Modern Issues & Gold Coins
A 'Modern Issue' is any coin, medal, or medallion recently issued, usually at a relatively high premium. Not usually recommended for investment because it contains elements of high production and marketing costs.
Many modern issues are marketed as "Limited Editions"
Marketing & Production Costs
All new products incur design and production costs, and these need to be passed on to the buyers. Also, there are often substantial marketing costs involved, and again these are mainly borne by the buyers.
Because we are real coin dealers, and not just sales or marketing people, a large part of our business is making a market (buying and selling) older coins. In recent years, we have seen increasing quantities of second-hand "modern issues". We pride ourselves that we provide quite an efficient market, with relatively small margins between buying and selling prices. What often upsets and frustrates us is the high prices which people have often paid for the modern issues coins they are selling. In the UK, many of these have come from the Royal Mint, Westminster Collections, London Mint Office, and others. In most cases, we could and would have sold the same coins originally at lower prices than these competitors charged, but of course this would have required the original buyers to have shopped around a little, or applied a little caution or common-sense before spending their money.
In many cases, these coin owners bought their collection thinking they would be a good investment, Again, we could and would have warned them.
World Mints Making More Money
Providing a sufficient supply of coins for small change is a necessity in all modern civilised countries. The government, central bank, currency authority, or national mint is usually responsible for producing or obtaining enough coins to meet demand. This can be a costly service for government to provide. Theoretically it should be easy to make a profit from issuing coins for circulation, especially in these days of fiat or token coinage and money. In practice, there are many problems, which we will discuss elsewhere.
To defray the costs of running a mint, most world mints now try to recoup many of their expenses by producing and issuing special edition coins for collectors.
We believe this is fundamentally a good idea. It helps to reduce direct taxation, and the profits from the sale of new special edition coins could be seen as a relatively pleasant, and voluntary, way to pay tax. The fact that it is voluntary means that only those who can afford it, and choose to do so, end up paying this indirect tax.
What's the Downside?
If the only people who pay the voluntary "tax" on new issue, special edition, and collector coins are those who can well afford it, then what's the problem, if one exists at all?
We would answer "nothing", providing that the marketing for these new coin issues is honest, straightforward and transparent.
If a mint is to produce special edition coins for collectors, it will need to market them in some way or another. It could simply catalogue them on a website, and take online orders. This is a rather passive approach, and almost anybody appointed as a marketing manager for a mint would want to take a more pro-active and creative approach, possibly to justify his title and remuneration, but probably also from the point of view of personal challenge and achievement.
One the decision is taken for a mint to become a profit centre instead of a cost centre, its management will almost certainly wish to maximise their nett profits.
It is very difficult, if not impossible to find a definitive definition of marketing. In its early days, it was probably just a posh name for selling, but it has eveloved to be much more. It involves and includes advertising, demand creation, product design, branding, display, packaging, physical distribution (transport), supply channels, persuasion, and many other concepts and disciplines.
What Would e. e. cummings Have Said?
The great American poet e.e. cummings said "a salesman is an it that stinks Excuse", not just conveying the opinion that salesmen are obsequious; he also implies that salesmen reek of moral irresponsibility, again a deeper reason, bringing the indictment even closer to home.
We empathise with his antipathy, and wonder what he would have said about advertising men, or marketeers.
We envy his supreme ability as a wordsmith and more, to express concepts, opinions, and emotions. He leaves little room for doubt about his opinion of salespeople. He does not use the words mistrust or deception, but both words seem to be strongly implied.
We think marketing, selling, persuasion, demand creation all have their place, and are acceptable or even desirable, providing they are done ethically, honestly, transparently, and fairly.
We also believe that much modern marketing grates against these barriers. Greed and fear are often invoked as hidden persuaders.
We do not like inertia selling where you get hooked in by some free offer which probably relies on people forgetting to cancel or pot out of it in time to avoid paying our for unwanted or barely wanted goods and services.
The term "limited edition" appears designed to play on the fear of missing out, the greed of making a killing, and the competition to get in first.
We don't encourage customers who cannot afford things to buy on credit.
We discourage credit cards partly because we don't why our cash and cleared fund paying customers should subsidise them.
Willing Buyers and Willing Sellers
Our trading philosophy is to try and present as much information as possible for both buyers and sellers. We will sometimes enthuse over a coin or medal if we particularly happen to like it. With most products we handle, we take a fairly neutral stance and tone. With some products, we come down quite strongly against some aspect of them, even when we own one or more of them which we wish to sell.
Although this almost certainly makes it more difficult for us to sell that particular item, we take can pride in our honesty about it, and hope that the more intelligent potential buyers will appreciate it.
We tend to pay competitive secondary market prices for most products. We do not often go out of our way to pay excessive premium prices for hotly fashionable items, especially if we think the demand is part of a herd mentality stampede. At the same time, we are often happy to buy deeply unfashionable items, albeit at a sensible and realistic market price.
We try to pitch our selling prices at sensible levels according the the current supply and demand situation, so our selling prices are usually very competitive. We do not expect to always be the cheapest, neither do we expect to get the very highest price.
We are not afraid to accumulate excess stock until demand revives.
Modern Issue Discounts
One of the reasons we often offer new modern issue coins at a lower price than our competitors is that we expect to be dealing with the same customers in the future, when they come to sell their collections, and we don't want them blaming us if they think they are losing too much money on things.
That way, we can look our old customers in the eye, secure in the knowledge that we saved them some money once, and never indulged in hyping the products they bought. If people bought coins from us, it is because they wanted to buy them.
Government Wealth Warning on Modern Gold Coins?
We think there should be a Government Wealth Warning on modern coin issues including gold coins.
2011 Gold Coin
2010 Gold Coin