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BRITISH COIN MARKET 2011 entering a new era

by SwK



BRITISH COIN MARKET 2011 entering a new era.

Coin collecting is buying Works of Art

Consider coins that are of exceptional quality as works of fine art. The dies for coinage were created by the finest artist to show the monarch and often to mark a specific event. A coin that has survived the centuries has been valued for its beauty and rarity. The most beautiful and rare coins have always demanded a premium for desirable pieces. When an auctioneer tries to establish an estimate, it is just that, an estimate based on historic information and the auctioneers own sense of the market.

Fine art is different from strict financial investments. Use your own skill; be responsible with other dealers who can assist you. We all recently saw the fault in “financial tools” that purported to be worth specific amounts and one day and were wiped out due to the stock market, insurance and other modern financial investments.

Alternative investments like coins is just beginning, it is based more on your ability to decide whether to make an investment, what and when. Recently the portrait coin of Mary, Queen of Scotland was sold at auction. Historic auctions showed the date 1562 as rare. I saw the coin as a “Work of Art” in magnificent state of preservation. The Testoon in the hand has a “presence” that ties directly to 1562. This portrait could be from the National Portrait Gallery.

This was not just a coin sold in a recent London sale but a part of British heritage. This is also a coin that has a “wow” factor, an “eye appeal” that is immediately arresting and almost breathtaking. This exceptional portrait coin reflecting a high Renaissance influence and exceptionally rare in such high relief and outstanding condition. Price was near 4 times estimate – so what does it tell us, it confirms that beauty is chased by many.

Then you can hold the piece as shown above, minted in 1562 and dream to whom such a piece of Mary, the Catholic Queen of Scots would have belonged, the pouch it would have travelled in, whose hands it would have been in during the past 449 years ago, her last days in Fotheringhay Castle where the scene was set for Queen Mary execution. The morning when Mary was to be executed was a dismal day and as you dream you can see the people tether their horses to witness a grotesque killing on the scaffolding where it took three attempts by the executioner to sever the head. See this magnificent piece at

What will all this mean in the future? – The market of British numismatics will change and prices will continue to rise. Enter a new breed of collector and dealer that considers coins part of fine art, ART OF COINS as part of art appreciation – dealers that before would minimize the requirement to invest in their stock will invest in stocks so they can make a credible offering to the collector.

The beginnings of what created the “American dream” were dealers invested in their own market. The American coin market today is yearly in excess of $10b, has developed over 250’000 serious collectors and has over 5m casual collectors of US coins.

The recent British auctions show new collectors have started entering the market; this new generation of collectors does not have the “hang-ups” of the old time collector. Price is not measured by yearly increases or decreases; it reverts back 100+ years were individual pieces of quality always fetched amazing premiums. Others call him an investor, an opportunist. Call him what you will, he is our next generation of collector. He (or, increasingly, she) sees a coin, falls in love with it and wishes to own it.

The driving factor for the coin is it is a “work of art”. We are wakening to understand that “quality” establishes its own price. All what I write should not disturb the existing market but bring another layer of collectors to our hobby.

The collectors market in the next 5-10years will be vibrant, quite simple it will develop at a speed that will encourage those that do not like the new dynamics to sell at prices they did not dream to get?

It makes little difference if parts of the market dips, what is important the change has started and it is attracting a new younger breed of collectors that will continue are ancient hobby into the future. I feel lucky that I have two boys who enjoy the hobby both with different areas that interest them.

The Standard catalogue is only a guide and no longer their to price a specific coin which has the WoW factor, but can measure rarity one coin against another. The catalouge changes prices based on items that are sold at auction not the change in market conditions. The future will show the internet acting as the medium to show price to quality, prices will be posted to show change of present market prices.

Those who have a passion for the finest numismatic treasures quickly will realize that a price guide is a static effort to formalize something for those who have not yet developed what is a new required skill.

Good hunting

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