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Is it Safe to Ship Coins Via the USPS Mail?

In our worldwide economy today, where you have the opportunity to visit almost any store across the world via the internet, the question invariably comes up, “Is it safe to use the US Mail system for shipping coins?” While the answer to this question is an absolute yes, it comes with several precautions.

Over the course of the last several years, I have shipped thousands of packages via the mail and received thousands of packages in the mail. In that period of time, I have had packages that never showed up to the recipient and I have had packages that have shown up in my mail box with the contents missing. For those packages that showed up in my mail box with the contents missing, there was one easy determining factor in each case. The shipper did a lousy job of packaging the coins. I once purchased a PCGS MS-66 Walking Liberty Half. It was a real beauty and not a cheap coin. Unfortunately, I never saw it in person, just the picture. The package arrived empty. It was one of those small packages where all you have to do is pull a string/tab to open the package. Well, guess what, that is exactly what the post office thief did. He was kind enough to leave the invoice. (I have a PO Box so unless the shipper sent it this way; it was stolen in the PO system). If you have ever had this happen to you, then you know what it feels like to be victimized in this way. Two cents worth of packing tape would have no doubt prevented this theft. Additionally, the return address in BIG BOLD letters contained the word RARE COINS. Fortunately it was insured, but the effort to retrieve my money back was not an easy task. I use this as an example that if you make it easy for the thieves, they will steal it.

When shipping coins in the mail, you will want to make it has hard as possible for would-be thieves. Just like it is standard procedure for filing a missing persons report, so it is with lost mail. The PO has a waiting period as well as a deadline. The reason for the waiting period is that the PO hopes that the shipment will soon turn up. In rare occasions, I have received 2-3 day priority mail packages that took 3 weeks for delivery. Where they sat is anybodies guess, but in all instances, the post mark clearly showed me they were mailed weeks before delivery.

Here are some general rules regarding insurance and mailing packages.

 For packages with values up to $600.00, insurance can be purchased for somewhat reasonable amounts. In addition to the postage cost, a package with a value under $50 can be insured for $1.35 and $2.20 for a value up to $100 and go up to $7.55 for a $600 package. If you are buying/shipping a 1909 S Lincoln cent that has a value over $100, an additional $3.35 for insurance might be worth the cost.

For packages over $600, registered mail is your choice. Registered mail is a very reliable and safe method of shipping. In the United States registered mail items are handled separately from all other mail and are kept in a secure area with restricted access. If you want insurance, you need to ask to send the package “Registered Insured” and of course you will need to pay the additional insurance fees.

When shipping items, you can sometimes lower your shipping cost by utilizing flat rate boxes and envelopes. These are available at your local post office. You can send up to 70 pounds in their biggest box for a mere $15.00 (check with your post office as rates continue to go up) and smaller amounts in a flat rate envelope for $5.25

 Follow these tips when shipping coins:

  1.  Tightly wrap the contents. Ensure there is no jingle-jangle of coins bouncing against each other. This is a sure tip off to would-be thieves that there are valuables inside.
  2.  If you are a coin dealer, do NOT use the word coins in your return address.
  3.  If you are shipping to a coin dealer, ask the dealer for a specific name of a person or a company abbreviation. For example, for Mountain View Coins, I use MVC as the company name. This is generic with no mention of the word COINS and it gets to my PO Box.
  4.  If you are shipping to a coin dealer, be sure to contact them first. Do not ship coins unannounced. 
  5. If shipping to a dealer, you may want to purchase a delivery conformation receipt. 
  6.  Use appropriate packages for your coins. If you are shipping 20 pounds of loose pennies, do not try to pack them all in a flat rate envelope.
  7.  If you are shipping a roll of coins in a plastic tube, protect the tube. If you are shipping rolls, protect the rolls. I have many times received rolls of coins where the roll has broken open and coins were all over inside the packaging.
  8.  Use newspaper, paper, bubble wrap, etc for packing. Do not use foam peanuts. I hate that stuff.
  9.  Regardless of packaging, use plenty of packing tape on the outside of the package. I am not talking about scotch tape. I mean the clear packing tape. In most cases, this can be taped over the entire package except the postage area (check with your local PO). If the thieve cannot easily get inside the packaging, s/he will likely move on to easier pickings.
  10.  For any amount of coins, except real low value stuff (it would not be worth it to insure a $2.00 nickel), you should insure your package against loss. This helps in tracking your package as well.
  11. For truly valuable shipments, registered mail may be the way to go as you can obtain coverage up to $25,000. Note: For higher values, you may need to look at Federal Express or other carriers.
  12.  Be aware that certified mail is NOT insured mail. It only records delivery.

 By using common sense and utilizing the services available from the USPS, you can help ensure the safe arrival of any type of merchandise including coins. As a precaution, you can always insure your coins.

Keith Scott has been a collector for over 30 years. His website has US coins for sale. He also writes Coin Collecting Articles for fun. Visit his websites for a history of US coins, metal market updates and news about your favorite coins.

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