The Coin Analyst: Interview with Modern World Coin Dealer Ola Borgejordet (Part II)
by Louis Golino for CoinWeek
7.) Are there particular coin series or coins of a specific country or theme that tend to sell better than others?
“Yes, well designed coins and really topical series tend to sell well. These are almost always based on history, architecture, or art. Personalities also sell well, but only if the portrait is great. There are many examples of coins that have not become popular simply because the portrait or likeness was bad. The popularity of countries comes and goes, especially if they try to manipulate sales through issue limits, but – again – countries that have great designs always sell well. If the key to real estate is location, location, and location, then the reality in modern numismatics must be design, design, and design.”
“I am happy to say that some of our best selling coins are also my favorites, among them the annual niobium series from Austria, the 2004 Spanish issues for Salvador Dali, the 2006 Italian silver coin for Leonardo da Vinci, and the 2007 Irish silver coin celebrating Celtic Culture, which are my personal favorite modern coins. The Irish coin especially. It has a brilliant mix of old and new, intrigue in the detail, and finally a fantastically inventive design.”
“Some newer issue that have become customer favorites are the 2011 Fiji silver filigree rabbit coin and the 2010 Latvian amber coin, both masterpieces in technology and design. Currently, one of the most popular series are the French coins called From Clovis to Republic. So far three coins have been issued in this series – Clovis, Charlemagne and Charles the Bald.”
“More people collect 2 euros than anything. These collectors seem to be today’s completists, meaning that they collect every issue from every country. The second most popular would be art and third would be architecture. Wedding coins are also quite popular.”
8.) Are there any coins or series that you recommend to collectors because of a combination of solid demand and limited supply?
“Of currently available issues, I would recommend the annual niobium series from Austria, the 2011 Fiji silver filigree rabbit coin (made by the Mint of Finland), the 2010 Latvian amber coin, 2010 Latvia niobium Coin of Time III, 2011 Latvia silver coin for Aleksander Caks, and the 2003 Finnish €50 bi-metal gold and silver coin celebrating Numismatic Art.”
“There are also two series of spectacular coins with very low issue limits from a German manufacturer on behalf of Cook Islands, one featuring the most beautifully pad printed replications of famous works of art in full color, and the second featuring translucent stained glass window inserts from famous cathedrals around the world. The first series has been going on for a while and some of the coins might be hard to find, but the second series – called Windows of Heaven – is only in its third release with Notre Dame in Paris, which should still be available.”
9.) A number of European and world issues seem to be driven by what I would call speculative demand. This includes coins and sets from Monaco, some recent 2 euro proof coins such as the Erasmus coin from the Netherlands, and the 2012 Perth Mint Dragon coins, which seem to have amazing demand. What do think about these “hot coins”? Will they hold their value over time? Why is it so difficult to obtain Monaco issues?
“I think the simple answer will be “No, they won’t.” The only way that they can keep their value is if demand is truly driven by the collector, not by dealers or speculation on e-Bay and other auction sites. As an example, when Norway issued its Millennium coins, they were offered by ballot to each Norwegian household with a maximum of one coin per ballot. This meant that the high issue limit was actually spread over just as many collectors, and prices in the secondary market held and even increased over time.”
“If a large quantity of coins is held by dealers or speculative buyers, collector’s will always figure this out eventually and prices will go down. It should strike a collector as strange when an item is sold out from the mint but readily available from dealers all over the world. The problem is that it is hard to stop this practice when even issuing authorities are involved in the unfair distribution and sales of “secondary market” items.”
“Regarding Monaco, the answer is because they only ever mint a tenth of what the demand would require. A better question is “Why does Monaco always issue so few coins, and why are they more expensive than they should be even in the secondary market?” Monaco is allowed to issue coins under the French euro quota (1/500th of the coins minted by France), and its coins are always minted by the French Mint.”
“When the coins are delivered to the Monegasque authorities, its distribution is usually through a mixture of local coin dealers and a coin/stamp expo in Monaco where you are allowed to buy one item per ticket. The theory is that there are never enough coins available for interested visitors to the coin/stamp expo, and that there is some speculation going on because of the limited distribution channels. Who benefits from this and why it is allowed to continue, I don’t know. I do know that they received strong criticism from the EU Commission after they only minted 20,000 of the Grace Kelly €2 coins, and a lot of people couldn’t get them through advertised channels.”
10.) I would appreciate your thoughts about the 2 euro commemorative coins, which are something RSM has focused on over the years. Is it primarily European collectors who order such coins from you, or do you also have a lot of interest among Americans for this terrific series?
“I would say that almost all of the 2 euro coins that we sell go to US and Asian collectors. It is a great series with many great coins, and one of the lasting successes of the euro currency. However, for dealers it is also one of the most problematic areas, because the supply of uncirculated 2 euro coins does not come from the mints themselves (except for proof and BU versions), but rather from commercial banks in the country of origin.”
“What many collector’s don’t understand is that we have no control over the quality of the coins that we receive, and that there are at least 20 mints involved in the minting of these coins – all with differing production techniques and levels of quality. My point is that as popular as these coins are, please don’t expect all coins to be of the same quality, and if you only buy one item it doesn’t always have to be in pristine condition. Bag marks and scratches from the minting and packing process is to be expected.”
11.) I wonder what you think about the 5-ounce America the Beautiful coins the U.S. has been minting since last year.
“I am a big fan of the larger diameter of the 5oz coins to display such intricate designs. Also, because of the higher strikes, the designs pop more on 3 inches than on the surface of a quarter. Not a big fan of many of the commemorative quarter designs, as they were too involved and busy for such a small space. I also like the .999 fine silver content and the $55 per ounce price tag. It was not a PR boost for the US Mint when they suddenly reduces the issue limit by 2/3, however. This doesn’t bode well for the future of the program. And if there’s something people like it’s predictability and a constant business environment.”
I think I speak for other world coin collectors and numismatists in saying that we are all indebted to Mr. Borgejordet for providing a fascinating insider’s perspective on modern world coins. If readers of this column have a particular interest in any of the coins or series discussed in this interview, please let me know in the comments, and I will try to provide more information in a forthcoming article. The 2 euro commemorative series, which I collect, is one that I will definitely be covering.
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 Coin Week, “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.