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Collector coins push bullion aside

 

Move over gold and silver, collector coins are sharing the spotlight.

After years of chasing bullion coins up and down the value chart, dealers say customers now are taking as much interest in collector coins.

“We are doing a lot less gold coins and silver coins,” said Peter Goydos of L&C Coins. “We’re selling some, but not like a year ago. But we are selling a lot of collector coins.”

The last six or eight months, whether the economy is getting better for people or not, they seem tired of not having any fun, of not adding any coins to their collection, so they find a way to do it, Goydos said.

“For a lot of people the economy is a little bit better and they feel a little more secure in their job,” he said. “They can stretch a bit and spend a little more of their money.”

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What’s selling are the key date coins like the 1909-S VDB, better date silver dollars like the 1894-P, 1916-D Mercury dimes and 1923-S quarters.

“They are the most difficult dates in their sets,” he said. “They are either filling in or upgrading.”

Goydos said it’s not that people are making a choice between a mortgage payment and filling in a Lincoln penny set, but they’ve looked at a coin for a long time and are deciding that they are going to spend the money.

Bullion coins showed a bit of a slowdown in the first quarter of 2012, said David Beahm, vice president at Blanchard and Co.

“Investors are kind of waiting to see what is going to happen,” he said.

One day they hear the economy may be getting better, and then the next day they get information that it’s not, he said.

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“I think investors are a little nervous to do anything,” Beahm said, “so they are sitting on their cash.”

Gold has been flat, hovering between $1,620 and $1,688 a troy ounce, he noted.

“Investors need to be excited,” Beahm said. “They are just waiting for a catalyst to push it over $1,700. They’re playing it safe right now, waiting from afar.”

Not so for collector coins, he said. They are in high demand.

“Right now it’s difficult for us to find green sticker CAC (Certified Acceptance Corporation) coins, and when we do get them in it’s hard to keep them because of high collector interest. As soon as we get them they’re out the door,” Beahm said.

Blanchard and Co. has a wide range of clients, Beahm said, from the collector who wants a $60 Morgan dollar to a $7 million Brasher doubloon the firm placed last year. But they all have the same goal.

“Basically, it’s not necessarily the dollar amount that they’re concerned with, it’s the quality,” Beahm said. “They are looking for the best quality for what they can afford.”

Goydos said the bullion coins that are selling are low grade silver dollars and almost uncirculated silver dollars with a premium but reasonably close to silver bullion value.

“Those two items have been decent sellers, he said. “Those people are buying the coins because they hope silver will go up.”

L&C sells an occasional U.S. gold coin, he said, but no where near what it did a year ago.

“If we do sell a gold coin, it’s to a collector, and that’s including the modern commemorative gold coins,” he said.

It’s not like a year ago when people were buying a $10 gold piece a month, he said.

“The business we’re getting now are people who want a $20 gold piece for a type set or just want a gold coin,” he said.

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