When Mike Fuljenz talks about bullion coins and precious metals, people listen.
A longtime numismatist with numerous hobby literary awards to his credit, the president of Universal Coin and Bullion of Beaumont, Texas, says that over the next five years, silver will hit $15 an ounce, gold will break $1,000 per ounce and platinum will reach $2,000 per ounce.
And they might not stop there.
?We?ve seen a doubling in each category since 9/11,? said Fuljenz, ?and for most metals, bull markets last 11 to 14 years. There are a lot of reasons why it?s happening now. They?ve been undervalued. The war on terror is a factor and there?s the issue of oil.?
Over the years, Fuljenz has seen his share of market fluctuations. He?s been involved in numismatics since he was a young boy in Lake Charles, La.
?It?s the same old story that many collectors have,? said Fuljenz. ?I had a grandfather who gave me silver dollars for good grades. I?d mow yards and back then, I liked war nickels, and I?d drive the bank tellers crazy asking for them.?
Even back then, Fuljenz had a knack for business. He?d buy rolls of dimes from the local bank, look through them to find silver specimens and take them out, then re-wrap the clad pieces that were left, sell them back to the bank at face value and sell the silver pieces to local coin dealers.
As a teenager, Fuljenz worked in a local coin shop run by Woody Wattner. ?I?d hang around the shop on Saturdays, and sometimes I?d buy a few things,? said Fuljenz.
In his free time, Fuljenz immersed himself in the activities of his local coin club, serving as president of the Southwest Louisiana Coin Club from age 14 to 18.
?When you?re willing to work and put out publications, they saddle you with the presidency,? joked Fuljenz.
In those days, clubs were hotbeds of activity. ?We?d get 125 people to attend meetings back then,? remembers Fuljenz, who was also a member of the Louisiana Numismatic Association as a young man. ?We had tremendous attendance in coin clubs in the South back then.?
In college, Fuljenz scaled back his involvement in numismatics. After graduating, he started teaching. His interest in education lasted long after he left the field for the numismatic industry, teaching classes at the American Numismatic Association Summer Seminar for 18 years. Some of the subject matter included counterfeit detection, coin grading, gold and commemorative coinage.
?It was great just spending time with other coin people,? said Fuljenz.
His resume is long and includes a number of activities outside of numismatics. From 1968 to 1978, he was a part-time coin show dealer. Then in 1978, he went to work for Blue Chip Coins. Four years later, he became an authenticator and grader for the American Numismatic Association Certification Service, after which he became a director and vice president with Blanchard and Co.
During his stint with Blanchard, he was involved in the $990,000 purchase of an 1804 silver dollar at the ANA convention in Chicago in 1991.
?If we had just spent $10,000 more, we would have had the first million dollar coin,? said Fuljenz. ?I didn?t do it on my own. It was for the company, but it was cool.?
In 1994, after spending two years as a vice president with U.S. Coins, Fuljenz became president of Universal.
Away from coins, Fuljenz worked as a free-lance writer for The Sporting News, covering nine NCAA Final Four college basketball tournaments. He also coached his children in basketball and soccer.
His writing wasn?t confined to sports. In all, Fuljenz has garnered 23 Numismatic Literary Guild awards, including three NLG Book of the Year awards and seven awards for his investment newsletter, Investor?s Profit Advisory. He received the NLG 2004 Best Dealer Publication Award for the diamond anniversary issue of the newsletter.
He even wrote a column for Numismatic News in the 1980s.
In addition, Fuljenz won the ANA Presidential Award in 1996.
Looking back, Fuljenz noted a number of highlights. He?s made 25 television appearances in the last 10 years talking about coins on such channels as CNBC.
Topping it all, however, was the time he helped a doctor who had purchased counterfeit coins get restitution. ?I had a doctor come into my office and say, ?Tell me these aren?t counterfeits,? but they were,? said Fuljenz. ?An attorney had sold them to the doctors for three quarters of a million dollars.?
In exchange for his assistance, Fuljenz received two children.
?The doctor said, ?What can we do for you,? and my wife was having fertility issues,? said Fuljenz. ?So, two years later, I didn?t know if we would have any kids. But the doctor said, ?Those babies are yours.?? They followed through on their promise, providing their services for free.
As for the future, Fuljenz believes the bullion market will continue to go up. With regard to gold, he advocates buying American Eagles over bars. ?More dealers trade in them, most everybody handles them,? said Fuljenz, who added that Eagles are more actively traded.
Finally, he advocates slabbing your coins and getting them graded by one of the four main grading services, but more importantly, he advises every collector to tell their family ?where your collection is and what the value of it is. And leave information on who to sell it to and where to have it auctioned off.?