Meet Steven Contursi, a Legend in Rare Coin Collectibles

Steven Contursi


Collectibles such as coins, stamps, and fine art are considered alternative investments. Today we interview Steven Contursi, President of Rare Coin Wholesalers (RCW), who has bought and sold over $1 billion worth in investment grade rare U.S. coins over his 40 year career. He has included private investors in the acquisition of museum quality coins for the last 25 years. A professional numismatist since 1975, Steven helps both collectors and other dealers acquire the finest quality, historically significant coins. Here are some quick facts about Steven:

–       Owned and sold two of the three most expensive coins of all time

–       Owned or participated in the sale of over 70 of the coins listed in the “100 Greatest U.S. Coins”

–       Received the American Numismatic Association Presidential Award (2006) and Award of Exemplary Service (2007)


Here is the full interview with Steven Contursi.

DarcMatter: Please provide a high level overview of the RCW retail division.

Steven: Over the past 6 years, RCW has successfully introduced investors to this alternative asset class through direct investments into separately managed short-term trading accounts and custom long-term wealth preservation portfolios. Now RCW is introducing the fund for ultra high net worth investors as an exclusive investment opportunity. As the fund manager, I will purchase and sell a diversified numismatic portfolio of ultra rare U.S. coins based on my experience, purchasing power and value driven investment philosophy. The fund’s investors will have the opportunity to own some of the most elite coins in U.S. history as an alternative investment.


DarcMatter: How did you get into numismatics?

Steven: I was an avid coin collector as a child and from a very young age I saw that coin dealers had varied opinions about the value of particular coins. As a teenager I was able to figure out the nuances of how certain dealers valued coins. Instead of pursuing a career in physics following grad school, I decided to capitalize on arbitrage opportunities based on the idiosyncrasies of how different dealers valued the same coin. My childhood hobby led to a very fulfilling career and I have had the pleasure of owning some of our nation’s greatest treasures.


Rare Coin Fund


DarcMatter: For those who may not be familiar with this alternative asset class, can you explain the benefits of investing in rare coins?

Steven: The rare coin market consists of scarce collectibles that are purchased and owned by wealthy individuals. Since these individuals are financially secure, the supply of rare coins does not flood the marketplace. Thus, two of the major benefits of owning rare U.S. coins are wealth preservation and low volatility. Further, rare U.S. coins are uncorrelated to traditional investments and the precious metals market. Other benefits include privacy from no 1099 reporting, tax deferment through 1031 exchanges, step-up in tax basis upon death, subjective value for estate planning and charitable gifts, duty free in and out of the U.S., exempt from FATCA and portability.


DarcMatter: How do collectibles such as rare coins compare to traditional public stocks and bonds?

Steven: According to the PCGS Key Dates and Rarities Index, rare U.S. coins have outperformed the S&P 500 with approximately half the volatility since 2000. We cannot discuss the specifics about stocks and bonds, but RCW’s clients typically purchase rare U.S. coins based on investment criteria such as wealth preservation, strong track record of price appreciation, low volatility, non-correlation and potential deferred tax benefits.


DarcMatter: How are rare coins graded and authenticated? Is there a standard that provides transparent, visible pricing?

Steven: All rare U.S. coins that RCW purchases are certified by 3rd party grading services, such as Numismatic Guaranty Corporation and Professional Coin Grading Service. NGC and PCGS provide market transparency as they have graded and authenticated over 58 million coins combined. They confirm the authenticity of each coin and assign a quality level known as the grade. Additionally, they provide a financial guarantee for the accuracy of their service. Pricing information is made available through online price guides and public auction records going back several decades.


DarcMatter: Finishing off on a fun note, tell us a little known fact about yourself.

Steven: Besides collecting, investing and trading in rare U.S. coins, I also approach the wine industry with similar enthusiasm. Collecting and investing in rare wines share the techniques I use when I deal in the coin market. I purchase, protect and properly store rare vintages of great wine. I research the product thoroughly before making a purchase. Like rare U.S. coins, the wine’s provenance plays a big role in its value. Unlike U.S. rare coins where it is not possible to privately mint new rarities, in the wine business I am able to create new magnificent, collectable wines with the grapes from my Napa Valley vineyard. When you produce a world-class wine, the return on investment is truly rewarding.


Visit Rare Coin Wholesalers’ (RCW) profile page on DarcMatter at


SEE ALSO: Q&A With Steve Berg, Managing Partner at Antecedent Ventures


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