FAQ – Frequently asked questions

Do you have a question? We would be pleased to personally answer every question, but perhaps your question has already been asked and answered here. Simply have a quick look to see if your specific question is listed in “Frequently Asked Questions”.

If you cannot find an answer to your question simply get in contact with us on the telephone number + 49 (0)40 25 446 - 220, or via e-mail at info(at)emporium-merkator(dot)de or using our Kontaktformular.

Just simply click on the following topics to go to your answers.

What is it that makes coin collecting so exiting? Why do so many people collect “money”?

Collecting coins connects people with history and makes it possible to combine something that is valuable with something that is beautiful at the same time. The act of “collecting” is as old as humankind. Kings, noblemen and rich business people, but ordinary citizens also collected coins.

At a time where television, radio or the Internet did not exist, coins represented a source of information, e.g. information about the assumption to the throne of a new monarch. They were an expression of the strength of the local rulers and served at the same time as a consolidation of their power.

Today there are many reasons to begin collecting coins, such as interest in historical events or important personalities from the worlds of politics, science or the arts. Collectors can acquire comprehensive knowledge on the background and context of history during the course of establishing a collection. At the same time, coins give you the opportunity of preserving events for later generations. Only you can explain and show to your children that you e.g. experienced the moon landing.

Live your history in coins.

Do collector’s coins always increase in value?

Whether or not a coin increases in value is dependent on many different factors, such as e.g. existing issues, condition or the period of time since the issue.

Also new coins can quickly increase in value due to high demand for a particular motif, e.g. the 5 euro Turmfalke Luxemburg 2009 as there were not enough coins available for all the collectors who wanted them. For this reason it is not easy to predict whether a coin will increase in value or not. If you want information in this area only experience can help.

Do coins have different minting qualities?

Coins are minted from different materials as well as minted in different qualities. The following qualities have become established as the standards:

- proof like (PL) or proof (PP)
- brilliant uncirculated (BU)
- uncirculated (Unc)
- Extremely fine (XF, EF)
- Very fine (VF) or
- fine (F)

In particular (PP) and (BU) graded coins can mostly be found in modern coins. Historical coins were only very rarely offered in BI and therefore also realize correspondingly high prices.

Can “real treasures" be found in circulation?

Yes, you can also find so-called “real treasures” in normal money circulation. Again and again valuable collectors' items find their way into normal circulation, because it is very difficult for coin laypersons to estimate their actual value and they simply prefer to spend them. If you are unsure about the value of a coin, get in contact with us at info(at)emporium-merkator(dot)de or 0180/575 75 95. We would be pleased to assist you.

*(0.14 €/min. from the German T-Com fixed telecom network, cell phone highest price: 0.42 €/min.)

What are mint-made error coins?

Mint-made error coins refer to coins that were minted using an old press in spite of having a new motif, those made of wrong material or those that accidently received a double pressing. For example, when minting the 2-euro coin "Hamburger Michel" the wrong planchets were used meaning there are examples with the new and old value side. These special production errors happen rarely and make these coins extremely rare and valuable. There is a whole range of mint-made error coins.

How can I recognize forged money (in the form of coins)?

The 2-euro coin is most often forged, as this represents the highest circulated nominal in coin form. You can recognize them by their different weight (exactly 8.50 g), by their size (ø 25.75 mm), by their thickness (2.20 mm) or by their appearance (often the forgery is very different to the original). However, there is an almost perfect forgery, which can only be exposed by a complex procedure. It is very difficult for the layperson to recognize a forged 2-euro coin. Because there are now an extremely high number of different motifs from all the countries, it is almost impossible to keep the overview of whether a motif appears strange or not.

Another type of forgery is similar looking coins from foreign counties. The 10-baht coin from Thailand is one of them. If you do not look very carefully at your coins it could happen that all of a sudden you have a coin that is not a one-euro coin in your wallet. The comparative value of this 10-baht coin is approx. 25 cents.


How do I sell my item or collection?

If you plan to sell any coins or medals, please contact us for a free appraisal. Please do not ship your collectibles without first talking to one of our numismatic experts.
We offer fully confidential and comprehensive selling service that gives you the option of consigning your material to auction or selling it immediately to us for a fixed price. The needs of every client may differ, but we will tailor our services to your requirements. This includes dealing with valuable single items to handling large collections. Our service is designed to make the sale of your items smooth and successful.

I want to consign to an auction? Do I have to meet any deadlines?

Yes. The deadline for consignments is usually three months prior to the scheduled auction date.

What is the selling commission?

The selling commission is the amount payable by the seller and is calculated as a percentage of the hammer price. The selling commission and any other charges are deducted from the sale proceeds before the net proceeds are forwarded to the seller.

When will I get my payment?

Payment is generally made within 45 days of the date of the sale.

How do I bid on a lot?

Attend in Person
The most exciting way to participate as a bidder is to attend in person. We encourage everyone to come to Hamburg and experience the fun of a floor auction. Decide on the spot how much you want to bid on a lot and take your new treasures home afterwards.  Join us if you can!

Mail Bidding
If you cannot attend the sale, you may use our mail bid sheet in the auction catalog or the download file on our website. Fill out the bid sheet completely and send it to our auction department by mail, fax or e-mail. You may also use our online bidding form on our website to submit your bids. Mail early, because preference is given to the first bid received in the case of a tie.

Telephone Bidding
To bid live by phone, you must make preliminary arrangements with the auction department at least 48 hours prior to the auction. Telephone bidding will only be accepted on a lot with an estimate higher than Euro 500. However, we will not be responsible for errors or the failure to notify you in a timely manner during the auction. We strongly recommend that you to place preliminary bids by mail or internet, even if you intend to participate by phone. On many occasions, this dual approach has helped avoid disappointments due to telephone problems, unexpected travel or time zone differences. Your information assists us in the bidding process by giving us a fixed range to stay active in the bidding. We will not notify the auctioneer of your limit and will buy your lot at the lowest price possible.

Emporium Hamburg will do everything possible to make your bidding and buying experiences pleasurable and successful. However, waiting until the last minute may result in us being unable to accommodate your phone-bidding request.

What do I have to keep in mind when placing a bid?

  • A bid is a legally binding offer to purchase a lot, made in person by the bidder or by other means at any auction sale.
  • The prices as indicated in the catalog are merely estimates based upon information available at the time of cataloging. The hammer price attained for a lot will, however, be influenced by many factors, as for example the current market demand or competition between bidders, and thus might be considerably higher than the catalog price.
  • Fill out your bid sheet by entering your maximum bid on each lot. Use whole Euro amounts only. Verify your bids, because you are responsible for any errors you make. Please consult the ‘List of appropriate bidding increments’ in the ‘Term and Conditions of Auction’.
  • Please keep in mind that bids of less than 80 percent of the catalog price will not be considered.
  • Please fill out your bid sheet completely: We also need your name and complete address, your phone number or e-mail address as well as references (i.e. list of dealers with whom you have established credit). Make sure to sign your bid sheet, thereby agreeing to accept the ‘Terms and Conditions of Auction’.
  • Send the bid sheet to our auction department by mail, fax or e-mail.
  • Please place your bids as early as possible. In the event of identical bids, preference is given to the first bid received.

Please refer to our  ‘Terms and Conditions of Auction’ for more information.

List of prices realized and direct sale

The prices realized are posted on our website in pdf format a few days after the auction. If you are on our mailing list to receive catalogs, you will receive a printed version within two weeks after the auction. All lots that did not sell during the auction are then up for direct sale at 90 percent of the catalog price plus 5 per cent buyer’s premium, V.A.T. and shipping costs.

What do I have to pay in total?

When the hammer falls, the highest bid offered becomes the hammer price. This price is a net price.
The buyer’s premium of 15 percent is then added to the successful bid price of each lot. The calculated total price is subject to applicable sales tax, and is payable together with the shipping charges.

Successful bidders will be notified and invoiced within a few days of the sale.

Why do German coins have different mint marks?

Due to the existence of numerous small states in Germany up to the middle of the 19th century, many principalities produced their own coins. With the foundation of the German Reich in 1871 the right to mint and issue coins was transferred from the individual states to the Reich. On 7 December 1871, the Bundesrat – the Federal Council – decided that the capital letters of the alphabet should be used as coin marks. At the end of the 20th century, a total of five mint cities remained and they bear the letters A - J (A=Berlin, D=Munich, F=Stuttgart, G=Karlsruhe, J=Hamburg).

Which coins are officially issued each year by Germany?

The Federal Ministry of Finance officially releases the following commemorative issues each year: 1x2 euro coins with the theme of the federal states, 5x10 euro silver commemorative coins with various topical themes, 1x20 gold euro coins with the German forest as the theme, 1x100 gold euro coins on the theme of the UNESCO world heritage sites. Often a 10 euro silver commemorative coin is additionally issued. In addition, some years, several 2 euro commemorative coins are issued if the European community decides to release a community issue. Alongside the Eurozone commemorative coins, also millions of coins for normal money circulation are minted each year.

Why is the nominal value of the German commemorative coins less than the value of the precious metal?

Gold coins are customarily always traded at the current nominal value. The nominal value therefore serves rather a symbolic purpose in order to make the coins officially valid currency. At the same time this increases its collector value and has the added effect of transforming a medallion into a coin. In addition this also prevents the gold coins coming into general circulation because the value of the gold is more than the nominal value.

Are the German 10 euro commemorative coins really official currency?

Yes, the German commemorative coins are official Germany currency with a nominal value of exactly 10 euro. However it does not make any sense to pay for the shopping with them because often prices over 10 euro are paid for older issues by collectors. This is dependent on the increasing collection value of the past years. If you nevertheless try to pay with them, often the payment is not accepted due to the cashier’s uncertainty and their refusal to accept the 10 euro coins.

In the other Eurozone countries, you can, e.g. not use the 10 euro commemorative coins as currency, as they represent a valid currency only in the country in which they were issued. The reason for this is the great number of different value sides, which makes it difficult for the lay person to identify the coin as an official currency.

Are Euro commemorative coins valid currencies in every Eurozone country?

The Euro commemorative coins are only valid as currency in the countries in which they were issued. The regulations governing the German silver and gold euro commemorative coins are set out in § 3 of the Federal Coinage Act.

The regulations concerning the 2 euro special edition coins are the exception. These always bear the same value side and can therefore be used as currency in every Eurozone country.

Do you say Euros or Euro? Which is correct?

The Duden answers this question very clearly: the plural of the euro proudly contains an ''s''. So, in the future if you want your Euros to increase in your savings account or you want to collect your coins in the so-called piggy bank, you should not forget about the plural ''s''.

But why do you then say 6 euro at the cash desk? This is here the exception: as soon as the euro is in direct connection with a number then it remains without an ''s''. When using the genitive form in the German language you may, on the other hand, choose freely. “Sind Sie stolzer Besitzer eines Euros oder eines Euro”
– both are correct according to the Duden.

What are the 1 and 2 euro coins made out of?

Both coins consist of a mixture of copper, zinc and nickel. Thereby the gold-colored ring of the 2 euro coin as well as the middle of the 1 euro coin is made out of 75 percent copper, 20 percent zinc and 5 percent nickel. On the other hand, the respective silver-colored parts are minted from a copper/nickel (75 Cu/25 Ni) alloy. Many commemorative coins all over the world are today made from a so-called bimetal. Austria has introduced an interesting new material: niobium, a metal that changes color when heated, combined with silver.

Can you also pay with the euro in the European countries of Andorra and Liechtenstein?

The tiny state of Andorra has been using the euro as its official currency since its introduction. Andorra does not belong to the EU and up to now has not made any monetary agreements with the European Union. That is the reason why, to date, there has not been any euro coins from the little country between France and Spain. On the other hand, Liechtenstein has a monetary agreement with Switzerland. The valid national currency is therefore the Swiss franc.

Is the euro lawful currency in all the French overseas territories?

The French overseas territories such as French Guiana introduced the euro as their only lawful currency in 2002, simultaneously with the mother country. The former French overseas territories in Africa have a special regulation. Their currency continues to be the CFA franc.

The previous CFA franc (CFA stands for Coopération Financière en Afrique Central) is however now pegged to the euro instead of the franc. The French Ministry of Finance is responsible for maintaining parity and not the European central bank. The exchange rate is: 1 euro = 665.957 CFA-francs.

Why have Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican introduced euro coins with their own national side?

The states of Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican had already established a monetary union with France, or respectively Italy before the introduction of the euro. Previously the franc or respectively the lira had been the valid currency. With the introduction of the euro, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican were granted the right to mint and issue specific quantities of euro coins with their own national side.

Should I invest in precious metals? If so, which ones?

Investment in precious metals is dependent on the investment strategy that you follow with your monetary investments. Particularly in times of uncertainty, investors tend towards investing in reserves of gold and silver, because precious metals have been a reliable protection for more than 5000 years. However when making an investment, you should take care that you only invest in physical gold, silver, etc. and not in certificates which carry the risk of failure in the case where the provider has to file for bankruptcy.

Furthermore, investing in precious metals is interesting for all those who are looking for a long-term investment opportunity and a steady increase in value. Investing in e.g. gold or silver as a short-term investment only makes sense in a limited way because experience has shown that capital gains are only minor.

Does the value of precious metals always increase or does it sometimes also take a fall?

The price development of precious metals as well as stocks is subject to the supply and demand of the stock exchange. Accordingly, the value of gold and silver can increase but they can also fall. When compared to stocks however, precious metals offer the advantage that falls take place more rarely and additionally, the goods are physically in the possession of the investor.

Is it better to invest in gold and silver coins or in ingots?

Investing in gold is, for most coins as well as ingots, exempt from tax. Therefore it is only a question of preference whether you invest in coins or ingots. Investing in coins does have the advantage that, due to the collector value factor, they can increase in value above that of their pure gold value. Gold ingots on the other hand are always traded at the respective gold value.

When investing in silver it is more advantageous to invest in coins rather than ingots due to the fact that silver coins are mostly taxed at 7%. Silver ingots, on the other hand, are taxed at 19%.

How much does an ounce weigh (1 oz)?

An ounce (1 oz) is the unit in which precious metals are measured. Thereby an ounce weights exactly 31.1034768 g. A 1000 g gold ingot correspondingly has a weight of approximately 32.15 oz.

What does the information e.g. 916/1.000 mean in connection with precious metals?

The degree of purity is expressed in thousands i.e. 1000 parts of the total weight. The information 916/1000 is the way in which the percentage of the precious metal is represented within the complete metal. For example the Kruegerrand has a gold percentage of 916/1000. The remaining parts are not precious gold, but are e.g. copper. The characteristic gold-red color is achieved by this. The following formula is used to calculate the value of the precious metal: total weight/1000xfineness (e.g. 15.5g/1000x900=13.95g).

Customarily gold coins and ingots are minted or pored in the fineness 999. Particularly high-quality pieces are even made with a fineness of 999.9 or 999.99. However due to the very fine precious metal percentage, these generally have a higher price as the process needed to achieve this degree of fineness is very costly.