By Louis Golino for CoinWeek …………
Modern world coin collectors have to be selective because so many different releases are issued regularly all over the world. Even if you only collect the coins of one country, most people find it necessary to zero in on the coins and series that have the most appeal to them.
I also find it helpful to look at modern word coins the way I view U.S. commemoratives, in other words, as coins to buy more for their aesthetic beauty or personal resonance than with an eye towards price appreciation. In some cases both aspects may apply, but it is a good idea not to have unrealistic expectations. It is also good, as you learn more about the field, to try to figure out which world releases are worth getting when they are issued, and which may be cheaper later.
Here are some of the coins and sets that I think are worth consideration for your collections.
At the top of the list come new coins releases from the Royal Mint in Great Britain, namely, the new Britannia silver proof coins and the special 5 pound silver coin issued in honor of the royal baby, Prince George Alexander Louis.
Britannia silver bullion coins used to have different designs most years and a limited mintage, but beginning this year the Royal Mint (www.royalmint.com) now issues the bullion coins with an unlimited mintage and will retain the standing image of Britannia designed by Philip Nathan on future issues. They are also now made of exactly one ounce of pure silver.
For the silver proof coins the Britannia series will feature a new design each year, and the coins are issued in a range of sizes and formats. There is a proof set with all sizes, one-twentieth ounce, one-tenth ounce, one-quarter ounce, half ounce, and one ounce, plus single one ounce proof coins, a striking five-ounce high relief version, a two-coin set with the tenth and twentieth ounce coins, and various gold versions, including a five-ounce coin for the well-heeled collector.
Recent opinion polls in the UK show that 25% of Britons were unable to identify the iconic face of the British nation, Britannia. To help people recognize her British sculptor Robert Hunt designed a striking representation of Britannia in a reclining pose with an owl on her knees, and for the first time, an exposed breast. The designer told the Daily Mirror newspaper that his design is intended to symbolize the “nurturing side of womanhood” and “unashamed beauty and strength.” The newspaper refers to the new design as “a 21st century glamour model makeover.”
American and other foreign buyers are charged less than British and European customers because the VAT tax does not apply to them. The one-ounce coin without the VAT comes to about 70 pounds, or $105; the five-coin set is about $240, and the five-ounce silver coin runs about $560. For more information check out the Royal Mint’s Britannia section:
I received the one-ounce proof coin today and am very impressed with the elegance and distinctiveness of the coin and the quality of the piece. There seems to be a healthy market for modern British coins in the U.S., which are probably the third most-widely collected country here after Canada and Mexico.
Many people have heard about the special silver pennies which the British royal family is giving to Britons who had a child on the same day the new prince was born.
In addition, the Royal Mint issued a special silver version of the current one pound coin, and of greatest interest to serious collectors, it also issued a very special 5 pound silver crown coin that for the first time in 100 years uses the image of St. George slaying the dragon by Benedetto Pistrucci that has appeared on gold sovereign coins for hundreds of years, but this time on a silver coin. These gorgeous coins have a limited mintage of 10,000 and sold out within several days of the announcement of their issuance.
Lots of other countries in the commonwealth will be issuing coins honoring Prince George, but this is the one to get in my view. From the Royal Mint it was about $100, but dealers started charging substantially more for the coin even before it sold out at the Mint. The coins will begin shipping August 23.
San Marino JFK coin after all
The Republic of San Marino had to cancel plans to issue a 2 euro coin marking the 50th anniversary of the passing of President John F. Kennedy because the European Union said the coin would not depict a San Marino and European-related theme.
San Marino will instead issue a 5 euro .925 silver coin in a special folder that depicts a side profile of President Kennedy and a U.S. flag in the background. The coins will have a mintage limited to 8,000, and cost 30 euros plus 10 euros shipping, or about $52. If you are interested in these coins, they will be released on September 13 and should be available from the website of the San Marino numismatic and philatelic agency (AASFN).
The reason they can issue the 5 euro coin but not the 2 euro one is ostensibly because the 5 euros are commemoratives, whereas the 2 euros are in theory circulating coins, except that the ones originally planned are part of San Marino’s line of 2 euro commemoratives and are only made for collectors.
San Marino has also issued an interesting coin that depicts Niccolo Machiavelli and marks the 500th anniversary of the publication of his landmark book, the Principles, in which Machiavelli offered advice to political leaders.
Year of the horse releases
2014 will be the year of the horse in the Chinese Lunar calendar. People born under this sign are said to be intelligent, adaptable, and kind.
As is the case every year, a huge amount of Lunar coins will be issued all over the world, especially in China, Australia, and the countries of the commonwealth. Already Tokelau, which is near New Zealand, has issued a very attractive reverse proof one-ounce silver coin that has a mintage limited to 50,000. The coins were released about a month ago and were initially available for a small premium over their silver content, but prices are rising for these coins.
Niue and Palau have also issued some interesting coins, but the ones that will probably be the most widely collected are those from the Perth Mint , which issues an extensive line of both bullion-based and numismatic Lunar coins in all shapes and sizes.
The one-ounce silver bullion horse coin from Perth’s Lunar II series, and the three-coin proof sets with half, one, and two-ounce silver proof coins, are those I would recommend. The proof coins will be launched on September 2, but because of the 12-hour time difference between Australia and the U.S., they should be available starting at 12 noon on September 1.
Royal Canadian Mint
The Royal Canadian Mint has also begun issuing horse coins, which were made available last week to Masters Club members, and that will be available starting on August 5 to everyone else. They include a half-ounce and two one ounce silver horse coins. I find the one-ounce lotus-shaped horse to be the most appealing of these three.
There are as usual many other new releases this month from the RCM, with the most notable coin being the second in the bald eagle series, a $20 coin which depicts two bald eagles and has a mintage of only 7500. That coin was available for phone orders to Masters Club starting on August 1, and when it was offered online to club members the next day, the coin sold out within about an hour of being listed online. However, dealers are likely to have the coins in the coming weeks for the same price, which is what happened with the first bald eagle 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.