Coin Exchange FAQ
Maintained and Hosted by
Last updated on October 7, 2008
This document describes what you need to do in order to exchange coins with other coin collectors worldwide. It
addresses some of the most common problems you are bound to face and provides useful information that simplify and
accelarate the process. The answers to various questions are valid for amateur coin collectors exchanging
low value/circulated coins. The
guidelines below are pretty long, but you probably won't need to read all of them. I am trying to keep the content of
this FAQ to the bare minimum, however issues that require our attention keep coming up.
The original idea behind this FAQ came from a not-so-patient friend of mine, who was waiting for the coins he
had agreed on exchanging. He was feeling quite frustrated, because the other person waited to receive the coins
first and then sent his own. It was then that I felt the need for some unofficial rules when
exchanging coins. I searched for a related FAQ online, but since I could not find one I decided to spend some time
to form this document. If you feel the content of this FAQ is reasonable and you maintain a site about coins,
please provide a link to it. You may use the following code:
<a href="http://www.fleur-de-coin.com/exchange/tradefaq.html">Coin Exchange FAQ</a>
Alternatively, you may simply copy this file and provide it as is -that is without modifications-
from your site.
This material is updated periodically and you can always find the most recent version at
Comments, suggestions, and/or corrections to this document are welcomed. If you would like to change this document in
some way, please make the desired modifications to a copy of the posting, and then
e-mail it to me. Suggestions for additional topics are also welcomed,
especially if you're willing to write a response to the question. Contributors will be acknowledged in the FAQ.
Table of Contents
1. Where can I find more Coin Collectors to trade?
2. Where can I find a list of people I should avoid exchanging with?
3. What do I need before I start contacting other people?
4. What is considered 'good manners' when exchanging?
5. Building a list with the coins you offer
6. What is considered 'bad manners' when exchanging?
7. How should I pack the coins?
8. Should I send the coins as 'Express' or 'registered' mail?
9. Individuals who contributed
Several websites created by coin collectors worldwide contain lists of people eager to exchange coins. In most cases
you can include yourself by filling out a form with your name, e-mail address and comments about the coins you collect,
or other useful information (e.g. your homepage -if available- etc). A simple search in the most popular search engines
such as Google,
Yahoo will reveal most of them. Below, I have compiled a list with
the largest websites available today, in alphabetical order.
[If your site is missing, please let me know and I will add
it to the list as soon as possible.]
Yiannis Androulakis, the author of this FAQ, created this site in early 2001. It provides
coin information with an emphasis on Greek and European coinage. It also features a coin-collectors' database,
containing more than 270 people from 70 different countries. All entries can be sorted and updated dynamically,
so you can add, edit or remove your submission on-line without e-mailing the owner of the site.
Contains 134 people grouped by their countries. The list includes names, e-mails and homepages.
Contains 106 people sorted by their countries. The list contains names, e-mails, homepages and country flags.
Dan Ramer (Israel) has a good traders list of 131 collectors, with details about what they collect. You can also find calendar readers of many countries, information about Israel coins in present or past and links to general information about Israel.
Good Traders List
RRasmus Runne (Estonia) has build a site dedicated to trading world circulating coins, which also includes some facts about coins circulating in Estonia. His good traders list is actually list of 453 people with whom he had a successful trade in the past 8+ years. They are sorted by country, and once year he checks if their accounts are active.
List of collectors
Igor Litmanovich (Israel) has a build a site with information about his collection, a trading list, lists of good and bad swappers etc. Currently there are 79 good swappers, all of which are sorted by countries. An Access database for maintaining a coin collection can be downloaded from the site.
My good coin traders
Contains 97 people sorted by their countries and includes their names and e-mails.
Recommended Collectors of NUMISMAS
Contains 168 people from 32 countries, sorted by their country, and includes their names, e-mail addresses and homepages.
Contains 158 people with whom the owner has already traded coins. The list is sorted by countries and includes the collectors name, e-mails and homepages.
It is really unfortunate that a handful of coin collectors cannot agree on a universally accepted list of malicious
people. In numerous cases, coin collectors have expressed their complaints about certain individuals in their homepages,
but nobody -as far as I know- has compiled a formal 'black list'. I should point out however, that some of the people
included in such 'black lists' may have been added unjustly (e.g.. personal differences with the website's owner) or
by mistake (e.g. often packages are simply lost). On the other hand, finding someone's name in several different lists
is a serious indication that he is not to be trusted. Below I have included the largest websites available today, in
[If your site is missing, please let me know and I will add
it to the list as soon as possible.]
Only two words come to my mind when I review the situation today; fragmentation and disorganisation. In order to
effectively protect ourselves, we should merge all available lists and form a single, universally accepted and well
documented list of bad coin collectors. In my hubble opion the new list should follow the guidelines included below:
- It should be posted periodically to the appropriate newsgroups.
- It should be listed in the most popular search engines.
- It should be linked from all the collectors' websites.
- Each entry should include the name and the address of the suspicious coin collector, a list of people that had
problems with him and a short description of each case.
- The entries should be listed in alphabetical order by country and then by the collector's name.
- It should be accompanied with a Forum, where we would be able to exchange experiences and discuss our problems
- If a person is voted "guilty" unanimously, he should be removed from all coin collectors' lists available online.
Although exchanging coins doesn't require any particular/special qualifications, there are some things
-that most take for granted- which simplify the whole process. Assuming you have an Internet account
and some coins to trade, you should really consider forming a list with the coins
you offer. It is absolutely necessary to have one, as it will make your life -and ours- easier and faster.
The language barrier is probably your first obstacle in a coin exchange. Some times, you will be contacting
people who speak the same language, in most cases however this will not be true. This means you
must have a working knowledge of a wide-spread language (e.g. English). Mentioning such a requirement
may sound unnecessary or even excessive to most, but the truth is I have been contacted by people with
such a poor knowledge of the English language, that communication was almost impossible. Alternatively,
you may try an online translation service which is offered for free. Unfortunately, the resulting text
is often unreadable, so some guessing is usually required to understand what it really means. Take a
[If you know of another translation service worth mentioning,
please contact me as soon as possible.]
- Google Translator (Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Russian, Italian, Portuguese, Greek, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Japanese Korean, and several others)
- World Lingo (Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Russian, Italian, Portuguese, Greek, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Japanese and Korean)
- Translation Services (uses SYSTRAN, numerous languages)
- Babelfish (Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Chinese)
- Otenet (Translations to/from Greek)
You must also have a Latin version of your home address, that is without the special characters of your language's
alphabet. For instance, although I am Greek I do not assume that all computers have the proper fonts installed to
display the Greek alphabet. The same limitations apply to other languages that contain non-Latin characters. This is a
minor annoyance which will probably be eliminated in the future. In summary, all you need are the following simple
- Internet account - e-mail address
- Coins available for exchanging and a list that includes them
- Sufficient knowledge of a wide-spread language (e.g.. English)
- Latin version of your home address
In most cases, a web-based e-mail account is preferable to the e-mail address provided by your ISP, for reasons
listed below. Take a look at e-mail Addresses for a
complete list of all free, web-based e-mail providers worldwide. Of course these free accounts have a series
of disadvantages too:
Changing ISPs doesn't change your e-mail address,
so your address remains valid in the various collectors lists
Web-based e-mail accounts are often slow,
e.g.. hotmail is giving me a hard time with large attachments
You can trade coins without an Internet account, by
simply checking your e-mails from a friend's computer or Net cafe
Your e-mails are limited to a certain webspace,
e.g.. hotmail allocates only 2MB for e-mails
You can set up an automatic response when you are on holidays, informing
people when you will be returning
Large numbers of unsolicitated e-mails,
that waste your time and precious webspace.
Your e-mail account can expire,
e.g.. hotmail, if you don't log-in for 30 days
For those who think that web-e-mails are too slow, a mail forwarding service might serve the same purpose even better.
This topic is highly subjective depending on your unique personality. In general, I should
think the following practices are considered 'good manners' or at least acceptable:
Contacting the other Party:
- Selecting a collector: Take a minute to browse through a list of coin collectors, select the submission that
sounds the most promising and e-mail him. If the collector provides a URL for the coins he offers, check it first
to make sure you do not contact him for no reason, for instance if he doesn't offer any coins you are interested in.
- Try to be brief and polite: State your name and the reason you are writing the e-mail at the
very beginning. If you have a list of coins you offer which is not very long, you may attach it. However,
if it takes up too much space you can either provide a URL for downloading or inform him that you have a
list of coins available for sending upon Request.
- Focus on exchanging: We don't need to know anything about you, your past, education, occupation etc.
If someone asks you for this info, then -by all means- give it to him, otherwise try to stick to the
During the Negotiations:
- Make sure you have all the coins included in your list. Finding out you are missing a couple
of coins after you have reached an agreement, could cause a great inconvenience and it's irresponsible.
- If both parties have the Standard Catalog of World Coins, the process is simplified considerable.
Use the country and Krause No# to specify each coin.
[You really should have the
Standard Catalog of
World Coins. You'll learn a lot about the hobby and the value of your coins.]
- If a coin has a serious defect or it is heavily worn, you should inform the other party.
Although few people grade their coins, it is assumed that they are in an acceptable condition
(= details are visible, no foreign substances etc).
After the Negotiations:
- Send the coins right away and when you do, inform the other party that you sent them.
In other words don't wait to receive his/her coins first, before you send yours.
- The packaging of the coins could be the topic of a huge debate. Some people are really thorough and
some are really sloppy. Since most of the coins are circulated, you don't have to be extremely careful
but some precautions are necessary. You should make sure they are not damaged, using whatever means
you think will suffice for this. I have included a relative paragraph in this FAQ, with some basic guidelines
about packaging the coins.
- When you receive the coins, inform the other party and if you liked them, you can even thank them!
What a novel idea! Why didn't *I* think of that?
First of all, you really must have one. It will simplify and speed things up considerably.
- Format: Although the use of Microsoft Word documents, Excel sheets and HTML files is widespread, I would strongly
advise against using these formats. Try ASCII-Text instead; it produces very small files which can be viewed by
non-commercial programs on all digital platforms, and it doesn't carry any viruses like the propriatery document
formats mentioned above. If you already have a list in another format, just export it to plain or ASCII text.
[If your list is available in more than one formats, ask the interested party which one
suits him the best]
- Content: The required fields for each of the coins included are country, denomination, and date.
You should also consider adding a short description and/or the Krause No#. Some really fine examples of coin lists
include the grade of the coins, a practice that requires a great deal of work and knowledge.
[Some collectors load tradelists into a database to automatically compare them to their collection
inventory. For them, the KM# is critical and should be included at (or near) the beginning of each line if possible.]
- If your list is too long, you may consider splitting it up into more files, or sending only the particular kind
of coins that interest the other party (e.g. only FAO coins). You could also compress it for best results, using the
most widespread format for compressed files available today (namely .zip).
[To view the contents of a comressed file, you will have to download a freeware, shareware or commercial program
(e.g. Winzip). Windows XP has built-in support for .zip files.]
- Organization: At the very top of the list, include you name, e-mail address and a short legend; a brief explanation
of symbols, colors, or definitions you may be using. For instance, you may choose to indicate some corroded or
heavily worn coins with a red color, and the coins you have reserved for another collector with blue color. The
coins must be sorted alphabetically by countries, then by denomination and date.
When you are exchanging coins, you are taking a risk. A small -depending on the value of the coins-, calculated
risk. You are exchanging goods with an individual you have never met and you know nothing about. That said, you
have to realize you must place some trust in order to make such a transaction possible. You have to believe that
you are exchanging with an honest person who has no intention of cheating you. It is a compromise that both parties
are making, so don't feel in a disadvantage. You have your doubts and the person lying some thousands miles away
has the exact same fears. Here is a list of practices I have encountered and consider 'bad manners':
- Sending the same e-mail ("lets trade") to a bunch of people (multiple recipients). Most people
-including myself- won't even bother replying to such a massive coin-exchange Request. Moreover, spam filters
will detect this practice and delete these messages automatically.
- Sending huge e-mails: Frequently, people fail to realise that e-mails are supposed to be short and right to the
point. You only need to send a couple of lines explaining your intentions, so please restrain your
undoubtedly impressive writing skills.
[Your current occupation -or your parents' occupation for that matter- is not important. Remember, we just want to
trade coins so if you haven't been specifically asked to give info on your background -and you won't-, you'd better
not send an essay explaining how important you or your relatives are in your country.]
- Sending large attachments: Most people in Europe -and other parts of the world- use a slow dial-up connection
and have to pay both, a monthly subscription and the phone company for internet access. Since staying online for
longer than necessary can increase their phone bills, they do not appreciate huge uninvited e-mails that result to
a half-an-hour loss of internet time and quickly fill up the available space in a web-based e-mail account at the
same time. If you would like to attach a large file, please make sure the other guy wants to receive it too.
[The most absurd e-mail I have ever received was from a collector of FAO coins. She included all the FAO coins
she didn't have and asked me if I had them! I thought it was really rude and a complete waste of bandwidth too]
- Pay attention: In most lists, the collectors ask for specific coins from specific countries.
Although some won't really mind, others will get frustrated and even irritated when they start receiving
4-5 e-mails a day asking for coins they are not interested in. So pay attention to what the other guy wants.
- Taking too much time to respond or not responding at all(!): Many people do not have the time,
will or just can't check their e-mails every single day and reply. If you are one of them, you should at least
respond as soon as you get e-mails, especially if you are to refuse the offer. Let's try to keep the
negotiations and response time to the bare minimum.
- Sending after you receive: That may ensure you are not cheated, but -in a way- you cheat
the other person. This has to do with the trust I was talking about. After all, if both parties wait
for the other's coins to arrive, exchanging would soon be effectively over. If however, you have a bad
feeling/indication about a guy and you do wait to receive his coins first, it is only fair (although not
entirely) that you send him the coins using express delivery and thus make up for some of the
delay. It will cost more, but why should the other person 'pay' for your own mistrust?
- Sending heavily worn or otherwise damaged coins: Getting rid of that old useless coin might
sound like a good idea to you, but won't make the other guy very happy. Most people won't ask you
for a specific grade, but we assume the coins are in an acceptable condition. If one of the coins you
are about to send has a serious defect or is heavily worn, it is only fair that you warn the other party.
Coins should be packaged securely for shipping. The reason is two-fold. First and foremost you will want to protect
your coins when they are jostled during shipping (and they will be jostled). Secondly, any package that reveals it
contains coins is an open invitation to unscrupulous people to steal the package or try to remove some of its contents:
Improperly packaged in an envelope, a coin's outline can show through the envelope once it has been "pressed" between
other envelopes or packages. Any package that rattles with the sound of coins jingling is a theft just waiting to
- Never fix the coins with duct tape, or any kind of tape for that matter; they get sticky and are hard to clean
afterwards. If you use tape, wrap each coin in paper or cellophane (plastic wrap) first
- When you send the coins by mail, be sure they are wrapped carefully. They shouldn't slide around
and they shouldn't fall out of the package, even if it gets ripped open. If you don't have a professional
coin holder system, you can simply fix the coins between two sheets of plastic or thin cardboard which you
staple together. Make sure you tape all around the edges so they cannot slide out. Alternately (and even better),
some coin shops sell corrugated safety mailers meant for just this purpose. There is no need for cutting and taping
since these are precut to fold over and fit in #10 envelopes and are pre-glued to press & seal together
- There are envelopes with an extra protective layer inside (bubble pack). Although this is meant for
sending fragile items -rather than metal coins-, this extra layer is so thick that it makes it impossible to
detect the content from the outside. Because padded envelopes are prohibited with US registered mail, alternatively
you can secure the outside of the envelope with packaging tape. Use brown paper tape (not clear)
- If you send the coins in an envelope and want to lower the risk of the coins getting stolen, pad the
envelope (for example with two extra layers of thick cardboard), so the content can't be detected from the
[Keep in mind the United States Postal Service (USPS) does not allow "irregularly shaped" objects to be sent in
"regular" size envelopes. You can judge for yourself if your package is too thick for a regular envelope, or ask
someone at the post office. Otherwise, to be sure, you may want to use a larger padded envelope or a box.]
- Shake the package, in order to make sure you can not hear the coins inside hitting against each other.
- Finally, it is a good idea not to be too descriptive when you are required to attach a customs form listing the
contents of a package. Rather than writing "coins" on a customs form, I have found it quite acceptable to write
"hobby supply". The U.S. has postal restrictions against sending coins or currency to many countries, but the postal
agents seem quite content to deliver "hobby supplies".
[Sending and/or recieving circulation coins is illegal in Greece! Sometimes packages sent to me were returned,
because their content was listed on the outside]
Although this is a topic that the two parties can easily agree upon, I would say none of the two are -in most
cases- required. In general, I would send the coins express or as registered mail, in the following circumstances:
- Express: This has been mentioned before, when you wait to receive the coins intentionally or unintentionally
(you may have forgotten to send them). You should at least try to make up for some of the delay.
- registered: If you are sending -and receiving- a large number of coins (15 or more, but this is also
subjective), or the value of the coins justifies the extra expense (which can be double for some countries), you
should consider registered mail.
[I have to point out, that in the past I have refused to trade just 5 coins with registered mail, as I considered
the value of these coins negligible or at least they didn't justify the extra expense]
- registered: If you suspect the postal services in your country are a little dishonest -and don't be
offended, there are unscrupulous people everywhere-, you should talk about it with the other party and
use registered mail.
I don't think I have to point out however, that because of the extra expenses these two services entail,
it is only logical that both parties make use of them.
I would like to thank the following individuals who have helped and contributed to this document:
- Marcel Zumstein, for his packaging guidelines.
- Don Norris from the USA, for his enthusiastic support and his comments on the tradelists and coin packaging.
- Susan Headley for various updates and minor corrections
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