Old coins: Keep the change

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The rising cost of silver and gold means that you can expect a corresponding increase in interest in rare coins, says Beth Deisher, who is editor of Coin World magazine. She says rare coins tend to do well in bad economic times, because people seek value, see risk in the stock market and face low returns for certificates of deposit.

But are rare coins a worthwhile investment? A Roman coin that celebrates the Ides of March created buzz in collecting circles when it sold last September for a record $550,000. Don’t let such a, well, rarified extreme turn your head. You likely won’t find a bonanza in your change jar, and you’ll pay more than the bullion price, or melt value, for a collectible coin. Further, a slight difference in grade or perceived availability can mean an enormous difference in value.

So, the best advice isn’t new: Unless you developed the expertise, you should buy what you’d like to keep as a collector, not what you might profit from as an investor.

If you are looking for a play on gold, we believe that the better option is to stick with bullion coins, such as American Eagles. You won’t need to be, or pay for, an expert to appraise them, and you can buy American Eagles in increments that are as low as one-tenth of an ounce.