice Sicilian tetradrachm, but nothing unusual. I would rather have gone to a mediocre coin show than there. The only pieces I would ever consider donating are my true cross clay tokens, and that would be to a church if I felt that church may appreciate them. Other than that, I wish all of my stuff, if my kids don't want them, to be auctioned off back into the coin community.
     
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  18. Insider

    Insider Talent on loan from...

    I think you covered it pretty good. ;)

    baseball21, posted: "The quickest way to make sure something is never seen again is to donate to a museum. And yes if they went out of business they would have to sell everything and return everything on loan to the owners, other than that no they really dont sell anything they just stick it in a building somewhere to collect dust?

    EXCEPT when they do sell parts of the collection.

    baseball21, posted: "It's basically duplicates and stuff they just dont want. They arent selling any major pieces or really anything of note. It's all low/lower value stuff people donated that they just dont want to keep finding space to store in boxes somewhere. At least some percentage of the stuff was likely donated with the intention of them selling it as a way of making a donation and killing two birds with one stone."
     
  19. Andy

    Andy Coin Collector

    Museums have their downside and it makes me sick when I hear that storage items go missing over the years.
    However, I loved looking at the ancient coins at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when I was a New Yorker. I am sure they were cleaned as stated here but glad I had opportunity to see the beauty of the ancients.
     
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  20. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    Good thing museums never get bombed, then, isn't it? ;)
     
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  21. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Yeah, I fear the future with this repatriating nonsense. Sounds like a lot more stuff might be in harms way. Any one location can be dangerous. No one talks about it since so much other stuff was lost, but one of the greatest collections of Islamic textiles was torched on 9/11, it was in the office of someone in one of the towers.
     
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