The following Q&A is excerpted from Clifford Mishler’s Coins: Questions & Answers:
Q: Is collecting any type of coin a good investment?
A: No! The hobby collector—be it of coins, back-scratchers, or Bavarian beer mugs—is occasionally persuaded to purchase by impulse or sentiment. Indulging frequent lapses into irrationality is part of the fun of maintaining a hobby. But the strictly investment collector cannot afford to indulge impulse or sentiment. His purchases must be informed and selective. He must avoid historically rewarding but neglected types, slow movers, common dates, and low grades. He must regard his collection not as an end, but as the means to an end outside the hobby.
Q: Are coins a good investment? Can they go down in price?
A: Coins can be a good investment. And they can go down in price as well. A phenomenon of coin investment is that casual collectors, who wouldn’t think of buying a stock without consulting with a broker, will plunge into coin investment with the random restraint of a bull in a China shop. Coin investment should be approached with the same research and intelligent concern you would bring to investment in real estate, stocks and bonds, or commodity futures.