By Geoffrey Cope – www.petitioncrown.com ………
What is creating the interest in the British Coin market? Not just the upward trend of prices but the increasing number of collectors. What has really happened over the last decade leading to 2014/15? We need to understand a few facts and then mix all the facts up to give an individual potted view of the future.
Numismatic Coins are ART. They have always been used to show the RULER how he would like to be seen and the reverse side of the coin has CONTENT, to tell a story of achievement or strength or whatever the ruler wants show on the reverse. This applies to English, Scottish & Irish coins.
Bargains, I have seldom seen any bargains. If you are offered a coin that is substantially below what is considered market price, check it carefully as there is likely to be something wrong with the coin. Numismatic rarities have one main disadvantage in that they are not as liquid as say bullion coins. The internet has changed this to some extent as the audience is much larger than before. (Autumn 2013 saw a collection of 18 top quality British coins sold via an Internet Auction for $1.6m before charging commission, all this organized within 90 days). The question that is never fully answered is what makes a fair price? Willing buyer, willing seller, the problem is that collectors of British coins fall in love with every piece and are loathe to part.
Photo Caption: James I Ship Ryal (15/-) the king showing his naval power
Quality pieces have always been sought after and preserved carefully through many generations of collectors, since auction catalogues are known from the early 1700’s and collections were assembled well before. The relationship of quality to non-quality is not more than 1:100, or possibly even less. The importance of grading is paramount, another service that today’s “dealer” can offer, and the ability to see and check a coin not just from a photograph but to hold the coin and check the quality of the patina and eye appeal. Plastic captivity is only one possible solution but cannot replace the expertise of a long term dealer with knowledge who wishes to see the whole coin, edges and metal.
Coins have the added interest, coins are money and people ‘love money’, they are portable and wonderful collections can be built from Ancient Greek to Modern British Coins. Buy books, read learn your subject; this has always been a strong criteria for success. Knowledge of price/grade is essential for the collector with “Coins of England” the British Bible on pricing carefully reflecting the prices paid at auction of grade to price.
What is fuelling the market making prices continue to rise? This is not so complicated to answer; we have a period where we are printing paper (money). The more we print the less it is worth in purchasing power. 2008/9 was an example of a major blip in the financial markets, blip you say? Yes, as one day there needs to be a correction. Then your collectables will be worth less – sure, but they will have some intrinsic value and anyhow you have had fun collecting.
Now we move to other factors:
The Internet has made a world of no borders, the adoption of on-line bidding at auction is increasing, digital photography is amazing and bidding techniques have changed. Beware of dealers and others who will use the internet to increase prices. Collectors should remind themselves of the old adage, ‘all that glitters is not gold’.
People are living longer and the retirement age of 65+/- is no longer relevant as it is creating new problems of lack of pension income to support their financial needs, demanding that individuals look for new pastimes to create income.
Dealers are offering new services including advice, viewing sales, increasing stock levels or focusing more carefully where they should be exhibiting. We still need to watch the difference between dealers on the other side of the pond in the US and UK dealers in general. The US dealer invests more of his wealth in building stocks than the British dealer who has different priorities.
The market was pre-dominantly Auction driven, what did we learn in the British Market.
Top quality material that had not been on the market for 20+ years made +15% above top estimate, which were high to start with.
Medium to better quality saw a rise upwards to the average area of low book estimate
Poorer quality stayed low with fewer bidders
What was clearly evident that the top quality items had more bidders at the higher end over the top estimate?
We can discuss different areas of the British market that have opportunities for growth; one of these is early British Copper from Charles II 1662 to the end of George I 1727. Top quality is difficult to find. Anglo Saxon pennies are another, but they are continually being found. The wonderful RAVEN Penny in the autumn auctions did not find a buyer.
Photo Caption: William & Mary Pattern Half Penny 1694
While interest rates remain low and governments print paper, the price of collectables such as coins will rise. House prices are a bubble as governments use the ‘mortgage cover tool’ to meet their own needs knowing that the individual won’t repay their loan, however, the Government is not dealing with repayments but the “good feeling” factor.
The effect of a limited number of dealers from say the USA building and holding British stocks of coins to service the growing number of American collectors showing interest in British coins will see prices rise to levels not seen in the UK. (Consider the sale of the RAWLINS POUND XX coin in September 152’000 UK Pounds ($243’000) such a rarity for a US Coin would be say $2’000’000.
Final conclusion is “you have the best and the rest”.