|Fri Oct 5 2012 11:00:41|
Antiques Friday: Advice from Coin Expert Steve Roach
By: Julia Wilkinson
We're very lucky on this Antiques Friday (hashtag #ABAntiquesFri on Twitter) to learn more about the coin collecting and selling world with coin expert and Editor of Coin World Steve Roach. Coin World is weekly and the world’s leading publication for coin collectors. Steve talks about what types of coins are in the most demand these days, how he got interested in coins, and gives advice to those entering the market.
Know of an expert in antiques or collectibles you want to suggest for Antiques Friday? Email me at email@example.com.
- You got started in coins when your grandmother gave you a cigar box of coins; is that correct? Do you remember any of the coins in there, and what stands out about them as sparking your interest in coins? Was your grandmother also a collector?
My grandmother wasn’t necessarily a collector, but she had coins that she had accumulated over time. The bulk of the coins were well-circulated Liberty Head 5-cent pieces, which were struck for circulation from 1883 to 1912. I was curious as to what they were, so I picked up a book on rare coins from the bookstore and my interest in coins began. It solidified when I went to my first big coin show and saw how many interesting coins there were at affordable price points.
- You studied for a year in Florence, Italy. Did you learn about ancient (such as Roman) coins then, or what prompted that decision?
My studies abroad were nearly entirely focused on art history rather than coins. I’ve always had a deep interest in art and in many ways art relates to coins. Coin designs are a product of the era in which they are created. Object-based study is essential to understanding art history, and there are few better places to do that than Florence.
- What types of coins do you see as "hot" in the market now, and what is not? Or does it just depend on the individual coin?
In terms of what is “hot” in the rare coin market, it’s more a matter of quality and rarity than a specific coin type. People are looking for alternative investments and new buyers are turning to rare coins. That, in turn, is driving up prices at the top of the market.
Rarities that sell in the low-to-mid five figures and above are in demand. There’s also a healthy appetite presently for less-expensive coins, assuming that they are of high quality for the grade. The price range within a given grade is growing as collectors consider quality within a grade. For example, not all Mint State 63 coins are the same – some are attractive while some are less so – and the market is starting to attach a greater premium to attractive coins. It’s not just U.S. coins; the same trends are being seen with the world and ancient coin market.
- Do you have a specialty or specialties in coins, and if so, what drew you to that?
Coin World covers the entire range of numismatics including paper money, tokens and medals, from both the United States and abroad. Personally, I always appreciated art medals, ancient coins and handsome U.S. coins.
- What advice would you give a beginning collector today just starting out?
Read a lot to get acclimated to the hobby and understand basic grading. Subscribe to coin publications – like Coin World – and join groups like the American Numismatic Association. Check out a local coin club and then go to a coin show or two. Few things replace the in-person inspection of coins; a fact that is often lost as people rely on computers to buy and sell coins.
- Do you buy and/or sell coins on Internet sites like eBay, and if so what do you think people should keep in mind trading on those sites?
Many collectors use eBay and the same advice applies to buying online as when buying in person from a coin shop. First, if a deal is too good to be true, it likely is and coins that are worth buying rarely sell cheaply in any venue. Second, if buying a rare coin, it’s generally advisable to have it certified by a leading rare coin grading service. Currently eBay recognizes Professional Coin Grading Service, Numismatic Guaranty Corp., ANACS and Independent Coin Graders.
- Thank you, Steve!
Steve Roach is the editor of Coin World – www.coinworld.com – a weekly publication that is the world’s leading publication for coin collectors. He is also an accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers and focuses on fine art, antiques and rare coins at www.steveroachonline.com.
Do you buy, sell, or collect coins, or all three? What got you interested in it, and what are some of your favorite buying or selling stories? What are your favorite coins? Post a comment here!