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Coin Shopping Around The World

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Pillar of the Community
1358 Posts
 Posted 05/26/2016  03:48 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add UltraRant to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I'm not sure where to post this topic, so please feel free to move it to the most proper location.

Here's the idea: I'm traveling an awful lot and, while traveling, I always try to take a coin set of the country I visit home with me, as a souvenir. And in addition, I sometimes try to get a hold of commemorative and bullion coins. Sometimes this can be easy, sometimes it can be incredibly hard (or even impossible) to get hold of even just a single coin. However, I usually find out where to get some.

And this information is what I would like to share with the community. I do NOT wish to advertise specific coin shops (as I sometimes don't even know the name, some don't even have a name and things happen to change all the time), but I do like to share my findings and thus, hopefully, save the family here quite some time if they want to give in to their numismatic needs when abroad.

I'll just post some samples here below, just so you get an understanding of what I mean

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United States
14463 Posts
 Posted 05/26/2016  04:00 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Fuzzy317 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I moved your post. I felt it may fit in this section better.
Pillar of the Community
1358 Posts
 Posted 05/26/2016  04:04 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add UltraRant to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

I happen to be in the Philippines right now and I'm, as always, trying to get a hold of coins. Despite there being a good past with a lot of coins, numismatics and coin collecting don't seem to be a big thing over here.

Manila is a huge city with remarkably little activity when it comes to coins. As I have work to do as well, I'll be mostly limited to 'downtown' Manila, which is Intramuros, Ermita and malate. There may be more to be found in for example Quezon City. If you look on Google maps for suggestions of coin shops, you will find a few suggestions. Unfortunately, most are outdated. I tried to visit one in Adriatico Street and it turned out that the place changed ownership and trade. You can now buy a lot of ladies there, but Lady Liberty isn't one of them...

There are a lot of jewelers and pawn shops. You can easily forget those. There are a few antique stores that may have some coins. For example in Mabini street, there should be at least 2. Don't expect too much, though. It's lots of old Philippine coins, but that includes the old US silver ones.

Before starting to work in Manila, I wanted to have a few days off and decided to spend them in Cebu, nicknamed 'Perl City of the South' of this country.

Cebu is a crazy place with a lot of traffic and poverty. Watch out for pickpockets: they seem to be the only ones around who collect coins: mainly yours, though...

I have found two places of interest: The first one is Colon Street. There are a lot of street stalls that sell batteries, phone cases, and coins. Expect to negotiate the price, though, as prices for the same coin may differ from 10 Pesos (25 cent) to 200 Pesos ($5). most seem to be honest circulated Philippine coins, but also a lot of world coins and an incidental silver one can be found here. Pretend to be from some obscure country they never heard of if you don't want to negotiate down too much (and hide any American accent). Being from 'Liechtenstein' really helped. :)

The second address is not really a coin seller, but probably the only coin collector in the Philippines with a collection on display. He runs a jewellery shop. You'll find him if you go from Mango Square down in Mango street and into the shopping mall named Sampa Guita on the left. You'll find him in the middle. He has an impressive collection of world silver coins, Phillipine coins and some paper money. It isn't for sale, but some pieces might be if you name the right price.

Pillar of the Community
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 Posted 05/26/2016  04:22 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add UltraRant to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Iraq may not be the safest place on earth right now, but there's still a tiny piece called Kurdistan in the north that can safely be visited. Although Iraq abandoned coins some time ago, there's still some to be found here.

The smallest denomination they have nowadays is 250 Dinar, which roughly corresponds with $0.25. They used to had coins of 100, 50 and 25 Dinar, but these proved to be very unpopular and were thus abandoned. Previous currencies of Iraq had lots of coins.


Erbil is the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. As such, it attracts a lot of tourists. Ok... that's not true. I believe I was one of 5 tourists there. Nevertheless, people tend to be friendly, especially when they find out that you're not American. Most people do command the English language up to a basic level, so you should be able to communicate easily here.

Most of the things to see and do are found near the citadel. If you don't know where to find it: just follow one of the straight roads to the city center and you'll get there. Taxis are not cheap, though.

Right next to the citadel is a relatively big bazaar. In this bazaar you'll find some jewelers grouped. They will be able to provide you with bullion from Dubai: mainly Turkish-ish bullion coins and some other Arab things. Also troy ounce bars can be found here. Just ask the shop for either a certificate or to weigh it for you: my experience is that by far most are legit.

If you are more interested in Iraqi coins, then you can find at least two shops in and under the citadel. Just remember that they have a different view on coin grading than you have: older is more expensive, coin quality is not an issue. And most of the foreign stuff is also pricey, because it's foreign.

You should also be able to find a few legit world coins here. Just beware of the 'silver coins' they might try to sell you. By far most will directly end up in your collection of 'fake coins' or even 'fantasy coins'. They tried to sell me a few 'American Dollars' with a diameter of about 2 inch (about 5 cm), with fantasy reverses and obverses (seriously, a Dollar coin with an Indian head on it? And since when did Walking Liberty appear on dollar coins in 1900?). their Iraqi coins are all legit, though!

Additionally, a few money changers in the stalls next to the bazaar happen to have some old coins in circulated condition. They're pretty cheap but don't have anything 'special' to offer.
Pillar of the Community
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 Posted 05/26/2016  04:41 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add UltraRant to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Since the banking embargo hit Iran a few years ago, the country suffered from high inflation levels (I think up to 100% or more per year). The biggest denomination bank note is now worth about $2 and you shouldn't be surprised if you end up with a shoe box full of small notes, or get your change as a bank check (value up to $10). Nevertheless, the government keeps on issuing coins. These coins have relatively short life spans before they become obsolete again, which makes Iran an interesting numismatic place. And if you come back next year, you can be assured that you'll get some new, interesting coins there.

Also, if you go there, due to the banking embargo, you will NOT be able to use ANY ATM or credit card. Bring sufficient cash with you! Also to pay for your hotel room! You will NOT be able to get any more cash than what you bring here!

Tehran is a HUGE city. It houses over 10 million people and mainly consists of low rise buildings. Despite being huge, it's easy to get around, as the city has a fast and reliable metro network (and cheap too, at $0.15 per ride). Your best chance of getting any coins from circulation is via buying metro tickets at the counter (machines are continuously low on coins) or via buying items in a bigger supermarket.

Alternatively, you should be able to buy some regular coins as 'souvenir sets' at some of the more touristic places, like for example the Golestan Palace (right next to the bazaar). The souvenir shop on the premise sells two types of coin sets. Just like for Iraq, older = more valuable.

I got hold of a nice set with 16 different coins dating post 1979 (post-revolution) for $8 or so. It's not that much, but very expensive for that country (seriously, you should be able to get a proper meal in a restaurant including a beer for that money). Pre-revolution coins would have cost me $10 or so for 12 coins. All are in circulated condition, but at least VF.

At the bazaar, you'll find a lot of jewelers and money changers which will be able to sell you bullion coins. Iran issues two types: Pahlavi coins (pre-revolution) and Azadi coins (post-revolution). You'll soon find out that by far the most popular ones are Pahlavi coins. A lot of locals also buy them as an investment. I found that I could buy quite some at bullion value or less. You will also find small sheets of gold (0,5 gram or 1 gram, for example) for sale. Most in laminated cards. By far most of these are legit: locals also buy there and you should be able to get your bullion on a scale and measured right there if you want to be sure.
Pillar of the Community
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 Posted 05/26/2016  05:07 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add UltraRant to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Moldova isn't the first place in the world one thinks of when going on vacation. There's a reason for that: there's absolutely nothing to see or do there. The biggest pastime for locals in Chisinau, the capital city, is to go to one of the parks in the center, sit down on a bench, and stare at each other and to the people walking by. Oh, and Moldova actually creates some of the finer wines of East Europe. Some of those I can actually really recommend!

In addition, coinage there isn't the world's most exciting either. Most coins have already been withdrawn from circulation and what's still around is so like, that even locals have to look twice to be sure you get the right coin in change.

However, Moldova also houses the breakaway autonomous region called the Soviet Republic of Transdniester. This is a Russia-supported autonomous region on the east side of the Dniester river. They issue their own money and, in all honesty, it is interesting.

Coin collecting isn't a hobby in Moldova. The money in Moldova isn't inspiring to start such a hobby either. You should be able to get all currently circulating coins in every day life (like when going to a supermarket or so). There are no shops where coins can be bought.

However, there is a handicraft/souvenir market at a park called Vânzare de picturi #351;i suvenire. It's located at Bulevard Stefen Cel Mare, the main street in Chisinau. Some of the stands there sell coins. These are mainly old Soviet coins, though. Just make sure you're not American. Try Luxemburg, Canada or New Zealand if you have to come from some place, otherwise they'll instantly double the price. You have to bargain quite a bit anyway (one person seriously wanted $100 for a single circulated Soviet ruble. Then $20 when I said I was from Holland. Then we got it down to $5 and then I walked away to the next stand, as this was hopeless. There I got some nice rubles for less than $1 each).

Apart from this, don't expect to find anything here (and that's not just for coin collecting).

According to some, I should maybe make a new topic for Transdniester and Tiraspol (its capital city), as this breakaway region and the last Soviet state on earth, considers itself independent. As no UN recognized state does so (not even Russia), I consider it part of Moldova.

However, Transdniester issues its own money. You can't get anything done with your Moldovan Leu, you need to change a few Euros or Dollars (forget Leu, you'll get a horrible rate) into Transnistrian Rubles. Those become worth less than toilet paper when you leave the country again, so beware. A bureau de change is already available at the bus and train station, where you'll most likely arrive when you take the train or bus from Chisinau.

As can be expected from a Soviet state, there's absolutely no formal interest in or praise for money. In that respect, there is absolutely no coin shop to be found in the whole country. Transdniestran Rubles do stand out due to having coins made of composite materials for higher denominations, in addition to having metal coins for smaller values. It shouldn't be difficult to get hold of most coins: just buy a few small things (your best bet is a bottle of brandy from local heroes Kvint. This brandy factory is so important for the country that it's also pictured on one of their bank notes. It's probably also featured there because there's not much else there to put on a bank note). I have no idea if there are any commemorative coins (Soviet Union used to have a bunch), and even less of a clue of where these should be found, as Transdniester doesn't seem to be very open about this kind of thing.

Please do change all your Transnistrian money for something else before you leave, as you can't do that outside the region.
Pillar of the Community
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 Posted 05/26/2016  05:19 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add UltraRant to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
San Marino

San Marino is a lovely tiny little spot in Italy, just somewhere near tourist hot spot Rimini. If you're based in Rimini, there's a bus a few times a day getting you to San Marino's capital city, conveniently named San Marino as well.

San Marino

Make sure that you visit it on a day with good weather, which means no rain, a bit of sun, but not too hot, as you'll be in for quite some climbing in the narrow streets of the capital, which is built against a large and steep rocky wall.

In those streets, you'll find many people with street stalls trying to sell you stuff. Apart from the mandatory souvenirs, post cards and sun glasses, a lot of people will sell you coins. Most San Marino Euro coins, but also older local currency and other foreign stuff. Prices differ quite a bit. It's really profitable to make a round through the city and investigate before buying. It's also very ok to haggle, as long as you stay friendly.
In addition to street stalls, you'll find that souvenir shops also sell coins, coin sets and bank notes. You'll also find that prices tend to be a bit higher here.

I haven't found any bullion coinage on the way. I did find a lot of Vatican Euro sets here. I bought my Vatican Sede Vacante Euro set here for 79 Euro or so.
Pillar of the Community
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 Posted 05/26/2016  05:34 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add UltraRant to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Monaco is a tiny spot squeezed in on the French Riviera. The easiest way to get in is by train from Italy or Nice, or by helicopter from Nice Airport (a tad expensive, but worth it!). Monaco is known for its expensive Euro coin sets and also had quite some of its own currency before 2002. You can obtain it when you're here, you can even obtain a lot of commemorative coins, but beware, you need to bring a big bag of cash to leave with a tiny one... coin collecting and numismatics are a big things here!

Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo is the capital (and let's face it, the only town worth mentioning) of Monaco. You'll find a lot of shops here that will sell you coins - but at a price.

First of all, if you're interested in getting circulation coins from Monaco, your best bet is to get them at the big supermarket down near the harbor. Just follow the racing track, the supermarket is at the finish line. They fill up their self-check-out machines with local currency - that's Monaco coins. This doesn't guarantee that you'll get it, but the chance is big.

For coin sets (for example BU sets of Euros), you can basically visit a lot of different shops and banks. If a shop has coins, there's a big chance that they'll display it in the window. I bought my 2 2001 and 2002 BU sets (packed in foil) at a shop in a tiny shopping mall between the station and the Casino. I think the shop is actually an accountant's office and the owner doesn't speak much English, but he'd be pleased to help and sell those sets for a reasonably good price.
Also a lot of coins are sold in souvenir shops in the area near the castle, so in and around the pedestrian area.

Dedicated coin (and stamp) shops can be found in Rue Princesse Caroline. There were two or three there the last time I visited. I found that these are well-stacked, as they also have a lot of exclusive local coins and stamps, but again, a tad pricey. If you still have money left, then you can also find a lot of overpriced (and sometimes bad quality) restaurants there.

Again, as Monaco is so tiny, it's well worth investigating a bit before buying somewhere. You can try to haggle, but most prices seem fixed.
Pillar of the Community
1358 Posts
 Posted 05/26/2016  05:40 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add UltraRant to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Vatican City

Even tiny winy Vatican City has possibilities to give in to your numismatic cravings.

Basically, the Vatican only has one shop: it's on the right hand side when you leave Saint Peter's and facing in the direction of Castel Sant'Angelo.

This place is quite big and sells a lot of typical Vatican things. It usually has a good stock on Vatican Lire coins, commemorative coins and Euro sets, and all for a decent price (in my experience, though). So far I always left that shop with something new for my collection. Don't try to haggle with the pope, though. :)
Pillar of the Community
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 Posted 05/26/2016  06:40 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add UltraRant to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Now for an easy one: The Netherlands.

In fact, The Netherlands is such an easy place for any numismatic craving that I won't even make a list of specific cities or shops or areas. Coins are easy to get in circulation (except 1 and 2 euro cent: only a few shops still use them, the rest uses Swedish rounding to 5 cent).

A lot of Dutch coins, especially bullion coins and current commemorative coins can be ordered directly at Koninklijke Nederlandse Munt. They have an on-line shop with reasonable prices. Most regular coin shops will follow these prices, some might have a special offer. The only disadvantage is that their shop is in Dutch only. With a tad of fantasy and perhaps Google Translate, you might be able to get somewhere, though.

For physical shops, you can just google. 'Munt' means coin, 'munten' means coins and 'winkel' means shop. Also 'munthandel' might work. Distances are short in The Netherlands, the infrastructure is good and every self-respecting city has at least one shop dedicated to coins (usually combined with 'postzegel' or stamp). So, technically there's always a coin shop nearby.

My experience is that most coin shops do have coins that are up for a bit of haggling. just stay friendly and don't expect the price to drop too much, though.

Unfortunately, my experience is also that Dutch coins (especially classic bullion and all before the Second World War) tends to be a tad more expensive than what I pay for it abroad. I guess that's because the main market in The Netherlands is focused on Dutch coins... Other coins are usually a fair to good deal.
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United States
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 Posted 05/26/2016  09:06 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add fioti to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I believe I haven't read such a concise numismatic trip-advisory before.
I enjoyed reading it.
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United States
116244 Posts
 Posted 05/26/2016  09:53 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I read it very fast, but I had to comment on what an excellent post this is.

Now I have to go back and read more carefully to get the most benefit.
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 Posted 05/26/2016  10:14 am  Show Profile   Check jdmern's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add jdmern to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
One of the best and most useful posts I have read in a VERY long time... I would love to read a full writeups of your trips to Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran! Two very fascinating places!
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United States
573 Posts
 Posted 05/26/2016  10:32 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Half to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you for the information!

There are places where you can get the currently circulating coins and yearly bullion at the post office. Specifically Singapore and Gibraltar come to mind.
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United States
1182 Posts
 Posted 05/26/2016  11:48 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Hello There to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Have you ever considered being a tour guide? I found your lists very interesting and enjoyable to read.
Pillar of the Community
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 Posted 05/26/2016  12:37 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add aiglet7 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Most informative and enjoyable reading. Thanks for taking the time!
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