Collecting Small European Gold Coins (9/19/2009)

My experience building a Netherlands 10 Gulden registry set.

First, I wish to offer my thanks and kudos to NGC and Collector’s Society for introducing new registry sets featuring small European gold coins. Collecting small European gold coins can offer real value as the demand for these coins in contrast to their US counterparts is significantly lower.

My interest in small European gold coins started when I added several examples of them to my “Inspirational Ladies” signature set. Then early in May, NGC introduced two “Netherlands 10 Gulden” registry sets. The one of particular interest to me was the “Wilhelmina I” 1897 to 1933 set. Many things attracted me to this set; first, I have admiration for Queen “Wilhelmina I” of the Netherlands as one of the great world leaders of the 20th Century. Next, this series with only 11 coins allows me to add small gold coins to my collection, many for as little as $50.00 over spot gold price. These factors made it almost impossible for me to resist, and I decided to start the set.

For all the fees E-bay charges its sellers, buyers pretty much get a pass. For the savvy, patient buyer, there is a fair amount of good buys on E-bay. Searching E-bay for coins to populate my set, I quickly added six graded coins to my set, two graded MS-66, three graded MS-65, and the key date, an 1898 10 Gulden graded MS-63, a good grade for this particular date. Soon after this, certified examples for auction on E-bay dried up.

At this point, my options were to either wait for graded examples to come up for sale or buy the coins raw with the hope of getting favorable grades on my submissions. Over the summer months, I purchased the remaining five coins raw. As many of you know, purchasing raw coins on E-bay can be risky, but there are ways to minimize your risk. First, as best I could, I tried to buy my coins from sellers I knew to be reputable dealers. Buying from dealers is a little more expensive, but if a particular coin lists for a long time without a buyer, often a dealer will snap up your best offer. This occurred on one of my raw purchases. Where this is not possible, I had to make my judgment based on the photos of the coin. I looked for mint luster, strike, and contact marks to determine if the coin was cleaned or a counterfeit. This is where the risk comes in, in the absence of a reputable dealer to make that judgment for me, is my judgment sufficient to protect myself from being ripped off? I would find this out soon as I prepared my raw “10 Guldens” for submission to NGC.

This week my coins cleared quality control and my heart was racing as I clicked on the link to see my results. My submission showed three coins grading MS-63 and two coins grading MS-64. While I had hoped for MS-64s and 65s, I am in no way disappointed with these results. For the most part, I have found that “Mint State” raw coins sold on E-bay are often poorer in quality.

Now with my set 100% populated, my next goal is to upgrade my set with MS-65 or higher coins as they become available. With lower grade coins to sell, I should be able to upgrade my set inexpensively. Please enjoy my photo collage of the four major obverse designs in this series. Happy collecting!