By Joël van Dam – Owner of Joëlnumismatics, for MA-Shops.com ……
Ever since I started my career as a professional in the numismatic world, I get questions about quality almost every day. The questions I hear the most are Should I buy a more expensive high-quality coin or a less expensive, lower quality one? and How important is the quality for value?
So when can you say that a coin is of “high” quality? Is it wrong to collect coins of lower or merely “average” quality? In this blog I will try to give answers to these questions instead of giving a tutorial on how to grade coins (what you might have expected after reading the title of this blog).
The importance of quality for the value of a coin is obvious, and I think no one disagrees with me on this. The higher the quality of the coin, the higher the value, although I’ve signaled a trend in collecting extremely low-graded certified coins.
I have interspersed some highlights from current offerings on MA-Shops.com below. These coins may help demonstrate to you the various points I will make.
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1841 (B&C) British India – Victoria Gold Mohur
Numismatic Emporium Rare Coins – 22,000 US$
- Catalog: KM-462.2, S&W-2.1
20 Dollars 1925-D Saint-Gaudens
Münzen am Zoo – 10,500 US$
- Catalog: PCGS 9181
- PCGS certification number: 83239851
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Supply and Demand
In the end it is all about supply and demand. So how important is “quality” for the value of the coin?
If I look back at old auction results and price lists since 1945, then I can conclude that indeed the prices for coins of high quality were higher then but not at the ratio of today’s prices.
It is obvious that there is a trend: every year the ratio between the prices of average-quality coins and high-quality coins becomes bigger. Will this trend stop soon? I don’t think so. Of course, there will be a maximum possible price of a coin but that point will be reached a long time from now. But does that mean you do something wrong when you don’t buy that high-quality coin?
If you ask 10 collectors what a high-quality coin is you will get 10 different answers. I will now discuss my opinion about high-quality coins based on my own experience.
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2 Louis D’or 1702 A France Louis XIV
Comptoir des Monnaies – 13,000 US$
- Weight: 13.52 g
- Catalog: KM:335.1
Laureate head right, crowned back to back L’s with scepter and hand of Justice crossed at center behind circle, LVD XIIII D G FR ET NAV REX.
Aureus 199 CE Caracalla
Agora Ancient Coins – 32,500 US$
- Catalog: RIC 45; Calicó 2818; Hill 416.
- Weight: 7.43 g
- Ref: BMC – (cf. 172 footnote). Ex Leu 83 2002, lot 791
Obv: ANTONINUS AVGUSTUS, laureated, draped and cuirassed bust of young Caracalla to the right.
Rev: SEVERI PII AUG FIL: Caracalla, with Victory on globe and spear, standing facing, at his feet left: sitting captive.
Rare. A beautiful representation of great artistic merit of the 11-year-old emperor, struck in high relief.
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The Definition of High Quality
A high-quality coin can be defined as follows: A coin that is of significantly higher quality than average for that specific type of coin. So if you collect Islamic coins, a high-quality coin will have a lower grade than if you collect euro coins in a high quality.
But is it wrong when you collect coins in a lower quality? Absolutely not! If your intentions are to get richer by collecting coins, my advice would be to collect in the highest possible quality you can afford. A lot of people, however, don’t collect for this reason. They collect because it is their passion to collect coins they like, due the coin’s history, its iconography, its context, etc…
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2 Roubles 1722 Russia Peter I
Enumismat – 10,000.00 US$
- Bitkin-H1748 variety, Severin-533 variety, 42.27g
Lead Trial 2 Roubles 1722 PCGS AU50. Ex: Robert Hesselgesser Collection
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It doesn’t matter to them if the quality is extremely high. This is the reason why all the coins have value and are not worthless when they are not of a high quality. My general advice will be that you must choose how you want to collect the coins you like. Do you want to build a collection that will raise in value through time? Do you want to collect coins for other reasons? Or is your collecting motivated by a combination of both?
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