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Looking for avg prices for SA coins + scarce SA coins + cleaning method for coins

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Good day,


I'm looking for avg prices for SA coins, as rough measure (novice).


Also, which SA coins (and year) are hard to find and thus relatively expensive?


Which is the most scarce SA coin?


Where can one grade SA coins?


Lastly, what is the preferred method for cleaning coins?


Thank you.



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Here are my answers to your questions, from top to bottom.


There is no such thing as "average prices", even for the same coin in the same grade. Or at least, this applies to any coin above a minimal value. For the lowest priced coins, you can probably rely on the Hern price guide because the prices are probably primarily set by dealers in a retail setting. For the rest, forget it.


First, few coins sell on multiple occassions in the same grade within close time proximity which means that prices vary due to changing market conditions. Second, even when they do, coins even in the same grade are not always or even usually equal, no matter what anyone here may tell you or whether they believe this to be true. No actually scarce coin is a "widget". What I mean by this is that two coins with the same denomination, year and grade may sell for two different prices and this is entirely logical if one is actually better than the other. Third, SA coins are not that liquid and the prices realized on the same coin in two different sales is mostly a function of who the bidders happen to be.


As to which coins are rare and expensive, you can get a general idea from the relative prices and mintage data in the Hern guide, from the NGC and PCGS census popluation reports and from prices realized in public auctions such as BoB or Heritage. But the fact that you even asked this question indicates to me that you haven't done much if any homework and if so, If I were you I would not buy a single coin before you do that.


I started collecting SA coins in 1998 and the data is much better now than then. (I live in the USA and have never met in person anyone who collects SA coins.) When I started collecting, I had to find this out for myself through trial and error. The guides gave me some idea but did not accurately reflect how available the coins actually were and are. Now, you can rely on the sources I listed somewhat but there is no substitute for investigating this yourself. Many SA coins are scarce and some rare, though not in my opinion to the extent most others who post here seem to believe. But you will only become proficient over time by studying this data and seeing for yourself what the scacity and apparent availability mean for prices.


What is the scarcest coin? Depends whether you are talking about patterns, proofs or circulation strikes. The first two have much lower mintages and so were "made rare" at least to some extent. The latter almost always has much higher mintages but because they were intended and were used for payment, the attrition is much greater and the survival rates (at least in high quality) are typically very low.


A coin like the 1898 "Single 9" Pond is unique; only one was made. But that is essentially irrelevent to all but a handful of "deep pocket" collectors and "investors" because they are never going to be able to afford it anyway. The 1931 Union circulation strike silver, all are very scarce or rare but at least some collectors can own them if the coins are available.


For Third Party Grading (TPG), the two leading companies are based in the United States. These are NGC and PCGS. There is also a local company in SA, SANGS. As a USA based collector, I have no intent of ever submitting any coins to SANGS but it is a reasonable option for anyone who lives in SA. You just need to be aware that grading standards vary between companies and more importantly, so do the prices. So what I am telling you is don't think you can buy a coin in one holder and sell it for the same price as one in another because that is not how it works. Each company has a different level of market acceptability and today, the prices for NGC and PCGS graded South Africa coins are either higher or much higher than those for one graded by SANGS. This is irrespective of how "accurately" any particular coin is graded because that is a secondary consideration. You can easily verify this claim of mine by checking prices realized here on BoB.


On your last question, do not clean your coins, ever. If you have a coin whose appearance and TPG grade can be improved through professional conservation, it can be done through NGC and maybe PCGS now. You will need to learn thorugh experience which coins are worth doing so. There are some collectors who know how to conserve coins on their own but generally it is a bad idea because most will probably "botch it" and degrade it. I do not know how to do this properly and would not recommend it to most collectors.

Edited by jwither

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Hi Ernesto and Asiantex,


I aggree wholeheartedly with what Ernesto said before. The market variability is something we all have to live with and the NGC and PCGS graded coins at least are graded by graders who are not from South Africa and can be relied upon to be at least objective on the grading with in my view fairly equivalent standards. These two companies have a track record in excess of 20 years and grade coins from the whole world of which South Africa constitutes a very small part numismatically. Their cost is really not that much more than what SANGS asks and shipping is quite reliable - I have been sending coins for 8 years using couriers and have never lost one.


My thoughts




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