Which US coins could appreciate over the next few years?

Common obverse of the Native American dollar. (Image courtesy of the United States Mint.)

With so many new coin design changes coming between 2021 and 2030, I anticipate a huge increase in coin collectors, perhaps on the scale of what happened when the Kennedy half dollar did its debut in 1964 or that the first quarters of the state came out in 1999.

However, the rise of numismatic niches will not all be impacted in the same way. To try to get a sense of where attention might be focused, I’ve reviewed price changes in several categories I’ve tracked since late 1998 (just before the series began of Statehood quarters) and the end of 2002, four years later.

During this period, the price of gold rose by 20.3% while silver fell by 4.2%. As you can see from the results, it’s obvious that precious metal price changes didn’t play much of a role in price changes.

I used data from The Parts Dealer’s Newsletter and The Certified Coin Dealer’s Newsletter to calculate changes in the prices of wholesale offers for the following categories during this four-year period.

US Silver Proof sets, 1950-1954: Up to 75%

US Proof Games, 1968-1998: Up to 40%

US BE Silver Eagles, 1986-1998: Up to 110%

Uncertified US collector coins with key date: Up to 43%

Uncertified common date U.S. coins: Up 27%

American Certified Rare Date Coins: Down 18%

U.S. Certified Common Date Coins: Down 26%

For proof sets and proof silver eagles, I used one 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 with different parts would likely produce different results.

However, these results confirm some general themes that I was then witnessing as the owner of a coin shop in a large mall. Here are some of my observations:

  • New collectors in neighborhoods across the state got bored or impatient waiting 10 weeks for the next issue to come out. As they shopped the store’s displays, many took to collecting other parts and sets. In particular, immaculate, beautiful – and mostly very affordable – pieces and sets were popular. We’ve had a lot of customers assembling series of vouchers 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.
  • The more expensive coins, especially in the higher grades, have not attracted as much interest from new collectors.
  • On average, rarer date coins have outperformed common date issues.
  • As a new collector finished collecting one series, many began to purchase a different series. Again, new and beautiful usually trumps worn and historic.

So, what existing US coins could 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
  • BE sets including single quarters and silver sets
  • Silver Eagle dollars, proof and uncirculated
  • Kennedy half dollars, uncirculated
  • Statehood and America the Beautiful quarters, traffic problems
  • Modern silver commemorative coins at low prices, proof and uncirculated
  • Affordable Morgan and Peace silver dollars in a variety of dates, mintmarks and grades

Another category that may become more popular with experienced numismatists, colonial issues, particularly when the 2026 250th anniversary of American independence coins come into circulation.

Dealers who have stores or serve the public at coin shows may want to make sure they build inventory in these categories.

Patrick A. Heller was honored as a 2019 FUN Numismatic Ambassador. He is also a recipient of the American Numismatic Association‘s 2018 Glenn Smedley Memorial Service Award, 2017 Exemplary Service Award, 2012 Harry Forman National Dealer of the Year Award 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 Prospects of freedom, a monthly newsletter on rare currencies and precious metals. Back issues of the newsletter can be viewed at www.libertycoinservice.com. Some of his radio commentaries titled “Things You ‘Know’ That You Don’t, and Important News You Need to Know” can be heard at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday and Friday mornings on 1320-AM WILS in Lansing (which broadcasts in live and is part of the audio archive published on www.1320wils.com).

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