Author Topic: When it's too good to be true ... ?  (Read 162 times)

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Offline Rabi_R

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When it's too good to be true ... ?
« on: November 08, 2018, 08:00:38 AM »
I think this is the perfect thread for cynical people like me to put forth a few questions regarding buying of ancient and medieval coins.

Question 1 -  Have any institution, researcher or author provided mintage of these coins and are those figures recognised by the numismatic community at large?

Question 2 - If answer to question 1 is negative, then how is the rarity of these coins determined? If rarity is questionable, how is the price determined?

Question 3 -  When i see Roman or Gandhara coins being sold for a few hundred dollars, am i wrong to think this is ridiculous? Population of Roman Empire had not crossed half a million at any stage of history and for Gandhara, that had been in thousands. So how many of these coins were minted and how many still exists after two millennium?

Just five hundred years ago, population of Indian subcontinent was 100 millions and not more than 1% was user of gold and silver coins.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: When it's too good to be true ... ?
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2018, 08:06:49 AM »
First, this thread is about fakes and that's what this board is on also.

Second, your questions miss the point of demand. Mintage is a first indication of supply only.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Rabi_R

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Re: When it's too good to be true ... ?
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2018, 08:50:21 AM »
First, this thread is about fakes and that's what this board is on also.

Peter

I know.....the apparent question here is -  aren't these too cheap to be believed as true ? Or the demand is so low that these are being offered at throwaway prices?

Offline Figleaf

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Re: When it's too good to be true ... ?
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2018, 10:03:32 AM »
a) Denmark, 2 kroner 1953 Greenland, mintage around 150 000, 15 grams, 0.3858 oz silver, 31 mm
b) Germany, 5 mark 1952 fibula, mintage around 200 000, 11.2 grams, 0.2250 oz silver, 29 mm

Two comparable commemoratives from the same era, a) has ever so slightly better technical data. Denmark and Germany have a common border.

Price quotes in KM for EF ==> a): $17 b): $700.

I can easily explain the price difference. Can you?

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Rabi_R

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Re: When it's too good to be true ... ?
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2018, 10:20:25 AM »
I can make a guess. After unification of Germany, East German coins and stamps have become dearer.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: When it's too good to be true ... ?
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2018, 10:44:22 AM »
Simpler. There are over 80 million Germans and less than 6 million Danes. Population size correlates with number of collectors. Collectors in that part of the world typically collect modern coins of their own country or Roman coins. Therefore, demand for the German coin is 13 to 14 times the demand for the Danish coin. Supply is irrelevant in this case.

It gets more complicated when countries are different in character, e.g. coin collecting is also correlated with income and division of income. The equation becomes completely crazy when coin collecting becomes a tax shelter.

Likewise, mintage is just a first indication. It purports to be a statistic on how many coins were struck. First, the figure may be dead wrong. If the fiscal year is not the same as the calendar year (as it was in India for a long time), the stats may well be for the fiscal year, not the date on the coin. Next, what is struck is not necessarily issued. Also, dates may be frozen. Most important of all: there are no stats by date on how many coins were handed back. Technically, mintage is a pretty useless stat.

So how do you get price formation? I used to do some chapters for KM. My method was to register all the price/grades with a date and go by the seat of the pants from there. The underlying assumptions of this method are: everything offered is sold and the market is always right. Both are of course quite debatable. Bottom line: the price of a coin is like a headache: it's a signal, but it's hard to figure out just what it is signalling.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline THCoins

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Re: When it's too good to be true ... ?
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2018, 11:49:02 AM »
When a thread is announced as for cynical people i though i'd have to respond  ;)
Just some random thoughts:

- In any hypothesis you have to check your starting assumptions:
Quote
Population of Roman Empire had not crossed half a million at any stage
I think you are off by a factor hundred. The city of Rome alone in antiquity had over half a million inhabitants. Estimates for the largest extent of the population of the Roman empire are in the region of 60 Million. In addition, There was an intensive trade with Persia, India and China which relied on coinage. So production was huge, even to modern standards.

Factors that play a role in demand:
- Familiarity, many people tend to collect coins from there home region.
- Appeal. Partly this is coupled to the former point. If people can are impressed by the history attached to the coin this wil drive up demand.
  But to be impressed, one first has to know some historical ruler existed in the first place.
  - So coins inssued under Chengis Khan are in high demand. Everybody has heard of him and his notoriousness comes with a high appeal. Prices are high.
  - Coins of the Western Satraps in India are very cheap. In the West nobody has heard of them, and historically they have no appeal whatsoever to most.
- Difficulty. Being a bit exotic may add to appeal. But if there is a high threshold to get to know a coin category that will deter potential collectors.
  - Latin texts are easier to read for most people than mediėval Arab and Nagari. So Roman coins are an easier choice, increasing demand.
  - Abbasid falus to many all look the same, the Artuqid falus have nice pictorial designs. The last category commands much higher prices.
- Perceived value: Gold and pure silver generally are favoured over bronze and billlon.

Quote
Bottom line: the price of a coin is like a headache: it's a signal, but it's hard to figure out just what it is signalling

I'd like to change that a bit: a Headache is a signal, but it's value can only be determined within its context. If you have a sudden slight headache, but also difficulty speaking and your right arm does not function well, you'd better take all these factors into account.

Offline capnbirdseye

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Re: When it's too good to be true ... ?
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2018, 12:37:49 PM »

Question 1 -  Have any institution, researcher or author provided mintage of these coins and are those figures recognised by the numismatic community at large?

Question 2 - If answer to question 1 is negative, then how is the rarity of these coins determined? If rarity is questionable, how is the price determined?

There are no accurate mintage records for ancient coins of any kind. how can there be?  a given amount of metal is prepared and stamped by according to weight. Even if records were available the result would probably not be XXX number of coins but XXX weight of coins.
 
Hand struck coins are in no way comparable to machine struck where records would be kept, it makes me laugh when I see medieval coins described with a mention of the die axis, have they no idea that the upper die is just randomly picked up? I've even seen  them as 'error coin' die axis unaligned' etc. 

The  catalogue rarity is traditionally determined usually by auction records, the popularity of certain collectible areas leads to a sudden explosion of prices. If a coin rarely appears at auction is it because it's very rare or because the coin is so common that nobody would send one to auction.

In a nutshell the value is simply determined by demand


]If you look at Ebay then every coin is rare  ::) someone lists a coin as unidentified and at the same time adds 'very rare'  :D
It's possible that the attraction of a rare coin adds to it's demise as a rarity because more appear on the market from old collections. I've noticed this with Sultanate coins, as this is now a popular collecting area many unrecorded types have surfaced, does this mean they are rare though? One Suri Paisa listed as rare that I proudly owned suddenly lost it's appeal when I obtained several more sold as unidentified on Ebay.

Coins of Travancore are a prime example, prices are now very high because a lot of collectors are interested,  several years back common Sikh Rupees of Ranjit Singh suddenly started selling for stupidly high prices. One really common type went for $480 on Ebay! For months afterwards I noticed Ebay sellers putting unidentified coins as 'Sikh' in an attempt to get rich  :D Then more and more poured onto the market and prices plummeted.

Right now anything Islamic is popular, drab little unidentifiable fals appear on Ebay for $60, 5 years ago it would be  $1
Vic

Offline Rabi_R

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Re: When it's too good to be true ... ?
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2018, 12:54:06 PM »
@capnbirdseye  :like: