When it comes to modern coins, both U.S. and world issues, the goal of purchasing coins that will perform well in the secondary market is a key incentive for many buyers
By Louis Golino for CoinWeek ….
Coin collecting is best understood as a hobby that rewards the collector mainly in non-monetary ways, but of course everyone wants their coins to at least hold their value if not appreciate.
But at the same time, making money with modern coins has become more challenging in recent years. As most people who follow the field know, the majority of modern coins decrease in value over time (apart from the precious metal content).
Yet there are always winners in the marketplace, coins that outperform their peers, and a lot of effort on the part of modern coin enthusiasts is devoted to identifying which coins have done well and will continue to do well over time.
Towards that end, it is instructive to review the coins that in my view outperformed the rest in 2015, focusing on both U.S. and world coins.
2015 American Platinum Eagle Proof
Without a doubt the “king” of U.S. coins issued last year is the 2015-W American Platinum Eagle Proof. This piece sports a gorgeous neoclassical reverse design by Joel Iskowitz (View Designer’s Profile), a miniscule mintage of 4,000 (actual sales were 3,886), and it sold out in minutes. Its release was also delayed most of the year while the mint tried to secure sufficient platinum planchets.
Unlike the vast majority of modern U.S. coins that follow the usual trajectory of temporarily rising in price immediately after a quick sellout and falling when more supply becomes available, this coin instantly acquired a huge premium–in both raw and 70-graded examples–that it’s held on to since it was released last December.
Examples that are either in their original packaging or graded Proof 69 have averaged at least US$2,000, while Proof 70 coins are fetching $3,000 to $3,300, depending on whether they are graded by NGC or PCGS, respectively.
2015 Truman Coin & Chronicles Set
The second winner is the 2015 Truman Coin and Chronicles Set. In addition to selling out within minutes, it also had a small mintage of 17,000 sets, making the dollar coin an instant key issue.
Released on June 30, 2015 with an issue price of $57.95, these sets currently bring an average of $260 per ungraded example. The average sale price of the past 10 sets is $257. Graded examples vary between Mint State 69 (which bring less than raw sets), and those very few with Truman Enhanced Uncirculated dollars that grade MS 70 (which fetch big money).
There were no recent eBay sales of that coin or of complete sets in which the dollar coin graded 70, but I recall them selling for well over $1,000 when available.
2015 American Buffalo Gold Proof
A third winner from last year, though more of a sleeper since its premium increase isn’t huge, is the 2015-W American Buffalo Gold Proof coin. The 2015 set a new low mintage for that series with 16,592 coins—more than 2,000 below the previous low for the 2013-W at 18,594 coins.
To date the 2015-W has not sold for anywhere near the price of the 2008-W Proof issue, even though the 2008 is now only the third-lowest mintage issue. That’s because the latter coin was part of a four-coin set released only in 2008, the only year that Burnished Uncirculated versions of this coin were produced. This fact has supported a strong market for the 2008 issues of all denominations.
Released on April 9, 2015 and officially declared sold out a year later (though it became unavailable in late 2015), the price of the Gold Buffalo Proof fluctuated during the year and when last available was selling for about $1,500.
Based on recent sales, raw examples carry a $300 premium and Proof 70 coins, if they’re first strikes or early releases, are selling for as much as $1,000 or more over issue price.
Other coins have surged in value temporarily and maintained a premium–such as the 2015-P Blue Ridge and Saratoga five-ounce silver coins–but the coins mentioned above are the three that have done the best over time, whether raw or certified.
So many coins are issued by world mints that picking the winners is much more difficult than it is for U.S. coins. And as with issues from the United States, there are definitely those products that “pop and drop”.
But with that said, here are the five world coins and coin sets that in my view were the best performers of 2015.
2015 Silver Mexican Libertad Reverse Proof
When I asked other world coin collectors what coins and sets they think should be on the list, many mentioned the 2015 Libertad one-ounce silver Reverse Proof coin. With a mintage of 1,500, it was only available as part of special two- and three-coin sets from APMEX and the Banco de Mexico.
Prices for this coin have come down quite a bit from their peak last year except for examples graded Proof-like 70 (which is how the grading services designate the Reverse Proof coin). In recent sales both sets that include the coin have been selling for around the same level they initially sold for last year, depending on where purchased.
I paid about $300 for my three-coin set, which sold for $400 most recently, but most people have paid $400 or more for it.
In addition, a second Reverse Proof is coming soon, which could either further reduce prices or perhaps increase them as the first coin in a set often outperforms over time.
2015 Silver Mexican Libertad Proof Set
So instead of the Reverse Proof my first winner is the seven-coin 2015 Libertad Proof Set, which, like the first set of this type issued in 2014, was limited to 250 sets in a wooden box with a certificate of authenticity. Though each coin was available separately, the seven-coin set continues to command a premium of around one-third over the original price of $600.
Not many have come up for sale recently, but the average of the last four sold is $797.50.
2015 Mongolia Ammonite 500 Togrog Coin
Coins produced by the Coin Invest Trust (CIT) based out of Lichtenstein have consistently done well and have tended to hold or increase in value over time, a trend remarked upon recently by Tom Michael, 30-year veteran market analyst for Krause Publications’ Standard Catalog of World Coins.
These issues have outperformed because they combine small mintages with impressive designs, production quality and interesting themes. Coin Invest Trust tends to avoid the common trap of continuing to imitate a coin or series that was successful in the past.
There are plenty of CIT coins from last year that have done well, but perhaps the best example is the Mongolia Ammonite 500 Togrog coin, which is the first issue in a new series called Evolution of Life. With a mintage of 999 coins, this piece depicts a fossil in high relief with red-gold gilding that really makes the design pop against the natural backdrop in an antique silver finish.
Initially available for about $70 to $100 if pre-ordered from one of the companies that carries CIT coins, this piece currently sells for $220-300 on eBay and the average of the past 10 sales is $209.
2015 Austria Silver-Niobium Bimetallic 25 Euro “Cosmology” Coin
Two more world issues from last year are worth examining: the Austrian Silver-Niobium Bimetallic 25-euro Cosmology coin and the first issue in the Perth Mint’s series of 5-ounce silver high relief Proof versions of its popular Kookaburra coins.
The Austrian Mint’s niobium and silver series has long been popular (especially among European buyers), but in the past couple years these coins have sold out at a much faster rate than did earlier issues. The 2015 Cosmology coin, popular for its striking gold and blue design and its theme that has broad appeal, was the first in the series to sell out during the pre-order phase. Ola Borgejordet, owner of Royal Scandinavian Mint in Utah, told me that he thinks one of the reasons it sold so well is that it was marketed as a nice Easter gift since it was released during that period.
Those who did well with this coin purchased it from the Austrian Mint at its issue price of about $60 (65 euros minus the VAT tax if you live outside the EU), but many others paid coin sellers about the same amount the coin currently sells for, which ranges from $92 to $120 in recent eBay sales.
2015 High Relief Kookaburra 5 oz Silver Proof
Finally, the 2015 High Relief Kookaburra five-ounce silver Proof, the premier issue in its series, had a mintage of a mere 500 coins. It could not be purchased directly from the mint by U.S. buyers, who had to get it from Australian coin dealers, but those who did have seen it go from an issue price of about $375 to $543.85 in the most recent sale.
Because there are so few of them, and many owners like myself do not wish to sell, they do not appear often on the market. I have seen examples graded Proof 70 sell for about twice as much.
One of the key points of this examination of 2015 coin winners is that because world issues are in most cases not sold directly by their issuing mints (with exceptions like the Perth and Royal Mints), issue prices vary across coin sellers and distributors.
The price performance of your coin is of course determined by the difference between what you paid and what it’s worth today, and that varies considerably (the Austrian cosmology coin is a good example of that).
Another takeaway is that with the continuing proliferation of modern coins it is becoming harder to pick winners. Still, there are encouraging trends – such as the solid performance of many CIT coins.
A final point worth stressing is that today, buyers of modern coins are doing well if their coin maintains its original value since the number of true outperformers has gotten smaller than it was in the past.
All sales data researched June 6, 2016
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