Charles Darwin believed that it’s the passion for collecting that makes a person a true art critic and aesthete. Albert Einstein would collect things in order to train his memory while sparing his brain of any unnecessary load.
You can name a hundred reasons to start collecting anything, but the path from beginner to investor would be the same for everyone. Stanislav Katz, numismatics expert and co-founder of KATZ Auction, reveals what it is about and what has to be done to achieve success in collecting.
STAGE 1. BEGINNER
The craving for collecting is usually overpowering. It’s in our nature. There is no certain age at which you might get engaged: People may fall in love with collecting in their early teens or at a senior age.
As a rule, having focused on a certain collectible, beginners start stocking up on the widest range of items. This could be coins of all countries, both old and modern, of any denomination, and made of any material. The intended purpose is numbers. So this is the beginner stage.
At this moment, collectors experience their first bouts of pride when family and friends come over and admire their impressive album. Although such collectibles piled up by beginners may cost next to nothing, this doesn’t really matter at this stage. This is when people collect purely for fun. Many choose to remain at this stage throughout their life, which is also absolutely normal.
A smooth shift to the next level comes when collectors start getting hold of similar items repeatedly (for example, a friend brings a present from overseas). It is then that they understand there are coins they actually need and those they don’t any longer. And so they come up with an idea to swap them. And there comes stage 2.
STAGE 2. AMATEUR, AESTHETE
At this stage, people still collect for fun, which is their main driver, but their actions become conscious.
Collectors start networking, exchanging collectibles, and sharing their latest finds. At this stage, it is important to remain vigilant at all times because collectors are traditionally guided by their own benefit. And if you ask someone to evaluate a collectible on a thematic forum, your counterparts will likely deliberately offer a lower price.
This is why self-education efforts are important. Stanislav Katz chose to explain the routine on coins but you can adapt the advice to your favorite collectibles. So, if you want to collect coins smartly, you should study the following:
The scale of the item’s condition; and Mint and manufacture technology.
This required minimum, available in open sources, can be mastered in a couple of hours. You are strongly advised to do this in order to be able to act independently. You will be able to determine quality literally “by touch” so as not to get tricked with fake items.
To find coin descriptions and determine their approximate value, go to the Numista website.
Many at this stage narrow down their search preferences. People find in a collectible something similar to what they admire in real life. Say someone who loves wildlife comes upon a Jersey coin, a new 10-pence piece from the 1970s depicting a lion. And then it strikes them that they’ll be collecting stuff involving wildlife. So the topic becomes narrower, and the collection quality improves.
Usually at this moment comes the understanding that you can make money off your coins. So now we move on to stage 3.
STAGE 3. INVESTOR
Investors understand that beauty can be valuable. Not only does this allow them to profit on resale, but it also makes their collection an investment.
You may own ancient Roman coins depicting emperors but it’s for a coin with Caligula that people are ready to give a fortune, while regular demand for coins showing less odious emperors could stand hundreds of times lower. Therefore, the first thing you need to understand is that the respectful age of the item doesn’t always make it more valuable.
For those who aren’t fans of collecting, but are willing to save their capital, investing in gold will do. You will never lose your money if you buy from a bank a golden Austrian Philharmonic. Gold will always remain valuable. In the course of just 10 years, you can collect up to 1.5 kg of gold and easily buy your kid a place to live in. This is an excellent hedge against inflation.
As for proactive earnings, you need ingenuity and willingness to seek. Stanislav Katz recalls a case where his friend bought from a digger a coin from the 1500s. Having paid EUR 4,000 for it, he then sold it at auction for EUR 26,000. After that, as it turned out, the coin was resold to a private collection for EUR 150,000. The rarer the item, the more likely it is to sell at a higher price: after all, there is a higher chance that someone’s costly collection is missing exactly this item.
If you want to find rare coins cheaply, you travel. Often souvenir kiosk owners aren’t that good at properly evaluating the items they sell. On one of these trips, Stas Katz bought for just EUR 60 the Mother Heroine Order, which included 5 grams of 950 gold. On this metal alone, one can make some EUR 300.
What to invest in?
This is a subjective matter. If you constantly deal with gold, you get about 5-15% monthly profitability. If you collect silver, the incoming numbers are lower, but you can make the same amount due to 50% profitability.
Are defective goods highly valued?
Yes and no… There are over 20 types of defects. Some flaws (for example, “double-sided imprint”) are indeed highly valued but some are not of the collectors’ interest at all (such as the lack of mint mark).
How to increase the value of a coin?
It’s done through certification. Both coins and art pieces are evaluated by experts tasked with confirming their authenticity and condition. The coin is placed in a durable and convenient plastic capsule, called a “slub.” This is where the difference kicks in between the collector’s and investor’s way of thinking. Collectors love to touch their coins and hold them in their hands, while investors realize that they can make more money on coins that can’t be touched.
How much faster and easier is it to buy and sell collectibles at KATZ Auction?
Some 20 years ago, people could not have imagined that sending a message would take a couple of seconds, and that online delivery services would bring pretty much anything to your door within an hour.
Back in the day, when many collectors had to custom-make their albums, it would take ages to complete a collection. Indeed, auctions were held rather rarely. Besides, travel inconveniences could get in the way, as well as scam schemes by no-name appraisers.
KATZ Auction opens up a new era of collecting. Our experts evaluate the items offered from all over the world and put the lots up for sale online.
Users can freshen up their numismatic, notaphily, or phaleristic collections within a few clicks, while sellers don’t have to bother about finding new customers. Thematic auctions are held several times a month.
Each auction offers thousands of lots to choose from so everyone can find something valuable for their collection. Any bid starts from EUR 5.
Beginners could start off by putting together their first themed collection in under 10 minutes, be it Game of Thrones, The Simpsons, Queen Elizabeth, or anything else. Meanwhile, real aesthetes can find precisely what they lack in their stock, and investors are able to both buy and sell.
Life is too short to waste time looking for something unique. Now anything’s available in just a few clicks!