Managing Director Belinda Downie shares her insights in operating a company “the Coinworks way” with business journalist Anthony Black.
It’s clearly an obsession with history, quality and meticulous service that drives the Coinworks business. It’s entrenched, and has been for a long time. The company’s reputation as Australia’s leading rare coin and banknote dealer was never more evident than when it was appointed to sell the nation’s rarest and most sought-after historical pieces in 2014.
They were the Commonwealth of Australia’s first ever banknote, M0000001, sold in May. And a sequential pair of Australia’s first Commonwealth banknotes numbered 4 and 5, originally owned by former Australian Prime Minister Andrew Fisher (1908-1915). They sold in October.
“It was a great honour to be involved in the sale of these notes because they are unique and rare,” Belinda says. “They will always remain historically significant, as the notes, still in pristine condition, are more than 100 years old.”
No stone is left unturned in offering clients the very best service. This year, Coinworks didn’t just freshen up its existing website, but built a new one from scratch. Belinda wanted the best that technology could offer in terms of sharper images, clearer text, crisper layouts and easier navigation. Belinda wants clients and browsers to quickly find the information, while providing an enjoyable online experience.
Coinworks prides itself on its reputation. A high standard is always set. The research is done before a piece is considered for website display or printed in a catalogue.
A coin or banknote just has to make the grade: quality and provenance. It’s attention to detail – Coinworks style.
Just recently, eleven 1930 Pennies had been offered for sale at auction and Coinworks rejected the lot. “Some were in fact damaged,” Belinda says. “Just because something is cheap, doesn’t mean we have to buy them. Do we really want to be, or need to be, selling a damaged coin? The answer is clearly no.”
We always say in our text that while finding a 1930 Penny is a relatively easy task, finding a 1930 Penny that shows minimal effects of circulation is a difficult one.”
By way of history, Belinda says the 1930 Penny accidently made its way into circulation and was not discovered until the 1940s. The coins had therefore undergone at least a decade of circulation before collectors began a craze of trying to find one.
Much has been made over the years about fabulous returns on rare coin and banknote investments.
It is true that astute investors and collectors have done very well from selectively buying and selling rare top quality pieces.
Belinda is however the first to acknowledge that like any asset class, the numismatics industry carries a degree of risk as it’s exposed to cyclical factors, demand and supply, confidence and investor sentiment.
Coinworks aims to minimise the risk by advising clients in buying top quality pieces that history shows tend to generate their own future demand.
In art, as with property, people can buy the wrong items, particularly if they haven’t done their homework. They can pay too much for a piece at auction if they get caught up in the frenzied emotion of a bidding war. Sometimes people’s expectations are unrealistic if they believe it’s easy to make a fast buck.
Forthrightly, she says: “Most clients view our market as preserving capital with the potential for mid-to-long term growth. Clients perceive that by buying quality, you will at least preserve your capital. Our reputation for handling high quality well pedigreed pieces is loudly heard in the market place.”
“After all, history realistically underpins our market. In a supply and demand market, maintaining the continuity of demand is essential. History will always be in demand.”
As for 2015, Belinda says Coinworks will continue to offer only the highest quality pieces – increasingly referred to as heirloom pieces ‘’that stir the passions of collectors far and wide today and tomorrow’’.
The Coinworks website will be regularly updated throughout 2015, featuring the latest photographed pieces, industry news and much more. Stay tuned.