Steve Roach

The Art of Collecting

Steve Roach

Steve Roach, Coin World’s editor-at-large, has been deeply involved with numismatics for more than 20 years, starting as a young coin collector in Michigan. Two years spent as a coin grader, nearly three years at a major coin wholesaler and a stint as a paintings specialist at an international auction house have given Steve a rich understanding of the hobby, its market and the unique personalities and exceptional objects that make collecting meaningful. He joined Coin World in 2006 as a columnist, and has served as associate editor and editor-in-chief. He received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Michigan, a juris doctorate from the Ohio State University and is a Certified Member of the International Society of Appraisers.

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Making sense of the current market

What’s going on with the gold market?

Should I buy rare coins? Is now a good time to purchase silver? 

Since you’re reading this publication — aimed at coin collectors — chances are that you’re either asking or get asked these questions on a regular basis these days.

The answer to each depends on many different factors and I don’t have the magic answer. Even after reading dozens of dealer recaps each month that seem to address every nuance of the market, I have seen no “one-size-fits-all” answer. 

For the past few months, pessimists were saying that the art market had peaked. Then during the first few weeks in November, Sotheby’s and Christie’s set multiple records during their fall Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary art sales, with strong totals that in the aggregate exceeded what were considered ambitious expectations for individual works. Quality works sold well. 

Many are looking with a cautious glance at the state of the rare coin market currently. True, gold and silver have fallen (and may fall further, just as they may rise again). But what many market observers are seeing as a potential weak spot in the market — the presence of many great coin collections coming to market in 2014 and 2015 — is also a magnificent opportunity. 

Yes, the prices for some coins have fallen and some coins are selling for less at auction than they sold for several years ago. 

But like any market with multiple sectors, in the coin market there are always items going up in price while others go down. 

If you were bullish on coins last year at this time, chances are that your dollar will go further in today’s coin market. That’s a solid opportunity. Further, by educating yourself on what makes a coin great, by learning about rarity, condition, originality and taking those factors with a long view, these bumps in the market should be of little concern. 

As our cover feature by Tom Hockenhull of the British Museum points out, coins have been around long before any of us and will outlive us all. 

So, while others are nervous, be bold. Go out there and buy the coins you’ve been waiting for. Who knows when a rarity from a great collection will come to market again.

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