This hobby can be great fun as well as an interesting way of saving
The vast majority of women have a long forgotten coin somewhere, that could be the start of a collection. It could be one of the more recently minted collectors coins, commemorative packs, or even some old coins that have now been removed from circulation.
Coin collecting has been popular for centuries but over the last few decades it has become a recognised type of alternative investment. The highly collected coins are those that were in circulation for only a brief period of time, minted with flaws or errors or of specific historical interest.
Rare coins have been collected for over 2000 years. The Romans collected Greek coins. The famous Flemish painter, Reubens had a fabulous coin collection. The House of Rothschild started as a coin shop. Other famous coin collectors include J.P.Morgan and the DuPont family.
If you are new to coins and would like to find out more free information on the subject visit our learning centre after finishing this page.
If you are new to coin collecting, make sure that you:
Buy top quality
Buy top quality coins, the high quality coins are subject to the high demand. In the coin market, as in all other collectables markets, condition is everything. For most coins, collectors aim for what is referred to as 'Gem quality', i.e. MS/PR65 or better on the 70 point coin grading scale. (for more information on coins see our learning centre)
Have a plan
Have a plan instead of just randomly buying coins. The easiest thing to do in the rare coin market is to spend money. In this area like with other collectable areas it is vital to stick to your allocated budgets. Do your research and quell your urge to spend using only a very small amount of your budget. The big long term winners either focus on a certain type or types of coins, or have built a specific collection. Focus is all important.
Know what you are paying for
Make sure you get what you are paying for, quality is a big component of price. For the coin market the 'gold standard' for third party grading services is the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). Since it was founded in 1986, PCGS has graded and authenticated over 13,000,000 coins with a declared value of over $15,000,000,000. The PCGS website is well worth a visit as it has many useful resources for aspiring coin collectors.
Build a relationship
Get to know the dealer you intend to buy from. Before embarking on internet purchases of coins, it is important to attend a rare coin outlet. Visiting a physical outlet can help you to build your knowledge about the environment, language and the handling of the coins. Understanding the workings of the coin trade will help you gain a feel for what is right and what may not be. Building a working relationship with a coin dealer will assist you in the future, as they have a wealth of experience and may be able to point out many pitfalls in this market.
Be aware that reputable coin dealers can often sell the same set of coins for considerably less than your national mint. For example the Royal Mint's latest price on its George V mint mark collection was £1,245, but you could buy this same set from a reputable coin dealer for nearly £500 less.
Do not clean your coins or buy cleaned coins for investment.
Some collectors may buy recently minted South African gold Krugerrands and U.S. gold coins. But it is important to bear in mind that these coins have been churned out in their millions and may not rise much in value above the price of the gold. The Austrian Mint has issued a very popular Vienna Philharmonic coin which might be a better bet as far as new issue coins go.
Rare coins have shown consistent long term price appreciation. From major rarities to more inexpensive coins, top quality rare coins have had significant price gains over sustained periods of time. The 1913 Liberty nickel (only five known to exist) became the first $100,000 coin in 1972. In 2007, one sold for $5 million.
Louis Eliasberg (1896-1976) built up a US gold coin collection that cost about US$300,000. It sold for S$12.4 million at auction in 1982.
In the UK in May 2003, a selection of 50 coins from "The Slaney collection" were sold for £460,000. These coins had been collected during the 1940’s & 50’s at a cost of £2,350. So the sale price was approximately 195 times the original cost price. Not a bad investment! Also In the UK a buyer paid £460,000 for an Edward III double florin, known as a double leopard and with a face value of six shillings. The sale price for this rare medieval gold coin broke the record for a British coin.
At a Monetary Auction held in April 2006 in Sydney, a 1920 Sydney Gold Sovereign was knocked down in the auction room for $582,500 setting a new world record.
Some of the rare coins to look for are:
Theodore Roosevelt commissioned world renowned sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, to design a new $10 and $20 gold coin. In 1970, a Gem quality $20
Carson City Morgan dollars
Between 1962 and 1964 the price of silver rose so rapidly that the US Treasury sold off 152 million of their silver dollar reserves. Consequently, in 1970, President Nixon signed a law authorizing the General Services administration (GSA) to sell the Carson City Morgan silver dollars that made up part of their reserves.
The GSA sales were held between 1972 and 1980 and prices ranged between $15 and $180 per coin. Today, Morgan dollars are the most readily available 19th Century US coin in uncirculated condition. Be particularly vigilant for the dollars dated 1889, as they command a premium price at auction. The more common dates are still very affordable and can be considered as an alternative investment for the future.
Buffalo nickels were minted between 1913 and 1938. This is one of the classic coins of America. The design of this coin is iconic - a majestic Indian head on the obverse and a large buffalo on the reverse. Rare dated ones can sell for six figures, but common dated ones can still be bought for under $100 in "Gem" condition, making them easily affordable to the novice collector.
Mercury dimes were minted between 1916 and 1945 and they have been avidly collected ever since. The mercury dime, with its depiction of liberty on the obverse is considered one of the most visually appealing of all US coins. They are highly sought after by collectors because all mercury dimes are worth at least ten times their face value, unless they are badly damaged or almost totally worn out.
Walking Liberty half dollars
As a potential alternative investment you may consider buying either a few common dates or building a complete set. You may even consider aiming for the 1936 to 1942 Proof Walking Liberty half dollars. These coins were only minted for seven years, 1936 to 1942, so of course have a rarity value.
Prior to 1915, there were only three silver commemoratives issued, the 1892 and 1893 Columbian half dollar, the 1893 Isabella quarter and the 1900 Lafayette dollar. The silver commemorative that is usually purchased for a long-term investment is the 1893 Isabella quarter. Isabella quarters have a long history of collector interest and demand. They have maintained significant long term price appreciation.
Trade dollars were made specifically to trade with. They had slightly higher silver content than domestic silver dollars. Regular commercial strike 'Trade dollars' were struck between 1873 and 1878 and where mostly exported.
Proof strikings were made for domestic collectors between 1873 and 1885. Today, this large beautiful silver coin is one of the most prized 19th century coins. They are scarce in all grades and rare in Gem condition. Trade dollars also have considerable international demand, making them very collectable.
The U.S. Mint places a face value of $50 on the one ounce gold eagles, even though gold hasn’t been $50 an ounce on the open market since 1972. Gold eagles are selling for very close to their 'melt' or intrinsic value. These coins could be another one to consider for an alternative investment.
If you are looking for a good gift and future investment for your children or grandchildren, rare coins are worth considering.
Buying for the future?
Many countries now issue a one ounce bullion coin, to be sold at a very low premium over the intrinsic gold value. Krugerrands are probably the most well known of these. First minted and issued in 1967, when the South African Chamber of Mines had an inspired idea to help market South African gold.
Krugers were never intended to be an aesthetically pleasing coin, just a lump of gold with a known weight and value. They certainly cannot be called pretty. Collectors seeking aesthetically attractive coins would be better looking at British Gold Sovereigns and some of the newer bullion coins such as the Austrian Mint 's popular Vienna Philharmonic coins .
Canada was the first country to introduce a 'pure' gold bullion coin, the maple or maple leaf. The maple being Canada's national emblem, this was an obvious and suitable choice for the reverse of the one ounce bullion coin. It makes the maple leaf instantly recognisable worldwide. The obverse bears a portrait of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
One distinctive feature of the maple is that it is made of pure gold ( .999 or .9999 fine), rather than 22 carat (.9166 fine). Because this makes the maple smaller and lighter than a Krugerrand, it is possible that this stopped the maple from being an immediately successful competitor. However; many collectors now prefer maples or other fine gold bullion issues Gold Maples are available in six different sizes and weights, from one ounce to one twentieth of an ounce.
The Chinese version of the Krugerrand is the Panda. Pandas were introduced in 1982. The premium charged on pandas by the Chinese mint is higher than that charged for Krugerrands or most other gold bullion coins. Although this may make them slightly less attractive to investors interested purely in their gold content, it does not appear to have deterred collectors.
Gold pandas were extremely successful when they were first introduced. There are reports of the 1982 coins selling at over $3,000 US or over £2,000. The panda mania continued for several years, peaking in 1987. Since then issue quantities have dropped and many dates are not easy to find.
The Panda Family Each year the reverse design of the panda is changed, which makes the panda series more interesting to collectors. Pandas are regularly produced in five sizes from one ounce to a twentieth ounce, although in some years much larger sizes have been issued, sometimes in very limited quantities. The Pandas are very affordable and children love them. They could be a good collector’s item for the future. For other coins that appeal to children or new collectors, take a look at coins Australia for the Barbie coin. Do your research thoroughly before you buy any coins and remember if in doubt seek information from an expert.
The Panda Family
Each year the reverse design of the panda is changed, which makes the panda series more interesting to collectors. Pandas are regularly produced in five sizes from one ounce to a twentieth ounce, although in some years much larger sizes have been issued, sometimes in very limited quantities. The Pandas are very affordable and children love them. They could be a good collector’s item for the future. For other coins that appeal to children or new collectors, take a look at coins Australia for the Barbie coin.
Do your research thoroughly before you buy any coins and remember if in doubt seek information from an expert.