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NumisMedia Monthly


Our monthly article
detailing specific areas
of numismatics for dealers,
collectors, and investors
of United States Rare Coins

May 2013

Assembling a Dream Portfolio of Rare Coins

     If you had the opportunity to build a million dollar portfolio, you may dream of starting with the 1913 Liberty Head Nickel. Of course, the reality is that this nickel is worth quite a bit more than a million dollars. The Walton 1913 Liberty Head Nickel just sold for $3,172,500 in the Heritage Platinum Sale at the Central States Convention in Schaumburg, IL. This PCGS PR63 nickel, authenticated in 2003 at the Baltimore ANA, had been lost for 41 years; in fact, at one time, it was mistakenly declared to be a fake. With only 5 coins known and its distinguished history, this is indeed a coin that dreams are made of and the attraction could certainly build a fresh fascination for new numismatists for years to come.

     The following graph shows the path of the 1913 Liberty Head Nickel over the past eight years when the Fair Market Value was $2,500.000. With no trades the market was clearly waiting for the next signal for valuation.

1913 Liberty Nickel PR63

     Again, since there are only five known 1913 Liberty Head Nickels, we can’t include any of them in our million dollar portfolio, so let’s take a look at a few other options.

     Today’s portfolios are a mixed bag depending on what approach you take toward collecting and investing. If you look for extreme rarities, it would not take many coins to fill your million dollar portfolio. However, if you want a little more diversity, you can spread the same amount of money into several areas of the market. Let’s begin with a six coin package of limited availability coins followed by a more reasonable approach to our million dollar portfolio. Listed is the coin with the grade and the number of coins certified by NGC and PCGS combined for the grade along with the current FMV.

Portfolio #1

DenominationGradeTotal Certified NGC/PCGSFMV
1794 Half DimeMS6510$88,400
1918/7 D Buffalo Nickel MS654$262,500
1796 Bust DimeMS6614$115,630
1804 Bust QuarterMS624$162,500
1795 Half DollarMS649$212,500
1795 Dollar Three LeavesMS6311$175,000
Total FMV$1,016,530

Portfolio #2

DenominationGradeTotal Certified NGC/PCGSFMV
1884 Three Cent NickelMS665$22,750
1885 Three Cent NickelMS6616$23,400
1880 Shield NickelMS6510$66,950
1795 Half DimeMS6513$42,250
1796 Bust DimeMS6514$96,880
1805 Bust QuarterMS648$34,450
1795 Bust HalfMS6316$93,130
1799 Bust DollarMS6424$95,310
1851 Seated DollarMS647$85,630
1878 CC Trade DollarMS6412$76,880
1884 S Morgan DollarMS6422$137,500
1802/1 $2 ½ GoldMS6314$81,250
1800 $5 GoldMS6413$70,850
1800 $10 GoldMS6319$86,450
Total FMV$1,013,680

     In reality, both of these two dream portfolios would be very difficult to fulfill. However, Portfolio #2 is much more attainable than Portfolio #1. The first portfolio contains coins that are very close to the highest grade available. The second group is mostly Early Type coins, with the exceptions of the Seated, Trade, and Morgan Dollars. Most of the coins in the second set were selected because there are multiple higher grades available. Finding gaps in the population reports and price charts in lower and higher grades can reveal strength in the current price and predict future stability in value.

     While the coins in Portfolio #2 are more likely obtainable, there is still a question of market availability. These coins are not found in dealer inventories or in major auctions very often. But that is why they were selected; these are the types of coins that most collectors and investors are looking to put away for the long term. Most dealers would recommend coins that have stood the test of time, building a portfolio of traditionally heavy demanded coins. For true stability, the shrewd investor will consider areas where populations are low and supplies are not going to increase.

     There are hundreds of other coins that could have been carefully chosen that would undoubtedly show eventual long term results and be just as effective as the coins selected above. Building a portfolio for the long term takes time and research.

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