I do love the smell of a bargain in the morning

So, car boot sale type thing. Pottering around, much of it unmitigated tripe and tchotchke. A few bits and pieces which you’d have to know about to get it right. Some old watches for example. Know your brands and maybe you might get somewhere. Old cameras (but I’m pretty sure everyone knows a Leica is really valuable). An operational Remington Portable.

Just don’t know enough about these things.

Then some old coins. Girt big silvery ones. Size of the old Crown. One in fact was an old crown, from late enough that it’s Cu Ni. Hmm. But one of the others was a 1922 Liberty Dollar. That’s definitely silver.

300 Ks for the 8 coins. Call it £10 maybe.

Hmm, if the others (Peru, Ghana, Korea some Arab place I’ve no idea about) are Cu Ni then that’s a reasonable price for some souvenir type thing. If on the other hand the others are all also Ag then that’s a bargain price.

Paid up, got them home, looked them up. I’ve just bought 6 ounces of silver for £10.

Result!

The margin here is wondrous. The volume not so much.

21 thoughts on “I do love the smell of a bargain in the morning”

  1. Methods do exist but I don’t know them. I just, very vaguely, know about dates. I think it’s pre-1963 for both US and UK coinage to be silver, at least partly.

  2. £76.50, then, less of course the £10 and your time and trouble. Such bargains are gloatworthy to a degree not commensurate with their value; one seems to be getting one’s own back on a rip-off world.

  3. France is full of brocantes flogging stuff stripped out of old chateaus. I’ve wandered through a few but yes, you really need to know what you’re looking for. My guess is the real valuable stuff was taken by the guys who cleared the place, long before it got in front of the public, and anything else got taken first day of public showing. That said, I’ve found a few bits and pieces that weren’t valuable as such, but just what I wanted and needed.

    Then again, I found just such an item resting beside my building’s rubbish bins last week, and made off with it.

  4. Congrats on your profit, Tim. But ah, the opportunity cost of not picking up that bit of tchotchke that is going to be all the rage in three in years time.

  5. “France is full of brocantes flogging stuff stripped out of old chateaus. I’ve wandered through a few but yes, you really need to know what you’re looking for. My guess is the real valuable stuff was taken by the guys who cleared the place, long before it got in front of the public, and anything else got taken first day of public showing. That said, I’ve found a few bits and pieces that weren’t valuable as such, but just what I wanted and needed.”

    It’s a problem that all the information is pretty much known about antiques. Everyone has a good idea about how much stuff is worth and there’s dealers who will come down and fill up trucks with the good stuff to get some big money to the owners.

    The only way to do well with antiques is picking up stuff you like that no-one else does. You’ll like it. Maybe one day it’ll come into fashion and you’ll double your money, but don’t bank on it.

  6. The Meissen Bison

    BiSw – currently out of fashion is ‘brown furniture’ so go long on mahogany antiques.

  7. The 1922 Dollar is a ‘Peace’ Dollar, eagle with folded wings standing on Peace. The 1921 is the rare one, just 1 million made, whereas 1922 had 83,000,000 made at three different mints.

  8. TMB
    18th century English furniture made from Cuban mahogany never goes out of fashion. 19th century pieces are less desirable – particularly if made after c.1840 – because often the carving is machine-cut and the wood is often Honduras mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), not Cuban mahogany (Swietenia mahogani).

  9. Your profit would be taxable here in the UK, Tim. All the elements of “an adventure in the nature of a trade”.

    You’d be in good company mind. Norman Wisdom lost a tax case involving silver bullion.

  10. AndyC>

    Not if you do it as a hobby rather than a business activity. That ruling may have something to do with the number of judges who own classic cars and didn’t want to pay CGT on them.

  11. Ah, I buy and sell some odds and ends in the manner above. Believe it or not, I have a profitable sideline in…. typewriters.

    A few months ago, I bought an Olivetti Valentine typewriter for a fiver and flipped it on ebay for 275 quid.

    That kind of thing, plus old videogames, seem to pay for all my holidays…

  12. Dave said:
    “Not if you do it as a hobby rather than a business activity”

    Unfortunately Tim’s blog post suggests pretty strongly that he bought the coins purely in the hope of selling them to make a profit, which is pretty strong evidence of trading. Unlike classic cars, which people buy to drive around in and only sell much later.

    Fortunately Tim isn’t in the UK.

  13. Out of interest, anyone got any idea of the CGT or IHT implications of owning a railway steam locomotive? I’ve more than a passing interest in heritage railways (I was crewing an 1874 built loco on Saturday), and have been looking at dumping some of my savings into loco ownership, partly because said savings are doing nothing in the bank, partly because I’ve always wanted to own a steam engine, ever since I was a kid.

    I’m looking at chucking £10-25k at buying a derelict industrial shunting loco, followed by around another £15k over the next five years, plus my time probably to the value of £15-20k(at cost – at the rate my employers charge me out to do sat work it would be more like £100k) to restore it to working order.
    The running loco freshly overhauled will probably have a value of around £35-50k, said value reducing fairly rapidly back to £15-25k over the next 10 years when it will need an overhaul again (but during which time it will be earning between £200 and £600 every day it’s run, which if managed effectively will pay for the next overhaul).

    Any idea on what the tax implications of all this are, if I either die or sell it at some point in this cycle? I’ve no expectation of making any significant amount of money on it, but equally I’m expecting it to more or less keep it’s own face washed after the initial costs of getting it running have been paid out.

  14. “Unfortunately Tim’s blog post suggests pretty strongly that he bought the coins purely in the hope of selling them to make a profit, which is pretty strong evidence of trading.”

    A bundle of fun indeed..;)

    A tax chap can correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t “trading” (in that context) need a pattern, rather than a single transaction (I’m not talking CGT). HMRC doesn’t tend to accept hobbyists (inevitably) claiming allowable tax losses on so called trades?

  15. If you’re looking at American coins and want to find silver check the edge. Silver dollars, half-dollars, quarters, and dimes are all one color. Later, non-silver, coins have layers. If you’re after copper look for wheat pennies.

    I worked at a gas station while in college and coin-swapping was my biggest income source from the job during some weeks. Unfortunately kids nicking the old coin collection was irregular, unlike the patterns in lottery scratch tickets.

  16. theProle,

    Steam locomotive restoration is an expensive business. The numbers you are throwing around are basically the monthly maintenance budget(assuming you actually want to use the train). Depending on the amount of restoration necessary you’ll need a bankroll in the millions(assuming you care about authenticity).

  17. @Liberal Yank

    Not so! I know pretty well of what I speak, as I’m a professional who works on steam railway locos for a living.
    My numbers are about right for a loco such as this:
    https://goo.gl/images/LL6UhE
    Which is the sort of size loco I’m shopping for.

    The numbers do rise as locos get bigger, but you’d be getting fairly well into mainline stuff before you get anywhere near the sorts of amounts you’re suggesting (I know the owner of one of the two B1s, and he’s not spending quite that much) – probably you are if you want to run an A4 or similar.

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