We’ve rebranded our “Weird & Wonderful” sale to “Odd & Curious”, but either way, we’re starting 2021 with our biggest ebay sale yet!Continue reading
On Monday October 5th, we had the great pleasure of welcoming his Excellency, the Indonesian Ambassador to Canada, for the formal opening of our special exhibit “Numismatik Nusantara”.Continue reading
Our next session in our ongoing “Weird & Wonderful” sales will be live on Ebay at midnight this Friday!
With 100 fresh new lots from all areas of our inventory, we invite you to take a browse:
Click here to access our ebay coin and collectibles auction.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to add something unique to your collection!
A recent addition to our inventory has generated both keen interest as well as renewed discussion on a quandary quite familiar to most professional coin dealers, namely:
to melt, or not to melt?
The remarkable item in question is a 52mm commemorative medal struck by the private Canadian Wellings Mint in 1965 to commemorate the life of Sir Winston Churchill.
As esoteric as the known bronze and silver strikings of this issue may be, our example is a virtually unknown version in solid 24K gold. Beyond being rare – most private gold issues such as these were struck strictly based on pre-orders, and thus usually number in the single-digits – based on the intense pressures of the booming gold market in the ensuing five decades since the medals were issued, our new acquisition is very possibly the sole surviving example.
So wherein lies the quandary here?
Namely, in the fact that as a fine gold medal of 143 grams, the actual intrinsic (or melt) value of the medal currently sits at just under $12,000. This is hugely-significant, as it presents an almost impossible bench-mark for even the most ardent collector of Churchill medallic history to chase. Thus, a coin dealer in my position is faced with a clear choice between two strategic options: hold out hope that a collector will attach sufficient value and appreciation to the medal that he or she will be willing to offer a price that meets or exceeds this current melt value (while also having the budget to actually do so!), or eliminate risk in a potentially volatile market and send the medal to the refiners.
I raised this issue in casual conversation with a good philatelic colleague earlier this week, and at the mere mention of possibly melting the piece was lightly chided (in my capacity as a representative of the numismatic side of the dealer community) as “never considering the history of items when we are quick to melt things”.
But is it really that simple? One of the key guiding economic principles in business as well as life that has stuck with me over the years is that of “opportunity cost”. In other words, the opportunities forgone and lost as a result of having made one particular decision over another.
Even in the best of times, coin dealers never have enough working capital. The “opportunity” cost of retaining this Churchill medal in inventory is the tying up of a significant investment, in hopes of what would inevitably be a very marginal return at best. Of even greater significance, however, is the risk involved in holding such material in a volatile gold market. To crystallize this point: if we look back five years ago on this date, the spot market value of an ounce of gold was approximately $1,500 CDN, or roughly 40% lower than current rates.
Thus, in the complete absence of any factors that would cause this commemorative medal to be any more or less desirable from the perspective of a collector of such things, its intrinsic value none-the-less increased in this comparatively short period of time by a staggering $4,900. ! Fabulous, one might think, from the perspective of the recent seller, however from the view of a coin dealer whose living depends on making the right decisions in a market area of extremely tight margins, this serves as a reminder of how quickly “speculation” can take an abrupt turn into negative territory.
All this to say, the pressures to melt such a medal, realize a small margin, and preserve the availability of precious limited operating capital is quite intense.
But back to my colleague’s chiding comment about “melting history”. Is this really the case in this example? Some purists would enthusiastically concur; but objectively, could this really be said in the case of a privately-issued modern medal, with no official ties to either government or indeed, the commemorated subject matter at hand? As with many subjects, there is certainly room for engaging debate on both sides of the topic. I certainly would never be naive enough to deny that “sins of the historical melting pot” have not and do not occur.
Although only a young collector during the first great silver boom of 1980, etched in my memory are stories of people lining up at coin shops and refinery agents, waiting to melt not only their coins and old tea pots, but also the military and agricultural medals of campaigns and accomplishments of past eras, etc. Without a doubt, the unfortunate seduction of the record-high metal prices of the time did indeed temper the ethics and commonsense of what should and should not have been destined for the melt-pot. Indeed, my current quite passion of collecting sterling cigarette cases began in my early years as a sensitive and somewhat naive coin dealer. In those days (from the late 1980s into the 1990s), silver was cheap. No one cared about these neat and eclectic artifacts, and my conscience simply couldn’t let me send them off to the melt pot. In hindsight, I am glad that I made those decisions which set me on a particular collecting path I continue to enjoy, but honestly – had silver been much higher, and I hadn’t quickly learned to temper my enthusiasm for preservation with the realities of being in business, I would probably today be living under a bridge somewhere with cases of canned beans and my fabulous collection of cigarette cases.
But I have digressed here. Of the numerous similarities we numismatists share with our philatelic colleagues, one of the most striking differences is this issue of intrinsic value.
A stamp dealer who somehow ends up with $10,000 worth of a particular 8-cent stamp in his or her inventory has three clear paths from which to choose. One can either expand one’s Christmas card list to include the population of a small city, and use the stamps in the way they were naturally intended, or simply keep them in stock and hope to piecemeal them all out at a retail level by the time one reaches the point of “Freedom 95”. The only other alternative is to simply blow them out (to the extent that is even possible) at a massive discount, which would presumably result in an economic loss, once cost and effort is all accounted for. What one cannot do is immediately extract oneself from the tie-up of funds by either putting them into the fireplace, or presenting them at the local post office for cashing out at a cent under face (etc.).
As coin dealers, however, we are both fortunate and somewhat cursed to have to consider the bullion-value implications of everything we add or extract from inventory, and make both prudent and calculating timing decisions in how we handle complex coins and medals.
In the case of our impressive and possibly unique Winston Churchill Gold medal, with serial number “4”, I will respect the significance of the subject-matter at hand and the efforts devoted to designing and striking the piece by making a good-faith effort to find it a home in the hands of an appreciative collector (or indeed, an investor, if one is so inclined). At the end of day, however, there remains a 50/50 chance that we will make the strategic and necessary decision to send it to that great “historical melting-pot” in the literal sense. After 30 years of dealing you learn to trust your judgment on such things, and to continuously explore that comfortable balancing point between the stark realities of opportunity cost in business, and the ethical appreciation for the medallic and numismatic history that is all around us.
Having decided to remain open by Appointment Only, at least for the remainder of the summer, we’re very happy to point our customers to our largest rolling ebay coin and collectibles auction. The latest installment, with our largest ever inventory of Weird & Wonderful items is now live.
Please visit us on ebay for a wonderful selection of coins, medals, and other collectibles. You can see a selection of highlighted items in this post.
We are also delighted to report that we are finally cleaning up the online inventory database on our website, and in the coming week will be posting 150 fresh new ICCS Canadian coins for your pleasure!
If you had suggested to me six months ago that I would be running Alliance Coin & Banknote in self-isolation from my second floor home office, with its pleasant view of snow-dusted farmer’s fields across the street, I would have suggested staying away from the newly-sanctioned “edibles”.
Yet here we are, with our communities and society taking exceptional steps in times of exceptional public health crisis. Like all things, we will eventually move beyond this and once again grow and prosper, although in various ways it will likely be the formative experience of our time. Caution, patience, faith, and mutual support are definitely the key rules to live by in this current struggle, and I wish all of our customers, friends and colleagues continued health and sanity.
Both our Almonte store and Chris Green Stamps in Ottawa (the location of our Wednesday appraisal services) will continue to remain closed for the foreseeable future. We continue to monitor our telephone and email messages on a daily basis, however it will very likely be a further month before we are able to resume face-to-face transactions, out of a continued abundance of caution for the well-being of both ourselves and our customers.
In the meantime, the wheels of productivity cannot and will not stop in our industry. The cancellation of all trade-shows for the next two months certainly has not dampened the desire or need for collectors to keep collecting – and to this end, we have put all of our efforts into two projects.
This first, being our new and largest-ever Spring Catalogue, I am very pleased to launch with this newsletter. All orders will have a fixed shipping cost of just $3.00, and with more than 1,200 lots, there should be something enticing for every numismatic interest. Our shipping department remains open and ready, so please order as early as possible for maximum choice.
Secondly, we have now launched our largest continuous “Weird & Wonderful” campaign on ebay, with a fresh wave of lots being posted each and every day for at least the next month. We have dug down to the very depths of our vault for this project, and will be offering our usual outstanding cross-section of coins, medals, banknotes and tokens, including some fine items I would normally have reserved for our annual public auction sale.
Please visit our ebay site daily, to see what new and cool items have been posted the previous midnight.
Lastly, we remain available to satisfy all your supply needs by post, and continue to have a healthy inventory of 2×2 holders, pages, and albums, etc.
Telephone: 613-256-6785 | Toll-free: 888-592-4141 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In closing, my family, staff and I sincerely thank you for your continued support and patronage. My personal best wishes to your families – keep well, and keep the faith.
We look forward very much to welcoming our local customers and friends this coming Sunday, December 1st, for some music and good cheer!
I am currently putting the final touches on our “Freaks & Errors” display, which will see the unveiling of at least a couple watershed errors that have remained completely unknown until our open-house.
We are delighted to announce plans for our 2019 Annual Open House to be held on Sunday December 1st. This will be the “Freaks & Errors” edition of our Coins & Strings event, and will feature a fabulous display of exotic and rare coin errors. Many of these coins have never been seen in public, and the display will be an excellent cooperative effort between Alliance Coin and a number of our advanced collecting friends in the field.
A recent exciting discovery has added a new footnote to the history of Canadian Municipal Trade Tokens, with the added intrigue of unprecedented value and a Royal Visit.
In the summer of 1973, the City of Kingston, Ontario, celebrated perhaps the most significant historical milestone in the community’s rich and lengthy existence – the 300th anniversary of the landing of Count Frontenac at Kataraquoi (Kingston), in July of 1673 – the effective founding of the City. Among the many events and souvenirs planned to mark the event, a “Frontenac Dollar” token was issued by Kingston Chapter Credit Union. Struck in aluminum by Canada’s Wellings Mint, the issue was exceptional for its huge 45mm diameter, with obverse portrait of Louis de Buade de Frontenac, the popular and successful Governor of New France. The token’s reverse depicts the still-standing “Murney Tower”, erected in the 1840s as defense against possible aggression by the northern U.S. states.