Seniors Assess Lifelong Collections of Heirlooms & Valuables

An interview with Craig Watanabe, Owner of Captain Cook Coin Company of Honolulu

How have seniors changed their perspective on aging over the years?

We seem to be working many more with seniors than ever before. As we get to know them, they share that they seem to be more involved than ever in helping their children financially, and also support their children and grandchildren by offering childcare.

Have you observed changes in the way seniors are downsizing their possessions?

Downsizing is really growing among seniors. As they move into retirement homes or their children’s homes, their living space becomes smaller, along with storage space. As the middle class shrinks, even with younger generations, living space is getting smaller and off-site storage space can be expensive.

Are seniors continuing the tradition of passing their valued collections to future generations?

Most seniors now say that their children are not interested in collections, so they are opting to liquidate their lifelong collections of coins, currency, jewelry, gold and silver items, Hawaiiana, tokens, medals and more, and just pick a few sentimental or especially valuable pieces to pass on as keepsakes.

What is the best way to liquidate a collection of valuables?

Go onto the internet and look up general prices to get an idea. But when you call your local coin dealer, don’t say, “I went on the internet or eBay and I found these prices.” Why? Because those prices are often asking prices, not the prices they sold for.

Anyone can ask an unreasonable price — one that is much more than what something is worth. Also, saying that suggests that one knows everything about pricing their coins and warns the coin dealer to “watch out.”

Grading is an art, not a science. A coin on the internet in the same grade as yours may have a total different eye appeal that equals to more or less money. Shop around for best prices, but be upfront and say so.

And if you are an attorney representing a client, be prepared to pay for  appraisal services. It may cost you, but you’ll save a lot of time and receive an accurate evaluation that could mean thousands of dollars more for your client.

Please keep in mind that even though  coins are an enjoyable hobby for most collectors, a dealer has overhead expenses.

Ask around for information, but remember that your Uncle Joe or Aunt Minnie who has collected the coins is more than likely not in the know about current prices.

Please be aware that the closer your coins are bullion-related (silver or gold), the more volatile their values. For example, the value of most silver dimes through half-dollars dated 1964 and before can fluctuate every few minutes during a day!

How can you tell who is a reputable coin dealer?

Obtain information from the Hawai‘i Better Business Bureau [BBB Northwest-Pacific, 808-536-6956,] and listen to word-of-mouth reports. The coconut wireless can also be very helpful at times.

You can also call coin dealer organizations and ask for any feedback on that dealer. However, no organization membership ensures credibility.

What wisdom would you care to share based on your life experiences?

Aging is an incredibly fascinating process.

As an aunt who worked her whole life as a nurse said, “After a certain age, I guess the body just gives out slowly.” Always having an interest in physical fitness, I once asked my physical fitness mentor, the late Timmy Leong, what his definition of old age was. In a pensive pose, he replied, “Old age… it takes a long time to get there, but when I did, it went by too fast.”

As I get older, I listen to my body more closely than ever before.

We only go around once and I don’t want to squander God’s gift of life to me. I truly believe that being a Christian has and continues to help and guide me here on Earth to take whatever happens with an accepting heart and to not get down because of whatever.

Our part is to take care of our bodies as best as we can. Accidents will happen, but we don’t want to be an accident waiting to happen.

Do you have any  advice or guidelines for rudderless younger people?

Often, advice comes across as more of a lecture about what the younger generations should and should not do. This is not always welcome. But I have found that using our own lives as examples and sharing our failures can be just as important as extolling our successes.

As a supporter and partner of Generations Magazine from its inception in 2010, how has the magazine helped you?

It’s great to know that we’re all in this aging process together, and that comes across loud and clear in Generations articles. It’s a great help to hear others share their expertise, as well as stories about older life in general… the good stuff, as well as the not so good.


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