World Coins

Stack's Bowers auction features modern world coins

When Stack’s Bowers Galleries conducts its world coin auction Aug. 10 and 12 for the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money, the usual categories of coins will be included.

From ancient Greek and Roman coins, to English and European coins, and gold coins of the world, nearly 1,600 lots will be offered.

Interestingly, the auction includes an abundance of modern and even “ultra-modern” world coins.

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Some of the coins offered are evidence of an extremely high market velocity, the speed at which coins re-enter the market after their purchase. Several offerings are 2015- and 2016-dated world mint issues with limited mintages or tight sales periods, or through exclusive distributors, or under a combination of several of these factors.

It may be impossible to be certain why these coins are re-entering the market so soon — after all, there are many reasons to sell coins, from exciting things like changing interests or completing a set, to sadder reasons like a greater financial need or mortality. But the auction represents a good chance to obtain them now for collectors who missed buying the coins when they were first offered. 

What is ‘modern’?

Traditionally, “modern” coinage refers to pieces issued after 1500 A.D., though modern is also calculated in other ways.

For United States coins, most collectors use the 1965 date, when silver shifted out of circulating coins, as the demarcation.

In Chinese numismatics, 1979 is considered the first year for the modern commemorative series, spurred by two commemorative programs. 

Whatever metric you use, it’s important to recognize that the modern market is just like every other area of the hobby, with good buys, ill-advised purchases and items that hold their own but never seem to slip into higher gear.

First-year Panda a bear

First year of issue coins often soar in popularity (and price) as later issues are released and more collectors become aware of the series, forcing mintages to expand.

When China issued its Panda gold coins in 1982, the pieces instantly became key to the coin series that developed.

Peter Anthony, in Gold & Silver Panda Coin Buyer’s Guide, 2nd edition, explains how the popular precious metal piece fared at the time.

“As sales of Pandas took off, so did prices,” he wrote. “For a coin with just $300–$400 of gold in it, one ounce Pandas leapt to the $4,000 level. This caught many people by surprise.” 

Stack’s Bowers’ ANA auction offers a 1982 Panda gold 1-ounce coin graded Mint State 64 by Professional Coin Grading Service in a Secure holder. 

This first year of issue is “always in demand,” Stack’s Bowers states.

The offered coin has an estimate of $1,900 to $2,100. 

For comparison, PandaAmerica (the largest distributor of Panda coins in the United States, if not the world), currently offers an MS-68 example of the 1982 Panda 1-ounce gold coin graded by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. for $3,550.

A presidential price tag

So many modern coins are being issued by world mints and private distributors that some are overlooked by the general hobby. Sometimes that is what the issuer or distributor intends, as they release limited mintage items only to their customers.

Consider a 2014 gold $20 coin from the Cayman Islands that honors American President Ronald Reagan. A mintage total was never released, so it is tough to know how “rare” the coin might be.

The coin in the auction is graded NGC Proof 70 Ultra Cameo, and was struck to mark the 25th anniversary of Reagan being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. 

According to Stack’s Bowers, the coin was “Originally sold by for the princely sum of $5,795.”

The auction house estimates it as $1,400 to $1,700, a price apparently based solely on its precious metal content. It contains 1.1775 troy ounces in gold.

For those who missed the chance to buy it when it came out, the auction could offer savings. 

Kilo of silver for queen

In 2015, Queen Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch in British history. 

The Royal Mint issued several coins to mark the occasion, including a kilogram silver £500 coin with a limited authorized mintage of 320.

An example of the coin graded NGC Proof 70 Ultra Cameo is part of Stack’s Bowers’ auction.

The reverse design features multiple portraits of the queen spanning the length of her reign. 

The piece offered in the auction is one of the first 100 struck, according to the auction house. 

The coin was originally sold by the Royal Mint for £2,000, and prices are now trading just below that on the secondary retail market, the auction house notes.

Though “the piece remains in immaculate condition, free of any spots, tone or fog,” it has an estimate of $700 to $1,000, the lower price just a few dollars an ounce higher than the “spot” or precious metal price July 28. 

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