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April 2017

When Will Classic Gold Commemoratives Make a Come Back?

     We have examined the market for Classic Gold Commemoratives on various occasions in the past. Back in March 2012 (Classic Gold Commems at Bargain Levels?), we compared the FMV of the eleven collectible coins in MS65 and MS66 from 2007 to 2012. With the coin market going through some tough times and numerous values dropping on a regular basis, it was time to add the current FMV values to this comparison.

1905 $1 Gold Lewis & Clark MS65 PCGS

1905 $1 Gold Lewis & Clark MS65 PCGS sold for $5,280 at the Heritage Auctions Long Beach Expo U.S. Coins Signature Auction in Long Beach, California, September 7-10, 2017

     Very little has changed in the way this series has been trading. Many sales are discounted below the current FMV, creating further declines. At any given coin show or major auction you will find a number of coins in grades from MS63 through MS65, and the lack of interest at current levels is obvious as coins continue to sell below market, especially at auctions. Listed below are the eleven Gold Commemoratives along with their FMV values from January 2007, March 2012, and the current prices.

Gold Commemoratives MS65
DateJanuary 2007March 2012April 2017
1903 LA Pur/Jeff $1$4,150$1,760$1,340
1903 LA Pur/ McKin $1$3,950$1,790$1,230
1904 L & C Expo $1$13,300$6,310$4,160
1905 L & C Expo $1$20,180$10,820$7,310
1915 S Pan-Pac $1$3,170$1,460$1,340
1915 S Pan-Pac $2 ˝ $8,710$7,590$5,160
1916 McKinley $1$3,270$1,430$1,090
1917 McKinley $1$4,730$1,950$1,380
1922 Grant $1$5,670$2,960$2,160
1922 Grant W/Star $1$5,470$2,800$2,250
1926 Sesquicentennial $2 ˝ $6,550$2,800$1,690
Gold Commemoratives MS66
DateJanuary 2007March 2012April 2017
1903 LA Pur/Jeff $1$5,540$2,440$1,660
1903 LA Pur/ McKin $1$5,330$2,410$1,560
1904 L & C Expo $1$19,910$10,430$7,090
1905 L & C Expo $1$38,480$17,210$12,090
1915 S Pan-Pac $1$5,700$2,410$1,750
1915 S Pan-Pac $2 ˝ $11,380$8,220$6,630
1916 McKinley $1$5,160$1,980$1,440
1917 McKinley $1$6,450$3,450$1,970
1922 Grant $1$6,620$3,250$2,470
1922 Grant W/Star $1$6,280$3,190$2,630
1926 Sesquicentennial $2 ˝ $24,640$11,930$6,060

     There are a number of reasons why Gold Commems have fallen out of favor over the last ten years. The populations for these coins have been on the rise, and in many cases, there are at least 1,000 or more certified by NGC and PCGS combined in MS65 and MS66. This is a lot of coins for a series that does not have a lot of followers. The populations do not decrease until the MS67 grade, and even then there are still quantities in the 100’s. For many of these coins the MS67 is the highest grade and Registry collectors are more enthusiastic when the highest grades contain 10 coins or less.

     As we mentioned, all of these coins are very available in the marketplace either through dealer inventories or auctions. The MS63 through MS65 coins are seen all the time and the MS66’s are encountered almost as often. And it generally takes discounts to move these coins in this current market. Most buyers are looking for coins that have either the + designation or the CAC sticker, or both.

     Most of the advanced Registry collectors for this series have already acquired the coins they need. There appears to be very few additional advanced collectors trying to fill these needs at this time. Most of the sales we see in this market are dealer to dealer trades.

     There also seems to be a growing lack of interest in the history of our nation. Nearly every day in the news we see young people interviewed and questioned about events in United States history, and are typically dumbfounded by the questions. Some of this has carried over to Classic Gold Commems; collectors are just not as interested as they once were. Also, many of the old-time collectors have died off or simply lost interest.

     So, what will it take to bring this market back? Dealer marketing programs is the first thing that comes to mind. Two or three dealers would begin to quietly accumulate inventory until they feel they have enough to run a program to the retail public. Then they would start fervently advertising to purchase additional coins to add to their growing inventories. All the while they are raising their buy prices in order to let the numismatic world know that these rarities are on the rise. New Registry collectors would stimulate values and other collectors would look to participate in this series. It does not take many new buyers to motivate a market; especially if they request multiple dealers to locate coins for them. This makes the market appear more active and thus creating additional activity.

     At the current price levels it would not surprise most dealers if there was already a program in place to accumulate what appear to be undervalued coins. According to the numbers above, there is tremendous potential and minimal downside risk at this time.

     Dealers can also attract new collectors by renewing their own interest in the historical value and the celebrated events depicted in these Commemoratives, and spread that knowledge to their collector base. There have been many essays and books published on these wonderful Commemoratives and dealers could attract new collectors with a review and enticement of these writings.

     Dealers can sell collectors on the fact that prices have fallen so much that there is only one way to go and that is up. It is interesting that you could purchase three 1905 L & C Expo in MS65 at today’s FMV for the cost of one coin back in 2007.

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