World Record | Silver Coins

World Record

THERE can be only 1 subject for this month’s “Comment”—our front cover story—the new Globe Record for a single coin, no significantly less than $ 10,016,875 (nearly £6.5m) paid for the 1794 “flowing hair” US silver dollar. The coin, in merely superb situation (graded “Specimen-66”) is an American numismatic “landmark” as it was the very first dollar coin made in the fledgling independent nation. It was sold in January by Stack’s Bowers Galleries in New York and the cost achieved (along with $ 1.14m paid for a 1792 half-disme and $ 998,750 paid for a 1793 big cent) after once more highlights the distinction between the US and the British markets. In Britain the best value paid for a coin was £460,000, achieved back in 2006 for the Edward III “Double Leopard”. This American record is more than 12 instances that price—that is a large disparity. But what causes this gap? Why is the hobby in America so quite various to the 1 right here? They have the identical sorts of dealers, the same collectors (an eclectic mix of the truly devoted looking for that a single assortment or date they don’t have and the more generalist, these satisfied to pick up something remotely connected to their theme that they like the appear of), and so by rights the two markets should be similar and prices at auction should reflect that. Correct there might nicely be more income in America and the hobby is bigger in terms of the number of people involved (merely simply because the US is a larger country) and that would account for some disparity in costs but is there far more to it? Effectively yes I believe there is.

Any trip to an American fair will show you one particular really critical difference in between the US and the UK markets— “slabbing”. This practice, of encapsulating a coin in a permanent plastic holder, along with the connected grading program that is quite distinct from our normal “F, VF, EF” permits purchasers of coins to buy them realizing that their grade, and thus their value has been professionally appraised and, since of the slabbing method the coin will remain that way forever. This has, in turn allowed folks to get coins for investment, protected in the understanding that they have bought coins that will not be impacted by time, this has encouraged huge funds to come into the hobby and as a outcome coin costs have continued an upward trend—culminating in records such as this.

Now I’m not suggesting that the only folks who acquire coins in America are investors, far from it, the country has some quite avid and significant collectors—and their recent coin programmes from the Mints have meant that new collectors are coming by means of all the time nonetheless, it can’t be denied that the security that has come from a expert grading method, as opposed to a subjective 1, along with the slabbing method that keeps that grade intact, has led to individuals getting coins with the intention of keeping them for investment—people who may well not otherwise have considered buying such things. In the UK we do items differently: slabbing is not the norm and grading is usually a contentious issue—as a outcome a purchaser cannot always guarantee that what he bought from a single supply can be sold on later at the identical grade. The new purchaser could dispute the grade or of course external variables might effectively have impacted it (drop a slabbed coin and you’re ok, drop a Gothic Florin on a stone floor and you’ll know about it…). This inevitably leads to uncertainty and uncertainty is not what sound investments are made of. Now the purists will say that that’s OK—we don’t gather for investment and as such the disadvantage of possessing a coin wrapped in plastic that can not be handled and savoured tremendously outweighs the advantage of maintaining it in an undisputed situation. And they have a point—we usually say that coins shouldn’t be about producing a profit but rather should be all about the enjoyable of collecting, the enjoyment of holding history in your hands. But then these who advocate a specialist grading and slabbing system in the UK will simply point to the way the American market is booming and how record prices for coins are invariably set by those pieces minted in the States. The question for us is which way do we go—yes, we want to see our marketplace expand, want to see new collectors, record costs and a hobby that is taking off, but in order to do that will we want to go down an American-style route by adopting their systems? It is a thorny concern and a single with out an answer—there are British businesses extolling the virtues of the slab and American firms keen to encourage us to adopt that way of grading/valuing—only time will tell no matter whether they succeed or not. As ever, the industry will discover its personal level!

Stop PRESS: As we go to press we discover of another potential “record breaker”—the Royal Mint Museum has decided to sell duplicates from a present created in 1859 . . . a portion set of US proof coins from the copper-nickel cent to the gold $ 10, all suitably slabbed by PCGS, is to be sold in a specific auction by Morton & Eden on March six. For details get in touch with the auctioneers (see web page 30) or go to their website at www.mortonandeden.com.
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