Embossed history – what to look out for with collector coins

There are many reasons to buy coins. One is the prospect of profit. Not all are suitable as investments. Investors should pay attention to this.

It is mainly men of advanced age who lean over the showcases. One of the visitors tries to sell a coin himself: “What do you give me for it?” He asks a dealer. Two other men, with a learned expression, are discussing “fading money”, a monetary concept that was particularly popular in the 1920s – it bears a distant resemblance to today’s negative interest rates.

“There are fewer collectors than before,” says Michael Kaup from the coin dealer Bestcoin from Geseke-Mönninghausen in Westphalia, one of the exhibitors at the “Numismata” coin fair in Frankfurt. “The next generation is more interested in Nintendo or Playstation,” he adds.

But the quality of the collectors has increased: Those who are still interested in coins mostly have more knowledge about them and attach great importance to finding good pieces. “What is really rare is going well at the auctions, but the majority are not,” says the businessman, who has been dealing with coins for over 30 years and has been dealing with them full-time for two years.

For example, a 50-pfennig piece from the D-Mark period, in which the year has been forgotten, is rare. “That costs 800 euros,” says Kaup. Another variant of this coin from 1950, which instead of “Federal Republic of Germany” accidentally says “Bank Deutscher Länder”, is available for 145 euros. This misprint was very well known decades ago and at times more valuable than today.

Heinz Müller from the Rhineland Mint Center in Solingen, who has been in business for more than 50 years, says something very similar: “Quality is in the foreground.” However, he warns: “The quality of a coin can be seen, the rarity is not.” Good advice is therefore not to be replaced by rapid internet research. Müller also notes a certain “aging” of the buyer class. But he adds: “It has always been this way. You start collecting when you have everything else. “

Some men, he says, collect secretly because they don’t want to tell their wives how much money they spend on it: “Only then will the heirs find the collection.”

Nowadays coins are also offered online, often in a screaming style. Then it is teeming with expressions such as “rarity” or “pure gold”, even if it is mass-produced. Fast price comparisons do not replace specialist advice, but show ranges.

For example, on December 11, 2019, the one-mark gold coin cost € 685 at online retailer MDM Deutsche Münze and € 655 at competitor Reppa. And ESG Scheideanstalt also offered a purchase price of 507.29 euros. This coin was exceptionally issued by the Bundesbank in 2001 as a farewell to the D-Mark – instead of the Ministry of Finance as usual.

There is also a risk of fraud in online trading. The specialist forum muenzenwoche.de warns of websites without an imprint, physical address, direct contact or with broken links.


Means of communication

Coins are shaped history. They have been around for more than 2000 years. In the past, they were an important means of communication, transporting images of rulers or symbols of states or cities over long distances in a world without modern media. Historically significant pieces include the denarius or pfennig that Charlemagne created for his empire; it is considered a kind of ancestor of the euro. Or the Bohemian Joachimsthaler, from whose name thaler and dollar were derived.

Today coins are mostly used carelessly, although for example the back of the two-euro pieces show important structures, personalities or even surprising small works of art: for example the Cologne Cathedral, ex-Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, the Italian poets Dante and Boccaccio or on a Belgian coin Louis Braille, the inventor of Braille. The monogram LB can be felt in the form of three and two points.