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Investing in Coins

Coins not only offer a strong investment - with returns that have rivalled the successes of postage stamps in recent years - but are also fascinating items, steeped in history, which have exchanged hands thousands of times and have been used for all manner of transactions.

"We estimate the overall coin market in the U.S. at about $5 billion in 2013. Smart investors and collectors see a good buying opportunity with some of their profits taken from the increase in stocks being reinvested in rare coins," said Professional Numismatists Guild president, Terry Hanlon.

And markets continue to grow around the world. India's coin market, for example, is currently worth approximately $2.1bn, with investment-led demand now accounting for 30% of gold coin sales.

Reasons to invest

This is bolstered by strong markets in the US and Great Britain, which have well established collector bases.

Growing interest - The collectible coin market is currently being stimulated by the wealthiest members of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), who are spending their new found money on repatriating their coin heritage.

Strong, reliable returns - The coin asset class attracted a mean annual return of 10.5% (before inflation) between 1941 and 2003, according to the Journal of Financial Planning.

Low volatility - Coins are not directly correlated to any other mainstream investments, which ensures low volatility when downturns appear in other markets.

Valuable diversity - Some of the best relative performance from coins is delivered during periods when long-term bonds perform poorly - a great way to add vital diversity to your collection.

Simple investment options - Many large investment companies have set up coin investment funds, with Kidder Peabody increasing its American Rare Coin Fund to $110m after huge success - providing a passive way to invest in rare coins.

High liquidity - A huge array of collectors worldwide guarantees liquidity.

Historical performance

The market has outperformed the FTSE 100 in recent years, with the Avarae Investment Trust - which holds a £1m ($1.6m) 1344 double florin, an Emperor Claudius aurei and a William the Conqueror silver penny - returning 40% over a three year period between 2008 and 2011, compared to the FTSE 100's 26% over the same time frame.

The value of English coins made a 10.1% gain between 2012 and 2013, according to the English Coin 200 Index. This was then evidenced by a new record for an English silver coin in March 2014, as the Charles II Reddite crown made $658,161 - a 229% increase on estimate.

The record for any coin sold at auction was seen in January 2013, as a 1794 Flowing Hair $1 piece sold for $10m.

The average coin on the PCGS US Key Dates and Rarities Index rose by 5.6% pa in 10 years to November 2013.

The GB200 Coin Index, which tracks the prices of the leading 200 British coins, posted an increase of 13.3% pa between 2004 and 2014.

Thinking of investing in coins?

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