Coins from mints & mail order companies

Medal series with the likenesses of Austrian chancellors © Own image

In general, precious metal coins serve either as investments (bullion coins) or as collector's items. While the material value of bullion coins is in the foreground, the value of collector coins is determined not only by the material, but also by the supply and demand from numismatists. Investment coins are calculated with the smallest margins to actually ensure a value retention - numismatic coins are traded at prices far above the material value and collector's demand can drive the prices to astronomical heights. But please don't be under the illusion that you will get "the" rare and scarce coin at a mail order company.

Because many laymen are not aware of this separation, it happens again and again that dubious coin dealers exploit the ignorance to sell coins and sometimes worthless medals at prices - the same or more expensive calculated as, for example, a piece of jewelry at the jeweler. Especially mail-order companies, often with official-sounding names, are often conspicuous for their questionable business practices and regularly call consumer protection agencies to the scene.

Caution: Subscription trap!

Above all, the black sheep among coin dealers are always conspicuous by their repeated aggressive and misleading advertising in connection with subscription traps. Through personalized advertising flyers and mailings, potential customers are lured with "exclusivity" and "unique offers" are touted: rare "collector's items" in "strictly limited editions" at a "preferential price".

If an unsuspecting recipient actually feels addressed and finally orders one of the advertised coins at a supposed bargain price, the subscription trap usually already snaps shut.
Through such "collector services" (= subscriptions), unsolicited further coins regularly land in the mailbox "for viewing" or as a "purchase on trial". If these are not returned immediately, invoices, demands for payment and reminders, even debt collection agencies, flutter into the house.

But the subscription trap is not the only scam with which such companies rip off their customers.

Medals: Imitation coins, own mintings & refinements

In mid-January, a "gold-plated silver coin in honor of the new Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz" caused a stir in Austria and prompted a parliamentary question. However, the minting of a private coinage institute was far from being an actual coin. This is because "coins" must be issued by central banks (e.g. the National Bank) and minted by official mints (e.g. the Austrian Mint), have a nominal value, fixed weight and fineness, and are official means of payment.

Medals, on the other hand, can in principle be minted by anyone. In everyday life, we know medals as prizes or recognition, but they are often issued purely as commemorative or collector's items. Unlike coins, medals must also bear fineness markings, just like jewelry. Private mints are happy to issue such medals, for which buyers are always found through various sales channels.

However, one may confidently assume that these "strictly limited" medals will never be in demand among numismatists, nor that they will experience an often touted increase in value. If one wants to turn such medals into money again, the expectations are usually bitterly disappointed. If the coins are made of precious metals, i.e. gold, silver or platinum, one can at least hope to get the pure material value.

Another product line of some mail-order coin dealers consists of post-colored coins. Here, official coins - such as 2 euro commemorative coins - are subsequently refined, i.e. (partially) gold-plated, silver-plated or colorfully painted and offered at a price significantly higher than their face value.
The problem is that the "refining" of the coin does not make it more valuable; on the contrary, it even loses its function as a means of payment and is no longer even taken back by the national bank.

Misleadingly advertised products calculated with high margins

Which leads back to the general problem. Often in the glossy brochures or web stores of such mail order companies coins and medals are advertised inaccurately and misleadingly. Terms such as "refined from the purest fine gold" suggest a value that does not correspond at all to the actual material value. Which not infrequently leads to a bitter awakening when trying to sell the "coins".

Almost every day, our employees experience the disappointment when the supposedly valuable coin collection from grandfather brings in just the melting price when sold. Often the coins are "wonderfully high quality gold plated with 24 carat gold" and underneath not even precious metal and therefore worthless. Real collectors rarely buy such goods and so usually only one thing remains - astonished disappointed faces and - the melting pot.

Even coins with actually quite high mintage or common bullion coins are shown as sets or in high-quality cases as "rare" and sold significantly more expensive. Left in the picture, for example, supposedly "rare" coin sets : Krugerrand bullion coins in a collector's set, the restrike eis 6-fold ducat, as well as a Vatican course coin set with certificate of authenticity and ownership certificate.

Our tips to identify rogue traders:

  • Do not be blinded by supposedly official names. Even "institutes" and "Kontore" are just ordinary trading companies.
  • Research the names of the company on the Internet. Pay attention to public ratings and reviews on the net and trust the experiences of other customers. Also use numismatics and precious metals forums.
  • Also research on Google News if there have been any negative mentions of the company in the media.
  • Also research the product you want to buy. If a product is only available at this retailer, it is probably a medal without any special value.
  • Compare the prices of certain products with the offers of other retailers and also check with local retailers. If the prices are far below those of the competition, there is usually a catch.
  • Always read the fine print, stay away from merchants offering "collector services" (subscription traps!) and be skeptical of wording that suggests special exclusivity ("Only for loyal regular customers").
  • Wer Münzen als Anlage kaufen möchte, sollte auf immer auf standardisierte Anlagemünzen, wie den Wiener Philharmoniker, die Maple Leaf oder Kruegerrand Münzen zurückgreifen und immer die Preise vor dem Kauf auf anderen Preis-Seiten (zB. Gold & Co – aktuelle Edelmetallpreise )vergleichen.

You would like to buy bullion coins with real value or collector coins for which there is a real market or you have coins or medals in your possession that you would like to turn into cash?
The staff in our two branches will be happy to advise you if you want to buy gold, silver or other precious metal coins or transparently estimate the value of your coins and medals.

You want to buy or sell gold?

Come now for a personal, non-binding and serious consultation in one of our branches in Vienna or visit our online store.
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