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Coins (New Zealand)

This hobby can be great fun as well as an interesting way of saving


The vast majority of women will have one or more long forgotten coins somewhere, that could be the start of a  collection. It could be one of the more recently minted collector's coins such as the commemorative 'Lord Of The Rings' coins or a few pre decimal coins. 

Coin collecting has been popular for centuries but over the last few decades it has become a recognised type of alternative investment. The highly collected coins are those that were in circulation for only a brief period of time, minted with flaws or errors or of specific historical interest.

Rare coins

Rare coins have been collected for over 2000 years. The Romans collected Greek coins. The famous Flemish painter, Reubens had a fabulous coin collection. The House of Rothschild started as a coin shop. Other famous coin collectors include J.P.Morgan and the DuPont family.  

If you are new to coins and would like to find out more free information on the subject visit our learning centre after finishing this page.

Rare coins have shown consistent long term price appreciation. From major rarities to more inexpensive coins, top quality rare coins have had significant price gains over sustained periods of time. The 1913 Liberty nickel (only five know to exist) became the first $100,000 coin in 1972. In 2007, one sold for $5million

Louis Eliasberg (1896-1976) built up a US gold coin collection that cost about US$300,000. It sold for $12.4 million at auction in 1981.   

In the UK in May 2003, a selection of 50 coins from  " The Slaney collection" were sold for £460,000. These coins had been collected during the 1940’s & 50’s at a cost of £2,350. So the sale price was approximately 195 times the original cost price. Not a bad investment!  Also in the UK, a buyer  paid £460,000 for an Edward III double florin, known as a double leopard and with a face value of six shillings. The sale price for this rare medieval gold coin broke the record for a British coin.  

At a Monetary Auction held in April 2006 in Sydney, a 1920 Sydney gold sovereign was knocked down in the room for $582,500 setting a new  world record.

New Zealand coins a brief history

The first Governor of New Zealand, Captain William Hobson,  extended British laws to New Zealand In early 1840. This meant that certain sections of the Imperial Coinage Act, 1816 (UK) became relevant to the new colony. This allowed for the standard gold, silver and bronze British coins to circulate freely in New Zealand alongside the existing coins.

In the 1840s and 1850s there was an extreme shortage of coins. Traders tried the issue of low value paper notes to remedy this situation, but this was soon abandoned. As the shortage intensified  in 1857, businesses in Auckland and Dunedin issued copper tokens. This practice survived until 1881.

British coins became the official legal tender

In 1897, British coins became the official legal tender of New Zealand. At that time, it was already one of the two ‘common’ currencies, along with Australian minted gold sovereign and half sovereign coins.

In 1914, the gradual withdrawal of gold coins from circulation took place. Silver coins were debased from .925 fine (Sterling Silver) to .500 fine in 1920.

Centennial brings with it New Zealand's own currency

As a result of coin smuggling and the shortage of lower denomination coins, a distinctive New Zealand coinage was introduced in 1933.  These new coins used the same weights, sizes and denominations as the British coins. Bronze coins (penny and halfpenny) of British standard were not approved until 22nd December 1939. These were issued in 1940 at the time of the Centennial of New Zealand.

Due to the rising price of silver, Cupro-Nickel coins replaced .500 fine silver coins in 1947.  Both metal types of coins were still considered to be legal tender.

New Zealand changed to decimal currency

New Zealand changed to decimal currency in 1967. On the 11th February 1991, new $1 and $2 coins were introduced to replace the $1 and $2 notes. Some of the early decimal notes, including $2 and $20 notes often sell for between $400 and $600 each at auction. 

On the 31st July 2006, the Reserve Bank introduced new smaller, lighter 10, 20 and 50 cent coins made of plated steel and the old corresponding coins were withdrawn. The old coin were demonetised, ie declared no longer legal tender, with effect from 1 November 2006.

New Zealand coins and bank notes can be excellent alternative investments, due to the relatively small amounts produced. The older coins and bank notes often sell for thousands of times their face value. For example a 1935 threepence, "uncirculated and rare in this condition" can expect to fetch around $2,000 at auction.

A 1935 George V Waitangi crown  featuring George V on one side and a Maori warrior shaking hands with a British naval officer on the other can be expected to sell for around $4,500 at auction if it is in an uncirculated condition.  A specimen set of five notes of two, five, 10, 20 and 100-dollar denominations had a list price of $12,500 at a 2009 auction in Australia.

For a novice collector, other rare coins can still be bought quite cheaply.  1935 George V shillings and  George VI half crowns from the 1940s cost around $300.  New Zealand pennies from the 1940s can be picked up for about $250 each.

International coin grading partnership established

An international partnership has recently been established between the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and the New Zealand Mint. PCGS is the standard in the USA and will enhance awareness and interest in the secondary coin market within New Zealand. 

Under the agreement PCGS will grade selected examples of the mint’s new commemorative and bullion issues, such as the gold Kiwi bullion coins. It will establish a collector and dealer centre at the New Zealand Mint in Auckland.

This will be an excellent resource for local collectors, who will be able to take coins for authentication and grading. The New Zealand Mint has been minting legal tender commemorative coins, gold bullion and medallions for over four decades.

The Mint's current programme includes the Kingdom of Nepal's legal tender, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Conquest of Mt Everest. Also the first ever Fiji pure gold coin using Fijian gold and the legal tender Endangered Asian Wildlife series.

The New Zealand film industry rose to fame after the release of the films, Lord of the Rings, King Kong and Narnia. Commemorative coins were issued for  each of the films. The coins were snapped up by collectors. These could be a good starting point for your children's or  grandchildren's first coin collection.

Buying for the future?  

It appears likely that gold sovereigns will continue to be struck every year for sale to collectors. They have become a very popular gift item for christenings and other special occasions. If the UK adopted the Euro at some point this may all change. But still today, if you are looking for a good gift for your children or grandchildren that may increase in value rare coins are worth considering. 

Many countries now issue a one ounce bullion coin to be sold at a very low premium over the intrinsic gold value. Krugerrands are probably the most well known of these. First minted and issued in 1967 when the South African Chamber of Mines had an inspired idea to help market South African gold.

Krugers were never intended to be an aesthetically pleasing coin, just a lump of gold with a known weight and value. They certainly cannot be called pretty. Collectors seeking aesthetically attractive coins would be better looking at British gold sovereigns, or some of the newer bullion coins.

Canada was the first country to introduce a "pure" gold bullion coin, the maple or maple leaf. The maple leaf, being Canada's national emblem, this was an obvious and suitable choice for the reverse of  the one ounce bullion coin.It makes the maple leaf instantly recognisable worldwide. The obverse bears a portrait of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
One distinctive feature of the maple is that it is made of pure gold (.999 or .9999 fine), rather than 22 carat (.9166 fine). Because this makes the maple smaller and lighter than a Krugerrand, it is possible that this stopped the maple from being an immediately successful competitor. However; many collectors now prefer maples or other fine gold bullion issues. Gold Maples are available in six different sizes and weights, from one ounce to one twentieth of an ounce.

The Chinese version of the Krugerrand is the Panda. Pandas were introduced in 1982. The premium charged on pandas by the Chinese mint is higher than that charged for Krugerrands or most other gold bullion coins. Although this may make them slightly less attractive to investors interested purely in their gold content, it does not appear to have deterred collectors.

Gold pandas were extremely successful when they were first introduced. There are reports of the 1982 coins selling at over US$3,000 or over £2,000. The panda mania continued for several years, peaking in 1987. Since then issue quantities have dropped and many dates are not easy to find.

The Panda Family 

Each year the reverse design of the panda is changed which makes the panda series more interesting to collectors. Pandas are regularly produced in five sizes from one ounce to a twentieth ounce, although in some years much larger sizes have been issued. The Pandas are very affordable and children love them. They could be a good collector’s item for the future.  

The Barbie Coin

The Perth mint is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Barbie, with an exclusive commemorative coin. This will appeal to both those who remember playing with the doll as a child and  to the serious collector. This coin is struck with one ounce of 99.9% pure silver, in proof quality. The coin is subject to a limited run of 20,000. At under AU$100 this quirky coin could be the perfect start to your daughter's or granddaughter's collection or is an affordable entry point for any new collector.

If you are new to coin collecting, make sure that you:  

Buy top quality

Buy top quality coins, the high quality coins are subject to the high demand. In the coin market, as in all other collectables markets, condition is everything.  For most coins, collectors aim for what is referred to as 'Gem quality', i.e. MS/PR65 or better on the 70 point coin grading scale. (for more information on coins see our learning centre)

Have a plan instead of just randomly buying coins. The easiest thing to do in the rare coin market is to spend money. In this area like with other collectable areas it is vital to stick to your allocated budgets. Do your research and quell your urge to spend using only a very small amount of your budget. The big long term winners either focus on a certain type or types of coins, or have built a specific collection.  Focus is all important.

Know what you are paying for

Make sure you get what you are paying for, quality is a big component of price. For the coin market the 'gold standard' for third party grading services is the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).  Since it was founded in 1986, PCGS has  graded and authenticated over 13,000,000 coins with a declared value of over $15,000,000,000. The PCGS website is well worth a visit as it has many useful resources for aspiring coin collectors.

Build a relationship 

Get to know the dealer you intend to buy from. Before embarking on internet purchases of coins, it is important to attend a rare coin outlet. Visiting a physical outlet can help you to build your knowledge about the environment, language and the handling of the coins.  Understanding the workings of the coin trade will help you gain a feel for what is right and what may not be. Building a working relationship with a coin dealer will assist you in the future, as they have a wealth of experience and may be able to point out many pitfalls in this market.

Be Aware

Be aware that reputable coin dealers can often sell the same set of coins for considerably less than your national mint.

Do not clean your coins or buy cleaned coins for investment.

Some investors are buying South African gold Krugerrands and U.S. gold coins minted recently.  But these coins have been churned out in their millions and will probably never show a profit. They will just reflect the price of gold.    

 Do your research thoroughly before you buy any coins. 

 Some websites to get you started with coins are:   www.NZMint.comwww.perthmint.com.au, www.noble.com.au   

Disclaimer: All the information above is provided as a service for individuals and institutions. It should in no way be construed as a recommendation as an investment. Investment decisions should be based on the risk tolerance and planning horizon of the investor. Market participants must understand that past performance is also not a guarantee or predictor of future results.
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