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GROOVIE MOVIES

Numismatics, rare vs noteworthy and historical

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GROOVIE MOVIES

A hot auction still currently underway on a 1965 Afrikaans proof rand recently caught my attention. I was surprised to see an impaired proof (somebody had tested it with acid) reach R1000 within a short period of the item being listed. My inilial comments to everybody around me obliged to listen was this coin would never sell high as somebody had spoiled it and a 1965 rand at that. I was soon eating my words and dumb founded when I saw day by day the price shoot past R2000 and then R4000. It just goes to show when you think you know numismatics, you thrown a curve ball and are served a slice of humble pie. I did some research and found out what I knew to be a rare coin was actually much rarer than I realized, having a Afrikaans legend. So rare that it warrants a high price dispite being impaired, with past auctions hitting highs of R14 000, R20 000 and even one case topping R30 000 for a gem specimen.

This wave of activity on the 1965 rand got me thinking about what is considered rare, desirable, noteworth and historical in the world of numismatics. And this led me to make some comparisons on other rare South African coins that I knew of, namely the 1931 tickey, the Single 9 and impossible to find 1988 uncirculated silver rand.

I've always accepted the high price associated with rarities like the 1931 era tickies and six pence as they didn't just have low mintages but there was a story behind these coins. A story of a period of hardship during the Great Depression, felt nationwide and evident in the economy to the point where production on coinage had slowed to a snails pace. It's this story behind why only 60some odd tickies were struck in 1931and were circulated giving generations after the hope of striking the lottery by coming across one of them that has given the 1931 tickey it's fame.

Another captivating story is that of the Single 9, being that only one exists. A story of a defiant small Boer nation trying to gain international recognition and resist the advancement of entire empire baring down on it. Somebody asked me what the point was of only one coin being struck and explained the point was absolute. How could a nation claim to be sovereign if they couldn't strike their own coinage? Not only did the coin have a story to tell of war and independance, but it had a after story to match, traveling the world a popping up every few decades in the pockets of kings and professors. I doubt it would have ever commanded the millions it has at auctions, had it not been for the incredible story behind the rare coin. 

So in many ways it's the story that makes the coin, but what of rarities that don't offer such charasmatic stories? That brings me back to the 1965 Afrikaans proof rand or even the 1988 uncirculated silver rand, the latter of which I must admit I've never even seen before. These are coins with low mintages but are not commemoritive or special strikes in any way or form and are really the same as the coin struck the year before or after. One could argue there where 25 000 proof rands struck in 1965 with the difference in language being a difference between R1000 and R30 000 today. The same could be said of the 1988 silver rand, with 7000 proofs being struck (if I'm not mistaken), the difference being 21 uncirculated commanding a price of who knows and a proof kept in your pocket for a few months to turn into a circulated coin worth equally as much as those 21 uncirculated stikes. 

Do these rare common coins that do not have a story to tell really warrant such a steep price when the difference really is the language of the legend? I would say that even tag earred and pregnant bokkies have a tail (pun intended) to tell but what R30 000 tale does the 1965 Afrikaans proof rand and 1988 uncirculated silver rand tell? 

Opinions welcome.

 

Regards Robert

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jwither
18 hours ago, GROOVIE MOVIES said:

Do these rare common coins that do not have a story to tell really warrant such a steep price when the difference really is the language of the legend? I would say that even tag earred and pregnant bokkies have a tail (pun intended) to tell but what R30 000 tale does the 1965 Afrikaans proof rand and 1988 uncirculated silver rand tell? 

Opinions welcome.

 

Regards Robert

I have extracted this part of your post but my reply covers your entire narrative.

The short answer to your first question is absolutely not, though what is "rare" and "distinctive" is subjective and a matter of interpretation.

Here are my reasons:

First, I live in the USA but as here, if the historical comments on this forum are any indication, South African collectors have a recurring habit of grossly exaggerating the significance of any scarce or rare coin.  Since the prevalence of TPG, it also includes the coin's grade in addition to those with absolutely low mintages or survivors.

Second, the South African series has an unusually high proportion of coins which are scarce or rare.  Under any common sense standard, all or even most cannot be considered significant and sell for "high" prices without the entirely self defeating outcome of pricing most collectors out of most of the coins they want to buy.

Third, in the examples you used, you were comparing "apples" to oranges", a typical logical error I have seen on this forum in my tenure here. 

The 1898 "Single 9" pond is a "pattern" which was intentionally struck as unique.  I don't remember where I have seen it but somewhere I read a reference that only one "complete" set of ponden was possible because of it.  No, not exactly.  While set definition is also subjective, traditionally sets are defined from either coins struck for circulation or proofs though in South Africa it is evident to me collectors have traditionally co-mingled both.  Patterns though aren't necessary to complete any set and since these coins were intentionally "made rare" usually aren't assigned equal significance to those which were struck in larger numbers.  This particular coin sells for a high price primarily due to its notoriety, not its scarcity.

The 1931 tickey and other 1931 circulation strike silver were issued in low numbers but it is evident from surviving specimens that these coins circulated extensively.  So while the tickey was also "made rare', most collectors attribute greater significance to its scarcity due to this reason and yes, it is also the highest profile coin from the Union series.

I have on occasion commented on the scarcity of the RSA with the scarcer language legend and in my opinion, these coins are grossly overrated.  Since I have no other information available to me, I conclude that this is due to the high catalogue price which was assigned due to the low mintage and which in turn has reinforced existing inflated opinion of the merits.

The mintages for these coins are generally higher than KGV proofs (excluding the 1923) but I have never heard any indication that these coins are preferred by collectors in your country and I find no reason to believe any are scarcer today either.  Yet my recollection is some of the catalogue prices are higher.  I don't believe the real value is higher but the high catalog price versus actual market value both inflates perception and potentially artificially restricts supply.  The owners don't want to sell it "cheap" and almost certainly hold an inflated opinion of the merits as a future "investment".

I am not familiar with the 1988 silver rand you reference but regardless, it seems to be equivalent to an off metal strike which for this purpose I lump together with errors and die varieties.  I have seen numerous posts here with inflated opinions of both where the scarcity of the coin was compared to the "regular" strike.  All were "made rare" or have a narrow scarcity.

To conclude, a coin should and usually does require a lot more than just some narrow and contrived scarcity to support a "high" price.  Most supposedly or even actually scarce or rare coins have little if any distinction at all.  There is no actual reason to expect it to sell for a "high" price and most who think otherwise do so only due to their personal preference.

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Cold Sea
15 hours ago, jwither said:

I have on occasion commented on the scarcity of the RSA with the scarcer language legend and in my opinion, these coins are grossly overrated.  Since I have no other information available to me, I conclude that this is due to the high catalogue price which was assigned due to the low mintage and which in turn has reinforced existing inflated opinion of the merits.

The1965 coins were issued by the mint to dignitaries and attendees at special occasions. I'm not sure why the other alternative language years (66-69) were minted. This could have been be for the same reason, but no mintages are given by Hern. My opinion is that these fall into the same category as pattern pieces, and will sell for a premium.

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jwither
7 hours ago, Cold Sea said:

The1965 coins were issued by the mint to dignitaries and attendees at special occasions. I'm not sure why the other alternative language years (66-69) were minted. This could have been be for the same reason, but no mintages are given by Hern. My opinion is that these fall into the same category as pattern pieces, and will sell for a premium.

I don't remember the relative prices or scarcity of these coins without looking at the Hern Catalogue.  I refer to the catalogue because I haven't seen many sales over here (in the USA) or in Britain and don't follow sales in SA closely.

For collecting purposes, thinking of them as patterns makes sense.  The coins obviously deserve a premium over the version with the more common legend but I consider all of them overpriced versus other coins in the SA series.  None (and I mean it literally) have any distinction other than the scarcity.

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