The motivations for collecting are varied. Possibly the most common type of collector is the hobbyist, who amasses a collection purely for fun with no real expectation of profit. This is especially true of casual collectors and children who collect items on the basis of chance and personal interest.
Another frequent reason for purchasing coins is as an investment. As with stamps, precious metals or other commodities, coin prices are cyclical based on supply and demand. Prices drop for coins that are not in long-term demand, and increase along with a coin’s perceived or intrinsic value. Investors buy with the expectation that the value of their purchase will increase over the long term. As with all types of investment, the principle of caveat emptor applies and study is recommended before buying. Likewise, as with most collectibles, a coin collection does not produce income until it is sold, and may even incur costs (for example, the cost of safe deposit box storage) in the interim.
Coin hoarders may be similar to investors in the sense that they accumulate coins for potential long-term profit. However, unlike investors, they typically do not take into account aesthetic considerations; rather they gather whatever quantity of coins they can and hold them. This is most common with coins whose metal value exceeds their spending value.
Speculators, be they amateurs or commercial buyers, generally purchase coins in bulk and often act with the expectation of short-term profit. They may wish to take advantage of a spike in demand for a particular coin (for example, during the annual release of Canadian numismatic collectibles from the Royal Canadian Mint). The speculator might hope to buy the coin in large lots and sell at profit within weeks or months. Speculators may also buy common circulation coins for their intrinsic metal value. Coins without collectible value may be melted down or distributed as bullion for commercial purposes. Typically they purchase coins that are composed of rare or precious metals, or coins that have a high purity of a specific metal.
A final type of collector is the inheritor, an accidental collector who acquires coins (a collection, hoard or investment) from another person as part of an inheritance. The inheritor may not necessarily have an interest in or know anything about numismatics at the time of the acquisition.
Article Source: en.wikipedia.org
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