The key dates and semi-keys of any series have out preformed the common dates in all grades in the past and there is no fundamental reason for that to change in the future. The market for these scarce low mintage coins is driven by supply and demand and new collectors coming into the market should keep the demand strong and healthy. On the other side of the coin, no pun intended. If you are going to spend money buying coins for your collection, why not buy key and semi-keys with more potential value appreciation in the future? The investment theory here is that the coins will have to be held for a period of time, maybe years before a profit can be realized.
Should one buy slabbed or raw coins? Keep in mind there are fake coins on the market, especially expensive key date coins. Set a limit that you are willing to pay for a raw coin and donít go over it. When buying coins graded by one of the major grading services, ANACS, ICG, NGC and PCGS you can pretty much be assured the coin is genuine and the assigned grade is close to correct. Donít buy coins graded by inferior or less known grading services. Note: I have seen slabbed coins that have changed in color and toning from when they were originally graded due to improper storage over time.
Buy from a well established dealer so that you can return the coin in the event that you are not happy with your purchase. Expect to pay close to the current book value for problem free key-dates and semi-keys. If the asking price sounds too good to be true it probably is. There are no bargain basement prices to be found, simply because the demand is so strong for these coins. In most cases the dealer had to pay top price himself and is unwilling or unable to discount the coin.
Major coin shows are a good place to find a wide variety of the coins that you are looking for under one roof with knowledgeable dealers from all over the country. Internet auctions are risky at best, especially when buying raw coins. Be very cautious because a lot of the sellers donít know how to grade coins, much less know if the coin is a fake. They state in their write up description of the coin something to the effect, ďWe are not coin graders you grade using the pictures or the scans we have provided.Ē The sad part is the Companies running these auctions make big bucks from the listing fees, final value fees etc., yet they take no responsibility for what is being sold to the buyer and they donít do anything to stop the sellers from selling coins under these circumstances. Avoid this type of auction completely.
Learn to grade the coins that you are interested in before you buy the coins! The ANA (American Numismatic Association) publishes a good book on coin grading called ANA Grading Standards. Buy the book. Many books and articles have been written by experts on coin grading and are available for specific coin series. Remember coin grading is not an exact science it is a subjective matter that is why it is important that you become a knowledgeable grader yourself.
Any type of investing carries risk and the rare coin market is no different than other markets in that respect. The coin market can be and is very volatile at times. You could loose your money or not make any money at all. You should never invest more money than you can afford to loose. No one can look into a magic crystal ball and predict the future. If that was true we would all be multi-millionaires!