How to Buy Rare Coins

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Shop Mindfully, It’s Worth the Hassle

rare coinsWith collectibles, it is never “I came, I saw, I bought”. Nor should it be. The “snap of the fingers” shopping method will do for products of mass consumption, especially the products that are meant to last until a newer model comes along.

However, when you go shopping for collectibles, you have to really put your whole being into it, whether you do it for the sheer pleasure of collecting or for investment purposes.

What goes for collectibles in general goes for rare coins too; perhaps even more so, because the world of coin collecting is so vast and complex. As a beginner collector, your aim is to buy rare coins that are genuine, well preserved and worth the price tag.

Online marketplaces like bidorbuy offer possibilities that collectors could not even dream of only a couple of decades ago. It is now possible to research, compare and buy, all from the comfort of one’s home.

Before you even start window-shopping, it is necessary to acquire at least a rudimentary knowledge about the coins that you are interested in. For example, if you want to focus on ZAR coins, you need to know which ones are considered extremely scarce and which are available in decent quantities. It coin collectingis advisable to have a current coin price guide handy. They are very helpful both in determining coin values and keeping track of the changes in the coin market.

You should also know that “well preserved” does not mean cleaned. On the contrary. A coin that has been cleaned or altered in any way loses a great deal of its value, if not all of it. Cleaned coins have a washed-out, pasty look, lack tone and hairlines. Any changes on the coin from its mint state should only be due to normal wear and tear.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to tell from an image in a listing whether the coin you want to acquire has been tampered with or not. To make sure that your purchase does not fall sour, you may decide to buy only coins graded by reputable grading companies, like the American PCGS and NGC or the South African SANGS.

But what if you come across a really tempting un-graded coin?

Your best option here is to pose probing questions to the seller. Of course, on bidorbuy you cannot contact the seller directly before you buy from her or him. The way to go about this is to open the listing of the coin you are interested in and click on Ask the seller a question link.

Also, always check whether the seller offers a return policy. This is especially important in the case of coins that have not been graded. You may still lose some money on shipping the item back, but that is usually a negligible amount.

coinsIt goes without saying that buying from sellers who have a good trading record on bidorbuy is your best protection against disappointment.

The majority of rare coins to be found on bidorbuy are listed in the auction format. Sometimes, a seller will put a secret reserve, thinking that the lower opening bid will attract more bids. In reality, very often the opposite happens: as soon as they see “reserve”, buyers tend to walk away…. which opens a window of opportunity for you. On bidorbuy, the difference between the publicly stated opening bid and the secret reserve can be up to 20%. No more. So, if the opening bid is R2500 and there’s a reserve, you will know that the secret reserve can be between R2500 and R3000.

Once armed with the reserve amount, you can plan your bidding strategy. If the reserve amount seems to be reasonable, you can place your bid. To make sure that you do not pay more than the seller is willing to sell the item for, place an auto bid on the maximum reserve (R3000). If the reserve happens to be lower and no one else places a higher bid – you will have won the auction!


When bidding for rare coins on auction, different collectors have different strategies. The important thing is to do your research and decide on the top price you are willing to pay, even if you want a particular coin badly. That way, you’ll never suffer from buyer’s remorse.

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