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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ad, unclassified: coin collector

Ad, unclassified: coin collector

20 foolish

“Wanted: old Cambodian and Vietnamese coins, gold and silver. I am only interested in very fine to exceptionally fine pieces.”

This North American coin collector, whose name has been withheld, has a passion for old East and South Asian coins. Part hobby and part “foolish investment strategy”, he aims to make a return on his valuable loose change.

 “MY first purchase of rare coins was for more than $9000 at a reputable and established auction house.

Unfortunately for me, I hadn’t done any homework to know in advance what similar coins were selling for. So I might have grossly overpaid. Or not. Time will tell. My investment plan is to sell them to Chinese and Indian collectors in eight to twelve years.

I would also say there is an emotional element, and what I mean is that you physically hold them in your hands and there’s a story behind every coin for what it was used, what country and what transactions they were used. As an adolescent boy I collected coins, and I enjoyed the beauty they carried. I liked Moroccan coins, Mexican, whatever I was given.

As a kid I collected whatever my grandfather brought me. In grade seven my science teacher accused me of being a communist because I was wearing a Mao button - just something my dear grandfather picked me up from a merchant ship. He worked as a machinist, and rules were not so strict then about going onboard.

[Coin collecting] is a hobby, but my interest is also financial. [Warren] Buffet says buy what you understand. Stocks and bonds I do not understand. I find financial markets these days confusing, complicated and adverse to personal liberty. I know the world has changed but I am a grumpy ‘old’ man and I am not willing to adapt. I resist. One way of resisting is collecting rare precious metal coins. It is a political act for personal sovereignty in an increasingly regulated financial world.

I am not a rich man, and in a few years if I don’t go back to teaching, say, in Vietnam, or start some sort of business that gives me cash flow, I will be broke. I had a modest inheritance, and like many in this situation, I have become lazy. So to spend $9000-plus on rare coins was really, quite idiotic.”

To swap coins with this ‘outlaw’ collector, email him at



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