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Polish coin on cutting edge
By Jeff Starck-Coin World Staff | 03-16-13
Article first published in March 25, 2013, World Coins section of Coin World
The Mint of Poland has released a cylindrical coin with a design on its edge honoring the Roman god Mercury.
While many collectors pay attention to what’s on the obverse and reverse sides of a coin, the third side may be sometimes overlooked.
A new coin shaped like a cylinder, from the Mint of Poland, aims to change that.
The coin, released Feb. 15, marks a technological milestone, as the edge — measuring some 22.3 millimeters in depth — features a complex design created through 3-D imaging software and laser engraving.
The Proof Fortuna Redux 6-ounce .999 fine silver $50 coin, struck in the name of Niue Island, is intended as a symbol of good luck in business and commerce. The Roman god Mercury, god of tradesman and travelers, is honored in the design.
Mint officials call it the world’s first cylindrical coin struck with a design on the third side (technically, all coins are cylinders, and edge inscriptions are a frequent design element).
According to Siemowit Kalukiewicz, manager of production organization and technical department at the Mint of Poland, the process to make the coins took more than six months, beginning in July 2012. The designs were ready in September but technical issues proved challenging.
“In November, I didn’t think we would be here, that we would be finished,” Kalukiewicz said Jan. 31 at the World Money Fair in Berlin.
Enlarging the third side of the coin gave the designer more than twice the design canvas offered by obverse and reverse alone. Urszula Walerzak created the design using both traditional and digital sculpturing methods, relying on ArtCam software.
ArtCam allows designers to transfer 2-D images into 3-D graphics, giving them the flexibility to sculpture electronically. The designer could, for instance, move a subject’s arm and see the resulting change in musculature and how that would affect the design’s balance.
Innovation overlapped with tradition, however, as the Mint created a plaster model of the feet of Mercury that appear on the edge. Using the software, the model was scanned and added to the design. An Acsys laser program was used to create the dies, and to add microtext and a direct laser hallmark.
The most difficult challenge in creating the design, Kalukiewicz said, was transferring the flat images onto the cylindrical shape. Mint officials settled on using four segmented collar dies to strike the coin. Striking required a reduction in the pressure used for striking a normal collector coin, Kalukiewicz said.
Striking began in January.
The obverse shows a full-length image of Mercury against a map, with a small version of the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. The reverse will look familiar to collectors of U.S. coins accustomed to calling the Winged Head Liberty dimes “Mercury” dimes — the design is reminiscent of the dime’s portrait. The portrait is gold plated. The edge shows Mercury’s winged feet against maps.
The coin has a mintage of 2,500 pieces. Prices are unavailable.
Collector introduces New Liberty Dollars
By Paul Gilkes-Coin World Staff | 03-18-13
Article first published in April 01, 2013, U.S. Collectibles section of Coin World
Notice the differences in the designs for the New Liberty Dollar, top, in comparison to the original Liberty Dollar, bottom.
New Liberty Dollar images, top, courtesy of Joseph VaughnPerling; Liberty Dollar images from Coin World files. While California collector Joseph VaughnPerling is sympathetic to the concept of Bernard von NotHaus’ original Liberty Dollar as a private voluntary barter currency, he wanted to make sure his New Liberty Dollar wouldn’t replicate some of the issues that resulted in von NotHaus’ 2011 federal conviction on counterfeiting and related charges involving the original Liberty Dollars.
A Guide to Ancient Coin Collecting
By Russell A. Augustin on March 15, 2013 9:15 AM
By Russell Augustine – AU Capital Management ……….
Amassing a collection of ancient coins can seem like a daunting task: the US mint has existed for little more than two hundred years, but the Classical world spans a colossal twenty-one centuries. Where would a collection begin, let alone end?
That’s where we come in.
You don’t need to own a museum or be a Rockefeller to collect ancient coins. There are indeed thousands of possible collections, but we’ll cover the ones that could be most comfortably completed, including variations based on the overall price tag: some sets have individual coins that could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but there are alternate sets and subsets which are equally exciting and historical at more affordable prices.
But even though ancient coins have been collected by such noteworthy historical figures as Thomas Jefferson, Louis XIV, and Augustus Caesar himself, the field is open to all comers. We have observed that the market on these coins is less mature than that of US ones, so coins of smaller mintage and greater intrinsic value are actually far less expensive today than their American counterparts. Additionally, there is such an extensive pool of variations that you could contentedly collect for decades to come and never run out of new sets to complete.
For example, while less well-known than the Twelve Caesars, the Five Good Emperors, who form the dynasty which immediately follows the first twelve, have coins that are truly remarkable in artistry and equally rich in history as the prior dynasties but generally at even more affordable prices today. The world of ancient coins makes available numerous denominations in which to collect, including several incredibly large offerings that would add a unique element to any collection, and the stunning detailing on these hand-struck pieces is even more obvious and easier to appreciate.
There is a vast array of collections and sub-collections to choose from, with appreciation for the rarity and quality of the coins weighing in the same as in an American collection. But we’ve done the heavy lifting for you by determining the potential nature of sets in addition to considering the current market value to keep your wallet and your conscience at ease, so all you have to do is decide which period of ancient history you want to be a part of.
Choosing Quality Examples
Before diving into the suggestions on different collections, here are a few thoughts to keep in mind as you build your collection. As with US coins, we suggest looking for the best example in a particular grade. There is no set ratio for how much more an “Extremely Fine” example costs versus a “Very Fine” coin, but in general, the prices increase significantly as the grade increases. In some cases, low-grade examples of a coin may sell for a few hundred dollars and the finest known of the same type would realize a thousand times as much at auction.
As with anything, supply and demand drive the prices of ancient coins. One of the most famous ancient coins, the Ides of March denarius, commemorating Brutus’ assassination of Julius Caesar, frequently sells for $100,000 or more. There are less than 100 examples of this coin available and thousands of collectors who want one, so they command strong prices. However, just because a coin is 2,000 years old does not mean it must be expensive. There are many coins of stunning beauty from all areas of ancient history which can be owned in a problem-free condition with great detail for well under $1,000. We will look to describe the full range of coins, from common coins to ultra-rarities, to allow you to be aware of what is available for you to collect today or to aspire to acquire in the future.
The grade and level of preservation of an ancient coin is viewed similarly to US coins but with a few added metrics. As these coins have had to weather the sands of time for millennia, they can come with problems not often seen on US coins. Mineral deposits, low metal quality, and various forms of corrosion occur frequently on ancient coins and we suggest looking for coins that are as problem-free as possible. The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) which grades US coins has also recently begun grading ancient coins, encapsulating them in plastic slabs and assessing their detail, strike, and surface quality. While many ancient collectors want to feel their coins and avoid “slabbing” coins which have otherwise existed unharmed for thousands of years, it may be helpful to start collecting with the added level of security brought by an NGC slab. Many problems which adversely affect the grade of a coin are difficult to detect, especially when buying online through pictures. Ancient coins frequently had their edges filed or otherwise damaged and these problems, which impact the price of a coin dramatically, are almost impossible to find unless examining the coin in-hand. NGC’s experts personally examine each coin and look for problems such as edge bumps, graffiti, metal instabilities, and damage, noting them on the front of the holder. Even so, we strongly recommend working only with trusted dealers, and the mantra of “buy the coin, not the holder” applies to both US and ancient coins.
Unlike US coins where style is consistent across most issues, ancient coins have a wide variety of obverse and reverse types, with some emperors having literally thousands of coins with distinct designs to collect. Coins were engraved by some of the leading artists of antiquity and their finest works command a premium over less artistic examples. Additionally, as these coins were struck by hand instead of using closely regulated machines, the accuracy and centering of the strike and the details imprinted on a coin affect the price and value. It is best to look for a well centered coin where all of the intended details are visible.
In ancient coins, rarity is a difficult attribute to ascertain. Despite being hand-struck, ancient coins were often produced in remarkable volumes and there are a sizable number that still survive today in all denominations. Hoards of coins are found from time to time which adjust the overall known populations, so rarity is generally not completely firm. That being said, there are definitely issues which are historically known to be common, and others of which there were very few examples minted. We suggest avoiding purchasing a coin only because it is labeled as rare, and rather take into account the other factors we’ve outlined which tend to affect price and long term value to a larger extent.
There is a lot to take into consideration when choosing an ancient coin and we suggest looking at as many coins as possible and working with a trusted dealer to help grow your collection and fill it with quality examples.
Eras of Antiquity
Coinage started in about 700BC when Lydian electrum, an alloy of silver and gold, was mined and minted into ingots stamped with its purity level. These early coins come in a variety of denominations, with some weighing only a fraction of one gram up to sixteen grams or more. The reverse of Lydian electrum was punched with an incuse square, pushing down fairly deeply into the coin to prove that it wasn’t just a plated, less valuable metal. The obverse identified the region from which a coin originated and so began the practice of promoting the skill and artistry of the kingdom issuing the currency.
In choosing what to collect, it may help to identify historic areas of interest. In numismatics, the ancient world is often described as ranging from around 700BC to 1453AD when Constantinople fell to the Turks.
The two primary cultures of the ancient world were Greece and Rome, with Greece’s coinage predating that of Rome’s by a few hundred years. The artistic styles of each are very different, as are the variations of collections one can start. Some collectors choose to focus on one or the other, but it can be very enjoyable to focus on a wider range across multiple areas of history.
Because of their relatively contemporary existence, Greece and Rome share several historical and mythological figures, allowing a collection to span both cultures while remaining focused on a single overarching theme. Conversely, many collectors prefer a more specific focus, narrowing down to a single emperor, dynasty, or design. We will attempt to give you as many options as possible in building your collection so that you can decide where you would like to start your journey into the ancient world.
Ancient Greece is generally broken up into three primary eras: Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic. There is some overlap between these periods but each has distinct attributes. The Archaic period marked the beginning of coinage itself, starting with the Lydian electrum staters and moving into distinct gold and silver coinage. The designs can sometimes appear crude and unskilled, but this is due primarily to the relative youth of the concept of coinage. Maturing alongside Greek art in general, the Classical period brought some of the most beautiful designs of ancient coins as engravers sought to demonstrate their skill at a great scale. The Hellenistic period started with the conquests of Alexander the Great and ended as Rome began to take over as the next superpower of the ancient world.
Greek artistry is often said to have brought the most visually compelling and beautiful works into existence. However, collecting Greek coins can often prove more difficult than that of Rome. This can likely be attributed to the language differences and shorter history from which to build a collection, exemplified by the fewer remaining ties to today’s world. Roman coins use Latin characters and therefore can be read more easily by English speakers, and the history of the Roman Empire is well documented, wide reaching, and exciting, with a large number of individual rulers and a wide variety of styles, rather than the more symbolic representations used often by the Greeks.
Rome also had three distinct eras: the Republic, the Imperators, and the Empire. The earliest Roman coinage was heavy cast bronze ingots called Aes used as means of exchange, weighed in each transaction, with no marks of purity or denomination on the metal itself. As the volume of trading increased, a new system was needed to improve the efficiency and reduce the overhead of trading. The silver denarius was introduced as a compact means of commerce. There are thousands of types of denarii and it remained one of the most important denominations of coins throughout the span of the Empire. It is during the Roman Republic where Rome had its greatest period of growth, conquering a staggering amount of land to form what would soon become the greatest empire the world had ever seen.
The Imperatorial period, while brief, marked the transition into the Roman Empire and its leaders remain some of the best known today. Julius Caesar, Brutus, Mark Antony, and Octavian were some of the key figures of this era, making great strides in establishing a new government and format which would result in the unrivaled longevity of the Empire.
The Roman Empire is generally noted as beginning when Octavian defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the battle of Actium and lasting until Constantine the Great moved the capital of Rome to Constantinople. In the transition to the Roman Empire, Octavian was renamed to Augustus and solidified the trend of obverse portraits which continues throughout most of the rest of Roman coinage. While the “Twelve Caesars” are arguably the most well-known, there are many dynasties and collections which can be made within the overall Empire and a vast range of designs and types to collect as each Emperor issued hundreds of individual designs during their reign. Because of the tumultuous state of imperial rule, many emperors served very short terms and therefore their coinage is scarcer than their longer tenured counterparts.
After the movement of Rome to Constantinople, the Roman Empire became the Byzantine Empire, where it lasted from 498 AD to 1453 AD. There is an extensive body of coinage to draw from in various collections within the Byzantine Empire and because the contemporary value of coins was debased over time, resulting in a more extensive mintage in precious metals, owning a piece of Byzantine gold is considerably more affordable than an earlier one from Rome.
There are many other non-Classical cultures which produced exciting coinage. These include the Chinese, Islamic, Parthian, and Barbarians, among others. These are generally not as well documented or explored and could provide opportunities for enterprising numismatists interested in less familiar areas of antiquity.
Armed with some general historic knowledge about varying cultures, we will now elaborate on each, looking to build out various options for your collecting consideration.
One of the classic problems when collecting coins is being able to build variety and complete a set without becoming inundated with coins you may not enjoy as much. In starting your ancient coin collection, a type set may be the ideal way to learn about what coinage you like best and to give you the flexibility to either pick a diverse range of themes or narrow down your focus to a specific emperor or dynasty. Because of the range of metal types and various times of currency debasement, the size and quality of some coins will vary depending on when they were minted. A “complete” typeset would involve a very large number of denominations, many of which are quite rare and expensive. The flexibility of being able to customize your typeset means you can choose only the major denominations which would have been used frequently, and choose designs which are meaningful to you.
Greek coins come in numerous varieties based on denomination, which changed depending upon the mint and era during which the coin was minted. Greek coinage originated based on a fixed ratio of weight. One of the first examples of this is the shekel, which weighed as much as 180 grains of barley, and because of its consistency, transactions were able to be measured completely by weight. However, because of the ever-changing values of metals, the final weight fluctuated until a universal standard was created.
One of the most popular coins from Greece was the tetradrachm, minted in silver, weighing between 16 and 17 grams, and between 28 and 31 millimeters in diameter (about the size of a US half dollar but heavier). Tetradrachms come in a very wide range of types and many are very appealing due to their size and intricate designs. Measuring other coins relative to the tetradrachm, the largest Greek coin, the pentekaidekadrachm, weighed more than four tetradrachms, and one would need 192 of the smallest, the hemitartemorion, to make one tetradrachm. Greek sizes are based largely on powers of two, and most fractional sizes are represented, although some are quite rare.
Differing from the drachm, the stater entered as another unit of measure. The largest Greek gold coin is the distater, weighing twice as much as a stater, which became one of the most common denominations of ancient gold coin. Similarly to silver coinage based on the drachm, fractional staters are available as well, down from a hemistater (one half stater) to a twelfth stater.
Bronze coins are also available, ranging from the tetrachalkon to the hemichalkon, with the former being eight times heavier than the latter.
In Sicily, the weight scale was based on “litra”, which started with a base weight of 0.057 grams and ranged up to 100 times as heavy in gold and electrum coinage. Similarly to stater and drachm based coins, fractional and multiple weights are available, down to 1/12th litra in bronze.
Because of the wide variety of designs and types available, it’s possible to create an extremely diverse collection of Greek coinage by collecting based on finding appealing types based in different denominations. We suggest using some of themes presented later in this article to guide your overall direction but then narrow it down based on what type of coin you prefer.
Like the Greeks, Romans minted coins in gold, silver, electrum, bronze, and other less popular metals. Due to the need to raise funds, the weight of each type changed over time, usually becoming considerably lighter later into the empire. There are also some extremely rare denominations which were minted in small quantities, so a complete type set of every denomination ever issued would be difficult to achieve. However, the major types are represented well and can be found at most auctions.
As: The “as” is a Roman bronze coin, produced in fractions as well as multiples, from 1/24th up to five times its base size. After Augustus’ reformation of all of Rome’s coinage, the as was struck in copper instead of bronze.
Dupondius: The dupondius was created and struck in orichalcum, an alloy of bronze which was worth two asses.
Sestertius: The sestertius was originally minted as a denomination worth 2.5 asses but after the reform of Augustus, was set to four asses, or two dupondi. These coins are impressively large, often weighing around 26 grams and having a diameter of 33 millimeters.
Denarius: The denarius, minted in silver, weighed about four grams for the first several centuries of Rome but like the other types, it was debased over time. As an anti-counterfeiting measure, a serrated version of the denarius was also released where small cuts were minted into the edges of the coins, a predecessor to the reeding we see in today’s coinage. The denarius is generally considered to have been a day’s wage for an average worker.
Antoninianus: Originally issued by Caracalla and valued at two denarii, the antoninianus has a storied past which resulted in a considerable amount of inflation. At its introduction, the silver content was only worth 1.5 denarii, resulting in people hoarding denarii. Because of a shortage of silver, the intrinsic metal value of the antoninianus was debased over time by replacing more and more silver with bronze. These coins are very available today and a typeset can be constructed solely from them, showing their progression over the space of just a few decades and how it represents the inflation which Rome experienced.
Aureus: Often held as the centerpiece to a Roman coin collection, the aureus is a Roman gold coin, worth 25 denarii, minted throughout most of Rome’s history. It started between 7.6 to 8.0 grams but was debased several times throughout its history. Most aurei will be at least 7.1 grams, until 294 AD when Diocletian reduced it to about five grams. These coins are always in demand and highly desirable. Low grade examples are relatively inexpensive but higher grade examples and problem-free coins quickly have a much higher premium associated with them. The aureus was eventually transitioned into the solidus by Constantine I where it lost half of its weight, becoming wider and thinner.
The Twelve Caesars mark only the beginning of the long and storied Roman Empire. We treat the first twelve differently due to the research commissioned by Hadrian, the fifteenth Caesar, to create an account of the earlier emperors from primary sources. This has caused the first Twelve Caesars to be grouped together, but they can be separated into sub-groups which can make for a more manageable collection.
Julio-Claudian Dynasty: Marking the beginning of the Roman Empire, this dynasty was composed of the first six rulers: Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. Julius had very few portrait coins issued and they are all very rare, but there are alternate issues which can be used to complete this collection. Augustus, formerly Octavian during the Imperatorial period of Rome, is credited with truly beginning the Roman Empire. Tiberius, the emperor of Rome during the lifetime of Jesus, was deeply conservative and refused to be called a god. He minted a large number of gold and silver coins, the latter of which is referenced in the Bible as a “tribute penny”. Caligula, also known as Gaius, became consumed by his power and was assassinated in AD 41. Of the first six, Caligula is the most expensive and rare, ruling for only four years, but still managing to create a name of infamy for himself. Claudius, the 50-year-old uncle of Caligula, was made emperor by the Praetorian Guard, and he proceeded to conquer most of Britain and rule for thirteen successful years until he was poisoned by his fourth wife. His successor, Nero, one of the most recognizable Emperors, employed philosophers and other counselors to aid in his rule, which began at the age of 17. He was multi-talented, entering in musical and poetry contests throughout the Empire. Against common knowledge, it is now believed that Nero did not actually “fiddle as Rome burned”, but in fact, he personally led the efforts to rebuild it, using a considerable amount of his own wealth to fund the effort.
Year of the Four Emperors: Rome had many tumultuous periods but following Nero’s death in 68AD, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius managed to rule only for a few months, each dying during Rome’s civil war, to be succeeded by Vespasian who managed to rule for ten years. The coinage of these emperors is very rare and due to their short tenure, each of them had relatively little impact on history compared to their contemporaries. Otho is generally the most expensive emperor of the first twelve and can make completing a set in any metal difficult for many collectors, which is why it may make sense to focus on other dynasties that ruled for a more significant amount of time, making more of a mark on history and subsequently issuing more diverse coinage.
Flavian Dynasty: After Vespasian was declared Emperor by his armies in Egypt, some degree of normalcy returned to Rome. Vespasian is remembered as a wise Emperor and worked hard to repair the relationship with the Senate. He was followed by his son Titus, who won the Roman war in Judea and erected the Arch of Titus which still stands today. Domitian was the younger son of Vespasian and successor to Titus, but did not continue the path of reducing tensions between the areas of government and instead oppressed religious groups and forced everyone to refer to him as a god.
Nerva-Trajan Dynasty: Following the Twelve Caesars, the next emperors were known as the “Adoptive Emperors”, as instead of using their bloodline to dictate succession, they adopted the best candidate and trained them for the job of Emperor. Nerva, Trajan, and Hadrian were the start of this movement, each making a positive contribution to Rome and growing its borders considerably. Nerva ruled for only two years but Trajan and Hadrian served for nineteen and twenty-one years, respectively.
Antonines: Aelius, one of Hadrian’s adopted sons, was originally expected to take the throne but he died tragically before he could do so, making his coinage quite scarce. Continuing with the new tradition of adopted emperors, Antoninus Pius, Aelius’ brother, was appointed by Hadrian with the condition that he would then appoint Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus to the throne after himself. During the twenty-three year long reign of Antoninus Pius, Rome avoided its prior history of constant battle, and existed in a period of relative peace. Antoninus Pius pioneered several key ideas that have shaped our world today, including the concepts of being innocent until proven guilty, equality of women, and rights for orphans. Alongside his co-emperor Lucius Verus, Marcus Aurelius, “the Philosopher Emperor”, ruled for nineteen years and continued Antoninus Pius’ work on morality and equality. However, instead of adopting his successor, he chose his son, Commodus, to whom many attribute the initial decline of the Roman Empire, after seeming promising during the initial years of his reign.
There are several additional periods after the Antonines, filled with a rollercoaster of backward and forward progress within the Roman Empire. Each of these can be collected separately or specific emperors can be chosen from them to build a broad, historic collection. These later emperors are generally broken into The Severan Period, The Crisis, Decline, and Recovery of the Empire, the Secessionist Emperors, the Tetrarchy, the Constantines, and the Late Empire.
Classical numismatics provides a large number of themes which can be incorporated as typesets or as standalone sets. Because of similar historic mythology, there is some overlap between Greek and Roman coinage which can make for a very appealing, wide-reaching set. Here are a few suggestions:
Animals: Antelope to Wolf and almost any in-between. Particularly popular are birds, bulls, dolphins, horses, lions, and the mythical Pegasus. These coins have wide appeal and are immediately recognizable. Most animals are present in all denominations and metals and particularly in Greek coinage, the animals are present on both the obverse and reverse, so one can create a very diverse set.
Large coins: Between the Romans and the Greeks, large coins usually had extremely intricate designs, created with great artistic prowess. There are few feelings more exciting than holding a large Roman sesteterius in your palm, a coin which is often larger than a US half dollar and considerably heavier. Large bronze coins likes the sestertius are available in all price ranges depending on the level of detail. Large Greek coins like the tetradrachm, minted in silver, can be expensive depending on the artistic quality and preservation, but there are many examples which were minted in large quantities and can therefore be purchased by a wider range of collectors. The Greek dekadrachm (in silver) and the octadrachm (in gold) are some of the most expensive coins of antiquity but also offer some of the most visually stunning designs. The dekadrachm has often been referred to as the pinnacle of quality of Greek coinage and is the centerpiece of most major collections.
Military: Neither Greece nor Rome was a peaceful civilization. Therefore, the military was consistently a large facet of everyday life. Their coinage frequently celebrated warfare and the implements used in battle. Arms, armor, depictions of combat, and representations of victory appear with considerable frequency and can provide a visually diverse but consistent theme to a collection.
Muses: In 56BC, the Roman Republic minted a set of nine denarii, each of a different famous muse, from the statues brought to Rome by Fulvius Nobilior from his victories in Aetolia. These statues were placed in the temple of Hercules Musarum, which was built by the mythical ancestor of Q. Ponponius Musa. The muses depicted cover most classical studies: epic, adult, and lyric poetry, rhetoric, tragedy, comedy, dancing, history, and astronomy. With interesting reverse types, these comprise a lesser-known set which is filled with history and modern connections, showing that human creativity and artistic appreciation have remained surprisingly consistent for the last two thousand years.
Monuments: Some of the most historically relevant and interesting coinage of both Greece and Rome depict famous buildings and structures. Many of these monuments are no longer standing today but we can connect back to them through their coinage. Arguably the most famous and sought-after example of this type is of the Flavian Amphitheater, or Colosseum. With it engraved in its former, undamaged glory, we can see what it looked like intact before it was forced to withstand several earthquakes and disasters. More within the reach of the average collector, the Roman emperor Trajan was well-known for his architecture and several of his coins depict his Forum in extraordinary detail. While his Forum is no longer standing today, another of his coins, with a reverse of his Column, shows this architectural masterpiece accurately to how it looks today, which was built to mark the height of the land he and his armies levelled to create his courtyards.
Gods and Olympians: The mythology of Greece and Rome is filled with numerous tales of the great acts of their Gods, and their coinage frequently reflects these. A set of various coins of popular mythological figures can be a great way to convey history’s stories and provide a bridge of fascination to collectors and non-collectors alike. Nearly every god and goddess from Aphrodite to Zeus is paid homage through coins minted by their followers.
Family: Emperors often minted coins of their children and families. Antoninus Pius celebrated his family and had several coins with many of his children shown together on the reverse. During the dynasty of the Adoptive Emperors, coins were minted celebrating the new members of the family, which weren’t related by blood. When lineage was predetermined, coins were often issued before an emperor ascended to the throne, depicting a young emperor-to-be under his father’s name.
History: Alexander the Great conquered a vast amount of the world in the name of Greece. After claiming most of the world’s gold for his own, he began melting and producing a large number of gold coins with Athena on the obverse and Nike on the reverse. These coins, minted around 336BC and most often seen in the denomination of a Greek stater, are visually stunning and truly historic.
Historic women: Roman Emperors often minted coins depicting their wives and these can form a very desirable collection alongside that of the more conventional male portraits. In Ancient Greece, Ptolemaic coinage often depicts the wives of the rulers. Berenike and Arsinoe are pictured on octadrachms and dekadrachms, as well as the rare and heavy dodekadrachm, a coin weighing around 54 grams.
Olympics: With the Olympics being such a significant part of Greek life, it is understandable how often they picture specific Olympic events and games on coinage. Similar games are portrayed on Roman coins as well, transitioning into chariots drawn by horses and battle scenes. Greek tetradrachms, with their large diameters, gave engravers enough space to depict detailed scenes of specific games and celebrate the strength of their people.
Geography: Hadrian famously traveled throughout the empire, unlike many emperors who stayed close to Rome. He minted a series of coins chronicling his travels, ranging from Africa, to Egypt, Spain, and across the Nile. These coins reveal an interesting attribute of our world, in that despite being nearly two thousand years detached, the same places with the same names are still frequently visited by travelers.
Provenance: Many famous collections have been formed over the last several centuries, and coins can often be tracked to these collections, establishing a provenance of previous owners. This adds to the appeal of these coins by highlighting the fact that they were chosen by their previous owners as their examples of a type alongside other world-class coins. As an added benefit, legal ownership of coins is easier to establish, reducing risk of coins having been stolen or acquired from illegal archaeological dig sites. Various hordes have also been uncovered and subsequently sold to the market and coins can often realize a premium because of the added history associated with these finds. One particularly exciting example is the Boscoreale horde, unearthed in 1895 as a part of the excavation of Pompeii. The coins discovered here have very interesting toning patterns due to the fact that they had been buried under the ash and debris from the eruption of Vesuvius over 1800 years prior.
Now with some background on the history of coinage and a variety of options, you should be able to begin or continue your journey into ancient coin collecting. There is a lot to choose from and more written about ancient coins than could ever be read in a lifetime, but armed with a broader view on what is available, we hope that you will be able to make more informed selections and continue finding pieces which excite you for years to come.
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Store Silver Right, Sleep Tight
|By Patrick A. Heller
March 07, 2013
Other News & Articles
I expect that both gold and silver prices will rise far above current levels over the next couple of years. You can read my other writings on why I anticipate such developments. Beyond that, I expect the price of silver to outperform gold on a percentage basis by a wide margin.
At current price levels, gold is worth more than 50 times that of silver. In line with my expectation that silver will rise by a greater percentage than gold, that means the long-term equilibrium ratio will be much lower than it is today. I don’t have a crystal ball telling me what the ratio “should be,” but I would not be surprised to see it end somewhere in the 35-40 range.
Obviously, a lot of purchasers of physical precious metals like silver’s prospects more than gold because the total dollar volume of silver being purchased exceeds that of gold. By ounces that means that far more than 50 times as many ounces of physical silver are being sold than of gold.
However, there is a significant logistical problem facing anyone who wants to invest a significant amount in physical silver – where to store it?
A thousand ounces of pure silver weighs over 68 pounds. It takes up roughly 165 cubic inches. That would fill most of a small safe deposit box. You can purchase the 1,000 ounces of silver for a bit over $30,000 right now. But, my company has helped customers purchasing 100,000 ounces or more at one time. What do such buyers do then?
Over the years, customers have asked me how to safely store large quantities of physical silver. Unfortunately, I don’t have any perfect answers for them that combine quick access, low cost and strong safety.
The fastest access you can have to your physical silver is for it to be in your direct custody. That also would likely be the lowest cost alternative. However, safety is not the best. You can be burglarized where you live or work. You could bury it and forget where it is or die without sharing the knowledge of its location. You could put it in a safe or vault at home or work. However, most residential safes are mainly for fire protection. Professional burglars can break into them faster than you would expect. Or, if a safe only weighed a couple hundred pounds, criminals have been known to steal the whole unit to be cracked open elsewhere.
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If you have direct custody of physical silver, the more people who know you own it or know where you are hiding it, the greater your risk that you become a target. Many secrets have been innocently exposed in ways that people would not anticipate. It also happens that the ones who are trusted with knowledge of where the silver is stashed have themselves taken it without permission. Insurance for physical silver in your direct custody is difficult to obtain and expensive if you can get it.
You could have a high caliber safe or hidden vault installed where you work or live. However, costs will be in the thousands of dollars, at a minimum. There is a good chance that the delivery or installation of a safe or vault will be detected by your neighbors, thus creating the risk that the existence of your secure storage becomes public knowledge. The insurance premiums would be lower than for silver not stored in a good quality safe or vault, but it would still cost something.
The next option would be a bank safe deposit box. If you accumulate large quantities of physical silver, the costs could add up to hundreds of dollars (or more) per year. Banks are safer against theft, but you run several risks from storing your silver there. First, if you own the safe deposit box personally and die, the box is supposed to be sealed by the bank until an inventory of the contents can be made for estate purposes. Banks are also not open 24 hours a day to provide instance access. If you remember the huge power failure in the Northeast United States that spread as far as Michigan several years ago, there were some banks in my area that were closed for five days, preventing access during normal business hours.
Bank safe deposit boxes are sometimes broken into, but banks do not insure the contents. Insurance is much more affordable that for physical silver stored at home, but you do have the cost of the annual appraisal on top of the insurance premium.
Last, for large quantities, you can consider using private storage facilities either within or outside the United States. Fees usually include insurance coverage, which can be lower than for goods stored in safe deposit boxes. Overall, as a percentage of value, storage facilities can be lower than safe deposit boxes.
There are levels of secured storage. Unallocated storage means that you theoretically own some part of a large pile of physical silver. You don’t have title to specifically identified merchandise. The silver is owned by the storage facility and their customers’ holdings are unsecured creditors of the storage facility. If the storage company goes bankrupt, owners of unallocated silver get in line with the utility companies, tax authorities, employees and other creditors of the storage company to get the crumbs left over after secured creditors are paid off.
Allocated or segregated storage is safer, but costs more. The fees usually run about double that of unallocated storage. With allocated or segregated storage, specific merchandise is set aside with the owner’s name attached to it. The owners are told the serial numbers of the items they own. When taking delivery, the customer should receive that exact merchandise. Legally, the physical silver would be an asset of the customer and not of the storage company. In theory, if the storage company went bankrupt, those assets would not be subject to claims by creditors of the storage company.
However, there are several disadvantages to physical silver stored in private storage facilities. Typically, such vaults are at a greater distance than banks that people might use for safe deposit box storage. In a crisis, access is virtually non-existent.
Second, and perhaps most important, is the risk that there might be multiple claims of ownership to the same physical silver. It has occurred multiple times that storage firms have used assets they were storing as collateral for debt or that the assets were leased and delivered to other parties. Although this should never happen with allocated or segregated accounts, there is a growing number of reports of owners never receiving such assets at all or only receiving equivalent assets but not the exact ones they were told they owned. The MF Global Holdings bankruptcy debacle should make any investor nervous who has physical silver in storage facilities.
Even worse is the possibility that physical silver that you theoretically have in a storage facility may have never been placed there in the first instance. Several years ago, Morgan Stanley paid substantial damages to settle a class action suit where it was accused of selling physical silver to customers and charging them storage fees, but the firm never purchased the product at all. There is a current class case action against UBS, the huge Swiss bank, for the same practice.
It is the lack of any practical safe and low cost means of owning physical silver that persuaded many investors to opt for paper investments such as shares of silver exchange-traded funds or certificates of metal stored in such places as the Perth or Royal Canadian Mint. Unfortunately, there are potential problems with these paper investments where the investor may end up holding only pieces of paper and no physical silver. But that is a discussion for another column.
So, what should someone do who wants to own a significant quantity of physical silver? The best suggestion I have is to use two or three options. I consider it important to have some amount of physical silver in your direct custody for emergencies. You may split up the total into different locations so that you only tell someone you trust about one location and someone else another location, and so forth. You might hide some and place some in a safe.
I know of one person who put a tall safe in his garage. The safe was on wheels. He cut into the concrete floor to make holes spaced for his safe, then rolled the safe until it sank into the holes. The location was deliberately out of the way, but not hidden. To a burglar, it would appear that the measures taken would indicate that there must be valuable contents within. This person went so far as to have fake silver ingots made and placed into this safe, but no actual physical silver was stored inside. The idea was that crooks would waste all their time going after this decoy and never get around to finding the well-disguised vault he had elsewhere.
Beyond what is in direct custody, consider having some stored in a safe deposit box for the greater safety. If you have a huge quantity of physical silver, that is where you might also use a storage facility, but I would try to avoid using one owned by a bank or a brokerage firm.
By spreading your physical silver into multiple locations, you increase the risk that you might lose some of it. At the same time, you have reduced the risk that you will lose all of it at once. In the process you would have immediate access to physical silver in your direct custody, yet some of it will also be in physically more secure locations.
If anyone has other suggestions how to safely hold large quantities of physical silver with a minimum of cost, please share them.
Patrick A. Heller is the American Numismatic Association 2012 Harry Forman Numismatic Dealer of the Year Award winner. He owns Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Mich., and writes “Liberty’s Outlook,” a monthly newsletter on rare coins and precious metals subjects. Past newsletter issues can be viewed at www.libertycoinservice.com. Other commentaries are available at Coin Week (www.coinweek.com and www.coininfo.com). He also writes a bi-monthly column on collectibles for “The Greater Lansing Business Monthly” (www.lansingbusinessmonthly.com/articles/department-columns). His radio show “Things You ‘Know’ That Just Aren’t So, And Important News You Need To Know” can be heard at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday and Friday mornings on 1320-AM WILS in Lansing (which streams live and becomes part of the audio and text archives posted at www.1320wils.com).
From the Herb Hicks Files: The Illegal Ban on Gold Certificates
By Charles Morgan on March 6, 2013 1:50 PM
By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek ……….
In 1963, Coin World columnist and former ANA librarian Ted Hammer wrote about a coin dealer in Texas arrested for trying to sell a gold certificate. The dealer had run afoul of federal authorities who acted to enforce a thirty-year-old Executive Order outlawing private ownership of gold coins, bullion, and Gold Certificates. At the time of publication, few in the numismatic community were aware that no crime had actually been committed. One reader did know, however, and he began a letter writing campaign that made the Treasury Department change its stance on collectors owning and trading Gold Certificates. That reader’s name was Herbert P. “Herb” Hicks.
But before we talk about what happened, let’s take a step back and look at the executive order that started it all, and see whether it still mattered in 1963.
Off of Gold
On April 5, 1933, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6102. The controversial order is familiar to many who collect gold coins or invest in gold bullion, and is often perceived as an example of tyrannical executive overreach. When the order was announced, the USA was in an intractable financial position. Hard currency standards rendered foreign governments unable to defend their currencies against speculation and unable to capitalize banks, which were failing right and left. In the United States, Americans faced similar problems – vast unemployment, undercapitalized banks, and the contraction of the banking system. The government needed the flexibility to create money in order to stimulate the economy, and in order to do so, President Roosevelt and his advisors thought that America had to get off of gold.
The seizure of privately-held gold was made legal by the Roosevelt Administration’s interpretation of the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 after the passing of the Emergency Banking Act of 1933. The order was designed and implemented with the help of Republican Treasury Secretary William H. Woodin. The order went into effect in the immediate aftermath of the federally-mandated national bank holiday. Under penalty of harsh fines and potential imprisonment, save for a few specific exceptions, Americans and American institutions handed over their physical gold (including coins) and gold monetary instruments. The government immediately revalued the seized gold, thus devaluing the dollar and beginning the development of modern monetary policy that exists to this day.
It is widely believed that because of Woodin, a notable numismatist in his own right, exceptions were made to the Executive Order, making it possible for numismatists and museums to continue to collect gold coins. The order stated that “gold coins having a recognized value to collectors of rare and unusual coins” were exempt.
Although not spelled out in as many words, the government was clearly allowing coin collectors to hold onto individual specimens of numismatic worth. Even though they were historically significant, and a collector base did exist, Gold Certificates were excluded from this allowance.
Most Americans, desperate to see the country’s financial crisis come to an end, complied with the order. Some challenged the validity of Executive Order 6102, but nobody was able to change the end result. Within a few years nearly all of the Nation’s gold coins, bullion, and Gold Certificates were out of private hands and under government control. A Time Magazine article dated November 27, 1933, noted the only prosecution of a United States citizen for failure to surrender gold. The prosecution failed, but the court upheld the Government’s right of seizure.
It would be thirty years before a second prosecution so publicly threatened to take place.
Payable on Demand
As we mentioned above, Gold Certificates were excluded from the protected class of gold numismatic coins. Gold Certificates, in use since 1863, allowed the bearer to receive an amount of gold coin equal to the face value of the note. Since the Federal Government outlawed the private ownership of gold coins and bullion, removing Gold Certificates made a kind of sense because they could no longer serve their original function and perhaps, too, because the government wanted to avoid the political fallout of Americans continuing to see the notes in circulation. And while people surrendered most of the notes in a timely manner, the certificates trickled in for a number of years, with stragglers being redeemed each year well into the late fifties!
By 1959, the government was ready to end the redemption program for Gold Certificates and other obsolete notes, and wipe its liability for the outstanding notes off of the general ledger. In a letter to the Chairman of the Committee on Banking and Currency, Senator A. Willis, dated March 25, 1959, Vice Chairman C. Canby Balderston wrote that the “total amount of [the] outstanding “old series” Federal Reserve notes… presently is about $37 million”. It became the government’s position that these notes were either “destroyed or irretrievably lost” and, “in the judgment of the Secretary of the Treasury, would never be presented for redemption”. The Act did not demonetize the outstanding notes, but instead freed the Federal Government from securitizing them. In essence, the Treasury didn’t expect to see a considerable amount of old series notes get turned in, and was willing to use the money earmarked for redemption. To wipe the slate clean, Congress passed the Old Series Currency Adjustment Act of 1961.
Interestingly enough, the Treasury granted itself the ability to collect one note from each issue for historical purposes.
A Possible Defense?
In light of the Texas dealer’s dire straits, Herb Hicks considered Gold Certificates legal status after the passage of the Old Series Currency Adjustment Act. Hicks believed that, since Congress had removed the gold backing of all Gold Certificates issued before 1934, the matter of the certificates’ connection to deposited gold was moot. The government recused itself from honoring the certificates in any way besides redeeming them at face value in currently-circulating Silver Certificates or Federal Reserve Notes. Because of this, the Treasury could allow legal ownership without any consequences to the Nation’s gold supply.
He tried to reach out to the dealer but never heard back. He also wrote letters to Charles M. Johnson, Head of the American Numismatic Association, and to U.S. Representative Philip Philbin (D), who represented Hicks’ home district in Massachusetts.
Johnson expressed support for Hicks’ position, saying, in a letter dated October 31, 1963:
“I have read with considerable interest your three page summary and study of the gold laws and gold certificates… You have raised several worthwhile points of interest to our hobby of numismatics. I hope you will pursue this matter further.”
Congressman Philbin wasn’t so sure, explaining that matters of fiscal and monetary policy were complicated and best left to the experts [our emphasis]. Even still, Philbin pursued the matter with the Treasury Department on behalf of Hicks and for his own personal knowledge.
On December 13, 1963, Hicks got his first reply. It was from the Director of the Office of Domestic Gold and Silver Operations at the Treasury Department, Mr. Leland Howard, who wrote:
“The present status of United States Gold Certificates is governed by the Order of the Secretary of the Treasury of December 28, 1933, as amended and supplemented, and the Instructions of the Secretary of the Treasury of November 17, 1934…. This order and the Instructions require that all Gold Certificates be delivered to the United States for redemption, a requirement which is still in force.”
Furthermore, Howard found “no record that any authority was ever given to anyone to hold [Gold Certificates] as collectors’ items”, noting that such an accommodation was made for United States and foreign numismatic coins. Speaking for the Treasury Department, Howard felt that there was no “substantial educational or numismatic need to be served by permitting the widespread acquisition of [Gold Certificates] by collectors.”
This response was ignorant of the fact that obsolete notes were indeed collectors’ items, and had been since their introduction (the prevalence of Colonial era currency clearly attests to a long tradition of paper money collecting), and the fact that the Treasury Department was granted the privilege to collect examples of redeemed obsolete currency notes in the Old Series Currency Adjustment Act of 1961. Not to mention the fact that some percentage of the outstanding Gold Certificate notes were secretly held by collectors who knew they could be prosecuted or forced to surrender their notes and face a substantial fine if they publicly signaled that they had them (by trying to sell them, for example).
The fact that Secretary Woodin didn’t allow for the collectability of Gold Certificates seemed like an oversight rather than a purposeful omission. He was well aware of the motivations of collectors and notaphilists. Perhaps the Government would have been better off setting a deadline for their use as legal tender instead of criminalizing their possession. Such an announcement would have likely had the desired result.
For his part, Representative Philbin asked for clarification from the Treasury Department concerning the issues that Hicks had presented. On January 28, 1964, Director Howard replied to Representative Philbin, stating:
“Gold Certificates are obligations of the United States, which, until all in the hands of the public were required to be delivered in 1933, were fully redeemable in gold.
As I said in earlier correspondence, the value now attributed to Gold Certificates is derived from the fact that practically all were duly turned in to the Government by law-abiding citizens in 1933. We believe that few persons, if any, held these certificates as part of a collection at that time. This is the primary reason they were not exempted, as were coins.”
Essentially, Mr. Howard’s position was that if the notes were outlawed, then only outlaws would still own them. Nevertheless, he acknowledges that what gives them value – numismatic value – is the fact that most of them were turned in and destroyed, an obvious and logical development that Woodin and the Roosevelt Administration should have seen coming. That being said, the Treasury Department gave no indication that it was willing to reverse course, despite the fact that Gold Certificates no longer posed a threat, psychological or otherwise, to the monetary system of the United States. They remained illegal.
As far as Hicks knew, the whole thing was going nowhere. His letter writing campaign resulted in some confusing but altogether typical responses from the Federal Government, which gave him little hope that they’d change their minds. Imagine his surprise when he learned that someone within the halls of government had finally seen the light.
A Treasury Department memo dated April 24, 1964 took a position suspiciously similar to the letters he thought were dismissed out of hand. In this memo, the Department removed all restrictions on the holding and acquisition of Gold Certificates issued by the United States Government prior to January 30, 1934. As of this point forward, collectors were allowed to legally hold Gold Certificates. The Texas dealer was now off the hook, and other dealers and collectors clandestinely holding these notes could openly buy and sell them. The Treasury agreed with Hicks’ argument, that the law was no longer necessary because the notes were no longer redeemable in gold but could, if so desired, be exchanged at face value for any other currency of the United States.
America’s only illegal currency was legal again.
Representative Philbin told him the good news. Mr. Philbin felt that the action was “prompted in some measure by [Hicks’] persistent efforts and persuasive arguments to get the regulations changed for the benefit of collectors”. Although Mr. Hicks didn’t get any public credit for his efforts, the power of his ideas still carried the day. He doesn’t recall what happened to the dealer in Texas, or if the normalization of Gold Certificates had any effect on the gentleman’s legal situation. What he does know is that the Treasury Department’s easement of restrictions on Gold Certificates meant that a generation of currency collectors could now lawfully pursue the study and collection of an important historical issue. If you’ve seen one of these notes in person, it’s because of Herb Hicks.
FLIP OF A COIN ™
What can I get for two beavers?: Conducting trade with America’s indigenous peoples was necessary for the survival of many European colonists in the New World. One common commercial instrument was the use of animal skins. The exchange of goods for these skins was called peltry.
Stoppers vs. Key Dates: In a series, there exist one or more issues that are more expensive than the rest. These coins may or may not be out of the price range of most collectors, but are within reach of those with patience and determination (the 1909-S VDB, for instance). If you want to put together a complete Lincoln cent collection, you will likely find a way to get this key date coin. A stopper, on the hand… well, this is a special kind of coin that transcends key date status. Stoppers are the 1913 V Nickels, 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagles, and any number of elusive-to-unique colonial issues.
Germans spent marks. Did you know we almost did, too? Before the dollar was settled on as the basis for the federal monetary system, several alternatives were under consideration. One was devised and proposed by Robert Morris and Gouverneur Morris (no relation) that was valued at 1,000 units and called a Mark. Only one example is known to exist.
©2013 Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker
 Authors’ note: In our estimation, Herb Hicks is one of the great unsung numismatists of the 20th century. Without seeking attention for himself, Hicks has been instrumental in the research and discovery of Eisenhower dollars and Washington quarters, among other series and topics. We hope to bring you more about Hicks in the future.
 http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=14611&st=&st1=. Web. Accessed 1/15/2013.
 Time Magazine. 27 Nov. 1933. Print.
 http://fraser.stlouisfed.org/docs/historical/senate/senate_frdp_old1960.pdf . Web. Accessed 12/18/2012.
 Ibid., 11.
 Letter dated October 31, 1963 to Mr. Herb Hicks from Charles M. Johnson, Board of Governors, American Numismatic Association.
 Letter dated December 13, 1963 to the Honorable Philip J. Philbin from Leland Howard, Director, Office of Domestic Gold and Silver Operations.
 Letter dated January 28, 1964 to the Honorable Philip J. Philbin from Leland Howard, Director, Office of Domestic Gold and Silver Operations.
 United States. Department of the Treasury. “TREASURY REMOVES RESTRICTION ON UNITED STATES GOLD CERTIFICATES ISSUED BEFORE 1934”. Memo. 24 April, 1964.
 Letter dated May 6, 1964 to Herb Hicks from Philip J. Philbin, 3D District, Massachussetts.
The Coin Analyst: Latest Developments at the U.S. Mint
By Louis Golino on March 6, 2013 11:46 AM
by Louis Golino for CoinWeek ………
Update on U.S. Mint Price Increases
On March 5 the U.S. Mint’s Michael White, who serves in the Mint’s Office of Public Affairs, provided some clarification regarding the issues discussed in my last column , which concerned the recent increase in premiums on gold and platinum numismatic coins at a time of declining precious metal prices.
He noted that non-metal costs at the Mint, such as labor and other costs, have indeed been rising recently, and that they played a role in the price increases. Additional details on which specific costs have risen will be provided later.
In addition, “weaker consumer demand,” as a result of “discretionary budgets being squeezed,” mean the Mint is selling fewer units of its precious metal products.
Perhaps most importantly, Mr. White explained that the Mint “generally reprices coins so that the entire portfolio recovers its cost,” and added that they need “some margin to cushion against volatility” in precious metal prices.
Looking forward, he said that Mint officials hope they can keep price increases to a minimum.
For those readers and collectors who have speculated that the Mint is seeking to model itself or its pricing structure on certain foreign mints that charge very high premiums over melt value, as I discussed last time, Mr. White confirmed that the Mint has no plans to do anything like that.
Besides, its silver numismatic coins are still priced competitively compared to those of most foreign mints. For example, even at $245, which is the expected price of the 2013 uncirculated versions of the five-ounce silver America the Beautiful coins, the U.S. Mint’s prices will be roughly half those of the Perth and Canadian mint’s five ounce silver coins, which generally sell for around $500, although that is sometimes for proof or reverse proof coins that have slightly higher production costs and in the case of Canadian coins, often includes attractive wood display cases.
As far as the impact of the U.S. Mint’s new prices, particularly on gold and platinum coins, on sales levels, it is really too soon to say. In addition, at the moment the only gold coins available are the First Spouse coins, and the only platinum coin is the 2012 American platinum eagle.
The most recent sales report from the Mint, which was released on March 5, mainly reflects increased sales for the spouse coins, as buyers sought to purchase their coins before the implementation of the new, higher prices last Wednesday, February 27. We will have to see what happens in the coming weeks and months before it is clear whether the higher prices are dampening overall sales.
Girl Scouts of the USA silver dollars
Last week the Mint also began taking orders for the Girl Scouts of the USA centennial commemorative silver dollars. Sales for the first week came in at about 11% of the total maximum authorized mintage of 350,000 coins, including 29,331 proof and 12,293 uncirculated coins sold during that period. Those figures are comparable to opening sales for last year’s Infantry silver dollars.
Unless a lot of non-collectors, such as girl scouts and former girl scouts, purchase the coin, sales for the GSUSA coin may run on the low side, though it is too soon to say for sure. That is because coin collecting is still a male-dominated field, even if that is changing, and as I have discussed before, some male modern coin collectors have less than enlightened views on women. They say, for example, that Girl Scouts got their coin already because they were included on the 2010 Boy Scouts centennial silver dollar, a reference to the inclusion of a female Venturer on the coin,
which many collectors continue to view as a politically correct move. I have also read many online comments from collectors who describe the coins as ugly or even repulsive, which is really a beyond-the-pale kind of view that is unfortunately too common. I respect peoples’ right to their own views, but seriously, is “repulsive” a word one would use to describe the coin?
Plus, as I explained last year, the history of the two organizations is deeply intertwined, and besides, if it is appropriate to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts, why not the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts? Is that really political correctness, as many male collectors claim, or rather, is it not an appropriate way to honor the tens of millions of American women and girls who are current or former Girl Scouts?
In addition, as the CEO of the GSUSA, Anna Chavez, explained in my interview with her last year , Girl Scouts are natural collectors, and many of them are interested in numismatics, so they may end up purchasing lots of the coins.
American palladium eagle study
In other news regarding the U.S. Mint, the long-awaited report from Mint on the feasibility of minting American palladium eagles is due to be delivered this week to the Senate Banking Committee and the House Committee on Financial Services.
The coins were authorized with the American Palladium Eagle Bullion Coin Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-303), but in order for the coins to be issued, the Mint has to first demonstrate that there is sufficient demand for the coins. From my own communications with fellow collectors, I have little doubt that the coins will be very popular and will sell well.
The Mint contracted the CPM Group to prepare the feasibility study, which the Mint received last year. After reviewing and analyzing those results, the Mint prepared the final report, which is the one being delivered to the Congress this week. I will try to obtain a copy of the study and will report on its findings.
If the study provides support for issuance of the bullion coin, it has to be minted within twelve months of the issuance of the report. Only a bullion version is required by law. At its discretion the Mint may issue a proof version for collectors. The legislation also has an unusual provision that states that if collector versions are issued, each year’s coin is supposed to have “a materially different finish” from the previous year’s coin. But there are only so many finishes available, so it will be interesting to see how that works out, if the coins are issued for a number of years.
America the Beautiful Five-Ounce Silver Coins delayed
Collectors of these coins have been eagerly awaiting information on the release of the 2013 coins.
Their release had been expected to begin earlier in the year, but they were delayed, and product release dates were removed from the Mint’s web site.
I contacted the Mint and was told that the reason is that the Mint is still in the process of determining mintage levels for both the uncirculated collector versions and the bullion coins.
Last year’s collector versions have been selling out one after another in recent weeks, and at the moment only the Chaco Culture and El Yunque coins remain available for sale, and the latter coin has been backordered, which is generally a sign that the coin is close to selling out.
The Hawaiian Volcanoes coin sold out unexpectedly, and quickly tripled in price to $600 on the secondary market. The other sold-out coins quickly reached the $400 level. Approximately 15,000 of each of the 2012 coins appear to have been minted, which is lower than any previous year’s coins.
Louis Golino is a coin collector and numismatic writer, whose articles on coins have appeared in Coin World, Numismatic News, and a number of different coin web sites. His column for CoinWeek, “The Coin Analyst,” covers U.S. and world coins and precious metals. He collects U.S. and European coins and is a member of the ANA, PCGS, NGC, and CAC. He has also worked for the U.S. Library of Congress and has been a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international affairs for a wide variety of newspapers and web sites.
Sede Vacante coins in progress
By Jeff Starck | 03-04-13
Article first published in March 18, 2013, World Coins section of Coin World
Designs for some coins, like the gold €100 piece honoring the Sistine Madonna, will require a new portrait and legend after the new pope is elected. Graphics seen here are the designs as proposed before the resignation was announced.
A new pope means new coins.
The historic resignation of Pope Benedict XVI as leader of the Catholic Church, and subsequently over the Vatican City, will result in many new coins.
The first coins to be issued will mark the Sede Vacante, or “vacant seat,” the period between one pope and the next. The Catholic News Agency reported and an official involved in the production of the coins confirmed the Vatican’s plans to mark the “vacant seat” period with coins.
On Feb. 11, Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, effective Feb. 28. A conclave to elect a new leader is expected sometime in mid-March.
A circulating commemorative €2 coin will mark the Sede Vacante. It will have a mintage of 125,000 pieces, according to an official involved in the coin’s production.
The €2 coin is the only one of the eight circulating euro denominations that will be changed to mark the Sede Vacante, since it is the only denomination eurozone rules permit to be changed.
When Pope John Paul II died in 2005, the Vatican issued a Sede Vacante circulating euro collector set, angering European Commission officials who later clarified the rules about issuing circulating euro coins to ensure that a similar situation would not happen again.
Eurozone rules allow for countries to issue new national side (obverse) designs with the change in national leadership, but the Vatican’s interpretation of the rules, and subsequent release of two new sets of designs (Sede Vacante, Pope Benedict) within about a year, was not looked upon favorably.
New circulating coin designs, featuring the newly elected pope, are expected no later than next year.
Although the €2 coin marking the Sede Vacante is designated as a circulating coin, it will not actually circulate. The Vatican issues a limited number of euro coins, generally targeted at collectors. This practice led the European Commission to mandate that the Vatican circulate at least some of the coins, so, since 2010, small quantities of 50-cent coins are released yearly in Vatican City.
Vatican officials have not confirmed how the 2013 Sede Vacante coin will be released. However, considering the way the Vatican’s €2 coins have been released in the past, it is likely that the Sede Vacante €2 coin will be offered in special packaging with a Brilliant Uncirculated finish.
In addition, the Vatican will issue a Sede Vacante silver €5 coin (mintage of 10,000 pieces) and a Sede Vacante gold €10 coin (mintage of 5,000 pieces).
Images of and further details about any of the Sede Vacante coins are not yet available.
The €2 coin will become the first of two commemorative coins of that denomination to be released this year. The other coin, scheduled for release late in the year, does not make reference to Pope Benedict XVI and apparently does not require design modification. The second €2 coin commemorates the 28th World Youth Day, scheduled for Rio de Janeiro.
However, an official related to coinage production confirms that collector coins planned for release later this year that were to show Pope Benedict XVI or a reference to him will instead show or refer to the new pontiff. The themes on the reverses will remain unchanged.
2013 program details
Details about the 2013 program were distributed during the World Money Fair in Berlin in early February.
The Vatican plans to release a coin card containing a BU example of the 50-cent coin, as well as a BU set of all eight euro denominations.
One of two Proof sets contains a silver €20 coin celebrating the birth bicentennial of composer Giuseppe Verdi, while the other set will contain a gold €50 coin commemorating the birth bicentennial of composer Richard Wagner.
Commemorative coins planned for 2013 include two silver pieces, a €5 coin marking the 46th World Day of Peace and a €10 issue celebrating the 50th World Day of Prayer for Vocations.
Three gold commemorative coins are planned, including two coins from the Popes of the Renaissance series — a €20 coin honoring Pope Julius II and a €50 coin for Leo X. A gold €100 coin is also scheduled, to depict the Sistine Madonna from Michelangelo’s famous work.
For the silver €20 and gold €50 coins available only in Proof sets, as well as the two coins in the Popes of the Renaissance series, designers will need to replace the BENEDICTVS XVI reference with the new leader’s name. The World Day of Peace, World Day of Prayer and Sistine Madonna coins will also require a new portrait and updated legends.
There is no word yet as to how the change in ruler will affect or possibly delay the release of the coin program. Officials from the Vatican Philatelic and Numismatic Office, as customary, did not respond to multiple inquiries about the new pope and new coins.
The Vatican City is not an official part of the eurozone, the 17 nations where euro coins and paper money circulate, but because it has long had a monetary agreement with Italy to use the Italian currency, when Italy adopted the euro, so did Vatican City. Monaco and San Marino have similar agreements, and all three small nations issue commemorative euro coins directed at collectors. These coins are often extremely limited in mintage (because of a eurozone formula that bases mintages on population) and popularly collected. ■
Interstate Sales Tax Bills Introduced
|By Numismatic News
February 28, 2013
Other News & Articles
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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Two bills were introduced Feb. 14 that would grant states the power to force out-of-state vendors to collect the state’s sales/use taxes, according to a release from the Industry Council for Tangible Assets.
The means of implementation would be left to each state.
Bill S-336 was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY). It is titled “To Restore States’ Sovereign Rights to Enforce State and Local Sales and Use Tax Laws and For Other Purposes.” While the text of this legislation was not yet available, ICTA says it expects the language to be identical to that of Bill S-1832, which Sen. Enzi introduced in the 112th Congress. S-336 currently has 19 cosponsors and has been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
A companion bill to S-336 was introduced by Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR) in the House of Representatives. HR-684 has the same title as S-336, has 36 cosponsors and has been referred to the House Committee on Finance.
ICTA outlines several roadblocks to previous legislation of this type that now have been eliminated:
1. Software will be available that the states will be able to provide to even small businesses to simplify collection and remittance of sales taxes to ALL states in which clients reside.
2. Any legislation mandating this new responsibility for collecting and remitting sales taxes likely will include a small business exemption based on dollar volume. However, thresholds that have been discussed to define a small business – $500,000 or $1 million – will not exempt even the smallest mom-and-pop dealer in precious metals, especially with metals markets at current levels.
Unlike previous proposals, sales tax exemptions on coin and precious metals products will still be a state-by-state matter. Currently 30 states have some form of an exemption on rare coins, precious metals and collectible currency. Five states have no sales tax at all, but the other 25 exemptions were enacted as a result of efforts by ICTA and in-state dealers who fought to achieve them.
Many states are reviewing all of their state sales tax exemptions in an effort to raise revenues, which puts all exemptions at risk, ICTA says. Each state will decide which sales tax exemptions to retain, if any; however, no state will be required to keep an existing exemption of any kind, including those for coin and precious metals products. There is considerable bipartisan support – by both members of Congress and state governors – to enact this type of legislation allowing the collection of sales taxes across state lines, according to ICTA.
ICTA urges everyone in states that currently have sales tax exemptions on coin and precious metals products to monitor their state legislature for any attempts to repeal the state exemption. If this legislation is passed, collectors and investors in states that do not have exemptions will automatically have sales/use tax applied to their transactions, regardless of whether the dealer they purchase from is within their own state or in another state.
To stay informed on this issue, watch www.ictaonline.org.
The Coin Analyst: U.S. Mint Raises Premiums on Precious Metal Coins as Metal Prices Decline
By Louis Golino on March 4, 2013 1:43 PM
by Louis Golino for CoinWeek ………
Last year the U.S. Mint saw its numismatic revenue decline by a third as a result of declining sales of gold and platinum coins due to higher underlying precious metal prices and strained collector budgets because of a still-struggling U.S. economy. Silver coins, on the other hand, continued to be profitable for the Mint, and their sales increased.
But rather than try to reverse the trend in gold and platinum coin sales by keeping prices as competitive as possible, which is what most market analysts for any business would suggest, the Mint has raised premiums on all of its precious metal products at a time of declining precious metal prices, virtually ensuring that numismatic revenues decline further unless an enormous amount of very well-heeled buyers comes to the rescue, possibly in hopes of making profits on temporarily low mintage coins.
Earlier this year, as I discussed previously , the Mint announced new, higher prices on some of its silver-based coins, including the 5 ounce America the Beautiful coins, and American silver eagles in proof and uncirculated finishes. Because those increases were announced as silver prices were declining, I asked the Mint about it, and their response, which was included in my article, essentially argued that the Mint needed to retain the ability to adjust prices “to reflect the changing price of silver,” which is a curious argument when silver prices were declining.
To be sure, there are certainly plenty of non-metal costs involved in the production of collector coins such as labor, machinery, etc. If the Mint had pointed to some of those in its response, it would have been easier to understand the rationale for the increases.
As of Feb. 27 the Mint has gone ahead and implemented a new pricing grid for gold and platinum coins that was published in the Federal Register on February 20 , which raises premiums just as gold and platinum prices have been declining markedly in recent weeks.
Some people say they were trying to get ahead of the curve and expect higher metal prices soon, as many experts do, because of the view that precious metal prices have bottomed out, as sellers reached what is known as capitulation.
But that really misses the point, as the whole point of the grid is to establish fixed premiums at different metal price intervals, so the new grid has nothing to do with expectations of higher metal prices down the road.
The one saving grace of the new grid, and this is something I brought to the Mint’s attention in my inquiries, is that now when platinum prices are increased or decreased, it will be in $50 increments, as is used for gold, not $100 increments as was the case previously.
But if one considers, for example, the 2012 American platinum eagle, which contains one ounce of the white metal, the peculiarity of the new pricing mechanism is abundantly clear. Platinum prices recently declined below the $1600 level, hitting $1575 on February 28, but the platinum eagle coin price was raised to $2,000 the day before.
Those are proof coins and clearly some premium over melt value is understandable, but sales of last year’s coin were already running well below those of prior years. And raising the premium to $400 over melt value hardly seems like a recipe for increasing sales.
So one must ask what is the Mint’s strategy here? Since no one outside the Mint knows for sure, it is hard to say, but a number of possibilities come to mind.
The Mint could well be trying to make up for lost revenue by increasing its profit margins on the numismatic coins it sells with higher premiums over melt value. But, first, those margins are already quite healthy, especially for silver coins, and raising them beyond a certain point seems almost certain to force many buyers to stop buying, reduce their purchases, and quite possibly turn to other areas of numismatics where they may find better opportunity.
In fact, Royal Scandinavian Mint owner Ola Borgejordet told me today that the Spanish Mint on Feb. 20 announced it was lowering prices on its gold coins in response to lower gold prices, after having increased them in September.
He also added that one needs to bear in mind the other costs of producing coins such as “tool making, the production and preparation of blanks, etc., which could very well have increased. If the U.S. Mint’s reasoning for the increase is the price of precious metals, then this seems odd.”
Again, since the Mint has not made clear the specific rationale for the substantial new premium increases, it is hard to understand what is going on.
The Mint has many times explained that the price grids for precious metal coins were intended to give the Mint flexibility in pricing these coins, and that such a system was better suited to the pricing of numismatic coins than the system used by bullion dealers for their products, which constantly adjusts as metal prices ebb and flow.
It is important to consider also that last year, as I have discussed several times recently in this column, many new mintage lows were reached across a variety of silver and gold product options such as the American gold eagle uncirculated coin, the individual proof gold eagles, and the 5 ounce silver uncirculated coins, which have been selling out in the past few weeks and garnering substantial premiums in the secondary market.
Many experts predict that higher premiums, even when metal prices are down, are likely to further squeeze collectors who simply cannot afford to keep up with all the series they used to collect. One frequently reads online comments from collectors who say they are paring down their purchases as prices rise, and I am doing this myself.
Some people speculate that the Mint is perhaps adopting the approach of many foreign mints that price their collectible precious metal coins way above the melt value of the coins, with the Royal Mint in the UK probably being the best example of that. The Royal Canadian Mint and Perth Mint in Australia also do that though not quite to the same extent.
The idea behind this seems to be that there is a core of collectors and buyers who will pay almost any price to keep their sets updated, or perhaps to speculate and try to make a profit. And the lower mintages would go hand in hand with that approach, which is what foreign mints do to stir up demand.
But that would go against the stated objectives of the U.S. Mint to make its numismatic coins available to a wide audience at the lowest price possible, while still making a profit that is used to help fund other programs of the Mint and to reduce the deficit. Many people forget that numismatic coins are never produced with taxpayer funds.
Moreover, it is evident that the high price/low mintage approach to selling numismatic coins has its limits. The Perth and Royal Mint have both experienced revenue declines in recent years in their numismatic programs, though the Canadian experience has been different. The RCM in the past couple years has vastly lowered the mintages on many of its coins, while issuing a very strong and innovative line of products at different price points. That is partly true of the other two mints as well, but in my view not quite to the same extent. Examples include the 2012 glow-in-the dark dinosaur coin and some of the Titanic releases from the RCM that were inexpensive and achieved quick sell-outs and high secondary market prices. Meanwhile, a lot of Perth and Royal Mint coins have seen their values decline recently.
Like many collectors I was disappointed by the Mint’s recent actions, and I welcome any clarification Mint officials can provide for their rationale. Eventually, if too few people can afford to keep buying the Mint’s precious metal products, especially the higher-priced items, it will no longer be cost effective to even produce them. If not reversed, such trends could ultimately drive collectors away from modern U.S. coins and accelerate the increased interest among U.S. collectors in modern foreign coins, some of which offer great value at relatively little cost over melt value, like the coins of Mexico.
Louis Golino is a coin collector and numismatic writer, whose articles on coins have appeared in Coin World, Numismatic News, and a number of different coin web sites. His column for CoinWeek, “The Coin Analyst,” covers U.S. and world coins and precious metals. He collects U.S. and European coins and is a member of the ANA, PCGS, NGC, and CAC. He has also worked for the U.S. Library of Congress and has been a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international affairs for a wide variety of newspapers and web sites.
How To Succesfully Negotiate a Trade With Your Coin Dealer
By Doug Winter on March 4, 2013 7:27 AM
You see a $25,000 coin in a dealer’s inventory and you really want it. The problem is you are short of funds and you are the sort of person who
made a promise to never take on debt to finance his hobby. Do you pass on the coin?
Maybe you don’t have to. My guess is that if you are a long-time collector you have at least $25,000 worth of coins in your collection that range from” junk” to” stuff” to “I kind of like this but it really doesn’t fit into my collection anymore.” I’d like to suggest that you can obtain that $25,000 coin by trading miscellaneous coins with the dealer in order to achieve your goal. And if you do the trade the right way, the best possible thing happens: a scenario in which both you and the dealer are happy and walk away thinking “I liked that trade and I’d do it again.”
Some dealers don’t like to trade and the advice which I give in this article will be for naught. Others–myself included–like to trade, especially if they have the opportunity to shed some older inventory and bring in some interesting new coins without the effort of going to a show.
A trade is mostly likely going to work if you know the dealer already and the dealer knows you. I have a few clients who, it seems, would almost always rather work out a trade than write me a check for a coin and I am happy to oblige them. They understand the dynamics of trading.
In a nutshell, trades only work if both parties feel they are getting good value. I am less likely to trade a great new coin that I just added to my website than one which has been in stock for a few weeks (or months) . Conversely, collectors want to trade for coins which will improve their collections. They are sophisticated enough to understand that not every great coin owned by a specific dealer sells quickly (that’s a topic which deserves a blog…) and ultimately they want a collection that contains more neat coins and less “stuff.”
The inherent problem with many coin trades is that collectors want one really good coin from a dealer but are not willing to give up anything in return. It’s the numismatic equivalent of a baseball trade in which one team is offering a proven star player while the other team offers either unproven young prospects or overpaid, over-the-hill players on their roster. Some sort of compromise has to be made by both parties for a trade to work.
When someone proposes a trade with me, I immediately have to categorize what is being offered by the other party. Some trades are incredibly easy. I have a $10,000 Dahlonega half eagle in stock and my potential trading partner has two $5,000 Dahlonega half eagles. Those kind of deals are a piece of cake and get done very easily.
But trades are usually more complicated than that.
Let’s look at the categories in which potential trade coins can fall into. I’ll make a few pertinent comments about each.
1. Coins Purchased From Me Recently
In theory, the coins I should want most are the ones which he has recently sold, right? Actually this is often not the case and the reasons why are not often so obvious. Let’s say I had a reasonably memorable coin in stock a few months ago and it comes back in a trade. My worry is that potential customers will recognize it and wonder “hey, there’s that MS63 Charlotte quarter eagle…what’s it doing back in Doug’s stock?” In the case of really obvious coins, this is something that might keep me from getting a trade done.
How do I value coins that I sold within, say, the last year which are being offered back to me in trade? I generally work on a 10-15% margin (sometimes less) so if I sold a coin for $5,000, it is likely that my cost was $4,250-4,500. I’m going to want to take that coin back at my original cost so that when I re-offer I can price it once more at around $5,000.
Some dealers do something disingenuous when it comes to taking coins back in trade. Let’s say they sold a coin for $5,000 and their cost was $4,500. They will offer to take the coin back at $5,000 (which is technically a $500 loss for them) and make this up on the sell side where they will quietly jack-up the price of another coin from $5,000 to $5,500.
The bottom line is if you use a recently purchased coin as part of a trade, you can expect to get around 80-90% of what you paid for it but only if you are trading it back to the dealer from who you purchased it. If the coin is not from me, I don’t feel the obligation to do this.
2. Coins Purchased From Me a Number of Years Ago
What if I get offered a group of coins which I sold back in 2003? The chances are good that the owner is going to be in a profit position but how much of one can become a grey area. Before I get into that, let me tell you how I’d figure them, value-wise.
Typically, if these are “cut and dry” sorts of coins (say like a common date Dahlonega half eagle in PCGS AU55) I’m going to see what the last few auction trades were and offer somewhere in the middle of the range. In other words, if the last three trades were $3,000, $3,300 and $3,600 I am going to figure the coin at around $3,300.
Let’s say I get in a bunch of coins in trade and they are in older holders with a possible chance to upgrade. What do you I then? To me, the ethical thing to do in this situation is to let the collector know that there is possibly some extra value in the coins. I might tell him, “I am going to crack this coin out to regrade it. I’ll figure it in the trade at $3,300 regardless of what happens but if it upgrades, I will pay you more.”
If a dealer sells nice coins, he should be happy to get back a group which he sold years ago and this would be an ideal scenario for a trade.
3. Coins I Don’t Specialize in But Which I Like
As a dealer who specializes in rare United States gold coins from the 18th and 19th century, these are obviously the sort of coin that would interest me most in a trade. But I wouldn’t rule out coins that I don’t typically deal in. For me to accept non-gold coins in a trade, they have to be either something that I find interesting enough that I would put them on my website (and hope that it sells) or something that I think would sell for a price close to (or over) what I paid for them if I wholesaled them or put them into an auction.
I recently traded a high quality early gold coin for a group of coins which I don’t deal in but found interesting. The main reason I made the trade, however, was because I think the collector who proposed the trade has an excellent eye and he understands value very well. I might not have made the exact same trade if it was proposed by someone who I didn’t respect ability-wise. But this was a guy who impresses me and I was happy with the coins I received.
There is a limit to what I will take in trade. As an example, a few months ago, someone proposed a trade in which I would ship him a very cool Proof gold coin in exchange for what seemed to be some good quality Buffalo Nickels and Lincoln Cents. Even though it seemed like a reasonably fair trade, I passed. I don’t know the Buffalo Nickel and Lincoln Cent markets very well; certainly not well enough to start taking in $5,000 examples in NGC holders. I suggested that he offer these coins to a specialist who would be more interested in them than I would and then use the proceeds to buy my coin.
4. Coins I Don’t Deal in And Don’t Like
Never say never, as the cliche goes, but it is going to be hard me to take in a bunch of off-quality coins that I don’t like and I don’t specialize in order to make a trade. I guess if I had a few complete duds in stock which I hated and I was desperate to get out of them…the good news, for me, is that I infrequently purchase disastrous coins and when I do, I tend to wash my hands of them as quickly and painlessly as possible by throwing them into auction and washing my hands of them.
Ready for a brief aside?
There is a well-known but frequently cash-strapped dealer who is (in)famous for trading coins. He is the worst trader that I have ever seen and I know a few dealers (myself included) who have totally gotten the better of him when we make trades. My strategy was to take the oldest, most expensive retreads in my inventory (always gold coins) and trade them for lower priced, reasonably fresh non-gold coins which he owned. He always botched trades by taking in high priced coins at too high a price (I was always able to steer him towards the coins I owned that were the worst values) and exchanging them for less expensive, far more liquid coins.
I don’t deal in bullion but I stayed at a Holiday Inn last night and can offer a fair trade price for bullion, knowing that I can lay it off at those numbers or even a small profit. Most dealers are happy to take bullion in trade. I suggest that if you offer bullion, you call a few national dealers and get an idea of what they are paying. I should be allowed to make a small amount on your bullion but I should not be allowed to make 10 or 15%. Don’t undervalue or overvalue your bullion!
6. Modern Crap AKA Your Boxes Full of Junque
This is where most collectors have the greatest amount of unrealized potential trade value in their collections. Let me give you an example.
I have been working with a collector for a few years who is trying to pare down his holdings. He wants to own a small number of really good coins but his business is cash intensive and he doesn’t always have the available funds to buy good items as they become available. I went to his house a few months ago and he had pulled out literally hundreds of proof sets, rolls of silver coins, sets of low grade pieces and miscellaneous “stuff.”
This isn’t the sort of material I typically deal in but I like this guy, we’ve done a lot of business and I had the feeling that his junk was going to add up to a decent chunk of change. By the time I got his coins home, sorted through them, sent the good coins to PCGS and NGC and taken pen to paper, we were up to close to $75,000. That’s a lot of “junk” and that, in turn, bought him a few really good coins which he now has stored in one small box instead of in three huge safety deposit boxes.
As a dealer, this isn’t the sort of deal I like to do. It is very labor intensive and I still have nightmares about washing my hands every three minutes as I sortd through bag after bag of circulated Indian Cents and Mercury Dimes looking for key dates. But I was working on 10% and got the collector to promise that I would be able to trade for his good coins when the time came.
Most times I’m not going to trade, say, a Proof Liberty Head double eagle worth $75,000 for a trunk full of modern crap. But if you are a good client and you do most of the work (i.e, you ship me your stuff neatly packaged and reasonably well-organized) I will consider trading my one great coin for your boatload o’ crap.
I’ve probably made the whole trading process seem more complicated than it really is. If you don’t have two compatible trade partners, you’ll probably never make a deal work.
I’d love to hear your stories about good trades and bad trades. Please comment on them at the end of this article. And if you have coins which you would lke to trade, please feel free to email me at email@example.com