Ancient Coins as an Investment?
By Josh Moran, WINS#62
As in other branches of coin collecting, most ancient coin collectors will at one point or another hear the question, "Is collecting ancient coins a good investment?" And again as in other branches of coin collecting, the answer is usually "Yes and No." A few examples should help to illustrate this.
The answer mostly depends on one's other experiences with investment. Coins, ancient or otherwise, are generally a good way to "hold value." If one takes into account the stock market over the last two or three years, money was better spent on coins than on shares of Motorola. Of course, in those same two or three years, a skilled (or lucky, depending on your interpretation) investor could have made a fair amount of money in the stock market, mutual funds or bullion futures. This probably would be well in excess of any investment proceeds gained from ancient coins. Another interesting fact to consider: In ancient Rome, a laborer or soldier could expect to be compensated about 1 denarius for a day's work. Today, a worker making minimum wage could reasonably expect to purchase a common Roman denarius in Very Fine for about a day's wage. The denarius has in some respects held its value for about 2000 years. Whether this trend will continue is of course anybody's guess.
It is important to remember that not all investment returns come in the form of money. A $25,000 tuition bill from a university is an investment that pays its dividends in the form of knowledge. Certainly the student may obtain a degree in Business and go on to make a multi-million dollar salary as a CEO of a major corporation, but the student who obtains a degree in Art History and makes only a comfortable living, all the while enjoying his or her job, should not be considered any less successful. These are two areas where collecting ancient coins pays off: knowledge and enjoyment. It is no secret that getting started in ancient coins requires a certain amount of background references. These books and catalogs help to shed light not only on the coin being researched, but also the times and people involved in bringing that coin into existence. This often leads to a deeper appreciation for one's collection and often inspires new collecting approaches and avenues.
So basically, "sure-fire" investment in ancient coins boils down to this: 1. Buy what you like. If you only buy coins that you are happy to own, you can't lose. Choose a particular emperor, denomination or time period and specialize. Collect by reverse type or theme. There are many possibilities. 2. Do your research first. The age old saying of "Buy the book before you buy the coin" holds very true in ancient coins. Not only will this help you choose a collecting path, but it will also give you the knowledge you need to cherrypick that rare coin from the junkbox. 3. Be market savvy. Don't over pay for the coins you put in your collection, but don't pass on a great coin just because it isn't a bargain. 4. Lastly, build a collection that you enjoy and can be proud of, regardless of monetary value. This will always be the true reward in ancient coin collecting.
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