If a visitor from China asked you for recommendations as to where to put his money in American numismatics, what would you tell him?
Or more probably, what if it was your son-in-law who happens to know you are a collector and wants a little advice?
Neither one would be a ripe candidate for Whitman albums and endless stories of circulation finds. They likely were attracted by headlines of sales of major rarities, or the profits to be made in gold and silver.
So let’s start there. Let’s say the Chinese potential coin buyer wants to know more about the upcoming auction sale of multi-million dollar rarities like a Brasher doubloon and a 1913 Liberty Head nickel.
Both coins have proven to be winners of the numismatic investment derby for my entire collecting life of half a century.
Prices have vaulted ahead in amazing ways. Even though my income is far higher than it was in 1967 when I was a paperboy, it was far more probable then that I would be able to swing the $46,000 purchase price of a 1913 nickel then it is for me to come up with $3 million to $5 million for the coin today.
While you are thinking about what the next 30 or 40 years might hold for famous American rarities, turn your attention to the bullion bazaar that a good chunk of professional numismatics has become. It was hard to argue with 12 up years in a row that took gold from roughly $260 a troy ounce to a 2011 peak price of just under $1,900. Such performance cannot help but gain the attention of people like your son-in-law. But would you tell him to put his retirement savings into bullion coins? And would he be able to make appropriate decisions as the years go by and you are no longer around to offer advice?
What about old-time favorites like Morgan silver dollars? They are still respected. They are still widely collected. However, they still haven’t recovered from being toppled from their 1989 peak.
There are out-of-the way niches. Your son-in-law might find opportunity in assembling a set of $1 gold pieces if he has the willingness to learn and the patience required.
A Chinese investor is not likely to want to consider niche areas because there is too much work involved to put smaller sums to work. Far better to drop $3 million here, or $5 million there on pedigreed coins. They will always be rare. They will always be known quantities so you don’t have to worry about changing grading systems or unexpected environmental damage that might occur to, say, Mint State red uncirculated cents.
These are my questions. How would you choose to answer them? We cannot recreate the circulation finds era no matter how much we enjoyed it. Send me an email at email@example.com to share your views.
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