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January 22, 2011

Rare Coins: A Distinct and Attractive Asset Class
By Robert A. Brown, Ph.D., CFA

Dear Fellow Numismatist and Coin Person,

Every now and then an article is published related to the subject of rare coin investing that deserves a closer look. This is one of those articles.
I invite questions and dicsussions one on one afterward.

It has been suggested that the decade ahead may offer relatively unattractive asset class returns for the most traditional investment categories such as large-cap domestic equities. The resulting debate has promoted interest in such less traditional asset categories as venture capital, hedge funds, commodities, timber, real estate, energy, works of art, and collectibles on the part of both institutional and individual investors. It is this last category of rare collectibles, specifically coins, which I examine within this paper.

According to the Financial Times, over the past 50 years art as an investment has shown returns in line with the S&P 500 Index, according to the Mei/Moses Fine Art Index, which tracks 6,300 works sold at auction in New York. From 1954 to the end of 2003, art returned +12.6 percent, according to Mei/Moses (versus +11.7 percent for the S&P 500).

Under this broader rare art and collectibles universe, similarly attractive performance can be found in the rare-coin market, which, excluding silver coins and bullion-based gold, exceeds $40 billion. This paper offers an unbiased assessment of the inherent, fundamental, and relatively permanent risk, return, and diversification properties of the robust collectables sub-segment called numismatics and is based on rare-coin pricing data spanning a 62-year period.

The data accumulated, analyzed, and presented here suggests a highly attractive complementary asset category that even with a small allocation provides good diversification for a well-diversified portfolio, and whose returns look impressive when compared against the fixed-income category and as an inflation hedge. In addition, capital and economic market conditions suggest that rare coins could exhibit above-normal returns compared with underperforming recent years.

Allocation of a portion of an individual's portfolio to rare coins must be pursued with full appreciation for the non-income generating nature of this asset category and recognition that no profit-generating corporate entity stands behind it. Moreover, rare coins exhibit a relative lack of liquidity and potentially high transaction costs.

With the failure of the S&P 500 to reach lows that would have brought the majority of fundamental valuation measures back to their historic norms, many of our industry's more serious thinkers, those with real gravitas, have suggested that we'll experience long-term investment challenges ahead. Investment luminaries such as Robert Arnott (editor, Financial Analysts Journal, Peter Bernstein (consulting editor, Journal of Portfolio Management), Bill Gross (PIMCO), John Templeton (Franklin/Templeton), Bill Bonner (The Daily Reckoning), Jim Grant (Grant's Interest Rate Observer), Jeremy Grantham (GMO), and Stephen Roach (Morgan Stanley) have suggested over the last two years that the decade ahead may offer relatively unattractive, if not painful, asset class returns for the most traditional and vanilla investment categories such as large-cap domestic equities. The resulting industry-wide debate has prompted a serious reexamination of less traditional asset categories such as venture capital (and its associated neighbors and offspring within the private investment arena), hedge funds, commodities, timber, real estate, energy, and rare art or collectables. It is this last category of rare collectibles that I examine within this paper—focusing specifically on the subcategory of rare coins or numismatics.

Stephen Roach, among others, believes that domestic stocks, bonds, and residential real estate are simultaneously and significantly over-valued as a result of excess liquidity having been pumped into our economy through actions by the U.S. Federal Reserve and by the monetary, savings, and investment behaviors of foreign nations. If true, as financial planners we have the responsibility to seek less traditional asset categories that remain predominantly unaffected by today's extreme overabundance of liquidity.

Rare coins is one such nontraditional asset category. But why consider rare coins as a viable component of your client's total wealth management solution? As will be demonstrated below, rare coins have historically offered fairly consistent and attractive levels of return, risk, and diversification. Over the last 62 years, this asset category has delivered an arithmetic mean annual return (before inflation) of 10.5 percent with a relatively low standard deviation of 12.3 percent. But the real benefit derived from this asset category lies in its diversification power. Some of its best relative performance is delivered during those periods when long-term bonds perform particularly poorly.

Moreover, it is not uncommon for high net worth clients to already be comfortable with and have significant holdings in the rare art or rare coin markets. Nevertheless, investment in the asset category of rare coins entails a series of distinct challenges. These potential impediments include transaction costs (bid/ask spread), transaction time, specialized knowledge, proven investment properties, market depth, lack of dividend or interest income, and recognition that no profit-generating corporate entity underlies the asset category.

Clearly, rare coins are a highly distinct asset category, offering a remarkably different set of investment characteristics and properties. But the impediments recognized in the preceding paragraph must be overcome. Much as with physical real estate (so-called "bricks and mortar"), the sale and purchase of rare coins entails incurring a measurable bid/ask spread. This obstacle is significant, but with reduced trading, investors can satisfactorily overcome turnover through the attractive long-term fundamental returns accruing to this asset category. Once again, just like physical real estate, participants in the rare coin market should allow significant time to complete acquisitions or sales. Nevertheless, the speed with which coin prices evolve is sufficiently slow and gradual to accommodate the more extended time required for transactions.

Finally, just as with physical real estate, specialized knowledge is well developed and readily available at a reasonable cost and is delivered by a wide range of professional dealers in the marketplace. The challenge of verification is no longer an issue, as all investment quality coins are authenticated and encapsulated by two primary service bureaus: Professional Coin Grading Service and Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of America. Valuation is well handled by the ready availability of recent transaction prices (providing investors with accurate bid/ask spreads) and through the advice of professional dealers—much as is the case with the private real estate market. Safekeeping (storage and insurance), however, remains an ongoing expense—once again, not dissimilar from bricks-and-mortar real estate.

The last two potential impediments—proven investment properties and market depth, are the primary subjects of this article. As described below, returns in both an absolute standalone basis and, more importantly, in a well-diversified portfolio context, have been highly attractive over the last 62 years. Similarly, the market for rare coins is deep, well developed, and improving.

Art and Collectibles Universe

I begin my examination of rare coins with a quick high-level review of the far broader rare art and collectibles universe. If the investment merits of rare coins are real and substantive, then we would expect to find equally attractive performance within the more broadly defined arena of art and collectibles.

As reported in the January 27, 2004, London Financial Times, the Artprice Global Index rose 1.5 percent in 2003. This index includes the prices of 30,000 works of art sold at 2,900 auction houses around the world in 2003 and is considered to be a reasonable measure of the state of the aggregate global high-end collectables marketplace. In 2004, the Artprice Global Index rose 24.4 percent. Another index, the Mei/Moses Fine Art Index—All Art, showed gains of 21.7 percent and 13 percent in 2003 and 2004, respectively. Over the last 50 years (1955–2004, inclusive) this index appreciated 10.5 percent annually versus 10.9 percent for the S&P 500, 6.6 percent for 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds, and 5.4 percent for short-term U.S. Treasury bills. This index is noteworthy because it tracks over 8,000 works sold at auction and is therefore based on real-time investor-realized pricing. Fernwood Art Investments LLC, a New York-based company, founded recently by former Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. veteran Bruce Taub, began offering art-based funds in early 2005 as an alternative asset class. Funds and investment partnerships are being formed to offer shared interests in portfolios of paintings by old masters, impressionists, and others. Fernwood states "Art is like what real estate was 30 years ago, it's ripe for investment."

Rare collectibles as an investment and as a personal pursuit have been with us for centuries. But one of the oldest and most well-developed segments of the collectables asset category is that of numismatics or rare coins. In 1912, the U.S. Congress created the American Numismatic Association (ANA) to promote popular interest in the study of numismatics.1 Barry S. Stuppler, a member of the ANA's nine-person board of governors, estimates that the total rare coin market experienced domestic sales approximating $2 billion in 2003. Moreover, he estimates that the total supply (market value) of domestic rare coins is in the neighborhood of $40 billion (and this figure does not include bullion-based gold and silver coins that would bring the total market value up considerably).

The depth, vitality, and consistency of the numismatic marketplace are exemplified by numerous anecdotes.

  • In February 1989, Kidder Peabody launched a $40 million rare coin investment fund, later increased to $110 million, named the American Rare Coin Fund.
  • A year later, in February 1990, Merrill Lynch underwrote a $50 million fund called the NFA World Coin Fund Limited Partnership. United Bank of Switzerland (UBS) maintains a separate and independent division, UBS Gold & Numismatics, designed to provide an ultra high level of professional advice by experienced experts in the field of numismatics to its private client base.
  • In a July 2002 Sothebys/Stack's auction a 1933 $20 double-eagle gold piece sold for $7,590,020. In 1960, this same piece traded for $25,000—a 14.6 percent annual rate of return over 42 years.
  • In an August 1999 Bowers & Merena auction, an 1804 proof silver dollar sold for $4,140,000. In 1960, this same piece traded for $30,000—representing a 13.5 percent annual rate of return over 39 years.
  • In an early 2004 Blanchard and Company auction, a 1913 Liberty nickel sold for $3 million. In 1960, this same piece traded for $50,000—a 9.8 percent annual rate of return over 44 years.
  • Finally, in a May 1999 Goldberg Coins auction, a 1907 ultra high-relief $20 double-eagle gold piece sold for $1,210,000. In 1960, this same piece traded for $20,000—an 11.1 percent annual rate of return over 39 years.

It should be emphasized that the returns stated above are gross of appraisal, insurance, storage, and other transactions costs (similar to but higher than what one would experience in the private real estate industry).

In the context of these examples and data, this paper's objective is to offer an unbiased assessment of the inherent, fundamental, and relatively permanent risk, return, and diversification properties of the robust collectables sub-segment called numismatics.


Rare coins may be stratified along numerous dimensions; however, one convenient classification divides the universe by metal type: copper, silver, gold, and other precious metals. The behavior of the precious metals (gold, platinum, and palladium) spot and futures markets has significantly affected the return behavior of rare gold coins during periods of extreme precious metals price volatility. So as not to confuse and otherwise intermix the behavior of precious metals and numismatics, I have excluded gold and other precious metals (platinum and palladium) coins from this paper's analysis. Moreover, for consistency and reliability I have restricted the analysis to U.S. coins and pricing data has been drawn exclusively from domestic sources.

All rare coin pricing data was provided by the following two sources: Handbook of United States Coins with Premium List (the Blue Book) for the annual copyrights 1942 through 1951, and A Guide Book Of United States Coins (Red Book) for 1950 through 2004.2

Coin-price data provided from these publications was used to build unique equal-weighted (by dollar value invested) portfolios of coins for each individual year. These portfolios were then tracked to the subsequent year and an annual return was calculated. The composition of each year's portfolio was uniquely tailored in order to most evenly distribute holdings across the entire available domestic universe at that time. Selections were evenly spread across all copper-based and silver-based U.S. coins. For publication copyrights 1942–1960, portfolios consisted of 600 individual coins. For copyrights 1960–present, portfolios consisted of 650 unique rare coins. The higher 650-coin count was used during the later years with the objective of better representing the breadth and depth of the more modern rare coin market relative to the somewhat narrower pre-1960 marketplace.

Minimum coin condition was generally held to the highest available as reported in the then-current Whitman publications. In the initial years, such as 1942, "fine" was the minimum condition included within the 600-coin portfolios. The maximum condition (MS-65) appearing across all portfolios was similarly defined by the reporting limits of the Whitman publications.

As an example, a portfolio of 650 copper and silver coins was created and based on the pricing appearing in the 2004 edition of A Guide Book of United States Coins. Coins were selected with the objective of evenly dispersing the holdings across the entire available universe as reported in the 2004 Red Book. Portfolio holdings were equally weighted (by dollar amount invested in each coin). The 2005 edition was used to reprice the original portfolio and determine an annual rate of return, (+16.39 percent in this instance.)

A Critical Question

A critical question concerns the exact start and end dates for the annual 12-month investment windows. For example, the 2004 edition has a 2003 copyright and was first released to the public in late July 2003. The start date for the subsequent 12-month investment window depends on when the coin price data was collected for this publication. This paper's analysis is based on a specific estimate for each annual return's inception date. The following methodology was employed to make this estimate.

A series of 62 annual returns were calculated based on the Blue Books and Red Books spanning 1942 through 2004. This series was compared against annual returns for 13 other unique and fully differentiated asset classes (spanning both fixed-income and equities). The annual rare coin return series was next shifted one month at a time, both forward and backward. This generated a series of 31 alternate comparisons (that is, no time shift, 1-month through 15 months shifted backward, and 1-month through 15-months shifted forward). An evaluation was completed for each of these 31 return series. Specifically, I calculated the correlation coefficients between the rare coin series and each of the 13 other asset categories. A median correlation (across the 13 alternate asset categories) was identified for each of these comparisons. I then identified the single rare coin time series (from among the 31 alternate shifted series) that delivered the highest median correlation coefficient. The answer turned out to be the rare coin series that had its series shifted backward in time by one month. In other words, I found that by assuming that pricing data taken from the 2004 edition of the Red Book with copyright 2003 was actually obtained from the marketplace on November 30, 2002, then the correlation coefficients with 13 other common asset categories were maximized. This result, in effect, amounts to a shift backward in time by one month (that is, from December 31, 2002 back to November 30, 2002).

Underlying this methodology are the following premises. First, coin prices appearing in a 1990 edition with copyright dated 1989 will have been collected either very early in 1989 or sometime in late 1988. Second, asset classes have a strong and fundamental tendency to move in tandem with the passage of significant time. Thus, they generate positive correlation coefficients. Third, the most realistic assessment as to the time positioning of the annual rare coin series can be determined by positioning the annual window so as to achieve a maximum median correlation coefficient. The statistical result identifying an initial start date of November 30th of the year preceding the annual copyright date is intuitively appealing. It suggests that the data reflected in the 1990 edition with copyright 1989 was current and immediate in the rare coin marketplace as of November 30, 1988. The November 30, 1988, date is also logically consistent with the public availability of the final publication—that is, on or about July 31, 1989. This would allow approximately eight months to collect the rare coin data, interpret it, update the guidebooks, send them for printing, and distribute them to retailers for public sale.


Table 1 provides this paper's estimates for rare coins' annual returns spanning the period November 30, 1941, through November 30, 2003. Returns ranged from a low of –7.46 percent (1981/1982) to a high of +48.08 percent (1971/1972), with a median annual return equal to +6.26 percent. During the last 62 years, rare coins delivered a positive return 84 percent of the time (52 of 62 years as based on annual returns) and an annual return greater than 10 percent 40 percent of the time (25 of the years from 1941 through 2003, inclusive).

Table 2 provides the nominal (not inflation-adjusted) summary statistics for this series. Relative to 13 other popular asset categories, rare coins appear to offer relatively higher average annual returns with commensurate to moderate levels of return volatility. Over the last 62 years, rare coins offered an average annual arithmetic mean return of 10.46 percent and an average annual geometric mean return of 9.83 percent, with a standard deviation of 12.3 percent. This compares quite favorably against growth stocks over this same 62-year period, which delivered average annual arithmetic and geometric returns of 12.35 percent and 11.02 percent, but with a significantly higher standard deviation of 17.1 percent.

It should be noted that Table 2 reports on all total return series for which monthly return data is available spanning the entire time period indicated (November 30, 1941, through November 30, 2003). Data for asset classes other than rare coins were taken from the Ibbotson Associates databases. Standard deviations were calculated on annual returns with years starting and ending on November 30 as described in the data methodology in preceding sections of this article. It is believed that the standard deviations are directly comparable across all of the asset classes appearing in Table 2, including rare coins, because each return series is based on actual transaction data as opposed to valuation estimates (as frequently occurs with private real estate).

Table 3 provides the same statistics but in real (fully inflation-adjusted) terms. A relevant observation for rare coins is highlighted through a comparison of Tables 2 and 3. Observe how, after adjustment for inflation, rare coins' return-per-unit-of-risk declines from 0.80x to 0.46x. Yet, intermediate U.S. Treasury bond's return-per-unit-of-risk declines by a far greater amount, falling from 0.99x to 0.24x. This difference is a result of rare coins' propensity to deliver a degree of protection during inflationary environments. This observation is supported by the clearly superior correlation coefficient between coins and inflation (0.12) relative to the correlation coefficient between the S&P 500 and inflation (–0.31).

Table 4 reports the correlation coefficients between rare coins and each of the 13 primary asset categories (plus CPI inflation) based on nominal returns (non-inflation adjusted). Rare-coin correlations with equities tend to be higher than with fixed income due to fixed income's poor performance during periods of rising inflationary expectations. Note rare coin's correlations of 0.12 and –0.36 with the S&P 500 Index and intermediate U.S. Treasury bonds, respectively, offering powerful diversification potentials.

More Powerful Diversification Role
Using real returns (after adjustment for consumer price inflation), we obtain the correlation coefficients appearing in Table 5. Comparing data appearing in Tables 4 and 5, we note that correlations increase significantly across all asset categories moving from Table 4 to Table 5. But the correlations for rare coins increase less than any of the other asset categories (that is, rare coins' average increase amounts to a lesser +0.112 versus the other 13 asset categories average +0.153 increase). This smaller change results from coins' superior behavior during inflationary environments and allows numismatic investments to potentially play a more powerful diversification role within a portfolio.

The practical benefits or attraction of rare coins as an asset category are best demonstrated by examining the cross-time performance characteristics of portfolios with and without their inclusion. The bid/ask spread associated with buying and/or selling numismatic coins tends to be quite high. In a cross-time portfolio context, this has an important practical implication; specifically, regular periodic rebalancing of one's allocations to coins in a portfolio is impractical.

Table 6 provides a historical view of portfolio performance with and without the inclusion of rare coins. But this data assumes an initial allocation to coins of 0 percent, 5 percent, 10 percent, 15 percent, and 20 percent, with no rebalancing during the 62 years covered by the analysis. By avoiding periodic rebalancing, this paper delivers a more realistic view of how investors actually construct and maintain exposure to this attractive asset category.

Notice how a portfolio with an initial 15 percent allocation to rare coins delivers a geometric mean return 1 basis point lower than that same portfolio with a 0 percent allocation to coins. But the standard deviation falls from 10.7 percent to 8.7 percent after the inclusion of rare coins, and the worst single annual return improves from –20.3 percent (without rare coins) to –16.6 percent (after inclusion of rare coins)

But no asset category should be evaluated solely on the basis of simple summary statistics spanning some long-term time period. Asset categories have a propensity to deliver performance attuned to the current-period capital market and economic environments in which they operate. During the 18-year period ending November 30, 1999, for example, rare coins returned an unattractive 0.0 percent a year.

The causality underlying this painful time period is not difficult to identify. First, during the prior 18-year time period (1963–1981) coins returned +14.2 percent annually, generating a level of over-excitement that probably drove rare coin prices to a transitory level from which prices needed to fall back. Second, during the nine years ending November 30, 1999, the S&P 500 returned +21.01 percent a year. This abnormally high stock market return spanning an unusually long time period had the effect of pulling assets either out of or away from investment in numismatic coins. Third, inflation (as measured by the CPI) was running at a rate of +12.74 percent for the year ending November 1979. Just seven years later, this same inflation rate had fallen to +1.29 percent (year ending November 1986). This remarkable fall in the rate of inflation removed a key motivational factor that had previously been driving coin prices during the 18-year period ending November 30, 1999.

Improving Coin Environment

Today it would appear that the environment is changing. Capital market and economic dynamics are potentially evolving in directions that will result in below-average stock market returns while at the same time delivering a period of rising inflation. If we experience such a capital market environment, rare coin investments may deliver above-average returns.

Graph 1 provides a historical cross-time view of the path followed by inflation-adjusted rare coin prices since 1941 plotted on exponential scale (natural log scale). By using an exponential scale, equal vertical distances correspond to identical percentage rates of return independent of the current absolute level of coin prices. The solid line identifies the growth of one dollar invested in numismatic coins over the 62-year time period. This line shows an average annual inflation-adjusted geometric mean return of 5.5 percent. The dashed line shows the constant rate of return path determined by applying a best-fit analysis. This second, perhaps more realistic, characterization of history shows an average annual geometric inflation-adjusted return of 5.6 percent for numismatic investments.

Since 1941, rare coin returns have followed a reasonably constant return path—exhibiting occasional periods of out- and under-performance. But as of November 30, 2003, rare coin prices stood 131 percent below their trend line path. This level of below-path pricing is most likely a function of the recent below-normal return experience being driven by low inflation in combination with considerably above-normal stock market returns. Of special note, coin returns began a marked turnaround starting November 30 2001 having risen a total of +25.2 percent (unannualized) since that date.

A different method for exploring the environment-dependent nature of rare coin returns is demonstrated by comparing fixed-income portfolios constructed with and without numismatic investments. Table 7 shows the 62-year summary statistics for these alternate fixed-income portfolios in real terms (that is, after adjustment for CPI inflation.) By making these comparisons after inflation adjustment, we are able to emphasize how relatively small allocations to rare coins can deliver radical improvements to a fixed-income portfolio's inflation-fighting performance.

Table 7 presents a series of six portfolios with initial allocations to numismatic investments of 0 percent, 5 percent, 10 percent, 15 percent, 20 percent, and 25 percent. As before, the allocations between rare coins and the other asset categories are not rebalanced with the passage of time. The fixed-income portion of these six portfolios consists of a mixture of long- and intermediate-term U.S. Treasury bonds which are rebalanced once each year to maintain a constant-percentage allocation.

The fixed-income portfolio without numismatic investments experiences a standard deviation of 7.3 percent. The same portfolio with an initial 10 percent allocation to rare coins delivers a lower standard deviation of 7.2 percent and a higher geometric mean return of 2.67 percent (versus 1.54 percent without coins). Similarly, note how the bond portfolio without rare coins suffers a worst single year of –14.4 percent. In contrast, the bond portfolio with an initial 25 percent allocation to numismatics experiences a far less severe worst single year performance of –10.2 percent. These data suggest that investors seeking the most conservative portfolios (that is, bond portfolios) may be better served by incorporating small allocations to numismatic investments as a method to significantly enhance the inflation-protection characteristics of their otherwise attractive fixed-income securities.

Three issues generally define the question of just how viable rare coins or numismatics are as an investable asset category for small portfolio allocations. These three factors are the bid/ask spread, liquidity, and asset class-specific expertise. Bid/ask spreads in the rare coin arena are consistent with those found in other sub-segments of the rare art/collectables marketplace. At the high end, bid/ask spreads can approach 40 percent. But the rapid growth of both the electronic and physical auction market and the robust development of authentication and grading of rare coins are serving to reduce these spreads across the numismatic spectrum. The best-developed, commonly traded, and standardized (through third-party authentication) coins may trade at bid/ask spreads approaching 10 percent.

Liquidity concerns the time it takes to execute a transaction, whether a buy or a sell. It also affects the size of the transaction and indirectly the bid/ask spread that is paid. In the field of numismatics, the transaction time period is properly measured in months as opposed to minutes or hours, such as one would find in trading large-capitalization shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

In general, the rare-art marketplace requires significant knowledge, experience, current information, and close contacts with key participants to be fruitfully exploited from an investment standpoint. The field of numismatics is no different. But one of the reasons that a bid/ask spread exists is to compensate the rare-coin dealer for the advice and consultation he or she provides. Yes, part of the bid/ask spread is compensation for performing the function of, in effect, marketmaker. But in today's numismatic market, there exists a wide cross section of highly professional coin dealers who view their buyers as long-lived, permanent clients for whom they deliver expert advice and consultation on how best to assemble a portfolio of numismatic items designed to achieve a long-range objective. Such dealers have intimate knowledge of markets and the longevity of participation to properly assess the current environment. So as with many other investment asset categories such as venture capital, buyout, hedge funds, and real estate, one pays for the required (and desired) expertise via the direct or indirect bid/ask spreads reflected in the investment vehicle. Rare coins are no different.

As ANA's governor Barry S. Stuppler has suggested, the marketplace for numismatics is both broad and deep, having now reached an aggregate market value in the vicinity of $40 billion (and this figure does not include bullion-based gold and silver coins that would bring the total market value up considerably). It is an active market where single isolated auctions can experience transaction volume over $30 million. Professionalism and initial efforts towards institutionalization have been demonstrated by numismatic investment funds launched by Kidder Peabody and Merrill Lynch and by United Bank of Switzerland's UBS Gold & Numismatics professional consulting division.

Pricing data drawn from the last 62 years of history (1941–2003) suggest an attractive and potentially highly complementary asset category—particularly relative to fixed-income securities and as an offset to inflation. Over this period, rare coins, the S&P 500, and long-term U.S. Treasury bonds have delivered geometric mean returns of 5.52 percent, 7.86 percent, and 1.38 percent, respectively, after adjustment for inflation. But after reflecting their differential standard deviations, we find that rare coins, the S&P 500, and long-term U.S. Treasury bonds have delivered return-per-unit-of-risk of 0.46x, 0.46x, and 0.18x, respectively after inflation adjustment. Rare coins' greatest benefit may be one of diversification. The S&P 500 typically correlates with other common asset categories at a level of between 0.28 and 0.97 (inflation adjusted). In contrast, numismatic investments have delivered correlations across similar asset categories ranging from a far lower –0.21 to 0.29.

Robert A. Brown, Ph.D., CFA serves as Chairman-Investment Management Executive Committee and Chief Investment Officer for GE Private Asset Management, Inc., located in Encino, California.

1. The American Numismatic Association (ANA) maintains the distinction of being one of the very few organizations in the United States to operate under a charter. The purpose of the organization, as stated in its federal charter, is to advance and promote the study of coins, paper money, tokens, medals, and related numismatic items as a means of recording world history, art, economic development and social changes, and to promote greater popular interest in the field of numismatics. On April 10, 1962, the Congress passed a second act making the ANA a permanent and perpetual nonprofit, educational organization. Today, the ANA maintains a library with more than 50,000 reference materials available for loan to members free of charge.
Handbook of United States Coins with Premium List was written by R.S. Yeoman, Lee F. Hewitt, and Charles E. Green. A Guide Book of United States Coins was written by R.S. Yeoman and edited by Kenneth Bressett. Whitman Publishing, LLC of Atlanta, Georgia, produces both of these publications. The Handbook of United States Coins focuses more on wholesale prices. A Guide Book of United States Coins focuses primarily on retail pricing.

Journal of Financial Planning

Tom Pilitowski
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