How To Make Money in Coins


How To Make Money in Coins, by John V. Kamin, Tarzana, Calif.: Forecaster Publishing, 1977, 285 pp., $15 (paper)

John Kamin's book is touted as a source of money-making techniques for "insiders and experienced coin investors." And it is true that only such readers could overcome his careless presentation and uncover the useful advice that is hidden in this disorganized stream of talk. Many valid, if not new, ideas are presented, but one must first wade through a heavy-handed writing style that often lapses into a blatant sales pitch for the author's newsletter.

There are, however, some excellent sections and solid words of advice. Kamin states, quite correctly, that "numismatic value coins that appeal to collectors perform much better than common gold or silver coins." Another sound idea: "The coin speculator who carefully commits his funds to a varied selection of rare coins covering many different areas will reap the greatest benefits. Be prepared to hold your coin commitments for from 3 to 7 years." The section on borrowing money from banks on coins is first-rate, as are those on counterfeit coins and his recommended coins.

These excellent passages are easy to miss in the maze of his unedited, choppy writing and occasional inconsistencies. In his discussion of counterfeit coins (the longest single topic in the book—20 pages), Kamin suggests that the best protection against counterfeits is to avoid purchasing those dates that are known to have been counterfeited. That is good advice. Later, however, he recommends the purchase of the Lynchburg commemorative half-dollar (another piece of good advice) but adds the caution that "counterfeits have been seen in the Lynchburg." Not only does that contradict his earlier advice to avoid purchasing coins that have been counterfeited; it also contradicts fact. In my experience and that of the American Numismatic Association Certification Service (ANACS), there are no known Lynchburg counterfeits. Further, he fails to list the five silver commemoratives that have been counterfeited: Lafayette, Hawaii, Hudson, Cincinnati, and Spanish Trail.

In an all-too-obvious attempt at self-promotion, Kamin takes credit for at least one idea that is clearly common knowledge: "The risk/reward ratio (RR) is one unpublicized tool invented by the author." While some credit might be due for quantifying this concept and applying it to rare coin investment, it can hardly be considered an original "invention." This kind of presumptuousness on the part of the author makes it difficult to recognize the worthwhile advice nestled in this book and even more difficult to accept and implement it. More importantly, Kamin glosses over the most important part of risk/reward analysis—the projection of potential profit and loss—without any guidelines for determining these variables. Although he states that "for RR analysis to be useful, your potential projections should be as accurate as possible," it would seem that a real "insider" deserves more depth.

The strong point of the book, which makes it worth its purchase price of $15, is the list of coins Kamin recommends purchasing for long-term gains. A novice would be well-advised to buy the book and read only the recommendations. Unfortunately, many sophisticated and knowledgeable investors will be "turned off" long before this last chapter of the book.

How to Make Money in Coins suffers badly from the hard sell for the Forecaster (mentioned by name 13 times in the first 50 pages), as well as an overwhelming number of underlined words and incomplete sentences. Armed with this warning, you may find it worth reading, but it is definitely not for the novice. You will need some knowledge of the numismatic market to recognize Kamin's strengths, correct his inaccuracies, and mentally edit as you read. I found it stimulating, if irritating, reading.