Rare Coins as an Investment?

If someone asked me back in the 1980s for my opinion about rare coins as an investment, I was all gung-ho on the idea.  Not only that, I put my beliefs into action, even to the point where I mortgaged my 1982 Ford Courier pickup to access additional capital for investment coins.  (Had the banker known how quickly that truck was to become a rust bucket, he probably would not have granted the loan.)

I once mortgaged a 1982 Ford Courier much like this one to get my hands on money used for coin investing.
My 1982 Ford Courier pickup was just like this one, but a darker shade of blue. The warm-hearted president of a small bank granted me a loan of around $2000, using the truck as collateral. I sent most of that to a telemarketer for ten 1943 WL half dollars, an 1861 SL half dime, and an 1879-S Morgan dollar, all purportedly in MS65 grade. All were overstated, and I got burned. At the same time, as an afterthought, I purchased a few MS65 older commemoratives from a reputable dealer, selling them in 1998 for a small profit. Image: "82courXLT" by chal70 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

As the episode described on my home page explains, my misplaced zeal for coin investing led me down a path of disappointment.  The joy of coin collecting put my heart in the right place, but lack of experience set me up for a substantial financial loss.

Although this ill-fated start to coin investing was a teachable moment for me, other, even more important lessons were observed in the decades that followed, which brings us to this crucial Rare Coins 101 Axiom...

Rare coins are NOT recommended as the first choice of investing for most people.  This recommendation is not due to the possibility of getting swindled, it's more because of what long-term financial return numbers demonstrate, on average.

A corollary to this truth is that because most of us have constrained financial resources to draw from, coins should not be the top priority for sinking our limited investment dollars into.

It might seem odd to some that a website dedicated to United States coins is not actively promoting the sale of any and all coins, but I just call balls and strikes the way I see them.

This is not to say coins have no merit as an investment medium, because the acquisition of certain rare dates can be both rewarding economically and emotionally.  Predictably, there is a direct correlation between the level of numismatic knowledge assimilated and the prospect of investing successfully in coins.

In summary, yes, it is possible to earn a profit investing in rare United States coins, but for the majority of people, focus on other investment options first.  After that obligation to yourself is met, and you want to move beyond the collector class and "play the market", a research-based purchasing strategy will illuminate a path of satisfaction. That's what this site is for!

Let me explain how I’ve reached these conclusions…

All chapters referenced above are accessible from any chapter in the Rare Coins as an Investment? section.  Thus, no need to return to this introductory page to link to other chapters.

Rare coins typically do not stack up to other popular investments, but committed collectors can develop strategies to generate respectable returns.
The world of investing is filled with options. When comparing the financial returns of rare coins to those of other popular investments, they typically do not stack up as high. However, collectors who amass numismatic knowledge and experience can develop a wise purchasing strategy capable of delivering respectable profits. Image by Shutterstock.