What you should look for in your change
I got an emailed question from a client regarding what I thought were the top 5 decimal coins for investment. To be honest, I find the question to be a little difficult to answer, because the top 5 decimal coins to buy today could very well be the top 5 decimals to sell next week, next month or next year. The best buy that I recommend today could very well be the biggest turkey in the world if the window of opportunity to sell is missed!
I read an article on The Daily Reckoning website just this morning that resonated regarding this very question.
The thrust of the first half of the above article is that more opportunities are available to those of us that look at ourselves as traders, rather than simply as investors. Both the RAM and the Perth Mint have released hundreds of individual products since 1966, however I personally would only advocate "going long" (ie buy & hold regardless of the circumstances) on perhaps half a dozen of them.
That's not to say that all other decimal coins aren't worth buying, because they certainly can be! What it does mean is that in my opinion, different steps need to be followed if ownership of them is to be profitable.
If I work with the premise that you're asking me which are the 5 best decimal coins to buy now, hold for the long term and sell at some indeterminate date in the future (a strategy most people would regard as "investing"), then I'd probably come up with the following list. The reasons I've selected these items above all others is because they share a few characteristics - key among them is timeless appeal. Second is impeccable quality, third is rarity. The fact that they're all reasonably valuable already is an acknowledgement of their track record to date!
Decimal Coin #1. 1966 "Wavy Baseline" Twenty Cent. This coin is pretty much unknown to most decimal coin collectors, and for that reason is a real connoisseur's coin. It is the result of a slightly different reverse die being deployed for a very short portion of the overall production run, and as a result it's extremely rare. I've seen numerous forged (ie mechanically altered) 1966 20¢ coins that have been crudely created in order to deceive novice collectors, so if you're on the lookout for one you should certainly pay careful attention to the technical characteristics of the coin to ensure that it is in fact genuine. And as always, buy the best quality your budget will allow, a mint state example being the best choice.
Decimal Coin #2. Double Sided Coins. Most decimal coin collectors would not be aware that there are a number of genuine double-sided decimal coins available. Yes - these coins feature either two heads or two tails! Some cynically say they are the result of RAM staff entering into extra-curricular production outside the gaze of their supervisors, however there is a chance that at least some of these coins are be the result of genuine errors in production. They're not to be purchased lightly, some due diligence is required regarding authenticity and market value, but due to their timeless (albeit somewhat titillating!) appeal, I believe they're well worth picking up, particularly when in mint state condition.
Decimal Coin #3. 2001 Centenary of Federation Gold Proof Set. This product was one of the most exclusive and keenly sought releases in recent years. It has a tiny mintage, and was allocated to only a very small number of collectors. It has magnificent presentation, a solid intrinsic value and is linked to an important event in our national history, so all of the boxes are ticked. A fantastic buy at the right price!
Decimal Coin #4. 1966 Proof Set. The release of this product was keenly anticipated for some time by the collector community back at the switch to decimal currency - sales were brisk from the outset. The way in which these coins were packaged means they often deteriorate in condition over time - spots, marks and disparate tone preclude most sets from the consideration of any discerning collector. A set with an attractive case and unmarked coins is well worth putting away however, I have a hunch they'll be appreciated even more in years to come.
Decimal Coin #5. 2001 Centenary of Federation 20 Coin Sets. The commemorative coin program undertaken by the RAM for the Centenary of Federation in 2001 was undoubtedly the biggest stimulus to Australian numismatics in decades. It's my humble opinion that the RAM botched the way the program was released (overseas experience shows that the stimulus to demand could have been increased exponentially had their strategy been executed in a slightly different way), however despite that the 20-coin sets remain a snapshot of the day and will undoubtedly have appeal to collectors for decades to come. The UNC set remains very affordable - perfect for the collector working with a limited budget.
The one coin that I believe stands head and shoulders above all these coins is the pattern 50¢ coin I acquired some time back. Decimal coins don't come any rarer, more historic or attractive than that!
There are a stack of other coins I'd consider, but only under certain circumstances. I'm personally a regular buyer of all decimal coins, however I trade them rather than simply buy and hold them. That's another article altogether!