Investing in Collectible Coins

Collectible coins have some historic or aesthetic value to collectors.  The value of many collector coins exceeds their melt value because the precious metal content is so small.  Coin collectors refer to this collectible value as numismatic value, and it is determined by factors such as the type of coin, the year it was minted, the place it was minted, and its condition—or “grade.”

Dealers who sell collectible coins often have valuable coins graded by professional services.  A grader examines the coin’s condition based on a set of criteria.  Then the grader assigns it a numerical grade from one to 70, and places it in a plastic cover for protection.  But factors like “overall appearance” and “eye appeal” are subjective, and the grade assigned to a particular coin can vary among dealers.

Expect to hold your investment for at least 10 years before possibly realizing a profit.  That’s because dealers usually sell collectible coins at a markup.  In addition, the market for numismatic coins may not be the same as the market for precious metals or bullion coins.  It’s possible that the price of gold can increase while the value of a gold numismatic coin decreases.

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Teaching Suggestions

  1. Ask Students to make a list of the risks and rewards of investing in collectible coins.
  2. Ask students how they can protect themselves from fraudulent practices in the collectibles market.

Discussion Questions

  • What are some important questions to ask before you invest in collectible coins?
  • Is it possible to make a practical decision about buying a particular coin based on a photo or conversation with the seller?
  • Why is it important to get a second opinion about the grade and value of the coin you are considering to buy?

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