Volume 42, Number 9, September 2005
For some years now the Numismatic trade has enjoyed something of a boom time, there’s been no real explanation for this although various people have put forward theories - ranging from the upsurge in interest in archaeology through to a trend back to the “good old days” of school boy hobbies. By far the most popular theory however has been the one that the market has been investor driven. When the “dot com” bubble burst and the stock market began to fall it was quite natural for big investment companies, managing pension plans etc, to look elsewhere, and there is no doubt that some of them did turn to the coin market as an alternative to the stocks and shares they had been trading in. For certain some of the big bidders at the high end were indeed looking to buy on behalf of investment companies and I am sure some of our hobbies finest pieces are currently held in the safes and strong rooms of these corporations, but that is no different than it has always been! Investors have always been part of the coin trade, indeed any trade where large amounts of money are involved, true there might have been a few more of them in recent years but not half as many as some would have us believe! To realise that the market, at least the British one, hasn’t been solely investor lead in recent years you only have to look at the current state of things. The stock market is now higher than it has been in years, property prices haven’t slumped as many predicted so there’s no reason to jump ship from there and yet still our hobby is booming. The sheer number of Auctions, both in London and “the provinces” all fetching excellent prices with very few unsold lots, are testament to that, as are the vast number of collectors that continue to visit the fairs – York, to name but one held recently, was another great success. The fact that COIN NEWS continues to grow both in reader number s and pages and that our COIN YEARBOOK completely sold out of both the first printing AND the reprint is just another indication that it is collectors not city bankers that are flocking to numismatics in droves. Certainly some of the higher value coins may well still be disappearing into the vaults of investors but that doesn’t explain the huge number that aren’t (private collectors are still by far and away the biggest buyers) and certainly doesn’t explain why the “lower end” coins are doing so well. After all whilst high value gold might appeal to those looking for an alternative to Coffee futures or IT stock investors don’t generally go for milled silver or Roman Bronze yet these areas, as with all in the hobby are continuing to boom at an unprecedented rate. There can be only one explanation for this and that is that the hobby itself, good old coin collecting is actually becoming popular again! It is likely that the plethora of “Antique Hunt –Sell it-Boot sale Bandit” type programmes have had some effect, after all everyone “knows” old coins are worth a fortune don’t they? So find some in your attic you’re set for life aren’t you…?! However despite the obvious attraction of having a fortune stashed away in your loft not everyone is in it for the money and, believe it or not, we are hearing dozens of stories every month of people coming into the hobby because they’re finding it interesting. As more and more metal detectors are sold, more and more archaeology programmes are seen on our screens and interest in History abounds people are beginning to realise that numismatics isn’t just about impossible to own gold or little-known die varieties but is actually a link to some of the most fascinating periods of our past. Just recently at the York show a new collector was enthusing about the hammered pennies he’d recently bought, they weren’t great condition, weren’t worth a fortune but he was delighted with them and was imagining who they might have once belonged to, what they may have bought. It is that enthusiasm, that delight that is driving our hobby forward and it is that which will continue to buoy it up in the future. Investors may come and go but coin collecting’s here forever!
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