Coin Collecting Is Hot: Why Investors Are Taking a Shine to Numismatics

NEW YORK (MainStreet) Think twice before you cast aside loose change along with pocket lint: that seemingly insignificant legal tender could be worth a fortune.

But complete serendipity as happened to a California couple earlier this year is not a requirement for finding hidden treasure. Auction platforms -- many of which, like Stack's Bowers Galleries, are online -- allow collectors to seek out their own pieces with ease.

And investors are doing so in droves.

The fervor in the rare coin and currency market is indeed highlighted by last year's world-record-breaking sale of the highest value coin ever a 1794 "Flowing Hair" silver dollar for a stratospheric $10 million.

That's part of a more widely-observed phenomenon: the non-profit Professional Numismatists Guild recently reported that the roaring U.S. coin was worth $5 billion in 2013.

Amid drops in the precious metals market and a buoyant stock market, investors are looking toward secure and appreciable collectibles, with a growing interest in coins coinciding with the all-time-high art auction sales of late, including the Francis Bacon triptych that fetched $142.4 million at Christie's last year.

Still, coin-collecting or numismatics as it's known to enthusiasts offers many advantages for investors, especially those without the deepest pockets.

Easy Entry

"There's so much fervor around coin collecting in today's economy, because it's so accessible to so many different people," said Vicken Yegparian, vice president of numismatics at Stack's Bowers Galleries.

For first-time buyers, there's an entry point for everyone. A Buffalo Nickel, for example, can run the gamut from $50 to a couple thousand dollars. It's an accessible and potentially lucrative hobby.

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