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Resources => Chinese Numismatic News, Articles, Books => Topic started by: fwang2450 on October 30, 2012, 06:43:32 PM

Title: Beginners' Approach to Collection by Huang Ruiyong
Post by: fwang2450 on October 30, 2012, 06:43:32 PM
I am translating the online lecture series by Huang Ruiyong. This is the first lecture, for beginners (like me). The same text was included in his book "Ode to Grace in a Properous Time" with slight adaption. The lecture was given in 2007, from the link below:

Due to my limited time, this post has about 1/3 of the lecture. I will continue to translate this and other lectures in the next few days (weeks?).

Beginners'  Approach to Collection by Huang Ruiyong

Good evening everyone. gave me a grand title. I do not feel quite up to it, though.

Honestly, the overall research in the MCC coin field looks weaker than in other coin segments. But just because of this, a historical opportunity presents itself to us. Let’s collect with pleasure, put our hearts to research, and we will have a splendid future.

The three lectures starting from today cover the following topics:

1.   Beginners'  Approach to Collection

2.   Transition to Intermediate Collectors

3.   Top Choices for Advanced Collectors

Let's take a look at the topic today, which is directed at new collectors.

Many new collectors get to know precious metal coins and medals of the PRC, and feel deeply impressed. But they have no reference books, no access to the markets in Beijing and Shanghai, and no teachers to learn from. They grope the way all by themselves, like walking in darkness, with extreme difficulty. So I will provide the many new collectors with some suggestions, from the perspective of collection.

“A job can be completed more easily with sharp tools.”

In coin collection, one will definitely gain success if the DIRECTION and APPROACH are correct.

A new collector must adopt the right methodology from the very beginning, focusing on the following aspects: affinity with the coins, logic reasoning, coin knowledge, awareness of the real gems, making friends, and receiving correct information.

If we manage all these aspects successfully, we can pass the beginner phase with success and no hassle. Now let me expand these aspects in detail.

First let’s talk about coin affinity.

What is coin affinity? It is directly “fall in love at first sight.” You fall in love with a coin at first sight, intoxicated by it, applauding it loudly with admiration. This comes from pure appreciation, without any consideration of material gain.

For example, the first set of Bronze ware gold coins were crafted by Tong Youming and Sun Qiling, two top sculptors of Shanghai Mint, who put all their heart and soul into these coins. You set them out in a row under spotlights, and watch them beaming out dazzling lights and colors, simply gorgeous and beautiful. It is hard to imagine anyone resisting their temptation.

Another coin is the 2001 2oz Dunhuang silver coin. The sacred image of the buddha in high relief from the prosperous Tang Dynasty is absolutely stately and life-like. The ingenious use of frosting and anti-frosting on the coin endears it to many collectors.

This is coin affinity. If you are a collector and you can pick out the coin you like at first sight from a pile of coins, congratulations! This comes from your coin affinity. It is absolutely a wonderful thing to feel this affinity to a coin.

Most collectors start from appreciating modern precious metal coins due to coin affinity, and then go out of their way to search for and collect these coins.

We all say that there are no cheap or expensive collections, meaning for an item, if you can appreciate its merits, it is worth collecting. But wait! Although we do not distinguish between cheap and expensive collections, there are degrees of sophistication in collection.

For modern precious metal coins issued by the PRC, nobody has the financial power or market channels to collect them all. A newbie should avoid trying to grab at everything in order to advance their own collection. Do not covet every coin that comes in sight. Otherwise your pocket will always be empty, and you be enslaved by coins. Learning what to go after and when to give up, picking coins that you feel affinity for from your own perspective: these are the basis for a newbie to move up to more advanced levels.     

(to be continued)
Title: Re: Beginners' Approach to Collection by Huang Ruiyong
Post by: dobedo on October 30, 2012, 07:58:11 PM
Thank you, fwang2450, for providing this great public service. Google could definitely use your expertise in improving its translation. Looking forward to your future pieces.
Title: Re: Beginners' Approach to Collection by Huang Ruiyong
Post by: flora79 on October 31, 2012, 12:40:09 AM
Thanks for sharing. :thumbup1:
Title: Re: Beginners' Approach to Collection by Huang Ruiyong
Post by: flora79 on October 31, 2012, 12:41:18 AM
Thanks for sharing
Title: Re: Beginners' Approach to Collection by Huang Ruiyong
Post by: SANDAC on October 31, 2012, 12:25:48 PM
Thank you for the translation.  As I read along I have two thoughts:
1.  This is a beginner collector materials. Great mathematicians don't teach freshman Calculus, so why is a distinguished collector teaching it? 
2.  This poignant sentence, "the first set of Bronze ware gold coins were crafted by Tong Youming and Sun Qiling, two top sculptors of Shanghai Mint, who put all their heart and soul into these coins."

It rekindles the thoughts I had in 1982 and recent visit to China, that China is like a awkward teenager going through a painful maturing period.  She is brand new and modern in some aspects, but backward and weighted down with past sins in other aspects;  She is incredibly energetic, the energy flows everywhere, sometimes barriers/obstacle are overcame, but other time it damaged worthy institutions.  This is an incredible period in China.  You can see beauty and ugliness all in the same time, and then they'll all be gone in the span of one lifetime.

Circling back to the two thoughts.  I believe the anwser to 1. is that coin collecting of MCC is a new hobby, there are no intermediate collectors to teach the beginners.  So the beginners are being taught by the great collector getting that fresh insights and energy directly.  How lucky to be these beginners!  The second thought reminded me of the paper cuts, silver platter and miniature ivory carvings I bought in 1982.  They are the handcraft of masters, but sold for a pittance.  It is beautiful and tragic all at the same time.  The MCC of the early period embodies these diametrically opposed characteristics.  The artistry is breathtaking, but the minting is inconsistent and flawed;  They were wonderful numismatic works, but few records are kept; They are cultural treasures, but nobody in China can afford it them, so they were sold to foreigners at bullion price.  The tide is now turning, we collectors standing outside the door of China felt the energy flowed out and now back in, snagging a few treasures as they fluttered out and back in, and then they will all be gone.

I want to illustrate my monologue with the miniature carving I bought in 1982.  A wonderous work, 102 characters on ivory the size of a grain of rice, all for 100 yuan.
Title: Re: Beginners' Approach to Collection by Huang Ruiyong
Post by: Josip Broz Tito on October 31, 2012, 12:30:14 PM

Vielen vielen dank  :thumbup:

Thank you very much, i learned much with your help.
Title: Re: Beginners' Approach to Collection by Huang Ruiyong
Post by: fwang2450 on October 31, 2012, 02:28:40 PM
SANDAC, that is an amazing piece of artwork. Incredible. 100 Yuan is nothing now, but in 1982, it was about two months' salary of an average factory worker. So it was an expensive piece :)

For your first question, not all the top collectors in China are as vocal and as willing to teach as Huang. Many were and are still the old school type, holding onto the valuable knowledge they gathered during their lifetime, unwilling to share the trade secrets. Huang comes from a different background. He graduated from a technical university, worked at Oracle China for some time, before devoting all his time to collection. He has a different mindset, and is eager to promote the "cause" for the greater good of the MCC collector community.

Another point about Huang is that from his scientific background, he focuses more on methodology and good practices of MCC collection. And he wants to spread this to MCC collectors. So we see these lectures, posts and articles. In recent years, however, he does not post or lecture as much, although you can still catch his presence on

For your second point, many in China still lament that the "old, exquisite and rare" coins were issued to overseas markets only, which is a constant reminder of the poor recent past of China. In the meantime, though, it is for us here in the US to miss the rarest coins, most of which have been shipped back to China and disappeared into the collection of top collectors. Even the "Three Little Dragons" in my earlier post seldom make their presence on eBay, not to mention the first platinum set of Ancient Invention and Discovery or Year of Children piefort gold. I am a later comer, but I believe some of the low mintage coins still available will disappear sooner or later, with more Chinese joining in the hobby.
Title: Re: Beginners' Approach to Collection by Huang Ruiyong
Post by: fwang2450 on October 31, 2012, 02:38:33 PM
Thank you, fwang2450, for providing this great public service. Google could definitely use your expertise in improving its translation. Looking forward to your future pieces.
Thanks, dobedo. In fact my translation is not as polished as I would like it to be, because I cannot spend that much time. There are a few tough words to translate, like "affinity". The Chinese for this word is more subtle, referring to the predestined meeting of the two, not just closeness alone. I am trying my best to convey the meaning. If anyone has any better suggetions on any terms used in this translation, or any questions for clarification, please let me know.
Title: Re: Beginners' Approach to Collection by Huang Ruiyong
Post by: fwang2450 on October 31, 2012, 04:44:03 PM
This is the second part of Huang's lecture for newbie collectors:

Beginners'  Approach to Collection by Huang Ruiyong (Part II)

After the discussion of coin affinity, let’s focus on the importance of logical reasoning.

If we want to achieve high quality in any work, a methodology that employs logical reasoning is a must. An effective methodology cannot be developed in one day, but logical reasoning can help us with objective analysis and judgment on many occasions.

For example, for a beginner, a top issue is whether a coin is worth buying for the price. On this mind racking issue, logical reasoning can come to our help.

Here is an example:
5oz pandas were issued in many years. In general, if the prices are the same, we will pick the one with the smallest mintage. If the mintage is the same, we will pick those issued in earlier years.

Another example:
If the 1/2oz Guandu Battle gold coin and the 1/2oz Chibi Battle gold coin are not very different in price, we will definitely pick the Guandu Battle coin. The reasoning is: 1. Guandu is from the second set, while Chibi is from the third set; 2. Guandu’s mintage is 2000, while Chibi’s mintage is 3000.

Logic reasoning dictates that when we pick coins we have affinity for, we must consider the following factors: mintage, excellence in design, technology, awards received, key date status, packaging, whether made from platinum or palladium, whether priced close to bullion, whether belonging to a special segment (such as piefort, bimetal and coin alignment). Once we developed logical reasoning, we have met the critical requirements for moving up.

The third aspect is coin knowledge. This is a key point, too. In any art collection or investment field, professional expertise will finally transform into physical wealth. This is universal, in China and abroad, in ancient times and in current days, with no exception. With regard to modern precious metal coins, I would like to kindly remind new collectors: gold and silver coins by nature are dual functional, for collection and appreciation, as well as for investment. If we dive deeply into coin knowledge, we will finally harvest both a great collection for appreciation and rewarding investment return. But if one focuses exclusively on investment or speculation, ignoring the essence – accumulation of coin knowledge, he or she will lose out in the long run.

Coin knowledge needs to be accumulated with solid effort: buy coin catalogs/reference materials, visit coin markets, browse online gold and silver coin sites, go to coin shows, communicate with friends constantly, inspect physical coins, and summarize one’s own knowledge from time to time. In this way, you will find yourself transformed into a veteran before you even realized it.  

Of course, it takes great pains to accumulate rich coin knowledge. But if you really like modern precious metal coins, this effort is worth the effort.

Next, we need to establish a sense of gem coins.

What are gems? Gems are like the moon amid the many stars. As time goes by, fashion will fade with wind and rain, but gems will shine forever.

Gems can be divided into high-end gems and gems for the masses. High-end gems, judging from the term, are targets of the top collectors and the super rich. They are like villas in the Xiangshan area in Beijing or those in the Sheshan area in Shanghai. We believe that gold and silver coins generally have three kinds of values: 1. Enjoyment value; 2. Investment value; 3. Show-off value.  For the high-end gems, the show-off value is more dominant. For example the flower-watering (Year of Children) piefort gold coin, 5oz gold coins with a mintage of less than 100, platinum lunars… These are all high-end gems which will only change hands among top collectors or appear on auctions. These are the most expensive coins.

On the other hand, the gems for masses are those affordable by the ordinary people, like the SOHO buildings in the Jianwai area in Beijing, or apartment buildings in the Xujiahui area in Shanghai. Although the gems for masses are a lot cheaper than the high-end gems, their collector base is much larger than that of the high-end gems. These include Year of Children gold and silver coins (normal thickness), 8g lunars, 1989 platinum panda, and the award-winning coins over the years. These are all excellent gems for the masses.

These gems, whether high-end or for the masses, will lead price surges and resist price declines. Their ownership is endorsed by the collector community. In this sense, it is vital to develop a sense for the gems. This is especially important for beginners, because it will save them a lot of wasteful errors.

How can a newbie make sure that the coins he or she collects are gems? Coin affinity, logical reasoning and coin knowledge, which were discussed above, all play an important role.  To those, we can add the following aspects: making friends and information symmetry.

(to be continued)
Title: Re: Beginners' Approach to Collection by Huang Ruiyong
Post by: fwang2450 on October 31, 2012, 08:49:57 PM
I would like to add that when this lecture was given in 2007, Huang had not compiled his coin and medal ranking lists. So the talking about "gem coins" was not inclusive. He has since published two ranking lists, one for coins, the other for medals, available here:

These should cover most gem coins and medals, and picking them is a no brainer even for newbies.
Title: Re: Beginners' Approach to Collection by Huang Ruiyong
Post by: NBM on November 01, 2012, 03:55:23 AM
Another generous sharing of treasure, thank you again fwang2450!
Title: Re: Beginners' Approach to Collection by Huang Ruiyong
Post by: fwang2450 on November 01, 2012, 05:58:49 PM
Third and last part of Huang Ruiyong's lecture for beginners.

Beginners'  Approach to Collection by Huang Ruiyong (Part III)

Making friends is key to precious metal coin collection.

The Analects by Confucius said: We have three kinds of friends to benefit from, those with integration, those with tolerance, and those with rich knowledge. We need friends with such qualities. Friends with integration will let us see other perspectives than our own. Tolerant friends will encourage the voicing of different views in the coin collection community. Knowledgeable friends will help us save time and wasteful errors. For most people, coin collection is a hobby after work. Because of this, we do not have enough energy to explore details of everything. So friends are great complements to our personal limitations.

Coin collection has never been an individual experience, something one can keep just to oneself. When we get hold of a piece of treasure, we immediately feel our heart pounding with maddening elation. But this elation has to be shared with some one. So getting together with friends, chatting over a cup of tea, showing one’s own collection, exchanging new learnings, trading coins and expanding one’s coin knowledge, these are extremely pleasant experiences. 

There is a club for fans of modern coins and medals in Hangzhou now, who meet regularly. On the bank of the West Lake, in a warm breeze, sipping fragrant tea, watching glittering gold coins, we get together to spend a happy afternoon or evening over the weekend. Like what Sister Sandezi said, if you can enjoy it with others, why keep it to yourself?

For beginners, breaking the information barrier is critical, too. Luckily we have information readily available these days, and the coin market has totally transformed itself in 10 years.

10 years ago, prices of gold and silver coins in major cities like Nanjing and Hangzhou had a time lag from the prices in Shanghai, not to mention in small cities or county seats. But now, with the power of the web, many collectors can make impressive gains even from small cities. For example, although Youxia is located in a remote place in Northern Jiangsu, he can make contacts abroad and find impressive coins for fellow collectors. His timeliness is no less than that of coin dealers in Lugong or Madian.

It is my personal view that collectors have more options in the world of Internet. Before buying a common coin, do price comparison on the web. But for coins with a high price tag, it is imperative to do as much homework as possible in advance. Now the topics discussed above all circle back to us: coin affinity, logical reasoning, coin knowledge, awareness of gem coins, a group of friends. With more thinking and knowledge, we will feel more confident. I believe that the purpose for to list honest dealers is to build the reputation for them, and remove the information barrier between dealers and collectors.

In addition, with new releases and common coins, the market is relatively transparent. But due to the extreme scarcity of some early precious metal coin gems, it is absolutely a seller’s market. In addition, because there are few transaction records available, which beginners have a hard time to obtain, they have to take great precautions when buying/trading such coins. It is not that dealers are always trying to trick collectors. To be fair, the price information of some early coins is even beyond the reach of coin dealers.

I have been sorting out transaction price data of modern Chinese gold and silver coins from all over the world. If anyone is interested, we can compare notes sometime and use them as reference. As far as I know, auctions exclusively for modern Chinese gold and silver coins will be held this year. Auction records will be used later on as important guides for early rare coins.

Time is running out. I have covered only a small part of the materials I prepared. Sorry to you all.

To summarize:

Coin affinity will guide our affection to the coin;
Logic reasoning equips us with the ability to maneuver through the market;
Coin knowledge is the requirement for beginners to grow;
Awareness of gem coins enables us to take off;
Good friends make us completely relaxed;
Symmetry in information gives us a sense of security.

If beginners can achieve all these, they will naturally advance to intermediate collectors before long.