Saturday, September 18 2021

Common obverse of Native American dollar. (Image courtesy of US Mint.)

With so many new coin design changes coming between 2021 and 2030, I foresee a huge increase in the number of coin collectors, perhaps on the scale of what happened when the Kennedy Half Dollar made its debut in 1964 or the first districts of the state came out in 1999.

However, the increase in numismatic niches will not all be impacted in the same way. To try and get a sense of where the attention might be focused, I went through the price changes in several categories that I tracked from late 1998 (just before the start of the quarter series Statehood) and in late 2002, four years later.

During this period, the price of gold rose 20.3% while silver fell 4.2%. As you can see from the results, it is evident that changes in the prices of precious metals did not really play a role in the price changes.

I used data from The parts dealer newsletter and The Certified Coin Dealer Newsletter to calculate the price changes of wholesale offers for the following categories during this four-year period.

American Silver Proof Sets, 1950-1954: Up to 75 percent

American test series, 1968-1998: Up to 40 percent

Silver Eagles USA-proof, 1986-1998: Up to 110%

American collector’s coins not certified at key date: Up 43%

Uncertified common date American coins: Up to 27 percent

Rare coins certified in the United States: Down 18%

Common Date Coins Certified in the United States: Down 26%

For the proof sets and the proof silver eagles, I used a number from each year in the sample (not type 2 or other varieties). For the other categories, I selected 12 to 30 articles per category. For the latter categories, a sample comprising different parts would probably produce different results.

However, these results confirm some general themes that I later witnessed as a coin store owner in a large mall. Here are some of my observations:

  • New neighborhood collectors have been bored or eager to wait 10 weeks for the next issue to be released. As they shopped through the store displays, many expanded into collecting other parts and sets. In particular, immaculate, beautiful – and most importantly, very affordable – pieces and sets were popular. We have had a lot of clients who put together proof sets or uncirculated silver Eagle dollars by date.
  • With the spot price of silver around $ 5 at the time, a wide range of silver coins were particularly popular.
  • More expensive coins, especially in the higher grades, have not generated as much interest from new collectors.
  • On average, rarer-date coins outperformed common-date issues.
  • As a new collector finished collecting a series, many began to purchase a different series. Again, the new and the beautiful generally won out over the worn and historic.

So what existing American coins might be popular with novice numismatists in the years to come? Here are some of my ideas:

  • Presidential and Sacagawea / Native American dollars, proof and uncirculated
  • Trials, including quarterbacks only and cash games
  • Silver Eagle dollars, proof and uncirculated
  • Kennedy half dollars, uncirculated
  • State and America the beautiful neighborhoods, traffic problems
  • Modern silver commemorative items at low cost, proof and uncirculated
  • Affordable Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars in a variety of dates, mint marks and qualities

Another category that could become more popular with experienced numismatists are colonial issues, particularly when the 2026 U.S. Independence Day 250th anniversary coins come into circulation.

Resellers who have shops or serve the public at coin shows may want to make sure to increase their inventory in these categories.

Patrick A. Heller has been honored as FUN Numismatic Ambassador 2019. He is also the recipient of the 2018 Glenn Smedley Memorial Service Award from the American Numismatic Association, the 2017 Exemplary Service Award, the Harry Forman National Dealer of the Year Award 2012 and the 2008 Presidential Award. Over the years, he has also been honored by the Numismatic Literary Guild (including twice in 2020), the Professional Numismatists Guild, the Industry Council for Tangible Assets and the Michigan State Numismatic Society. He is the communications manager for Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Michigan, and writes Perspectives of freedom, a monthly newsletter on rare coins and precious metals. Back issues of the newsletter can be found at www.libertycoinservice.com. Some of his radio comments titled “The Things You ‘Know’ That Just Aren’t So, And The Important News You Need To Know” can be heard at 8:45 am on Wednesday and Friday mornings at 1:20 pm WILS in Lansing (which broadcasts live and is part of the audio archives published on www.1320wils.com).


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