We have talked to some of the most active influencers within the coins and banknotes collecting scene. Don’t miss their contibutions.
JOSÉ ANTONIO CASTELLANOS
It is necessary to question whether it is justified that a banknote, just because it is certified, multiplies its price by two, three, or even more.
Beyond his job as an engineering project manager, José Antonio is passionate about the arts and collecting, so he devotes part of his time to writing and disseminating specialized knowledge through his Encyclopedia of Spanish Notaphilia and Scriptophilia and his YouTube channel.
What can you tell us about your Encyclopaedia and YouTube channel?
Like most of us, I started collecting coins, and after a while, I decided to focus on collecting banknotes and security documents. I am sort of a specialist in the history and production process of Spanish banknotes, although my passion is for errors and period counterfeits. I like to do reverse engineering, understanding how they could have been produced. Both in the Encyclopedia and in the YouTube channel, you will find a lot of information about these two topics, but also about the history, in detail, of all Spanish money and debt issues. Both aspects cannot be separated when it comes to understanding the economic history of Spain. As an engineer, my passion is the manufacturing of paper and the productive and artistic process of creating banknotes. I think this is something that the average collector should get closer to not only to add an additional layer of enjoyment to their hobby but also to avoid deception.
How do you see the market right now?
The numismatic market, like any other, is cyclical. We came from a time when the price of banknotes, which is what I know, was exaggeratedly high. The massification of the Internet and online auctions democratized the prices until a few years ago when prices progressively increased again. In general, some bills that have been captive have fallen in price, but others are being more appreciated in very high quality. I believe this is the trend we will experience in the coming years: high face value and high-quality bills maintaining exorbitant prices and dragging down to a greater or lesser extent those of lower quality… in the meantime, some unscrupulous people will continue trying to deceive collectors with false errors, false stamps and manipulations on the banknotes. That is the part we must get rid of.
And what do you think is behind such a significant rise in prices?
As I said, I think it is a cyclical process. New participants, both in buying and selling, breathe vitality into the markets and make prices rise again, both because of commercial strategies and the anxiety to grow their collections quickly. But this is still a normal process of supply and demand. A characteristic feature of the numismatic market is that dealers withhold product —the real rarity of many banknotes is lower than the apparent rarity— and collectors today are more global and demanding. These two aspects are essential in a market like the numismatic one where products are not manufactured but merely exist. It is usual for the demand for many collectibles to be saturated because the number of collectors is finite and availability is high, but withholding their release produces an artificial scarcity effect. In my opinion, that will work in favor of the dealer in the short term, but in the long run, it will lead to disappointment and abandonment by many collectors, reducing demand and driving prices down again. Nobody wants to lose money in this world, and the massive irruption of the certified banknotes is a way to ‘create a product,’ so dealers will cling to it to increase their sales. Another question is whether a certificate should justify the price multiplied by two, three, or more. Another way to ‘create a product’ is by manipulating banknotes to give them a better appearance or by counterfeiting errors. Let’s hope this stops because, if not, it will destroy this collection in less time than they think.
What do you think differentiates your channel from others?
As the author of the Encyclopedia, I am very proud of the work done. It involved many years of research and study —the other day, I did the math, and I must have invested well over 5000 hours in creating it—. Thanks to the Internet and the physical archives that I have been able to visit and that many people have not been able to access, I believe that the Encyclopedia has raised the level. The Encyclopedia is the work that has the most significant amount and most complete information on everything that has to do with the world of banknotes. If it is not in the Encyclopedia, it is because there is no data about it. There is a lot of unpublished information and a lot of structured information so that both neophytes and experts can enjoy it. The Encyclopedia is a product for everyone: history lovers and scholars, lawyers who are curious about this world, engineers or engineering projects who want to learn about how a banknote is made, artists or art lovers, biographies enthusiasts, collectors of all profiles, people who want to enter this world and need a guide and much more. Everyone will find something they like, something that will surprise them, and something to learn. On the YouTube channel, I try to give people a glimpse of everything they can find in the books through didactic videos or even in the comments to the auctions. My goal is that people get more out of their hobby through reading and videos and not just the same old empty data without context that all the catalogs on the market collect —often with errors. And I hope that in the short term, we can enjoy new and surprising books and even a novel that revolves around numismatics.
FERNANDO UYARGUARI UYARGUARI
Every year, there are more and more collectors, and the trend is towards what evolved countries, such as the United States, are setting.
Fernando is a scientific investigator. In his free time he collects banknotes and also poscards and football cards. He has a blog about Notaphily and Numismatics: https://numis-nota.blogspot.com/
What is your specialty?
I do not consider myself a specialist. However, one could say that the world of collecting has taken me through certain topics. One could say that I know a little bit more about numismatics and notafilia of Ecuador. Banknotes of the world with scientists. In my collection, I have tried to have at least one banknote from each current country, and also some disappeared countries or former colonies. In this last year, I have made inroads in Ecuador postcards, soccer cards, and stickers. I have been collecting for 20 years, and in the last few years, I have also been selling world banknotes in my country (Ecuador). In my blog, I write about world banknotes and coins from Ecuador.
What is your opinion about the current market situation?
I think the markets are different in each country, from what I could appreciate from my experience in Ecuador —where I have my permanent residence— and the six years I lived in Spain while doing my postgraduate studies. I think that every year, there are more collectors, and the tendency is towards what evolved countries like the United States are doing, for example, looking for things of better quality or certifying banknotes, the creation of auction houses that provide security and guarantee to the collector… In particular, in Ecuador, collectors are increasing yearly, investing an increasingly higher percentage of their income in their collections.
How about the prices? How does it look from there?
In Spain, I don’t know. In Ecuador, with the increase in the number of collectors and with the repatriation of coins that were abroad, it seems that the prices of coins have fallen in recent years and have become more accessible to collectors. Here, we have not yet experienced a numismatic bubble like those in countries with a bigger numismatic market.
What is special about your blog?
A differentiating factor in my blog is that several of my articles show information that has not been released before: the first catalog of coins from Ecuador, statistics of banknotes with scientists by continent and by country, the difficulty of completing collections for those of us who try to collect at least one banknote from each country in the world regarding banknotes from former colonies, Ecuadorian gold coins in large collections abroad… As for my small business selling banknotes in Ecuador, I offer new banknotes, new issues, from several countries, especially from Africa and Oceania, that are very popular here because of their beautiful and exotic designs.
RAÚL TRENZANO ELBAL
A few years ago we were considered fools for certifying our pieces but I predicted what is happening now.
Originally from Valencia (Spain), he has always tried to spread and promote collecting. His channel Spanish notaphily and numismatics —In Spanish, Notafilia y numismaica española—, is getting bigger and bigger, and nowadays, he devotes a lot of time to collecting at a more professional level without losing his humility and close relationship with his colleagues. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EXCLUSIVEBANKNOTES
What are the highlights of your channel?
I consider myself an experienced person in banknote certification. I have been certifying banknotes for about ten years, and we have published the first catalog with updated prices where we have included both the prices of the regular banknotes and price references for the certified banknotes. We have been quite successful to the point that we are almost out of stock. With the certified banknote, I try to improve my technique, and I rarely make mistakes. I can’t afford that luxury either for myself or for the collectors who daily trust my work. When I started certifying, you could count on one hand the collectors we sent to certify pieces, and we were treated almost like fools, but I predicted just what is happening now.
What do you make of the current market evolution What is your opinion about the price increases we are experiencing lately?
What is your opinion about the price increases we are experiencing lately?
The prices don’t make any sense, especially in high grades. As I see it, it is because new collectors who, unlike us, have never made the transition have come into play and are buying certified banknotes because they are tired of scoundrels. I don’t know if we are in a bubble, but sooner or later, the market will stabilize again. It has happened many times. It is a very volatile market.
Tell us a little bit about your channel?
I am a very straightforward and sincere person. My content is different from any other YouTube channel, and I strive to provide quality content, which is something that I have been improving over the last year. I like to take care of every detail in the editing of my videos, in which I not only talk about the banknote in question but also about the works and artists that appear in them. I don’t like to be just one more, so the channel in the last months has been growing quite a lot. If you want to be different, you have to be different. I don’t consider it a business because, although I already meet YouTube’s requirements to monetize my content, at the moment, I’m not getting paid. I devote it more to entertainment and to teach in a friendly way how much or how little I know. I believe that for that reason, I have not got stuck. I intend to give support; whoever needs it, has a friend here. That is why I have so many good friends and colleagues who appreciate me. I always reach out and try to help. You can find me on social networks as Raul Trenzano Elbal, in my Facebook group of notafilia and numismatics, or on my YouTube channel.
The price increase is due to three factors: the entry of new collectors, investors, and the excess of circulating money.
David focuses on numismatics, both as a collector and as a buyer and seller. You can find him at www.numismaticallamas.es
What would you define as your specialty?
I don’t like to talk about specialties since numismatics is a branch that covers so much history and coins that I learn new things every day. It is very difficult to master 100% of any subject. However, I have the greatest mastery in Imperial Roman coinage, Spanish monarchy, and the Centennial period.
Where do you think the market is heading?
The market trend is obvious: it is rising, and I honestly don’t know what the ceiling is. The Spanish market is evolving in the same way as the American one; trends, customs, and prices are being noticed in our market, and, as in other sectors, it is entirely reasonable since it is a globalized market.
What can you tell us about the sharp price increase we are seeing?
In my opinion, the price increase is due to three factors: the entry of new collectors, investors, and the excess of circulating money. The combination of these factors, mainly from very wealthy investors, is causing an unprecedented price increase, and, as I mentioned before, I do not see it stabilizing in the short term. I would like to point out that in the medium term, demand will flatten out, and although we will not return to pre-pandemic levels, we will have more affordable prices and a change of mentality among collectors. By this change, I mean not only wanting the best pieces (I don’t think they will go down) but seeing medium-high quality coins as our primary target when collecting.
What would you say are the strengths of your business?
It is based on good customer service, honesty, and transparency combined with considerable work on my website mainly and, as support, social networks and contacts/friendships that I have been able to make in them. My main goal is that my customers are satisfied with their purchases, have the peace of mind that what they buy is authentic, and that they will always be backed by the guarantee that gives my company, with an experience of over 50 years in the industry.
The auction’s final prices are completely insane.
Administrator and founder of the Facebook group ‘La taberna de la Numismática y la Notafilia’ (The Numismatic and Notaphilia Tavern). With only one year of existence, it has about 1750 members, the taverners. “I dedicate myself to putting cool virtual beers in my group returning the change in the form of denarius or real” Member, in addition, of the association of friends of the Segovia mint and collector of banknote of the Spanish State and local Banknote of the Spanish Civil War.
What is the best of your Facebook group?
The tavern (la taberna) was created as a free and relaxed space where new and veteran collectors could meet. We count as well with more and more well- known professionals interested in what is going on here. This is very important as I think merchants take notes of what is it said in the group. There are among us numismatic and notaphily writers and authors like José Antonio Castellano (Enciclopedia de la Notafilia y Escriptofilia Española) or Adolfo Ruiz Calleja (Blog numismático). I think the real strength of the group is the good atmosphere we have all created.
What direction do you think the market is taking?
I am not really an expert who can tell you or predict the evolution of the market. But I think that prices had started to rise considerably at the beginning of the first wave of Covid-19, when many and varied groups about numismatics in general began to increase on Facebook. After all, networks have great power. As it seems, thanks to Facebook and the different websites, numismatics and notaphily, the market has begun to move far beyond the ordinary people. After years of acquiring banknotes, I have started certifying my collection. This change has occurred due to two factors: the first one was the II Numismatic Convention in Barcelona organized by Carlos Alcaraz and Ruiz Calleja, where I had the pleasure of enjoying the excellent collection of certified banknotes of Juan Francisco Huerta Espada. The way Juan Francisco addressed the attendees —with such passion and pride— impressed me. The second was the birth of NCV Grading based in Valencia, offering its grading services. Those two circumstances made me bet on certification.
Considering the sharp price rise we are experiencing, do you feel we are in a numismatic bubble?
Personally, I have participated in the last two auctions held by Aureo & Calicó of Martí Cot. The auction prices of most of the lots are heart-stopping. But I think that the Spanish Civil War local banknote is trendy!
Tell us something that differentiates your channel/business.
La taberna de la numismatica y notafilia on Facebook is a group managed by Carlos Delgado and myself, Pepe Botella. We are humble collectors with no interest beyond enjoying the time we dedicate to the group. People who have been with us for a long time can see that all the time we spend there is from the heart. What can we find in this tavern? For example, in the last few days, we have posted a video of an incredible unrestored and unmanipulated 500 peseta bill from 1880 from the New Cid-Pulido Collection. We also have threads of exciting debates that we are launching as the debate on the so-called “right of first refusal” exercised by the state. Of course, we have plenty of photographs that our tavernkeepers post and that characterize us so much in this group, where precious coins appear together with a fresh beer or a delicious Sunday paella.
I want to thank the NCV blog for the opportunity of this interview. I take this opportunity to thank all the tavern owners, especially Carlos Delgado, who is my load-bearing wall, because without him, the tavern would collapse. If you are not in the group yet, I invite you to look for us; the first beer is on Carlos and myself.
The manipulation of banknotes has become a very profitable business.
Collector, trader, and banknotes “hunter.” For years, he worked in several banknote certification houses where he had the opportunity to examine in his hands the great jewels of the world’s notafilia within reach of a privileged few. He trained (and still does) “with the best”: Jaime Sanz, with whom he travels the world looking for unique banknotes. www.billetesantiguos.es
What do you specialize in, and what are the strengths of your business?
My specialties are Spanish omelets, mountain walks, and the evaluation and appraisal of banknotes. In my appraisals, I evaluate quality, generally using the Sheldon scale, and estimate the market price. In my business, I emphasize transparency, care, and quality of service. Among my clients, there are great collectors, from whom I keep learning every day, understanding and enjoying this hobby from different prisms. I actively participate in the Cid-Pulido collection, treasured by Jabitxu, a client and good friend, from whom I learn new things with every conversation, with every wine, and with every skewer… both about this hobby and about personal growth.
How is the market evolving and where are we going?
Banknote handling has become a very profitable business. Every day, tons of banknotes that have been altered for lucrative purposes enter the collectibles market, and these are significantly tolerated by the houses in charge of detecting them. In my opinion, a huge bubble is being created that sooner or later will burst.
Where do you think all this increase is coming from?
I think the price increase is taking place in pieces of excellent quality, as well as in rare banknotes. We come from a market where only the most advanced collectors examined thoroughly the banknotes they bought (I’m talking five years ago), being, on many occasions, victims of unscrupulous dealers. The reality of today, parallel to the appearance of certification houses, is that there is a “fever” to obtain pristine banknotes.
What is your business philosophy?
For years, I have turned my banknotes hobby —which is what I like the most— into my way of making a living. On many occasions, I feel my clients’ collections as if they were my own, and I focus my business on the enjoyment of banknotes.