What are Numismatics?
Numismatics is the study and collecting of all accepted forms of money including coins and paper currency, and can also extend to the collection of medals.
Since precious metals coins have been the main form of money through the majority of monetary history, numismatics is often synonymous with the collection of and study of precious metals coin.
In fact, the word ‘numismatic’ means ‘of coins’, and the usage of the word can be traced back to Latin and Greek, referring to coins and the custom of using such coins. A numismatic coin is a coin whose value or price depends more on its date, condition, rarity value, connection to history, aesthetic attraction and mint mark of the coin, than its face value.
For example, rare or ancient coins can trade for values far in excess of the value of the metal from which they are made. Numismatic coins therefore trade amongst collectors based on market expectations as to their future value.
A semi-numismatic coin is a coin whose value partially derives from its numismatic value and partially from its bullion value. The coin’s premium will be between the low premium of a normal bullion coin and the potentially very high premium on a certified and graded numismatic coin.
Very few gold coins were ever minted in Ireland and the few that were are considered priceless and are usually confined to museums or private collections.
However this is not the case for gold coins minted in the US, Britain and across Europe, and there is an active market internationally for semi-numismatic gold coins that were produced by these countries, especially in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
How can I be assured the coins I buy are real?
It is important that the numismatic coins that you buy have been authenticated to ensure that they are genuine. The most common way for a numismatic coin to be authenticated is for it to have been both authenticated and graded by an independent third party professional coin grader.
Coin grading professionals examine coins for authenticity and then literally grade the coins on their physical condition using a numerical rating system. Grading coins takes the approach of measuring an existing coin relative to a perfect example of that coin and relative to the conditions of other similar coins and all other coins. The grading system uses a numerical system such as ‘extremely fine’ EF or ‘mint state’ MS. etc.
Usually after grading, a coin is encapsulated or slabbed. Coin slabbing refers to encapsulating, or encasing the coin in a plastic cover after authenticating and grading. The slab is the plastic case itself. A coin slab is the industry standard expression that refers to a coin that has been put in a plastic case.
Industry coin dealers and valuation experts for numismatic coins have come together in a few industry wide organisations that create standards for and authenticate and grade numismatic coins. The leading organisations in this field are headquartered within the US.
Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) is a Florida based company. Likewise, Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) is a California based organisation.
Coin dealers around the world can apply for membership of these organisations and then get their numismatic coins graded and slabbed through these services. In Ireland, GoldCore is one of the few Irish based authorised dealers that are members of the PCGS.
American Numismatic Association Certification Service (ANACS) is another US based grading service that grades coins but that does not require dealer membership.
It’s important to remember that subjective factors can have an impact on the coin’s value beyond what its official coin grade would suggest, depending, for example, on the coin’s historical connection or whether a certain number of collectors want that type of coin at any particular time.
How do you buy Numismatic and Semi-Numismatic coins?
Both numismatic and semi-numismatic coins can be acquired through numismatic coin dealers and some bullion dealers. It is important to only use established counterparties with a good track record. Likewise it is good practice to shop around and compare prices from various sources before making acquisitions.
Dublin based GoldCore sells a variety of unusual and extremely high-quality European, American and other gold coins which are suitable for collectors and investors alike.
We also sell rare U.S. gold and silver coins such as $20 Liberties, St. Gaudens, Peace and Morgan Silver in collectible certified form. These rare coins are carefully hand selected by numismatists for their aesthetic appeal and physical conditions and are certified for grade & authenticity by the PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service) of which we are a member, or the NGC (Numismatic Guaranty Corporation).
How can I sell my Semi-Numismatic and Numismatic coins?
Numismatic coins in general have a liquid trading market with many coin dealers internationally in the market at any given time to automatically buy the more common and popular numismatic coins. Very rare coins are less liquid and often need to go to auction at the high profile auction houses such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s.
Non-rare coins must be received by GoldCore or at our designated depository. We will have the coins authenticated and will pay the seller the resulting market price. The entire process can take between 4 or 7 working days.
How do I store Semi-Numismatic and Numismatic coins?
Like precious metal bullion coins, you can choose to store your semi-numismatic and numismatic coins in your home or at third-party storage facilities, including vaults at international locations. For security and insurance reasons, we always advise our Irish clients not to store too much of their precious metals holdings in their homes, especially due to the heightened frequency of burglaries in Ireland recently.
This advice also applies to semi-numismatic or numismatic coins. Smaller holdings can be stored in your residence assuming that you have them insured. GoldCore has partnered with some of the most well-known and secure depositories in the world and can provide advice on secure storage for your coins at these locations.
We have also partnered with Sentinel Safety Deposit Boxes to offer GoldCore clients discounted access to Sentinel’s secure storage facilities which are located in the heart of Dublin 4. These facilities would be ideal for storing numismatic and semi-numismatic coins for Irish investors.
Why do Investors prefer Semi-Numismatic Gold and Silver Coins over their Numismatic equivalents?
In addition to the usual benefits of liquidity, divisibility, and portability, semi-numismatic gold coins arguably provide more upside price appreciation potential due to their rarity value and historical significance of these coins, and also the potential in the US for semi-numismatic coins to avoid possible government confiscation.
Even though the US risks of gold confiscation do not affect Irish investors directly, the effect, while indirect, still affects demand seeing that the market for semi-numismatic coins is a worldwide market.
The semi-numismatic coins we focus on here would be pre-1933 European coins, from the 19th century and early 20th century. Most gold coins from this era would have weights in the region of one fifth to one ounce.
Originally minted for use as currency, many gold coins that circulated as currency during the era of the world wide gold standard have since been melted down and so to various extents they have different degrees of rarity value and historical significance. For example, gold sovereigns circulated in Ireland as well as in Britain during the gold standard period in the 19th and early 20th century.
In the U.S., numismatic coins and older semi-numismatic coins were exempted from the ban on private gold ownership enacted by the U.S. government in 1933 and therefore are not liable to possible future government confiscation. GoldCore recommend that a part of one’s gold coin holdings should be in the form of semi-numismatic coins such as British Gold Sovereigns, Gold French Francs, Gold German Marks, Gold Swiss Francs, Gold American St. Gaudens and Liberty dollars or gold coins from some of the other countries.
These coins could still be used as money in economic emergencies or if the monetary system collapses.
This is illustrated by the fact that gold sovereigns are still issued as part of emergency to British RAF and US Air Force personnel to be used as money within enemy territory if the need arises.