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Writing Coin Descriptions That Sell Coins - Part I

Tom Becker

With more and more people trying their hand at selling coins it might be a good time to review how creating good coin descriptions can dramatically increase your sales and keep your customers happy. If you read on you may find I've included some less than obvious suggestions.

1. Be Consistent
A common mistake among coin describers is to think they are producing literature and the reader will become bored with redundant word usage. In fact, most coin buyers will read only the descriptions of coins that interest them and thus the description can be viewed as stand alone text. If I were offering 20 different MS-63 silver dollars I might use the same words to describe each of them. “Brilliant with frosty lustre” could appear 20 times. Making an effort to create “fresh” descriptions for each coin will probably do little more than confuse the customer.

It is important to consider how a possible repeat customer might view a current description as compared with the one that was provided for a coin they bought and really liked. If they were thrilled with a coin I described as “Brilliant with frosty lustre.” it's logical to assume they would be attracted to coin descriptions containing these same words. If I decide to show off my literary skills and change the words to read “ A bright coin with satin cartwheel surfaces,” can I be sure the customer will know this description means the same as “Brilliant with frosty lustre”?

2. Copy and Conform
The popularity of certain words used to describe coins changes with time. Others persist. If you are new to using words to describe coins, it might be wise to spend an hour or two reviewing the work of others as it appears in print advertisements, auction catalogs or electronic listings. Unless what you write adds clarity and accuracy to the description, creativity probably won't increase sales. One of the most common errors shows up when describing the color of toning. Expecting the customer to have a paint store chip chart available so they can determine what colors mauve and umber might really be is inviting them to move on.

Leave the clever words and meaningless terms to the snake oil salesman. I've not encountered flammable coins so none of them could have “blazing mint red color”. I wouldn't care to buy a coin “dripping with lustre” as it would be messy to store. Saying something like, “This coin is so brilliant you'll want to wear sunglasses when viewing it” is simply a waste of space and the reader's time. Coin descriptions can say much about the person who wrote them. Obviously outrageous claims and totally subjective statements may be entertaining but rarely help to sell coins.

3. Be Accurate
A picture may indeed replace a thousand words but a couple of properly chosen words can explain a picture. If the coin is a bit darker or lighter in color than the photo indicates then mention this fact. If when viewing your photo you notice a blemish that is actually on the holder and not the coin report this. If the photos you provide are not reasonably accurate, gradable images of the coins being sold then state this fact and mention the customer is allowed to return any purchase that does not meet their expectations. There is nothing wrong with stating a photo has been used only for purposes of illustration, as this is most often its function.


Tom Becker is a regular contributor to the Canadian Coin Reference Site, you can direct your questions directly to Tom easily by E-mail: or visit Tom's website @


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