By Richard Giedroyc
• In a previous edition of “Coin Clinic” you discussed the American Arts gold medallion series. Is there a good reference for these medals? Also, do you know if someone has documented all of the medals that the U.S. Mint has issued? It would be interesting to see what the U.S. Mint has produced besides coins.
There is no truly good reference on the American Arts medals, which is why so much detail was presented in this column. Medals of the United States Mint are cataloged, however I am not aware of an all-encompassing book on the subject. Books you will want to reference include “Medals of the United States Mint 1792-1892” by Robert W. Julian, “National Commemorative Medals of the United States Mint (1954-1983)” by John T. Dean, “Medals of the United States Mint Offered for Public Sale” by Kenneth M. Failor and Elenora Hayden (published by the Department of the Treasury), and “A Guide Book of United States Tokens and Medals” by Katherine Jaeger.
• The dramatic drop in the price of gold and silver throughout 2013 appears to be similar to what happened in 1980. Can you explain what happened to the value of coins following the 1980s metals price collapse?
The spot price of gold and silver bullion decreased, to put it politely, “significantly” during January-March 1980. Bullion-related coin prices followed immediately. This involved such coins as common date silver half dollars, quarters and dimes. The collector and rare coin markets were not immediately impacted. Unfortunately, coin dealers needed to raise cash on short notice to pay taxes on what had been a lucrative bullion business during 1979. This turned into a stampede at the Central States Numismatic Society convention held in April in Lincoln, Neb. The collector and rare coin markets plunged. The market recovered by 1986, however during the interim years many dealers either diversified into other collectibles, jewelry, and or simply closed their doors. We hope we won’t see history repeat during 2014.
• What are some of the benchmark events that led to where the coin market is today?
The market as we now know it began to change dramatically beginning during the 1960s. Average coins were being purchased by average collectors at that time, however investors were entering the market as well. At first these investors took an interest in rolls. The roll craze ended in a bust. Teletype machines soon appeared, allowing dealers to trade virtually anywhere, this being a precursor to the Internet. The impression coin prices change quickly was emphasized by both Coin World and Numismatic News when these competing publications first appeared. Wholesale prices became magnified when in 1963 the weekly Coin Dealer Newsletter (The Greysheet) was introduced. The increase in the price of silver fueled interest in the coin market, and continues to do so today. So did gold once it became legal to own gold in the United States in 1974. Although the American Numismatic Association Certification Service may have come first it was Professional Coin Grading Service in 1986 quickly followed by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of America that encouraged the modern rare coin market with slabs. Severe corrections in the spot price of bullion have impacted the market, but in the long run the market continues to thrive.
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