Ancients an Alternative Asset?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by ancient coin hunter, Sep 6, 2019.

  1. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    Just wondering how many of you folks consider your collections an "investment." I generally just collect for pleasure and not for any financial gain but I realize others may have that perspective, at least to a degree. I suppose the question becomes germane as we age and are not sure if heirs will want to keep the collection that is bequeathed to them. If so, a collection can be liquidated. Do any of you guys and gals plan to offer a roadmap to selling your collection in case of death either from aging or an accident, just as one does when establishing a family trust for your heirs?
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  3. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    "Investment" is the favorite term of coin dealers. With it, they can try to convince collectors to spend more money than they should on their hobby.

    All collectibles are a horrible investment. Wide buy/sell spread, lack of liquidity anywhere near real value, special collectibles tax rates, etc. For my sanity and to ensure I keep myself in check, I tell myself ALL money spent on coins is GONE. Its a current expense for my enjoyment, NOT an "investment". I buy land, houses, stocks, bonds, etc for investments, I buy coins for my fun, and the money is simply wasted on me, (not a bad thing, as long as your family is taken care of). If they wish to either keep my coins or sell them when I am gone, that is up to them.

    I do have a list of dealers suggesting who to ship to if they want to sell in the SDB.
  4. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    If it's an investment, I'm a poor investor. It has not even kept up with inflation. In fact, many of the coins I purchased 10 years or so ago are approx. the same value as then. I am aging much quicker than I thought possible, and I'm feeling my mortality what with many of my friends and family already passed. In fact, yesterday my B-I-L went in to have a biopsy and flat-lined twice during this routine exam (he is fine as of this morning btw).

    But I digress. Earlier this year I began having auctions to liquidate some of my collection. In general, I did not make any profit off the auctions, but I sold off about 30-40 coins. Having auctions is one way to remove coins, but I found it very time consuming and not a labor of love. I hated getting rid of most of the coins I sold. My thought was to do something like @jamesicus and just keep a few cherished coins. For many reasons, I have not had an auction for several months even though I keep telling myself it's necessary since none of my relatives are interested in continuing when I have passed over. Giving my coins to a museum is not an option for me.

    The bottom line is that it's never been about investment for me. Just natural curiosity about history. I don't buy many top shelve coins, so my collection will never be considered as an investment.
  5. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Well-Known Member

    Yes, they are assets (so is your couch and your cat) but buy what you love because you love it, not what you think will make money.
  6. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Well-Known Member

    Collecting is a hobby
    Any hobby has its expenses : consider horse riding or yachting, how much it would cost you, and the return, if any, when you quit.
    At least, you, or your heirs, can sell the collection and get some money, if not all the money. With the occasionnal good surprise of some of the coins fetching a good price at auction

    Okidoki, Curtisimo, kaparthy and 6 others like this.
  7. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    Will my collection appreciate as much as my 401k by the time I retire?

    Probably not.

    Will it appreciate more than my wife's Lularoe legging collection? Definitely.

    I collect for my own enjoyment, but it is comforting to know that coins aren't an asset that approaches $0 value over time, like my friends whose hobbies are cars and computers. As I upgrade pieces in my Roman collection, I sometimes get to observe whether a particular coin I bought years ago sold for higher or lower - Sometimes they go for much higher, usually they go for about the same, sometimes I get taken to the cleaners. I do however enjoy the process of hunting for coin job lots to buy and flip for a profit - If I really wanted to get a maximum return from my coins, I'd probably be better off buying, flipping, and investing the profits in the stock market.
    kaparthy, Plumbata, octavius and 8 others like this.
  8. philologus_1

    philologus_1 Supporter! Supporter

    I definitely see my collection as both an asset and investment. But as has already been noted coin collections tend to not be a great investment in the sense that any good financial advisor would think of an investment.

    In the big picture I view it in the same way many of you probabaly do. To illustrate I'll pick on avid golfers. They spend big bucks on clubs, related equipment/clothing, green fees, sometimes country club membership fees and/or pro golf lessons, plus in many cases travel. A 2009 survey by Golf Magazine showed the average golfer spent $2,776 per year (in 2009 dollars). That means at the end of a decade they would have spent nearly $28,000 and have in-hand assets of maybe $2,000 in clubs and related equipment/clothing.

    Had that $28,000 been spent on wise/knowledgeable coin purchases, one could expect a wholesale value of at least 50%. I'll take $14K over $2K any day. :)

    2009 survey of the American golfer conducted by Golf Magazine

    p.s.: Some of my best friends are avid golfers. One is also an avid ancient coin collector. He has more money than I do. ;-) Point being: I'm not dissing golf. It is a great way to get hours of entertainment and physical exercise. But ancient coin collecting is a great way to get hours of entertainment and mental exercise -- along with growth in knowledge of numismatics, history, ancient languages, and more! :-D
  9. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    Golf is not one of my favorite hobbies. When I worked in management at a large Fortune 500 company playing golf with the big boss was obligatory. I get your point about an "investment" in golf - definitely an expensive pastime and not at all an investment.
    Theodosius, galba68 and philologus_1 like this.
  10. Plumbata

    Plumbata Well-Known Member

    I've bought thousands of items and sold over 10k items on eBay since I was a kid in '98, and obtain most of my pieces through the platform. I'd like to think that I have a knack for both sniffing out good deals and also painting a pretty, keyword-infused picture for prospective buyers which ensures solid returns.

    My general rule is to never pay more for something than I am sure I can sell it for after fees, with just a few exceptions involving items I couldn't live without. Obviously the preference is to locate sleepers listed poorly and win them for peanuts, which is way easier with antiquities versus coins for me. So accounting for the fakes, losses and mistakes/bad gambles I'm quite certain that I could liquidate every coin and artifact today and at least double my money after fees. Not sure if that constitutes an investment but that's the tale I spin for the wife.:D We'll see in my next 32 years if values appreciate any.
  11. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis

    I don't really consider mine an investment or at least don't treat them as such considering I sometimes spend or at least bid silly amounts of money to get some new or rare variety that only I care about. This was very apparent recently when I won a coin at less than half my max bid against at least one other very knowledgeable collector in my area who apparently thought he was bidding too much. If I were primarily concerned with monetary investment I'd put the money towards other things but I spend enough of my waking hours trying to make money that I'd rather not worry about it when pursuing my hobbies.

    That said, I do have a plan for selling written up that stays with my coins in my SDB. It includes contact emails for a few collectors and notes about who has expressed interest in particular coins as well as a storage device with photos and information about the entire collection including all provenance, IDs etc and all the coins are stored with all the info a dealer or auction house would need to list them. At the end is contact info for a trusted dealer who has offered to sell what's left at a reasonable commission and is familiar with the collection(and has promised to keep provenance, tickets and notes with all coins). I think it's very important to have a disposal plan of some sort. I'm young and will likely have to update mine multiple times in the future but it's important to me that my coins find new homes and that it's as easy as possible for my wife to sell them if something happens to me. To me that's more important than making sure they get sold for top dollar.
    Carausius, kaparthy, Plumbata and 9 others like this.
  12. Svarog

    Svarog Well-Known Member

    Love it
    Plumbata likes this.
  13. Ken Dorney

    Ken Dorney Yea, I'm Cool That Way...

    I was talking to a collector recently and advising how to price his coins for sale. He had mentioned that some were now worth a lot less than when he purchased them. I told him that at least our hobby is one in which what we do retains some good value. Compare our hobby to one in which can be considered ‘consumable’, such as fine wines. Genealogy is very popular these days, and that ends up being information or data, which has no monetary value. The vast majority of hobbies leaves one with little to nothing in the end.

    Collecting coins will always retain some value, the only question will be how much at the time and place one decides to sell.

    I have aways been open with my opinion on the matter of investing in ancient coins. It’s generally a bad idea for the majority of collectors. It can be done (and very easily) but it takes a lot of time, education, research, etc. Most people are not willing to put in what it takes to make it work. One major factor is risk, which is much higher than traditional investments. Another which is hard to bypass is emotion. As collectors we often get obsessed about coins we are buying. This can lead us to pay entirely too much for a particular coin or coins.

    My collection is made up primarily of coins that I was able to purchase well under average retail. A lot of times I decide to keep a coin rather than resell it because I know that I will never see another one that cheap in my lifetime. Without question when I do sell they will probably realize 5 times what I paid on average (I too have some coins I got emotional about and paid 5 times too much, but had to have).

    So, yes, I think one can invest in coins and turn a very good profit, but it takes a lot of time and effort. Often one has to troll each and every auction in the world, week after week, year after year to spot the coins that will appreciate in value. Add to that searching fixed price dealers, coin shows, etc. Its time consuming and a full time job. Its one reason few do it.

    Ancient coins have appeared in the market before. Anyone remember the Athena Fund? It was a disaster!
  14. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    The idea of securitizing ancient coins as an asset class and selling a "fund" sounds very challenging, certainly more challenging than selling CDOs even.
    galba68 likes this.
  15. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Well-Known Member

    Trying to invest in coins means trying to predict what the market is going to be like ten, twenty, thirty years into the future. That is at best impossible. There are just too many variables some of which haven't ever started up yet. As an example; what effect is our increasingly cashless society going to have on our hobby? I have no idea.
    Paul M. likes this.
  16. Ken Dorney

    Ken Dorney Yea, I'm Cool That Way...

    Paul M. and Archeocultura like this.
  17. philologus_1

    philologus_1 Supporter! Supporter

    No! Perish the thought! Not me! Never, ever!!!
    * wink-wink * nudge-nudge * if-you-know-what-I-mean *
    Ryro likes this.
  18. Ken Dorney

    Ken Dorney Yea, I'm Cool That Way...

    Yea. I think we all know what you mean! The coin I bought this week I was prepared to pay double for. Luckily I didnt have to!
  19. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Collecting coins. paper currency, tokens, ephemera is a fun activity. Ancients have held up their value pretty well as the market for them is world wide but short of metal detecting unearthing Athenian tetradrachmas or Imperial sesterces in New Jersey I never did see it as a way to make money, to invest in anything other than enjoyment. They will retain some value but if you want to invest in something that will earn money, try going to school and learn a saleable skill.
  20. Volodya

    Volodya Junior Member

    Three points:

    1.) I've never considered my collection as an investment and would never advise anyone to view their collection that way.

    2.) If I were to sell my collection, in the appropriate auction with sufficient lead time, I would expect to do exceptionally well.

    3.) In general, focused collections of ancient coins, formed over a few decades or more with taste and expertise, have performed quite nicely as "investments." Note the emphasis on "focused"; in my experience, collections built around a fairly narrow theme, especially those which can be considered to be the definitive exposition of that theme, have done much better as "investments" than have more general collections.

    Phil Davis
  21. IdesOfMarch01

    IdesOfMarch01 Well-Known Member

    In my entire life of playing golf, I'll admit that I've never met anyone, golfer or non-golfer, who considered golf an investment. I certainly don't. Golf is an activity, like hiking, or traveling, or even gourmet dining, and while the expenditures for such activities are real, the benefits are pretty much intangible and I've never met a golfer who expects a financial return on his/her golfing activities or purchases.

    Coin collecting, on the other hand, can qualify as both an activity and an investment.

    If you regard your collection as an investment, you'll be subject to the collecting whims of the current and future tastes of coin collectors, with the concomitant volatility in prices and value if you ever need to liquidate those assets.

    If you regard your collection as an activity to be enjoyed and make your life richer in an intangible sense, you'll come out ahead no matter how much your collection eventually sells for.
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