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Do you invest in coins as part of your retirement planning?

Here are some recent thoughts and ideas on the subject from Numismatic News Readers, to our editor, Dave Harper.
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From the Aug. 30 Numismatic News E-Newsletter::

Q. Do you invest in coins as part of retirement planning?

Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor Dave Harper.

Regarding coins as an investment, I personally would stay away. I collect coins for their beauty, history and the thrill of the hunt. My main interests are in U.S. Type coins and Peace dollars. The high cost of gold bullion keeps me away from the gold issues. While I don?t mind spending 200 or more dollars for a coin that I really want, I want the value to be in ?numismatics? not the ?bullion.?
For example, the recently issued gold spouse coin for Jefferson features a beautiful image of young Liberty. While I?m planning on acquiring a 1796 large cent version for my type set, I didn?t even contemplate attempting to order one of the gold liberty coins from the U.S. Mint (I will get a bronze version though.). The 18th century cent version will probably set me back a comparable cost of $400 to $600 or more for a decent condition coin, but look at all of that history!
From an investment point of view, I would be concerned that the price of gold goes up and down all of the time, with no accumulated value. I remember when gold cost a lot more than it does today and where would I be if I had invested thousands of dollars in it back then? A good stock that pays dividends allows you to accumulate wealth even if the stock price just fluctuates a long time in a narrow range. Also you can benfit from time to time in stock splits and company mergers. Also most decent corporations build wealth value over extended periods of time, which is reflected in higher stock prices. I don?t see a parallel in bullion.
Regarding the numismatic value of coins, I believe that you have to be able to afford to buy fairly expensive coins, i.e. well over $1,000 each to have a chance of appreciable sustained price increases. The coins of a typical collector such as myself with an annual collecting budget of only a couple of thousand dollars, probably won?t go up in a sustained manner. Even when the so-called book value goes up, it is hard to convert such value into real hard cash when desired. It would take many years to see any apprecialbe hard dollar increase.
Whenever I see dealers or shopping channels selling rolls of coins barely in VG condition I shudder. They quote book values that are probably fairly accurate, but one needs to ask oneself: ?Do I want an old nickel or quarter or such that I can barely make out the date and features of the coin ... at any price?? If your answer is probably not, then the so-called book value is meaningless. Hence the accumulation of such coins is probably not going to result in any significant profit. Of course rare high value coins such as a beautiful type 2 one dollar gold coin will probably go up, but who can afford to accumulate ?rolls? of such coins?
 Give me stocks and bonds any day for investing.

Robert H. Ball, Jr.
Detroit, Mich.

As an historic store of value precious metal coins can provide another aspect to the holding of assets for long term benefit. Nonetheless, they must be understood as an asset that lives in at least three different planes. The coin has a precious metal value that is purely market driven and requires an assay as to its purity. It also has a legal tender value that is usually far below its metal value in our age. Finally, it has its value as a collectible coin and this is driven by yet another market.
 If the holder is using the coin for its intrinsic value in a collapsed economy, it may become far more valuable. Folks in the USA don?t have to consider this aspect of late and we can only thank God for that!
Safe storage for any thing of value must be considered as a cost of holding the item. A safety deposit box in a bank may function very well, but it has the disadvantage of a lack of 24/7 access. For estate considerations, the asset cannot be eliminated from the documented holdings as easily as an item held at home. Legality is an issue here and I do not mean to advocate breaking any laws. Reality involves understanding all problems and exposures.
How an individual chooses to hold assets is finally a personal decision. Coins of all kinds can play a part here as can stamps, fine art, real estate, gems, etc. I expect what is mostly lacking is a full understanding of the pros and cons. The easiest example comes when someone else must liquidate the asset on your behalf without the benefit of your knowledge. In that scenario, it?s hard to beat a T-bill or US Savings bond. The bottom line advice never really changes. Be sure that you know what you are doing and that those who may have to unwind your holdings are also up to speed.

Joel B. Wulff
Bristol, CT

Yes I invest in coins and I have done very well. After 15 years of collecting and investing in coins, I sold them wholesale for quadruple what I paid. Then I collected and invested in medals and in 10 years, I sold that for double the money. Now, I am in the 4th year of a 10 year plan, and doing well. I think the key is that I am a collector more than an investor. That makes the difference for me. I learn what I am doing before I do it.

Tony Swicer
West Palm Beach, Fla.

Yes, I am hoping it turns out that way!

James McFadden
Clearwater, Florida

In my case, coins are not part of a retirement plan, but sure they could help finance my funeral costs when my time comes.

Leroy Vargas
Atlanta GA

I do purchase coins as part of my retirement, however, I do not just purchase any coin or set.
Mostly I purchase silver coins and sets so the coin will always be worth at least melt value.
Most modern clad, or any non-silver or non-gold coin, may or may not appreciate depending the mintage or popularity of the coin.
I do however purchase a few of all new release coins or sets, then I wait and see what happens.
If they go up in value or have low mintages, they are keepers. If not you can always enjoy owning
them, or sell them off.

John Milden
Linden, Virginia

Been putting them in for decades and now on ebay, have been offering them to the next generation of savers. Anyone who only relies on paper backed asset classes is so exposed to the money printing presses of the fed and then the eventual collapse of any fiat currency. Alan Hilkene Oldsmar, FL

As a matter of fact, against my financial adviser?s recommendation, I have more than 50% of my retirement in gold U. S. gold coins. As far as bullion goes, why not a buy U. S. product that can be bought, sold or traded so easily?

Roger Givin
Keller, Texas

I saved for an investment and always liked collecting coins and have full sets.... The best deal is when I sold my old silver coins back in the early 80`s Which we will never see again... I statred filling my sets when the new quarters came out.
I am going on 76 and if I live another 20 years I will never see a good return.I should have just saved the key coins because I believe it?s for the rich not the average worker.
In 1980 I should have quit.

Charles Bearish
Allentown, Pa.

Coins are entertainment, like model railroading, golfing or going to
the movies. One can enjoy a lifetime of entertainment collecting,
studying and learning about coins. If one studies carefully and buys
wisely they can make a lot of money on coins, however they certainly
should not be considered a significant retirement asset. There is a
considerable risk as various series goes in and out of favor, and
dealers markups can take a considerable chunk of any increase in the
value of coins. There is no harm in setting aside a small portion of
one?s retirement assets in coins, as it adds to the diversity of a
retirement portfolio, but I would not suggest counting on retiring on coins.

Joel Anderson
Grover Beach, Calif.

Yes I use coins including the Buffalo Gold proofs for my retirement plans.

Jack Iaci
Spring Hill Florida

Yes I have coins as part of my retirement

Thomas R Henry
Murray Ut

Yes, I collect coins as part of my investment for retirement. I collect mostly silver coins and silver bullion, but I do have some gold coins.

Orville Burgess
La Porte, Texas

The answer is a strong yes.

Peter Dragisic
Chicago, Ill.