Home World & Ancient Coins Forum

Tempted to dip my toes in the proverbial "Dark Side" water

Lately, I've been intrigued by some of the foreign coins I've seen posted on the forum, and have been considering dipping my toes in the water. However, there are several obstacles that are preventing me from doing so, and id like to hear some opinions from the forum.

I have a general understanding of the U.S. Coin market and I'm educated enough to make a significant purchase in my areas of interest (mostly pre-33 gold) without getting burned. I've been enabled to do that as an relatively inexperienced collector because of the overwhelming amount of literature and resources at hand; (Books, PCGS Coinfacts, forum threads, abundance of auction records, tpg grading, cac, etc)

I do see that there are resources available for world coins, but it seems to pale in comparison to the resources available for US Coins. I have a tremendous amount of respect for any collectors that have managed to become knowledgeable in both US coins AND world coins, I cant even imagine how much time and research it takes to do that. Some of the things id like to know are as follows:

  1. Initially, what sparked your interest in foreign coins, and why do you prefer collecting them over US coins? (if you do, in fact, prefer them)

  2. When making a purchase, what are your primary tools used to determine fair market value? For instance, if I wanted to buy an 1861 $20 Lib, I open up coin facts and check price guide and auction records for both cac and non cac examples, and that alone gives me an good idea of where I need to be and what type of example I should hold out for for. It seems like world coins are thinly traded with much less sale history and this process may require some additional resources to check on. One coin in particular that I like is the Mexico 8 Escudos Gold from the 18th or early 19th century, is this a coin where I could make a smart buy fairly easily, or do I really need to immerse myself in knowledge before going down this road?

  3. Do you limit yourself to certain countries and issues? Basically I'm wondering if there's certain markets that have much higher demand, and increased liquidity when selling time comes. We all know collecting isn't an investment, but with the popularity of US coins it seems fairly easy to liquidate at fair market prices with popular issues, I'm curious if world coins are more challenging to do this with. From what I understand, it seems that Canada, Mexico, and Britain are fairly popular.

TIA for any and all opinions provided :)

Comments

  • ClioClio Posts: 480 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Hi & welcome to the Dark side!

    Even if you're just browsing haha.

    1. I enjoy world coins for the prices VS US. I never gave up US coins my wallet did. I can build sets and buy cons more frequently.
    2. HA or sixbid-coin-archive.com I use for price reference. Though in hot markets you can be the market maker on the day it really depends more on the eye appeal of the coin I think than the grade for many series. Obviously both come into play depending on the series. coinarchives and coinarchives pro are also options though one is subscription based.
    3. I collect mainly Ireland and Britain shillings. I will say I think most all large sized world coins seem to do well in those areas you quoted but smaller denoms can be hit or miss. Especially when dealing with coins nickel sized or smaller (I suspect gold is exempt of this issue). I've certainly taken hits selling off pieces but have found when I sell something PQ I have always got my investment back.

    I do think learning a country or series is a good place to be if you are just testing the waters. A lot of Latin America countries seem to do well and are popular. If you do make any purchases please do share them. Would love to see.

    Cheers,

    https://numismaticmuse.com/ My Web Gallery

    The best collecting goals lie right on the border between the possible and the impossible. - Andy Lustig, "MrEureka"

  • PillarDollarCollectorPillarDollarCollector Posts: 4,597 ✭✭✭✭✭

    What country or countries do you have in mind? It is a huge learning curve and books can be hard to locate but well worth the time and effort in my opinion.

    Collecting interests: Mexico & Peru early milled 1 reales + 1796-1891 US dimes

    Sports: NHL & NFL

    Thank you Lord for another beautiful day!!!

  • DeplorableDanDeplorableDan Posts: 2,475 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @KingOfMorganDollar said:
    What country or countries do you have in mind? It is a huge learning curve and books can be hard to locate but well worth the time and effort in my opinion.

    I like larger diameter gold denominations and I’m not really discriminatory against any country. For us coins I focus on pre 33 but I’m not a fan of anything smaller than the half eagles. I’ve seen South American, British, and Russian gold that interests me. I myself am of Italian and german heritage so those would be interesting too. I’d like to focus on pieces with scarcity that aren’t available all the time. It seems like the Mexico 50 peso and British sovereign is equivalent to the saint gaudens DE here. I’d focus more on 19th century or 18th century pieces with a richer history and lower mintage.

  • PillarDollarCollectorPillarDollarCollector Posts: 4,597 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @DeplorableDan said:

    @KingOfMorganDollar said:
    What country or countries do you have in mind? It is a huge learning curve and books can be hard to locate but well worth the time and effort in my opinion.

    I like larger diameter gold denominations and I’m not really discriminatory against any country. For us coins I focus on pre 33 but I’m not a fan of anything smaller than the half eagles. I’ve seen South American, British, and Russian gold that interests me. I myself am of Italian and german heritage so those would be interesting too. I’d like to focus on pieces with scarcity that aren’t available all the time. It seems like the Mexico 50 peso and British sovereign is equivalent to the saint gaudens DE here. I’d focus more on 19th century or 18th century pieces with a richer history and lower mintage.

    How about the Mexican 4 & escudos? A lot of tough dates in those series. I would go with the earliest series but don't expect to find many. There are some but not a whole lot of sales. My guess is the 4 escudos are rarer in general.

    Collecting interests: Mexico & Peru early milled 1 reales + 1796-1891 US dimes

    Sports: NHL & NFL

    Thank you Lord for another beautiful day!!!

  • PillarDollarCollectorPillarDollarCollector Posts: 4,597 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Don't get me wrong Russian and British is also very cool to collect. To me the find a series and stick with it like say Elizabeth 1st.

    Collecting interests: Mexico & Peru early milled 1 reales + 1796-1891 US dimes

    Sports: NHL & NFL

    Thank you Lord for another beautiful day!!!

  • DeplorableDanDeplorableDan Posts: 2,475 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @KingOfMorganDollar

    I like those, although I’m not really looking to complete a series, I’d rather just have nice type coins. I assume my best buying opportunities are going to be auctions? I’ve seen a lot of nice world coins in heritage and stacks auctions that I’ve considered.

    With us coins, I like to buy in auctions primarily but I will buy direct from a dealer when I’m confident the value is there. For me I think It will be harder to do that with world coins, I’d probably feel more comfortable in auctions since I know the underbidder was going to pay 100$ less than me and I can’t be overpaying by that much.

  • PillarDollarCollectorPillarDollarCollector Posts: 4,597 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 29, 2022 4:29PM

    @DeplorableDan said:
    @KingOfMorganDollar

    I like those, although I’m not really looking to complete a series, I’d rather just have nice type coins. I assume my best buying opportunities are going to be auctions? I’ve seen a lot of nice world coins in heritage and stacks auctions that I’ve considered.

    With us coins, I like to buy in auctions primarily but I will buy direct from a dealer when I’m confident the value is there. For me I think It will be harder to do that with world coins, I’d probably feel more comfortable in auctions since I know the underbidder was going to pay 100$ less than me and I can’t be overpaying by that much.

    Correct HA & Stacks and a few others like Daniel Sedwick LLC (I am sure people here know more than I do). With British expect more competition there are a lot more collectors for that nation. Russia seems to be gaining steam or maybe it has always been like that I am to new of a follower to be certain.

    I would probably go with Great Britain and buy a few super nice early gold coins. That been said I collect Mexico and some other Southern nations.

    There is also World Numismatics LLC they sell online and at coin shows.

    Collecting interests: Mexico & Peru early milled 1 reales + 1796-1891 US dimes

    Sports: NHL & NFL

    Thank you Lord for another beautiful day!!!

  • SapyxSapyx Posts: 1,965 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 29, 2022 5:46PM

    1) I think that coin collectors "catch the spark" and begin their collecting life in one of two ways: a person finds an old, obsolete coin (in the case of America, that would be a Buffalo nickel, or a 2 cent piece, or a Morgan dollar, or some such) and wonders what other kinds of old coins there might be. Or, a person finds a strange foreign coin in change (or is given some by a friend/relative who's come back from overseas, or they go overseas themselves) and is attracted to the alien-ness of the kinds of coins used in other countries.

    That first person is going to become a local coin collector, the second, a world coin collector. Someone who collects both, really needs to catch both sparks, but they are two separate events. Of course, for me personally, I'm from Australia, so US coins are "just another foreign country" to me.

    2) World coin prices are generally less volatile than US coin prices - though COVID has seen some crazy moon-money activity going down. But generally, you don't need an up-to-the-minute price guide; old data is good enough. The Krause world coin catalogues used to come out annually, and that was good enough for most folks. NGC have an online price guide for world coins, which largely consists of a copy-and-paste from Krause. But frankly, for me personally, I find I'm not really concerned about a coin's "true market value". For me it's "Do I like the coin? Do I need the coin for the collection? Can I afford the current asking price?".

    3) Strong demand for a world coin series is largely driven by strong local demand in the country the coins come from. The United States has a far higher percentage of the population become coin collectors than any other country, so the US is rather unique in having such high local demand. Canada and Mexico really are just benefiting from the halo effect of being neighbours of the US; I think there's very low demand in Mexico itself.

    Other countries that have very strong, old traditions of coin collecting are Britain, China, Japan and Germany, though China was of course disrupted by the whole "Communist takeover, Cultural Revolution" thing. Russia likewise has seen a resurgence since the end of communism there. Greece is another country that's seen very strong local interest in post-1826 coins, mainly because Greek folks are passionate about their history but collecting pre-1826 coins is illegal in Greece.

    For myself, I'm very much a generalist rather than a specialist. I collect everything, including ancient and mediaeval (which are subsets of "world collecting" that are even smaller and more specialized).

    Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.
    Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, "Meditations"

    Apparently I have been awarded one DPOTD. B)
  • PillarDollarCollectorPillarDollarCollector Posts: 4,597 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 30, 2022 10:06AM

    Canada & Mexico are never going to be like the US market at least not in our life time. Great Britain are a pretty serious coin collecting nation as compared to the US I could not say but they seem like a constant strong market.

    Collecting interests: Mexico & Peru early milled 1 reales + 1796-1891 US dimes

    Sports: NHL & NFL

    Thank you Lord for another beautiful day!!!

  • PillarDollarCollectorPillarDollarCollector Posts: 4,597 ✭✭✭✭✭

    How about ancient gold coins I mean those are also very cool looking coins with lots of history. Say one with Alexander the Great or someone like that.

    Collecting interests: Mexico & Peru early milled 1 reales + 1796-1891 US dimes

    Sports: NHL & NFL

    Thank you Lord for another beautiful day!!!

  • CladiatorCladiator Posts: 17,917 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Be careful, the Darkside is addicting.

    You've got several good options when you're talking about larger gold pieces.

    The English Sovereigns are not what I'd put in the larger gold category at just under 1/4oz agw but they are very available and highly liquid. There are the English Double Sovereigns or 2 Pound coins that come in just under 1/2oz agw. Victorian and Edward VII's are available but finding a gem/pq example will probably take a bit.

    The are also the 100 Franc coins from France and Monaco. You'll find them in a few different designs from each country. They are big and impressive and (imo) cool. Like the Double Sov's you can find them easily but finding that eye appealing gem will be more challenging.

    One of the most diverse large gold coin series's on the Darkside is the 8 Escudo. This coin is steeped in history, importance, literature, lore, legend, etc... Examples from the late 17th century through the late 19th century are abundant. The more crudely made earlier pieces (through early 18th century) are not for the faint of heart (or more accurately the faint of wallet). Prices compare with early Draped Bust US gold. The later 150 or so years of the 8E provide a plethora of collecting opportunities that, while are not inexpensive, will be financially familiar to a US gold collector. There are many ways one could play with these coins. A type set of each Spanish King, a type set of each Kingly portrait, a date set, a mint mark set, a minters initials set. Some Spanish colonies continued striking 8E's after Spanish rule and that could present another way to collect. A mind could come up with myriad ways to justify amassing a collection of these fabulous chunks of gold.

    There are several good places to source good Darkside gold. Many are mentioned above but a short list off the top of my head would be Civitas Galleries, Atlas Numismatics, Harlan J. Berk, Northeast Numismatics, Clark Smith Numismatics, Heritage, Coin Rarities Online and of course there is always eBay.

  • DeplorableDanDeplorableDan Posts: 2,475 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Wow guys, thank you for the detailed, comprehensive replies. This is exactly the information I was looking for.

    @Clio

    Much appreciated, I wasn't aware of sixbid-coin-archive.com, and after checking it out I'm glad you pointed me in that direction. Ill be sure to post any purchases made in here.

    @KingOfMorganDollar

    I'm not against Ancients, that's a good idea. I like to buy a little of this, little of that, etc. I think if I focus on larger denomination gold with intricate designs that will keep me happy. I like coins that have an interesting story behind them and Alexander the Great would definitely qualify.

    @Sapyx

    1. I caught the US coin "spark" as a child holding a Morgan dollar, like you say. I recall having some foreign coins as part of my collection too, but I didn't have the wherewithal to devote any time to learning about them, as the US denominations were plenty enough I had to learn about.

    2. That makes sense, I was wondering why the price guides seemed somewhat obsolete in the terms that they only have pricing for G, VG, XF. I was curious how reliable that could be when a quality specimen is up for grabs. And yes, while I agree that true market value isn't always considered for serious collectors that know when to be the market maker, I like to be cautious when I'm new to a series of coins. I've bought a couple US gold coins that were disappointing when they were finally in hand, but since I was cognizant about the values when I bought them, I was able to liquidate those without losing any money. Now, I wouldn't be as concerned when I recognize a true gem in the series I'm familiar with. Since most of my buying will be online without seeing the coins in hand first, id like to adhere to that same strategy as I expand my collecting horizon, in case my collection interests take a turn, or I buy a coin that doesn't warrant a long time hold.

    3. This makes much sense, and it sounds like one the foreign markets may be underdeveloped, with room for growth in those markets. However, I wont be holding my breath waiting for those markets to grow like the US coin market over the past 2 years.

    @Cladiator

    Yes! that was the coin I identified as one that intrigues me. I see there is definitely a myriad of ways to collect type examples. I will be trying to find an inclusive book about their history and production. Also, thank you for the laundry list of sources, a few of them are new to me so I will be visiting their websites today

  • PillarDollarCollectorPillarDollarCollector Posts: 4,597 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Personally I prefer Julius Caesar over Alexander the Great but there are many ''big names'' in ancient coins. But to each his own.

    Collecting interests: Mexico & Peru early milled 1 reales + 1796-1891 US dimes

    Sports: NHL & NFL

    Thank you Lord for another beautiful day!!!

  • YQQYQQ Posts: 3,258 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Canad + Newfoundland $2 Gold
    check it out...

    Today is the first day of the rest of my life
  • EdHayesEdHayes Posts: 39 ✭✭

    In answer to question 1, I started collecting world coins (along with U.S.) because I was looking for anything old and/or different. The fact is though, collecting darkside coins goes hand in hand with collecting U.S. coins, especially if you collect coins c. 1565 to 1830. Coins of Latin America, Spain, England, Ireland, France, Netherlands, Portugal.. even Sweden.. found their way to the market places of Colonial and early United States.

  • PillarDollarCollectorPillarDollarCollector Posts: 4,597 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Let us know how things turn out.

    Collecting interests: Mexico & Peru early milled 1 reales + 1796-1891 US dimes

    Sports: NHL & NFL

    Thank you Lord for another beautiful day!!!

  • DeplorableDanDeplorableDan Posts: 2,475 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @KingOfMorganDollar said:
    Let us know how things turn out.

    I will, I'm not rushing to buy anything, I will take my time and spectate for a while as I gather knowledge. If I have any money left post fun show, there's quite a bit of nice offerings coming up in heritage auctions that appeal to me

Sign In or Register to comment.