Which Rare Foreign Coins Make a Good Investment?

The coin collecting trade is worth billions each year, and it can be a lucrative way to invest your money. However, some coins are most definitely worth more than others. In today’s guide, we’re going to take you through some of the best rare foreign coins that you can pick up on the market. Before we get started, let’s take a look at some of the basics of foreign coin collecting.

Know your stuff

Before getting involved in any kind of investment, it’s vital to know what you are dealing with. In this case, it’s learning about how to know the value of any given coin. There’s a lot to think about when it comes to coin collecting, and there are plenty of variables that you need to understand. For example, most coins – even ancient ones – have differing values depending on the dates they were made or the mint marks. Even a few years can make a difference to value in some cases, and this goes across the board, from ancient coins to foreign coins.

There are two other big reasons for understanding the value of the coins you are collecting. First of all, rare coins need a lot of care and attention – just like any other investment. You’ll want to keep them in the best condition possible – no stuffing them in a piggy bank with all your other foreign coins! The second point is important, too. Coin collectors often trade their goods with other collectors. Some are happy to offer more expensive coins for cheaper ones if it means they can complete their collections. It’s an ideal way for you to get more value out of your coins.

So, the big question is, where do you find out the value of these foreign and rare coins? The main source of information can be found in a book called the Standard Catalog of World Coins. They contain the value of almost every coin ever made, along with estimations of value.  There are lots of editions, so make sure you grab yourself the most up to date version you can.  However, don’t panic if you can only find an older version of the book. The value of coins rarely change in relation to others. So, if coin A is worth x times more than coin B in the year 2000, it is likely to be the same today.

OK, so that’s the basics of coin collecting; now let’s take a look at some of the best rare foreign coins worth looking for.

Getting started

First of all, there’s every chance you already have access some foreign coins to start your collection. And, you just don’t know how valuable they might be. Especially if you have older relatives that have travelled a little in their younger years. Ask your parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents – anyone that might have a little drawer of foreign coins.

If they are of a certain age, they might just be worth something – special editions can be a quick win from whatever country they were minted in. Of course, most searches won’t turn up much regarding value, but it’s your best start. And, anything you get for free is going to give you the best returns.

Choosing the right coins

It’s important to remember that rarity is always relative to what is currently available. This puts coin collecting in a delicate area. For example, you might have one of five Portuguese coins from a particular era in the world. But, what happens if there is a significant discovery? The ‘pirate’s chest’ cliche tends not to happen, of course; but it could. And, a large haul of valuable coins might well take a lot of value from the coins you own.

Demand is also something to consider. Like all areas of collecting, trends come and go in the coin world, and what’s popular one year may not be the next. The good news is that you can keep up to speed by reading the current coin collecting press. Also, listen out for exciting developments at auctions around the world.

The ultimate coins

A quick search on Google will quickly tell you which are the most valuable coins in the world right now. They are rare, so they are unlikely to be the sort of coin you will find down the back of your sofa. If you are going to buy them, it’s going to cost you upwards of millions. That said, you do hear the odd story of rare coins being found in the ground turning up in house clearances and the like.

America is home to many of the world’s most expensive coins. The Flowing Hair Dollar is currently in the number one spot, and it’s worth over $7 million. There are rich pickings from all over the world, however. The Edward III coin from the UK was minted for six months way back in 1343 and fetched almost $7 million at auction. There are only two others that exist, as far as anyone knows. So, if you happen upon one of these coins, you can guarantee there will be a lot of interest!

Another good bet is to look at early African and Indian coins. In 2012, an old Indian coin fetched the equivalent of almost $30,000 at an auction. And, ancient Roman and Greek coins from anywhere in the world can offer limitless potential for high returns. Regardless of the cost, the thought of holding something that some ancient soul once used to buy groceries is rather special.


There’s no doubt that investing in rare foreign coins can bring you lucrative returns. But, as with all other kinds of investment, it’s all about timing. You will need an interest in collecting coins, too – and it’s not something you should go into purely to make money. Coin collecting can be a lot of fun, but there can also be serious money at stake. But, by focusing on building up your collection, you should make it large enough to avoid any risks of the price of one coin dropping too much.

Elizabeth Goldman is the editor of AlternativeInvestmentCoach.com. She has written for Investing.com, Bullbearings.com and many others.