By Peter Mosiondz, Jr.….
I happened to take a look at the Royal Canadian Mint’s web site the other day to see what products were available for sale. It had been quite some time since I ordered anything. Long ago I dutifully ordered a proof-like set and an extra proof-like silver dollar every year. I admit that I stopped when the output exceeded my budget.
Imagine my surprise when I found well over a hundred products for sale, not including the jewelry and gift items. I saw colourized coins and items from every imaginable topic. Most were in gold and silver. I didn’t bother to waste my time adding up the total price if one wanted one of each item for a collection but I will hazard a guess that it would be a few thousand dollars; and that’s just this year.
Once I regained my composure, I took another glance and noticed that the vast majority of items fell into the category of “Non-Circulating Legal Tender” (NCLT) coins. In other words, coinage that is legal tender and can be spent in the country of origin at the full face value but coined expressly for collectors at a price far in excess of that face value. These hefty premiums pretty much assure the Mint that there is little chance of the coin ever being spent or redeemed. This enables the Mint to declare any revenue above the combined cost of metal content, production costs and packaging as pure profit.
This phenomenon is not new or is it limited to the Royal Canadian Mint. For over a hundred years mints have struck quantities of special, or NCLT, coins for sale to collectors. The United States Mint is just as guilty of producing these items, perhaps not yet to the scale of its neighbor to the north, but give it time.
The Charlton Standard Catalogue of Canadian Coins is now divided into two volumes, the second of which is devoted to just these emissions. They hit the nail on the head when they termed these as “Collector Coins”. In short they are struck with the sole purpose of getting money from the collector’s wallet into their coffers.
I will admit that many of these products are beautiful to behold. My advice is to resist having to buy one of everything. Select only those coins and/or themes that will best fit your collection and your collecting goals. You are the final judge of that.
Oftentimes the same coin(s) are available in two or more different types of packaging. We coin collectors are not package collectors. The coin alone should satisfy our needs.
This brings me to a point to consider. Dealers south of the border are not jumping all over themselves in an effort to purchase recent output from the U.S. Mint. By “recent”, we’re referring to products from the past 40 years. Sure there are some “winners”; items that are worth far more than their issue price. The Jackie Robinson gold coin is the most notable example. Someone who has obtained one of everything offered by the U.S. Mint since proof sets were reinstituted in 1968 is doomed to take a loss. And that’s not counting the ravages of inflation.
If it seems that I am discouraging you to buy from the Royal Canadian Mint that is simply not the case. The opposite is true. They offer many beautiful and varied products. I am merely saying don’t go overboard and blow your entire year’s coin budget on these emissions. There are many worthwhile coins for you to consider at your favourite dealer’s store or price list.
I can tell you that the product quality is second to none. I can also state that you do not have to buy the current offerings direct from the Mint. Many of the advertisers in Canadian Coin News carry current Mint offerings at the official Mint issue price. How can they do this and still earn a modest profit? They agree to purchase large quantities from the Mint at a slightly discounted price.
How do the Mint’s products fare on the secondary market? Can you make a profit by buying every issue, holding on to them for a few years, and then offering them for sale? No. Can you buy certain products, hold them for a few years, and then offering them for sale? Yes. But first let me borrow your crystal ball so I can see which issues are going to be good enough to allow me a nice profit. No one can predict which items are going to advance in value. You just have to be lucky.
Collect only for the pure enjoyment of the coins and not for the road to riches. Don’t insist on having one of everything unless you are an heir of King Midas. Resist the urge to “invest” in modern coins. Choice rare coins offer a much better opportunity.
Until next time, stay well and enjoy your hobby.