Last week I had the opportunity to interview Walter Perschke who has put his Brasher gold doubloon on the market for $10 million.
The result of our conversation was published in the issue of Numismatic News that went to press last Thursday under the headline, “Got $10 million?”
That is certainly an appropriate question to ask, but let’s turn it around. If you happen to have $10 million, would now be the best time to spend it on a very expensive rare coin?
Perschke paid $430,000 for it in 1979. That was early in my career here and it was an impressive figure.
As he observed, he was in the right place at the right time, and his investment was astute.
If he gets his asking price, he will have gotten back $23.26 for every dollar he invested in the coin, plus he had the pleasure and prestige of owning it all these years.
Will someone who pays $10 million now have a coin worth $230,260,000 in 2045?
That, I expect, will be part of the calculus that any collector buyer might be making, though it is always possible that a businessman might want the coin as a trophy to help advertise his business.
When I asked Perschke how he came to make the decision to sell the doubloon now he responded that it was partly as a result of his intuition.
What does that mean for the rest of us?
Is the fact that he thinks now is the time to sell a signal that the numismatic market is about to take a pause?
Notice that I didn’t use the word “decline.”
If markets weaken for a time, most owners of top end coins simply put them away until the buyers return. The weakness then is never registered in any sale figure.
I expect we will only get answers to my questions with the benefit of many years of hindsight.
In the meantime, if the Brasher doubloon sells and the buyer is interested in sharing his thoughts about his purchase, I will be most interested to find out what he is thinking.
Won’t you be, too?
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."