U.S. Coin Price Guide

Coin Collecting

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Market vibrant at FUN
By Mark Ferguson

The coin market appears to be holding up quite well in this disastrous economic climate. Each day's crowd was strong at the Jan. 8 to 11 Florida United Numismatists show in Orlando.

People are obviously transitioning from "paper" investments to tangible investments such as physical forms of gold and silver.

Established collectors were also out in force – some are ready buyers at current prices, while others are taking a cautious, wait-and-see stance. Many collectors are selling for personal reasons, as witnessed by the high level of auction consignments offered during and before this important show.

Prior to the official convention auctions conducted by Heritage Auction Galleries and three major sales conducted previous to the convention, many market participants and observers were wondering whether the market could absorb all the coins offered for sale – estimated at about $75 million worth before the auctions. The actual approximate total was $68,861,000 for coins and paper money sold by Heritage, Stack's, Bowers and Merena Auctions, and Superior Galleries.

Some prices for coins that sold in the auction were very strong, while others were a bit soft.

It was obvious that many consignors had high reserves on some of their coins because many failed to sell.

Numerous other coins sold for prices that were in line with expected current market prices. Several sold in the $300,000 to $400,000 and higher range. One great example was a 1793 Flowing Hair, Wreath, Strawberry Leaf cent – one of just four known – sold by Stack's for $862,500.

On the bourse floor, wholesale business between dealers continued, but much slower than during the bull market of the past five years. Of course there's no way to measure this sector of the business – we can rely only on anecdotal information and observations. One wholesale area that appeared to be very active was common and better-date circulated coins that are valued at a few thousand dollars and less.

Price weakness was evident for coins valued above $25,000, unless they were coins with special qualities, like tough-to-find varieties.

Some dealers who have been specializing in high-priced coins are changing their business strategies, a strong indicator the current market is collector-based rather than investor-based.

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