Is It a Good Idea to Invest in Rare Coins?

Rare-coin investing can be profitable for long-term investing

Collectibles are an asset type that can help investors diversify their portfolios away from stocks and bonds. Unlike securities, the value of collectibles typically isn’t tied to market trends. Instead, their worth is influenced by a range of different factors, including demand.

With coin collecting, as with collecting other items, the more rare the coin, the more valuable it is. investing in rare coins has the advantage of potentially providing significant profits. However, it also has downsides to consider, including the fact that earning money investing in rare coins takes time.

Learn more about the pros and cons of investing in rare coins, and how to include rare coins in your portfolio.

Key Takeaways

  • Rare coins can add diversity to a portfolio that is focused on stocks and bonds.
  • Investing in rare coins can potentially provide long-term gains, but it is not ideal for short-term profits.
  • The rare-coin market can fluctuate like the stock market as demand for a particular coin increases and wanes.
  • In general, rare coins are a fairly nonvolatile asset type.

Is Investing in Rare Coins a Good Investment?

Historically, rare coins have offered significant profit potential above and beyond the underlying metal value of a coin. Prices of elite coins have appreciated more than 1,000% from 1976 to 1980 and 600% from 1982 to 1989, according to Finest Known, a rare-coin newsletter.

Investing in rare coins is no substitute for traditional investments to reach your financial goals. However, this asset can help you diversify your portfolio and reduce risk.

The rare-coin market has changed significantly over the past few decades. Grading coins, or verifying their authenticity and defining standards, was opened to third-party grading services in the 1980s, which helped remove some of the risks of investment. Also, the internet brought the opportunity to access more knowledge online about coin collecting, rare coins, and buying coins.

If you’re just getting started investing in rare coins, consider connecting with a mentor who can guide you through researching the value and potential future value of coins. You can also learn about this field by collecting through coin shows, reading books and articles, talking to coin dealers, and joining coin clubs.

Balancing Your Coin Portfolio

Just as with any investment, a balanced coin portfolio reduces your risk of market fluctuations and provides greater potential for returns. Having a variety of U.S. coins, precious metals like gold bullion coins, and classic gold coins like the double eagle can improve your portfolio’s diversity.

Rare-coin collecting is not ideal for making short-term gains. Coin flipping is a strategy that aims for short-term gains with coins, but it can be risky. With this strategy, you buy a low-mintage coin directly from the mint and then try to quickly sell it for a larger profit. You could lose money if you miss the opportunity to sell quickly or the market becomes flooded.

Avoid Bubbles

The rare-coin market isn’t free from market fluctuation. In fact, it can even be volatile at times. Coin prices depend on supply and demand. If a demand for a particular coin or series of coins gains in popularity, the price can soar—only to crash later if the coin’s popularity decreases.

Coins Aren’t Like Shares of Stock

One difference of investing in rare coins compared to shares of a company is that coins are not alike, while a share of a particular company is worth the same as another share.

For example, two 1913 Buffalo nickels may not be the exact same price even if the coins have identical variations and the same grading. They may be valued differently because of subtle differences in the coin, such as one looking slightly better than the other. Investing in rare coins is more unpredictable in that way.

What’s the best way to get started investing in rare coins?

The best way to start investing in rare coins is to find a mentor who can guide you through how to determine the value of rare coins. You can also read books and articles on the topic, attend coin shows, or join coin clubs. Familiarize yourself with how coins are valued so that you can better predict potential returns.

What is a person who collects coins called?

Someone who collects coins is called a numismatist. Numismatists include collectors, scholars, and dealers. The American Numismatic Association is a nonprofit dedicated to educating people about coin collecting.

Do rare coins go up in value?

Generally, rare coins increase in value over the long term and can provide significant gains in many cases. However, keep in mind that there are no guarantees for how a coin will change in value.

The Bottom Line

Unlike buying stocks from a reputable broker, rare-coin investing can be more complicated. Be aware of the potential for counterfeit or doctored coins, which the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) defines as altering a coin’s surface to diminish or conceal defects and misrepresent its condition and value.

Experts can nearly always detect an altered coin, but a beginner may be fooled. Only buy coins from reputable coin dealers and coins that are certified by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) or Numismatic Guaranty Co. (NGC) or one of the three third-party coin grading services. 

Rare-coin investing can be not only an interesting hobby but also a potentially profitable way to invest money for the long term as part of a balanced portfolio.

Article Sources
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  1. Finest Known. “Special Reports and Downloads.”

  2. Numismatic Guaranty Co. “NGC Coin Grading Scale.”

  3. American Numismatic Association. “About the American Numismatic Association.”

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The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where listings appear. Investopedia does not include all offers available in the marketplace.