Rarity at auction
Volume 57, Number 3, March 2020
Worth a look THE end of January saw one thing dominate the news in the UK—that was, of course, Brexit and, from our point of view, the Brexit 50p. The COIN NEWS team (well Phil anyway) was called on to do numerous radio interviews and asked by various websites and newspapers to give a viewpoint and almost all of them eventually got around to asking the same question “will it be worth anything in the future?” and the answer was always “Yes, 50p”. The simple fact that there are 3 million of these new coins going into circulation in the first weeks following our departure from the EU, and undoubtedly more waiting in the Mint should they be needed, means that no, these coins will never be really worth much more than face value—something the presenters and journalists know really but still have to ask. That they ask should come as no surprise to any collector as we will all have experienced the conversation about value and worth at some time in our lives. To the layman coins equate with treasure and most non-numismatists assume that we are in it for the money, that we hoard coins like the cartoon character Scrooge McDuck and have a room in which we swim in our gold. I will confess now that such a room has always been a dream of mine but as it’s unlikely to ever become a reality I have to make do with a small cabinet to store my humble collection, a collection that whilst I am very happy with is hardly anybody’s idea of treasure. When I try to explain to people that I don’t collect coins to become rich (indeed that collecting coins is a very good way of not being rich anymore as the moment I have any spare cash I’m out at a coin fair or searching through dealers’ websites) they look at me rather strangely and, if they don’t immediately glaze over as they realise they are actually talking to someone who collects for fun, they will insist I must be lying to them and of course I must be in it to make a profit. Non-collectors simply cannot understand that we would want to spend our money and our time on these little pieces of metal if there wasn’t a financial reward at the end of it and inevitably the conversation will end up with something like “ah yes, I know you do it for fun, but they must be worth something”. And, of course, they are right. My coins are worth something, I have been collecting for many years now and I’d be pretty annoyed if the money, and effort, I’d spent in that time had been completely wasted. And therein lies the paradox of our hobby. Few of us collect purely for investment, indeed we at COIN NEWS actively shun the “I” word—not only do we think coins should be collected for what they are and not what they are worth, but we are not experts in investment and, even if we were, we aren’t regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority so we can’t give you advice even if we felt confident enough to do so. That said, few of us can afford to not pay attention to what we are spending. There may be one or two readers in the happy position of being able to buy what they want when they want it but most of us, I suspect, are now in that rather annoying place where we have all the “basic” pieces in our collection and are now after the rarities, the more unusual, hard to get items that invariably put a dent in our bank balances if and when we find them. So it is that whilst we may balk at the word investment and explain to non-collectors that we aren’t doing this to make a profit, we still have to be careful what we spend, when we spend it and with whom. We may not be investors but many of us who have been doing this a while still may find ourselves spending considerable amounts on our hobby and we really should be treating every purchase we make with the same amount of caution as we would were we buying stocks and shares. We need to look carefully at what we are buying, look at the market, ask ourselves whether we are getting a good deal etc. With this in mind we have started a new column this month called NumisMarket where Robert Parkinson of Heritage Auctions takes a look at the markets and what is going on within them—I must stress that he’s not giving investment advice, just telling you what’s happening out there—what you do with that info is up to you. After all, we may not be investors per se but at the very least we are investing time in this hobby of ours and that can be just as important—so it’s always best to get it right if you can!
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