We had a very interesting conversation with Yeray Páramo, José Molina Escribano y Rafa Zahiños about their collections, their view of numismatic market and they also gave us some advices for beginners
Talking for an hour with someone with experience may give you more knowledge than three numismatic books
He is from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and became a coin collector thanks to his grandfather who gave him 2 cents of the Provisional Govenment and one United States dime in a very poor condition. Since then, Yeray’s collection only has increased.
What is your expertise? What is your collection about?
What I like it more is Castilian coin since the Low Middle Age until the XIX Century. Gold is what motivates me more right now. Austrias copper resealed were a challenge to me once and I dedicated time, but the truth is I never liked them aesthetically and I don’t collect them either. Besides that, I especially like the Visigoths tremis.
What mistakes do you recognize from the beginning? Any advice for the new ones?
My worse mistakes are related with cleaning: I have disfigured and depreciated pieces cleaning them inappropriately. My advice to new ones is to read and to listen closely to the most experimented one. Talking for an hour with someone with experience may give you more knowledge than three numismatic books. Also is important to observe as many coins as possible, in person even better, to get used to authentic pieces and get to know what you like. It is also helpful to investigate about mint techniques and mint houses so you will understand mistakes or strong points of a coin from origin and will help you to identify fake ones. And finally, not rush and avoid compulsory purchases. Take time to analyze and study every piece historic and technique context.
In your opinion, how is evolving the market and where is the future of it?
High quality coins future (EBC or higher) is in graduation companies. We have seen it in international auction since a few years ago and now also in the Spanish ones. It is a compulsory step as market rewards encapsulated pieces with a high rate, analyzed and classified for renowned international companies using an objective a precise scale, like Sheldon. An encapsulated coin increases its value in a auction. We could even go further and reach a point where an encapsulated piece is rejected by the international market. In fact, there are already many collectors that don’t buy anything without slab anymore.
In the other side, we are seeing collectors interested again in mediocre pieces that no one wanted two years ago, like rusty or welded columnar duros with perforations. This is because they can’t afford medium or low quality pieces without those imperfections as prices are rocketed. Except some very rich collectors, the rest of us we are forced to low the quality of our collections or reduce the number of pieces we incorporate.
What do you think this increase of prices is due to?
Coins always increase. We pretend to be surprised and usually regret not to have bought a year ago but reality is that then we also thought prices were high and coins expensive. It is true that pandemic accelerate market and the increase was more sudden. People couldn’t spend money in outside dinners, trips and other small luxuries so they invested that money in other available hobbies: watches, coins… Another factor that has been always there are new collectors, experimented ones that increase their economical power… Finally, I also think that many professionals are forced to purchase in auctions as many of their providers have change them for the auction houses. As a consequence of this, they don’t get so many pieces as before, or at least not of high quality.
Could we be talking about a numismatic bubble?
Some series or periods have gained with this price rise. Those are the ones inside a bubble and they will go down at some point, like the Visigoths tremis. However, the most international appreciated pieces, for example the American minted Spanish duros or macuquina gold, will keep the price or will even increase it more and more. I’m referring to quality pieces, of course. Since ten years ago rarity is in a second or third plane and quality and beauty are what mostly determine the value. What is more, some people don’t look date or mint anymore, only conservation, beauty and quality mint.
What is the rarest piece you’ve seen or you have?
The rarest I had in my hands was a Enrique II 20 maravedís without signature. I only know another one in the Caballero de Yndias collection. Regarding my collection, the rarest I have is a Suinthila de Acci tremis with different title and mint house signatures than the common ones. Three pieces are known.
JOSÉ MOLINA ESCRIBANO
To access to any international auction just with a click is a advantage but also a disadvantage
From Blanca, a small town 35 km from Murcia capital. He remember himself, being a child, getting anything antique that he could keep without his mother threw it away. His passion for numismatics started when he was 30. He studied, researched and collected catalogues, books and pieces for his “showy, extended and perfect collection to understand any period of our history”, on his own words.
What is your weakness?
I would say Andalusí period. Those eight centuries of Al-Andalus are amazing to numismatic research. Given the fact that coins are in Arabic writing with almost no images, not everybody feel ready to jump into it to learn and investigate. It is a period full of surprises still to discover. Andalusí pieces are more than half of my collection.
What mistakes would you avoid if you could start all over again?
Make mistakes in numismatic is quite easy: purchasing pieces, cleaning them or simply how you maintain and keep your collection. That’s why is desirable to have a ‘godfather’, one or more experienced people you can trust is the best before making any movement, over all if it is a costly one. Any doubt must be solved before going forward. Otherwise, we will fell into disappointment and our future in this amazing world will be jeopardized. To ask as many times as need, with a good particular research, will give us the answer for almost any doubt. Nowadays we have new possibilities unimaginable a few years ago: we can sell and buy easily from everywhere. To access ato any international auction just with a click is a vantage but also a disadvantage. Every country has his own acquisitive level and in an auction you may be fighting against someone with much higher economic power than you. (The old rich and poor people, but adding political and currencies local situation).
Any rare piece you want to share with us?
I have an unpublished Handus of Zirí Ibn Atiyya, year 338 H Fez mint house, recognizing Hisham II (in fitna against Almanzor). Also some dírhams of only 5 copies, of unknown mint. As I said before, it is a period full of surprises waiting to be discovered.
We may see a price stabilization but not a fall
From a small town, Valverde de Leganés (Badajoz), border with Portugal. His curiosity for coins started observing his grandfather, but his real passion woke up helping his father with the cattle. He found a 1934 25 cents (II Republica) moving a piece of soil and that it immediately became the beginning of his collection: “I felt it would be my best hobby and I was right”.
What is your numismatic expertise?
Spanish coin in general and Catholic Kings and Austrias in particular, my favourite ones. I feel weakness for anything related with Spain. I collect select pieces, with unknown version and in top quality if I can afford it. If I had to define myself I would say I am a rarities and high quality pieces collector.
What would you change after all this time?
I wouldn’t let others or tendencies influence me. One has to know what he wants and how to achieve it without personal or economical sacrifices. This is my advice for beginners: get what you really can afford. If you want to collect cheap pieces, go for it. That will help you to know what you want in a medium/long term. At the beginning we like everything but with the time we become more and more selective in conservation and way of collect: by type, errors, periods… there are many ways of collect and all are correct.
How do you see numismatic collecting panorama?
It is definitely growing, with a tendency over every market forecast. And we haven’t peaked yet, we can see it in auctions, shops, conventions… prices are double or triple so it is time to be patient and wait for stabilization but not for a price drop though.
Prices have risen at all times due to new collectors and, of course, investors. These last ones don’t know about collecting, only about keeping pieces for a while as an inversion. There were economic recessions in all countries and cultures, that’s why in the old times noble metal coins were kept as a safe lifeguard. Nowadays is the same, a safe inversion. Another important point is the increase in numismatic studies and social media. There are more and more collectors because knowledge is more general. Thanks to investigators books and articles, numismatic colleting is more interesting and attractive for many.
Do you see us inside a numismatic bubble?
I think so, yes. Although it will last a bit more, in my opinion prices won’t drop anyway. We may see stabilization but not soon.
One last question, a piece you have a special memory of?
The rarest piece I’ve seen is a cinquentin minted in Real Ingenio. It was part of the Archeological Museum of Segovia. And thinking in my collection, an 8 reales of Cartagena de Indias mint house and minted by Era’s ensayador. It has an H as the minted thought that Era was written with an H. Anyway, a Cartagena de Indias it is rare just by itself.