Coins, like authors, grow dear as they grow old.
Contemporary coin appreciation and collecting began around the 14th century as an affordable, portable form of art. During the Renaissance, it became a fad among some members of the privileged classes, especially nobility, and was coined (ha) as the “hobby of kings.” The Italian scholar and poet Petrarch is credited with being the pursuit’s first and most famous aficionado. Some other notable collectors were Pope Boniface VIII, Emperor Maximilian of the Holy Roman Empire and Louis XIV of France.
Numismatics (the art of coin collecting) as an academic discipline then emerged in the 17th and 18th centuries as a leisure pursuit of a growing middle class, eager to prove their wealth and sophistication. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the market for coins expanded to include not only antique coins, but foreign or otherwise exotic currency.
It’s interesting, fascinating and can be rewarding. Unlike other diversions such as yarn-bombing or handcuff collecting, which have diminishing returns, coin collecting not only provides aesthetic pleasure, but also enables the collector to recoup capital invested. A 1913 Liberty Head nickel fetched $3.1 million at auction this year—a price many said was a bargain for one of the world’s most sought-after coins. This specimen—one of only five known to exist—was illegally cast and then forgotten about for decades before reappearing. Another 1913 Liberty Head nickel sold back in 2007 for the heady sum of $5 million.
Recently, Eric P. Newman, a 102-year-old retired lawyer from St. Louis, sold his 1,800-piece coin collection for $23 million at auction. He began collecting in the 1930s and put his collection together for about $7,500. A highlight of the sale was one of the first quarters ever produced by the U.S. Mint, which Newman had purchased for $100. Struck in 1796, the coin sold for more than $1.5 million at auction.
Thanks to Premier Precious Metals, numismatics visiting Santa Fe are not lost or alone. As principal coin specialists in the City Different, they know the ins and outs of coins issued by the emperors, conquerors of ancient worlds, kings, queens and government and are firmly adroit at the law of supply and demand.
Beyond mintage gurus, Premier Precious Metals houses a large collection of stunning Native American pawn jewelry, estate silver and an impressive collection of silver concha belts by a myriad of famous and lesser-known designers. They buy, trade, and sell, so catching conversations and negotiations are part of the culture within their walls. Premier Precious Metals is a first-rate option for an interesting and involved diversion to the typical Santa Fe experience. Located at 855 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe, (505) 989-7680. Mon-Fri 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Sat 11 a.m.-4 p.m., visit their website.