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Two Ways to Express Purity of Gold Coins
By Richard Giedroyc, Numismatic News
August 28, 2013

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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I’ve seen gold coins identified by their fineness, while jewelry is identified by karats. How can I express jewelry in fineness?

Pure gold jewelry, if it exists, is 24 karat. Divide the karats expressed on the jewelry by 24 karat to determine its decimal purity or fineness. As an example 14 karat divided by 24 karat is 0.585 fine gold.

Would it make more sense for me to invest in rare coins rather than in bullion coins?

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but unless you understand the rare coin market I would stay with the market you do understand. These are two separate markets that will usually go their own separate directions. You also need to define what you consider to be a “rare” coin. My personal definition is a rare coin needs to have a track record of significant appreciation and it has sufficient notoriety to receive occasional publicity. Due to both factors, it is reasonably easy to liquidate for a strong price on short notice through an auction or over the counter.

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What do you consider to be a track record of significant appreciation for a coin?

An investor looks to see which of the many investment options available to him will appreciate the most. If a coin appears to have this potential rather than real estate, stocks, bonds, and the like then this is the item in which to invest.

The catalogs from an auction being held at a coin convention I recently attended were being given away following the auction. Why would the auction house do this? Don’t these have some value?

Auction catalogs seldom have much resale value, however they are of significant marketing value to the auction house. Anyone taking a catalog home might consider consigning coins to one of their future auctions. Should you as the collector in the family die leaving a significant coin collection, your heirs might find this catalog with the collection, then decide to contact the auction house regarding the collections’ disposition.

I’m building a coin reference library. Would you recommend auction catalogs as being part of this?

There is a lot of useful information published within the descriptions for individual lots in many auction catalogs. The illustrations can be useful as well, depending on the coin, if some special variety is being described, or if the item for sale is some esoteric exonumia item you will likely be challenged to find in a catalog or book about coins.

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