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Cold Sea

Modern South Africa

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Cold Sea    0
Cold Sea

As we all know South Africa is experiencing some very challenging scenarios, with one of the results of increasing frustrations and opportunism being the degrading of colonial and apartheid era statues and symbols.

 

Our history, including numismatics, will always be written up and cannot be destroyed. However, I find that coins especially bring back memories, and wonder if our coins, from Union thru to 1994, other than the rarities, will ever be comfortably collected by non-white South African coin collectors. If this is true, the historical coin collecting community will shrink to nothing with time. However, the post ’94 items will become more popular, with the Mandela’s leading the way. Oh well, I suppose my penny stocks are just that, penny stocks.

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jwither    10
jwither

I have addressed this topic both here and on the NGC Message Boards numerous times. On NGC, it was generically and not specifically to South Africa, though I have used your country as an example.

 

The generic answer to your question is "no". I see no reason whatsoever why the non-European population will ever be interested in Apartheid era coins except in isolation or because they want to make money off of them, as is apparently the case with a disproportionate percentage of current buyers in your country going by the comments on this forum, the price structure and the decline in prices since YE 2011. If collectors and supposed collectors ("investors") in your country are disproportionately interested only in the higher grade TPG coins and don't have much interest in these coins now, why would you or anyone else expect others with no cultural affinity for them whatsoever to want them later?

 

I also don't see that the majority population will care much for 1994 and later issues either, certainly not where it will make any difference to the price level generically. Except for commemoratives, I'm not aware that any of them are remotely scarce, only "grade rare". The Mandela issues discussed on this forum and which were the subject of the prior mania, these coins are as common as a grain of sand on the beach, even in grades of MS-67. This is the 2008 90th BD 5R, 2000 5R to which I will also add the 1994 Inauguration 5R.

 

The 2008 is by far the most common but I see no basis whatsoever to believe that any of these coins or others like them will ever be worth anything except for the absolute highest grades and even then, not nearly as much as others reading my post either likely or want to believe. The 2008 in MS-68, the last time I checked, the combined census count was 223. If these coins become a lot more popular than I believe, its possible they may be worth more than i think they will but still less (in constant purchasing power) than at the peak.

 

If you are also asking about these coins in terms of actual collecting, I still don't think so. I don't consider anyone who just buys the Mandela issues a "collector" at all because it isn't a real collection. The very low number of issues, what kind of a "collection" is that? The rest of the 1994 and later coins, I also don't see that these will become substantially more popular than they are now, just as I don't see it in the United States or anywhere else. It might "eventually" happen in the distant future after I am gone (I am 50 now), but not before.

 

In the United States, there may be more collectors than ever before but that is because its more of a business than it was when collecting as a hobby was at its peak, up to maybe 1965 before silver was removed from circulating coinage. A larger number than ever have an "investment" in their collection because it isn't possible anymore to collect much of anything without paying substantial premiums over face value. The only exception is specialization for currently circulating "grade rarities", die varieties, "special designation strikes", errors and "monster" toned specimens. However, this type of collecting effectively doesn't exist in your country and I don't believe it will reach any critical scale in a time frame which will matter to anyone reading my post now.

 

The primary reason I believe casual collecting has declined in popularity is 1) what I just described. There really isn't anything interesting to collect without a substantial outlay. I consider this true in South Africa and it's worse in the United States. 2) coin collecting has been displaced by numerous other recreational activities.

 

If you look at the younger generation, disproportionately, i certainly wouldn't look to them. From what I can see, they are far more interested in "zoning out" on their iPhone texting each other, using Facebook and Twitter, playing vidoe games or any number of other pointless and "dopey" activities.

Edited by jwither

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jwither    10
jwither

There a few other points I need to make on this topic.

 

One, as i have mentioned before, there is a shortage of the coins most collectors in your country actually want to buy even today, especially in the Union series except maybe for farthings, some of the crowns and post-1946 proof sets. Since there aren't enough quality coins to supply what collectors would actually like to buy now, it should be self-evident that there isn't going to be a suffient supply later if the number of collectors increaes, regardless of what ethnic or racial group they belong to. And no, a few "deep" pocket "investors" aren't going to pay "moon money" for the best coins while the lopsided proportion buy the "left overs", not unless real collecting in your country is replaced by "widget" trading.

 

Second, for those who are skeptical of my claims about the future inclinations of the non-European population to collect (mainly African), as I explained in my recent topic covering collecting of ZAR by foreigners, there isn't anything unusual in these comments either.

 

The propensity to collect is either entirely or disproportionately a cultural attribute. I partly explained this in my topic "A Comparison of the Market Characteristics between the United States and South Africa" here on BoB and in much greater detail on the NGC Message Boards under the "Krause" thread. And equally disproportionately, numismatics is an Anglo-Saxon or European hobby. Yes, there is and has been collecting in Latin cultures (outside of Europe), parts of the Far East, India and somewhat in the Middle East but it is much less.

 

In the United States, this is equally apparent between men and women and between the European population and minorities just as it is in South Africa. Among the African American population, segregation ended in 1968, at least legal segregation which was state law in the Southeast where the African-American population is disproportionately concentrated. There has been no noticeable increase in collecting in the subsequent 47 years to my knowledge though yes, there are some African American collectors. As I mentioned before, I never heard of even one African-American coin dealer, anywhere or ever.

 

I also don't see that there is any reason to believe this minority group (now representing 13% of the population or about 40 million persons) will ever have an increased interest in collecting. Based upon what? The (supposed) history represented by US coinage, to them I presume it is representative of slavery and "Jim Crow" laws. Why would they ever have any affinity for that?

 

What I just described, it is probably equally true of the Spanish colonial coinage and maybe even subsequent Latin America (Bolivia) republic issues I also collect. I don't see the indigenous populations in those countries ever showing an interest in collecting either.

 

Third, as I pointed in my last post, the supply of the most popular RSA coins - the three I listed plus maybe a few more - is so vast that there is no realistic prospect that there will "ever" (as in my lifetime at least) be enough collectors who will want them for more than a nominal premium.

 

Even in the United States, there aren't hardly any coins which exist in equivalent quality in these numbers. To my knowledge, only NCLT (as in1982 and later commemoratives and the American Silver Eagle), post 1960 proof sets (lower quality but still PR-60+), a handfull of Morgan dollar such as the 1881-S and the most recent circulating coinage, as in post 1998. And remember, this is with a population which is six times larger and current collector base that is possibly 200 times larger.

 

The most popular US coinage measured by the number of collectors are silver dollars 1878-1935 plus "classic" series in circulation prior to the switchover from silver to clad coinage in 1965. Even these coins, the lopsided proportion sell for nominal prices under the US price structure except for "grade rarities", other specialization and "key" dates. I believe most US collectors haven't thought about this either (as in the other party to the "Krause" debate) because many seem to have the misplaced idea that one series they favor which has a huge supply is going to be worth a lot more in the future even though its evident this isn't true anywhere else, outside of "key" dates.

Edited by jwither

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