A Diamond Doesn’t Shine at The Bottom of a Cave 💎

Good morning!

I have a story to share with you today that I stole from our good friend Joel :)

See if you can catch the lesson(s)!


A father told his daughter, “Congrats on your graduation. I bought you a car a while ago. I want you to have it now. But before I give it to you, take it to a car dealer in the city. See how much they offer if you sell it.”

The girl came back to her father and said: “They offered me $10,000 dollars because it looks very old.”

Father said: “Ok, now take it to the pawn shop.”

The girl returns to her father and said: “The pawn shop offered $1,000 dollars because it’s a very old car and needs a lot of work done.”

Next the father told her to join a passionate car club with experts and show them the car.

So the girl drove to the passionate car club. She returned to her father a few hours later and told him, “Some people in the club offered me $100,000 dollars because it’s a rare car in original condition!”

Then the father said, “I wanted to let you know that you are not worth anything if you are not in the right place. If you are not appreciated, do not be angry, that just means you are in the wrong place. Don’t stay in a place where no one sees your value.”

Know your worth and know where you are valued. A diamond doesn’t shine at the bottom of a cave.



Though I have to admit I was hoping for an even better lesson at the end, lol… Something along the lines of:

“You’re always worth a lot no matter where you are! Your worth is inside YOU –
not what anyone says!”

Or where I *actually* thought this was going because I’m a hustler:

“Always take the time to figure out the best place to maximize your profits!”

Which I’ll admit isn’t as beautiful as the inner worth analogy, but still – just as true ;)

And I have the perfect example to show for it this week!

As I was heading out of an antiques store searching for more vintage rings, I overheard a dealer offering a customer a price for his entire coin collection, to which the customer politely said thanks-but-no-thanks and went on his merry way.

As we crossed paths outside I asked him what he was trying to sell as I’m a curious little lad like that (and also smelled an opportunity!), and he then did what all collectors love to see… He opened up a binder full of 100 year old coins!! Which were obviously all for sale! *Drool…*

He had recently inherited them from his grandfather, and not wanting to continue the family hobby at 20-something years old (weird?), he was looking to trade them for some cash money.

We talked for a bit and I gave him my best advice on how to sell them for the most profit, and in return he gave me a great price on one of them that I needed for my collection. (My ultimate goal is to get *one* of each major type of coin from the United States dating all the way back to the 1700s, and then display them at a local museum!)

Here she is in all her beauty:

1914 barber quarter

[1914 “Barber” U.S. Quarter – the first coin I ever bought “on the streets!” Lol…]

Now similar to the story above, this one also greatly hinges on *who* and *where* you’re trying to hawk your valuables to get the most value!

Taking them to a dealer will differ greatly than taking them to a pawn shop vs taking them to a collector friend you might know. Not only that, the value that’s assigned to them will vary wildly as well – even though it’s always exactly the SAME COIN!

For example, this quarter here can be valued in three unique ways:

Face value — When the U.S. minted these from 1892-1916, they were assigned a face value of 25¢. And if you didn’t know anything about coins or collecting or anything, you’d at least be able to tell that since it literally states “quarter dollar” on the reverse of the coin :) So to all “normal” people, this coin is worth $0.25 and you can actually still spend it as it’s still considered legal tender!

Silver value — Many don’t know this, but all U.S. dimes, quarters, half dollars, and dollars (coins) minted in 1964 and earlier contain 90% silver. And at a current rate of about $19.32/oz, that means each of these coins contain at least a few dollars worth of silver in them! This is why so many of us tell people to always check their change to see if they have anything good in there!

Now this Barber Quarter specifically (named so after the engraver, btw) contains approximately 0.18 oz of silver which equates to almost $3.50 (.18 x $19.32). So the “melt value” here is already 14x its face value!

And btw, this is the value that most pawn shops or jewelry stores give you where you see those “we pay cash for silver and gold” type signs posted. They don’t care about the type of coin or jewelry or silverware you bring in and will just weigh it, figure out the % of bullion each contains, and then spit you out a % of the total as your final “offer”. Which is usually 80-90% of the silver or gold value. From there they will bulk it all together with others they bought and cash it in for the full 100% value of the silver and gold – OR (if they’re smart and know what they’re doing) – they will sort through it all first and see if there’s anything valuable and rare and *then* ship it all off to be melted.

This was the case for my new friend here, who was offered probably around $3.00 per quarter which he (rightfully) turned down because each one was worth multitudes more than that, and some even in the hundreds of dollars due to collector value! But if you didn’t know about that third valuation, which we’re slowly getting to next, haha, you’d probably think this is a good deal and take it. So again the *place* matters where you go to sell this stuff!

Collector value — Lastly, coins or other items that are collected are assigned a whole other set of values depending on its rarity and popularity and condition. Some cool old things aren’t worth jack, and some boring new things can be worth a killing – all depending on the hobby and trends and a number of other variables that come into play.

With this quarter in particular, it’s not very rare (over 6 million were produced!), but it is collected and in decent condition (grades conservatively as “Fine” and generously as “Very Fine”) and is worth around $35.00 according to our hobby’s price guide. Which now puts its value as 140x face value – a huge difference from $0.25! But again only matters if you’re talking to a *collector* as no normal person would ever pay such a premium ;)

So TL;DR the 3 values that can be assigned to this coin are:

  • Face value: $0.25
  • Silver value: $3.50
  • “Collector” value: $35.00

All drastically different values, and all for the exact same coin!

So again, *where* you take stuff to sell can matter greatly. If you have the time and energy to explore all the avenues, it’ll almost always net you more profit in the end. But if you’d rather unload them quickly for some fast cash, well, there are plenty of ways you can do that too, and which is why pawn shops are still all over the place! You’ll just have to be okay with getting substantially less in return going that route and more than likely getting ripped off.

We’ll see how our friend here makes out in the long run, but it was a fun random bump in and love that it was a real life example of the cave story up there :)

You may be worth a million bucks, but if you don’t know where to go you might end up selling yourself short! And you’re worth every penny of your sexy smart self, so be sure to max yourself out!! 😂

j. money signature

PS: You can see my full guide on how to liquidate a coin collection here if you ever need it: How to Sell Your Inherited Coin Collection. The general applications can also be applied to baseball cards or marbles or anything else that’s collectible for that matter!

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  1. Shay July 18, 2022 at 8:28 AM

    Great illustration about how to value things. I hope you normally place your coin collection in inert holders. Oils from your hands can cause damage to the coins and effect their value.

    1. J. Money July 18, 2022 at 9:54 AM

      Yup! First I always like to hold them though so I can *feel* all the history :) And add to the hundreds (?) of hands who held it before me!

  2. Log cabin Ruth July 18, 2022 at 10:11 PM

    This is just what I have been looking for! I inherited a bunch of antiques and was trying to find the best way to sell them for the most money. This article helps so much!

    Log cabin Ruth

    1. J. Money July 20, 2022 at 1:28 PM

      Rock on!! Sounds like you’ll have some fun work ahead of you :)

  3. Liz July 19, 2022 at 7:44 AM

    It’s also a pretty coin. All the design iterations over time for all the denominations is very cool.

    Great lessons & cool chance encounter you had!

    I ended up with some coins and struggle to make the time to do at least a cursory assessment to be sure I’m not going to get way under value. Plus getting ones head around just selling vs trying to time the market* vs a past family member put time into collecting them. Yet the coins don’t hold the specific nostalgia or collecting thrill for me. They have transferred some wealth, even if it’s face value to my generation, which was the intent.
    * oh right, that’s a lesson I should already know.

    I need to re read your article and try to find some time on a rainy weekend this fall to dive back in.

    1. J. Money July 20, 2022 at 1:35 PM

      That’s the best position to be in for liquidating coins or antiques – emotionless! It would be much harder for me to sell my collection vs having others do it :)

      If you need any help with it though, just give a shout… happy to review any pictures if you want to take any and pass over. I could at least tell you quick if you have anything *worth* spending your time on or not :)


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