Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Spargrodan, Jan 20, 2021.
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It was surprising to see how high the estimates were in the early-mid 1980s.
My conclusion was that 2021 is not a bad time to buy ancient coins, even if there has been a spike in the market now. The internet, the fall of the iron curtain, and now modern metal detecting has affected the market greatly, it seems.
That's is nice to hear.
My opinion only:
High end constantly moving up. Highend today means $10,000 coins, and coins with extraordinary public appeal in VF condition like Clea VII, JC, etc. Those things simply long term go up. has had huge spikes like Roman gold 10 years ago, etc, but long term only one direction. Premium for ultra high grade going up more every year, probably due to some US collectors joining and being used to chase grade as "rarity".
VF collector grade slowly up, but not as quick as high end. Used to pay $50 for a RR coin 25 years ago, then $100 10 years ago, now maybe $150 is the price.
Common stuff simply flat. LRB and Byzantine coppers, F and lower grades, etc.
Thanks, always interesting to hear others view of things.
It is tempting and I've been selling some stuff which had declined fairly steeply during 2018-19 and upgrading to stuff I would want to keep and could admire for longer. But I find other markets offer better buying opportunities than the US. Overall I would say a strong market with perhaps 12-18 months to run yet. One just has to keep a cool head and not get too trigger happy at auctions.
I don't think you can assume that any coin ever actually sold for the price written on the flip insert. Those prices have always been the equivalent of the "list price" on a washing machine.
Oh, I understand. I am aware of some having crazy prices like $475, but then that might be scratched out and $330 written on it. I am assuming the $330 was at least close to what was paid. I paid $40 for it 20 years later.
Excellent point though.
I have a large library of paper ancient-coin sale catalogs with nearly complete runs of many major firms going back to the 1970s. I read them for fun during American football games (which have so much dead time and so many ads). Actual prices of coins auctioned since about 2001 can be found at acsearch, CNG, CoinArchives, etc. Before that date information about prices is still mostly to be found in prices-realized inserts into old catalogs.
There are always types that are desirable now that have gone up a lot. However, even with uncommon foresight it would have been very difficult to capitalize on foreknowledge because they were rarely available then. For example, I managed to buy a nice Fine Cleopatra AE 80-drachma of Egypt at a price that would be impossibly low today. But I could not have "invested" in them because there were no others on the market at a good price to be bought. I looked for years.
NFA V from February 1978 had a Brutus EID MAR "Extremely fine" that went for $26,000 (+0%--no buyer's fee!). That coin might be half a million now. Of course, very few people were in a position to try to buy it then.
But those are outliers. The majority of prices of coins from the 1980s and 1990s do not seem very low now. Most coins worthy of photographing for a paper catalog have barely gone up in nominal dollars. If you factor in inflation, almost all have gone down.
There was a jump in prices in 1979-1980 when the Hunt brothers ran up the price of silver and ancient coins followed, but didn't go back down as fast as silver did. Any Pertinax or Gordian II bought in 1980 is probably not worth more in nominal dollars now. Others have correctly noted that low-value coins have not gone up in value. That is not the same as saying high-value coins have gone up. Some high-value coins have gone up. Many have not.
How good are you at predicting the future? The supply of ancient coins and the ease of finding what you want has gone up by a huge factor since the 1980s. Yes, most Roman imperial coin collectors would like to have a Pertinax. Will prices for him go up? Is he high on your list of interesting coins? There are lots of interesting coins out there, and the relative value of Pertinax has gone down a lot because there are many alternative coins of interest. You might not have predicted that in 1980 when it was still hard to work on the portrait set of emperors because the rare ones came available so infrequently. No one knows what the ancient-coin market will be like decades from now.
I have broad interests and am aware of current auction (and retail) prices for many collecting areas. The one that stands out when I peruse old catalogs is Roman Republican, which has doubled or more when most other areas have remained close to flat.
Now, let me admit that extremely nice coins have gone up, sometimes substantially. But, I can looks through a couple of hundred Roman imperial coins in any old catalog and find only a few I wish I could buy now at that price. Often I am (no longer) surprised at how high they went.
Buy coins because of the dividends (in pleasure, not dollars) they pay while you own them. Don't expect to cash out with a profit in the end.
Superb, thanks for the detailed answer. It seems like everybody in earlier posts pretty much agrees with what you've written.
And yes I invest for the joy of the hobby.
Interesting development with the mailing increase that seems to have happened.
Yeah it's easy to get carried away when you find something you really want, hard to control that trigger finger.
Interesting how it will develop when things will turn normal. If the market will go down or we'll stagnate where we at for a while?
Hmm yeah luck is for certain always welcome in this hobby.
In the very long term, prices stay steady (in real terms) with fluctuations but the dealers always get 30%.
So no matter when you buy, count on a 30% drop the moment you buy a coin.
Sounds like a new car!
Excellent post, Valentinian. This is excactly the impression I’ve got, and heard others like Doug speak of.
My prediction for the coming 10 years:
Ancient coins will keep decreasing in value over the next 10 years, due to a combination of factors:
1. A generational change where the baby boomer generation sell their collections.
2. The hobby will continue to be in transformation; more internet based, fewer coin clubs and shows.
3. The influx of newly dug up coins from lootings in the Middle Eeast wil decrease significantly.
4. Falling prices and high supply in combination with a rapidly increasing general interest for history will recruit a generation of new collectors.
5. 2030: FEL TEMP REPARATIO.
The 2020s will be a good time to collect coins.
Well, any time is a good time to collect coins, really...
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