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NumisMedia Monthly Article Archive

Our monthly articles detailing specific areas of numismatics for dealers, collectors, and investors of United States Rare Coins

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NumisMedia Monthly

October 2011

Collectors Rule the Market

       In the last month Gold had moved over $1,900 an ounce only to fall back to under $1,600 at one point on September 26th. It has settled around the $1,620 area, nonetheless it is anything but settling. The market is very nervous and most investors are not sure what to do at this point. This would be a good time to focus on collectors and how they react during these times. Last month we pointed out how the two major auctions at the Chicago ANA sold thousands of coins at well over $70 million. Rarities were attracting competitive buyers even though some of the coins sold for slight discounts to previous FMV levels. The important point here is that collectors are persistent in their quest for the best coins for their money.

       Not only are early rarities in demand, but we have noted that Barber coins have surged lately. All grades from Fine up to and including MS67 have been trading in recent months. As active as all three series have been, Barber Halves appear to have the greatest demand. This series is without a major rarity in low grades, whereas the Barber Dime series has the 1894 S, which is virtually impossible to obtain, and the Barber Quarter series has the 1896 S, 1901 S, and 1913 S. This makes the Barber Half collection easier to complete in lower grades which is appealing to the completionist collectors. We all know that once a collector completes a set of coins, in all likelihood, they will begin to upgrade it. The Registry Set collectors of NGC and PCGS will gladly attest to this.

       The following chart shows how the MS63, 64, and 65 Barber Sets have performed over the last 4.5 years. We used the March 2007 FMV and this month's October FMV.

FMV March 2007FMV October 2011
Barber Dimes
Barber Quarters
Barber Halves

       All but one of the above examples has increased substantially. The MS65 set of Barber Quarters fell $5,140 over this period. The best performance was the MS64 Barber Dimes which increased by 71%. Of course, the increased FMV for the 1894 S was the main reason for this rise. Barber Halves all increased in the three selected grades and a more in depth look shows that every grade from Good through MS62 is higher by at least 16%. The Extra Fine to AU grades are especially popular and, if they have solid eye appeal, they will usually command premiums to the current FMV. This has been a winning series and according to current demand the future continues to look brilliant.

       One of the most popular modern issue coins is the 2009 Ultra High Relief. When it was first issued by the Mint, its immediate popularity was recognized by nearly every coin dealer. When NGC and PCGS found that some of the coins had Prooflike surfaces, collectors were thrilled with the potential growth in value. For the first year or so, their value tended to follow the ups and downs of the price of Gold. However, the current demand has depleted the market of all excess supplies and dealers have been increasing their buy prices at a record pace. The first time we listed the FMV for the MS69 UHR was September 2009; it was $1,720 with Gold at $955. That was an 80% premium at the time. Today the MS69 has an FMV of $3,060 and Gold is $1,640. The premium today is 89% and, if the current demand is maintained, this premium will continue to increase. The initial FMV for the Prooflike coin in MS69 was $2,060 in September 2009. Today it is listed at $3,440, a healthy increase of $1,380, or 67%.

       While the metals continue to adjust as we write this article, The UHR's remain very active at current FMV levels.

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