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Collector buying slows

As falling gold and silver prices entice bullion buyers, is there anyone out there still buying collector coins rather than bullion?

“I think collectors are holding off on the more common gold coins because of the uncertainty over the price of gold, but quality, high grade gold coins are moving as they always have,” said David Greenstein, U.S. coins specialist at Harlan J. Berk, Ltd., Chicago, Ill.

The fall and winter seasons are typically good for the coin collecting market.

“It slowed down in the summer and it didn’t help that precious metals were hit hard,” he said.

With any coin price that is based on the precious metal content, there are people selling because they think it will go lower and there are people who see this as a great buying opportunity, Greenstein said.

Jack Beymer, owner of Jack H. Beymer Rare Coins, Santa Rosa, Calif., said that people are wary about the market.

“It seems to me that the coin market is in an ebb,” he said. “My guess is that it’s at a low.”

Coin prices haven’t come down, but they probably should, he said.

“Appropriately graded, in-demand coins have held their market,” he said. “These are the coins that there’s not enough of and that everyone wants.”

Some buyers have been going after key date Buffalo nickels and key date Barber coins in grades Very Fine or better, he said.

“It just seems like it’s all about the key dates,” Beymer said.

Mark Pietras of Card & Coin, Green Bay, Wis., said that the collectors that come on in have been 50 percent bullion buyers, 25 percent looking for collector coins and 25 percent looking for high grade coins.

“Everyone has their own specialty,” he said.

Coin collectors are buying anytime they can see a bargain, he said.

“What strikes me is the buying of single coins out of the 2012 proof sets, especially the silver proof set,” he said.

The 2012 silver proof half dollar alone is $100, he said.

“The 2012 silver proof set is down from $200 to around $185,” he said.

Modern commemoratives are not selling well, he said.

“The Baseball Hall of Fame coins have done well, but everyone expected them to do so,” Pietras said.

Greenstein said that collectors are buying anything that they think is priced right.

“The market is very cyclic,” he said.

When prices come down for one coin, they tend to come back up later, he said.

“They are going after quality, high grade coins that they see a good deal on as well as cheap coins,” he said.

General collectors like the $10, $20 or $30 coins like Barber coinage or Lincoln cents, Greenstein said.

“We just purchased a set of collector grade, slabbed Lincoln cents from a seller who just wanted to sell them because he needed the money,” he said.

As for the rare coins, sales have been stable, he said.

“A few Hawaiian coins, a dime and a half, sold right off the bat after we purchased them,” he said.

A lot of high grade Hawaiian coins have been coming in, he said.

“One collection of coins that came up for sale recently was the Clarendon collection of superb proof Indian Head cents,” he said.

Most coins in the collection are among some of the finest known and almost all are cameo proofs, he said.

“We sold 60 percent in the first two weeks,” he said.

When rare coins like those in the Clarendon collection come on in, they sell rapidly, he said.

“These coins don’t come around often, so when they do, people jump,” Greenstein said.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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