Just what exactly are coins?
World mints are pushing the boundaries in hopes of finding a new sweet spot of collector retail demand.
Where coins were once dull things that always looked the same, traded for face value, and were used to make purchases, we now are bravely marching into new territory.
This morning, the Perth Mint sent me an email to announce the availability of a Discovery Coin.
Before you decide to order it, you need to know some pertinent facts.
It does look like a coin.
It is round. It has a hole in the middle.
But it is huge.
It contains 64.3 troy ounces of gold (two kilograms).
The description says there are “four spectacularly rare Argyle pink diamonds, including two exclusive stones weighing 1.02 and 0.88 carats, (to) accentuate the detailed representation of how gold and diamonds were discovered in the vast Australian outback.”
There is a mintage of precisely one.
Price is $2.48 million. Those are Australian funds.
In American money, the price is $1,785,600.
Hey, why not order two?
Whoops, I already said there is only one in existence.
Is it a coin? Is it jewelry? Is it a work of art?
Boundaries are being pushed by the Perth Mint. But it is not alone.
Yesterday I was working on a story about an issue from the Paris Mint.
It contains a kilo of gold, 32.15 troy ounces, or half the size of the Australian piece.
Face value is 5,000 euro, or roughly $5,675.
It has eight sides. It is not flat. It has 31 white diamonds in it.
There are actually 11 of these pieces, so it must be “common” compared to the Perth Mint issue.
It is jewelry. No one is going to wear such a heavy thing.
Is it a work of art? Who doesn’t admire the workmanship? It is Paris, after all.
But is it a coin?
Collectors have to decide.
Then there was something from the Scottsdale Mint.
It was a relief to see it. It is a one-ounce silver coin.
I think we can all agree it is a coin.
The price is $50 at current silver prices.
Mintage is 25,000.
It is from Fiji.
But it has a widely recognized Coca-Cola ad image of Santa on it.
Do you want to buy it?
The mints of the world are clearly pushing into new areas in hopes of finding eager buyers whether they be rich or merely average.
Will any of these new issues be a part of numismatics in 20 years?
Will everything be like these new issues in 20 years?
Coins as something spendable might just become curiosities to the next generation of collectors.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017. He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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