Author Topic: 1989 1oz gold snake and 1996 1oz gold unicorn  (Read 2842 times)

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Offline reiboy

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1989 1oz gold snake and 1996 1oz gold unicorn
« on: February 16, 2011, 03:46:17 PM »
Hi all,

I have a couple coins I'd like to place a value on.

One is a 1989 gold snake, like the one pictured here

It is inside a round hard plastic holder which is inside a plastic pouch. This is the box it came in


Also I have a 1996 gold unicorn


Now, I don't know if these are BU or proof (how can I tell and what are the mintages?). I have no certificates for them. I don't think there's a 'P' mark anywhere on them.

I found an ebay auction for a similar snake coin, but mine is probably not proof so it won't be worth as much? http://cgi.ebay.com/1989-Year-Snake-China-100Y-Gold-1oz-NGC-PF-69-UC-/170599018875?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item27b87e717b

Sorry for the picture quality, I took them with my phone.

Any help appreciated :)

Offline badon

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Re: 1989 1oz gold snake and 1996 1oz gold unicorn
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2011, 03:48:36 PM »
Both of your coins are proofs. You have some very fine coins there, by the way. Their values are moving up quickly right now. The snake and the unicorn are both quite popular right now.

Offline reiboy

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Re: 1989 1oz gold snake and 1996 1oz gold unicorn
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2011, 04:17:25 PM »
Thanks badon, for your reply.

Are you saying they didn't make BU versions of these coins? I also found the thread about fake 1996 unicorns... from what I can see mine is not a fake  :001_tongue:

I think I got these 10 years ago on ebay for between $400$-$500 each. Would you be able to ballpark what they're worth? $3000? How much does the lack of a certificate affect the value?

Do you think it makes sense to have these graded?  I'm in Canada though... not sure about mailing these over to NGC (how safe is that? Would fedex insure it?)

As you can see I'm a complete noob. I bought these cause I though they were beautiful coins (I have a couple other silver Pandas).

Thanks again.


Offline badon

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Re: 1989 1oz gold snake and 1996 1oz gold unicorn
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2011, 04:27:50 PM »
Definitely get them graded. That will settle all questions about authenticity when it comes time for you to sell to a skeptical buyer. On top of that, the original packaging damages the coins, so getting them into an NGC holder will protect them better. Be sure to send them to NCS first.

I would call NCS to ask for advice about shipping. My own preference is to not use insurance. Only packages with insurance stickers on them get "lost". Declare them as "medals" so they don't draw attention. I usually declare a low value for customs, for the same reasons. Some people declare only the metal value, and other people declare them to be only around $50, regardless of what's inside.

I would use either express mail or registered mail. I prefer express mail because it's so fast, the package isn't in anybody's hands long enough for them to wonder what's inside, and stuff just gets done faster that way.

There were no BU versions made that I know of. As a ballpark guess, I'd say the snake is worth around $4000, and the unicorn is worth around $10,000 (that's a lot of zeroes!). You made very wise investments.

These coins are moving up in value also, so those prices are likely to be double or more in just a few years.

Offline PandaCollector

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Re: 1989 1oz gold snake and 1996 1oz gold unicorn
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2011, 06:45:36 PM »
I notice the Unicorn is in an Air-Tite type of capsule so it is already protected from environmental damage and won't receive significant additional benefit from a slab (third party grading packaging). If you are planning on selling these soon it may make sense to grade them, otherwise there's no rush. Because these coins are valuable you might consider consigning them to a coin auctioneer like Heritage or Champion rather than selling on eBay or directly to a dealer. In that case the auctioneer can arrange the grading and you won't have to deal with the logistics.

FWIW, market values for Unicorns, Chinese Lunar coins (i.e. Year of the Snake) and Pandas can be found in the Panda Pricepedia monthly at http://www.pandacollector.com/pricepedia.html.

Best wishes,
Peter Anthony
http://www.pandacollector.com

Offline reiboy

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Re: 1989 1oz gold snake and 1996 1oz gold unicorn
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2011, 08:34:44 PM »
Hi Peter, thanks for your input.  The snake coin is also in a similar hard plastic capsule so I guess there's no urgency to have it slabbed either. I don't plan to sell these any time soon since I still appreciate them more for their beauty than their value (at least for now  :blush:)

I like your suggestion to consign them - I'll have to consider that option vs the work to do it all myself.

Your books/pricing service looks very interesting and I will certainly check them out.

Cheers!

Ray

Offline badon

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Re: 1989 1oz gold snake and 1996 1oz gold unicorn
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2011, 08:51:57 PM »
The plastic capsules often don't fit the coins very well, and they're frequently dirty. The little grains of dust scratch the surfaces, and buff down the high points of the frosting. In addition to that, residues that may have been left on the coins at the mint, or were deposited by the original packaging can discolor or even dissolve into the surface of the coin. Conservation can prevent permanent damage, and make the coin look its best before grading.

And, yes, these coins are high-class enough to be exciting offerings worthy of the big auction houses if you chose to sell them.

But, I think there's plenty of people here who would love to have your coins if you're thinking of selling, including me. But, since these were probably among the best investments you could have made, why would you want to dispose of your winners? They still have a lot of upside potential, so if you're not strapped for cash to put into other opportunities, I recommend that you keep them.

Offline PandaCollector

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Re: 1989 1oz gold snake and 1996 1oz gold unicorn
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2011, 10:27:42 PM »
It's been my experience that Air-Tite capsules provide a snug and protective fit for coins. The original Chinese capsules supplied with some gold, platinum and bimetallic coins can suffer from the defects that badon mentions. The platinum capsules are particularly problematic as they were apparently originally meant to hold gold coins. An ounce of platinum occupies slightly less space than an ounce of gold so the platinum coins have room to revolve around inside their capsules. This causes wear on the high points of the coin.

Air-Tites cost a dollar or less apiece and do a much better job.

Badon is correct that chemicals in the original pouches can harm the coins they contain. This usually only affects gold coins that are single sealed and have come in direct contact with the pouch, like BU gold coins. I see much less of this problem with double-sealed silver coins.  There has been some discussion on this forum about what a lackluster job NCS does, including sometimes marring the coin's surfaces. So while it's a good idea in theory to remove chemical deposits (with acetone?), I think it's worth discussing who is best qualified to accomplish this. Thoughts or suggestions?

Best wishes,
Peter Anthony
http://www.pandacollector.com
« Last Edit: February 16, 2011, 10:49:03 PM by PandaCollector »

Offline badon

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Re: 1989 1oz gold snake and 1996 1oz gold unicorn
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2011, 11:01:07 PM »
For any valuable coin you send in to NCS, I would take excellent up close photos of all of it's features, from many different angles, just in case. I haven't had a problem of them damaging a coin yet, but I have heard of it happening to dealers who send in hundreds or thousands of coins.

In my estimation, their processes are flawed and prone to error in some cases, but without any meaningful professional competition, they have no need to change. Either way, I've seen WAY more problems with coins that have developed AFTER the coin was encapsulated than I've heard of problems with NCS, so I think it's still worthwhile.

It would be a shame if you got a 70 on one of your coins, and then a sickly greenish PVC haze began to develop on the coin...

That can happen even if the coin is double sealed, if it was ever stored in an enclosed, warm environment. And, of course, there's the occasional mint employee's lunch that somehow ends up on coins too :)

Offline aeroman

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Re: 1989 1oz gold snake and 1996 1oz gold unicorn
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2011, 09:18:31 PM »
I must say, the more I read on the subject of conservation and grading, the more confused I become. I have the same 1996 unicorn shared above and also a '97 platinum version.  Both are in original packaging, encapsulated in plastic, and in wooden box.  I can't decide on whether to send them out for conservation and grading or not.  There seems to be good debate on both sides.  I have no plans of selling them soon, (but you never know) I just want what is best for their long term  condition and value. The issue with the platinum coins being smaller in the holder and more susceptible to damage is disturbing.

Offline PandaCollector

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Re: 1989 1oz gold snake and 1996 1oz gold unicorn
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2011, 09:47:22 PM »
Maximum preservation gets in the way of maximum enjoyment. That's also true for things that fade like art (watercolors are notorious faders) and printed items like stamps and lithographs.

Best wishes,
Peter Anthony
http://www.pandacollector.com

Offline badon

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Re: 1989 1oz gold snake and 1996 1oz gold unicorn
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2011, 10:11:15 PM »
I must say, the more I read on the subject of conservation and grading, the more confused I become. I have the same 1996 unicorn shared above and also a '97 platinum version.  Both are in original packaging, encapsulated in plastic, and in wooden box.  I can't decide on whether to send them out for conservation and grading or not.  There seems to be good debate on both sides.  I have no plans of selling them soon, (but you never know) I just want what is best for their long term  condition and value. The issue with the platinum coins being smaller in the holder and more susceptible to damage is disturbing.

The coins are often loose in their capsules. Plus, they weren't very clean to begin with, so there's probably abrasive dust in there scratching your coins every time it moves around.

Many people like to preserve the original packaging. If you look at my oldest posts on this forum, you'll see that I was one of those people. However, packaging is supposed to protect the coin, not damage it, so if I have to choose between the packaging and the coin, the packaging goes in the trash.