If a newcomer asked me to recommend something in the numismatic field this morning, I would tell him to consider gold.
It is an under collected area, because it seems so expensive to make a start.
You don’t find gold coins in change. It is not likely a relative will give you a gold coin either as a holiday gift or an inheritance.
The only avenue to obtain them is to buy them from dealers or as new issues from the mints of the world.
Within the U.S. gold field, collectors can choose among niches filled with rarities like Charlotte and Dahlonega gold, or large gold coins that are fairly common priced near bullion value, like many of the Liberty Head $20 gold pieces.
There are even the odd little denominations to satisfy the curious, the $1 and $3 gold pieces.
Because the field is under collected today, prices are relative bargains.
With the current high investment interest in gold, in future years more and more individuals entering the field will come through the gold door.
It might be nice to have an inflation hedge of 10, 20 or 50 one-ounce bullion coins, but once purchased and secured, bullion coins are boring.
Putting a set of gold coins together offers the inflation hedge aspect plus it is an interesting activity
Now I know many investors want to take their interest no further. That is fine. But there is a fraction of them who will get the collecting bug. It will be satisfied in some way. I do not think they will start collecting Lincoln cents.
These individuals will use collecting like a surf board and ride the gold wave higher.
A collector’s active life lasts decades. If you start collecting gold coins today, I believe in 20 or 30 years time, you will be pleased with the value of your set.
I don’t believe gold bullion will be lower then than it is today. What do you think the value will be for clad proof sets? You get my point.
This morning’s recommendation does not mean there will not be other rewarding paths to take in numismatics. But there is a tendency for the spotlight to move around over time. Under collected areas become popular. In the next 30 years that spotlight is likely to fully illuminate the appeal of gold coins.
I received a hard copy of a quarterly gold coin price list from Steinberg’s, Inc.
This reminds me that interest in gold coins can go in many directions.
Lawyers might find a gold coin of Justinian the Great, a codifier of law, compelling. He reigned in Byzantium 527-565 A.D. Steinberg lists an undated gold tremissis showing the emperor on obverse and Victory on reverse in Numismatic Guaranty Corporation-certified Mint State for $650.
A 25,000 dram of Armenia dated 1997 and featuring the Goddess Anahit is just $350. It is a one-year type grading NGC Proof-70 Ultra Cameo
The Standard Catalog tells me this Armenian coin has a weight of .1236 troy ounce of gold. At this morning’s gold price of $1,305.80, that works out to $161 melt value, which puts a floor under it. You can’t count on such a floor with clad proof sets.
If you were a “Downton Abbey” fan, you can collect the British half sovereigns and sovereigns of the early 20th century and imagine that Lady Mary Crawley used them.
They range in price on the Steinberg list from $295 for an NGC MS-62 of Queen Victoria dated 1900, to $550 for a full sovereign of George V dated 1925 and graded NGC MS-65.
A 1911 proof half sovereign of George V with a mintage of just 3,764 and graded Proof-62 by the Professional Coin Grading Service is $850.
Among other coins of historical note is an 1888-A 20 marks coin of Frederick III in NGC MS-63. Price is $550. He reigned over Prussia and Germany just 99 days as king and emperor.
Whatever your interest there is likely to be a gold coin for it. Take advantage of that fact as well as gold’s underlying long-term value.
Those with a 20- or 30-year time horizon will be pleased they did.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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