Buying Old Collectible Coins: What You Need To Know

Investors know the importance of diversifying their investment portfolio not only through the purchase of mutual funds, stocks, and bonds but also through tangible assets like real estate. However, one oft-overlooked aspect of investment portfolio diversification is old currency, especially old collectible coins. Even though you can buy old currency easily from a local coin store or dealer, rare collectible coins have a track record of being one of the most valuable non-leveraged products, making them the ideal choice for long-term investors.

Don’t expect to make heaps of money off your investment immediately; old currency is more of a slow burn, increasing your chances to make a profit with each passing day. That’s why it’s unwise to take chances when it comes to acquiring old collectible coins. After all, you don’t want to sit on a ‘priceless’ collectible coin for a decade only to find out that it is worth zilch, do you? For that reason, we’ve devised a list of questions to ask the coin seller:

Appearance Matters

Suppose you hear about this guy who’s willing to part with his antique coin in exchange for a handsome sum of money. The question is, how do you decide whether the coin is uncirculated? Well, for starters, inspect the coin closely. Old currency retains very little of its original sheen and usually has a hazy and dull appearance. Some scratches may also be present on the surface. On the other hand, if the coin appears shiny and bright, it is indicative of a product that has been cleaned or buffed. And that robs the coin of its value. Uncirculated coins should always be purchased in their original condition without any alteration. Sadly, most coin investors buy currency based on visual appeal.

Re-struck Coins

Due to the unpredictability of the coin market, one can never be sure what products might turn up for sale. For example, you might buy a 1915 Austrian Ducat bearing the date 1915 for a hefty amount, only to learn later that it is not an original but a recent reproduction. This practice is not uncommon in the industry; in fact, several countries reproduce old coins with design casts, bearing an earlier date. No wonder investors avoid re-struck coins – they have no way to tell the old coins apart from the newer replicas!

Low Mintage

A coin doesn’t necessarily have to be limited in quantity for it to be desirable to both collectors and investors. For example, you will find coins in the market that are valuable because of the condition they have survived in. However, some degree of rarity or scarcity is necessary. That is precisely the reason why a low mintage population increases the rarity value of a particular collectible. In fact, if a coin from a limited population is found to be in perfect condition, then it automatically becomes a must-have for any collector or investor.


Before you purchase old currency, check if it has any actual upside potential or is over-valued for the time being. There are many dealers who try to get rid of their current stock of coins by over-promoting them. And that is exactly what happened in 1999 when dealers took advantage of the Y2K scare to sell circulated double eagles to unsuspecting buyers at increased prices. They promoted this cheap coin as a barter coin without any risk of confiscation. Considering that dealers were charging only $80 to $100 above their regular gold value, investors thought they were getting a great deal. However, the buyers soon realized that these coins were worth only as much as their melt value.

More often than not, investors decide to buy old currency from unreliable coin sellers. But without sufficient knowledge about collectible coins, these people end up losing money. If you are planning to invest in old currency, take the time  to familiarize yourself with the industry. You should also buy old collectibles from a reputed coin store alone.

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