Coin Hoards

July 29, 2009

The term 'coin hoard' conjures up images of piles of coins buried somewhere in the Spanish Main by buccaneers ready to be collected on their return to England or Port of Spain. In reality coin hoards are far more mundane but they still stir the imagination of coin collectors because of the provenance they lend a coin and the possibility of getting a coin that has been 'untouched' for years and is new onto the market. In the USA coin hoards, while not common, are far more prominent in the market than here in Australia. There are many well known US coin hoards such as the Binion Hoard, the Redfield Hoard, and the Mid-West Mega Hoard. These hoards contains thousands, tens of thousands, and in the case of the Mid West Mega Hoard, millions of coins. The mystique associated with these hoards has even lead to the major third party grading companies noting the provenance of coins from major hoards on their coin holders.

Coin hoards in Australia are not so common as elsewhere, but they do occur. There are two well known hoards that I know of, and I am sure there are many more. The first is the Reserve Bank 'hoard' (or collection or accumulation). In 2005 the Reserve Bank of Australia decided that the reasons for maintaining a physical stock of gold had passed, and liquidated 5,850 Australian Sovereigns, Half Sovereigns, Adelaide Pounds, and some foreign gold coins. These were auctioned by Downies and caused a major influx of coins into the market. Another well known hoard is the 'Vienna Hoard' of the late 1980's. Many rolls of Australian florins and shillings struck in the mid 1940's were hoarded by an Austrian immigrant jeweller prior to the debasement of silver coinage to 50% silver. More than 5000 uncirculated silver coins were released onto the market from this hoard in the late 1980's by a major Australian coin dealer.

Coin hoards can have an interesting effect on the coin collecting market and hobby. For example, when the US Federal Reserve disposed of millions of uncirculated Morgain and Peace dollars in the 1960's it single handedly spawned an explosion in the interest in coin collecting in the USA. Other hoards can have a significant impact on the value of existing coins on the market. For example, in 1984 only 13 Athenian Decadrachms were known to exist, however in that same year a hoard of 14 of the same type were recovered in an archaelogical dig. They were in superior condition to the already known examples and instantly devalued the coins already held by collectors. A less well known hoard (or perhaps accumulation) of Australian coins were gathered by an Australian collector who collected items from 1912, including a large number of high grade 1912 3d's. When these entered the market they immediately increased the supply of high grade coins of the type rendering catalogue values irrelevent.

One last note, and perhaps a controversial one, is a warning to the collector about the marketing techniques used by some coin dealers. Playing on the romance and mystique behind the term 'hoard' some dealers are forever discovering 'hoards'. Even if these hoards are in their very own (clearly overstocked) coin vaults! Beware of being taken in by such marketing, often items in these so called 'hoards' are available elsewhere and at a lower cost. As always do your research.

Posted by mnemtsas at July 29, 2009 9:31 AM
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Bookmark and Share