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Golden year not kind to modern sets

Areas most affected negatively by the economy in 2011 were modern issues of the last 30 years. As you go back in time the negative effects become less and less. The state quarter issues are the most notable examples. Years ago they did a wonderful job of creating new collectors. Unfortunately, too many were led to believe that many issues were really scarce, causing rampant speculation. When jobs became scarce and money tight the truth became known. The same was true of most modern Mint products, especially proof and mint sets where many had bought 3, 5 or 10 for future generations. Future generations don’t need that many now. The liquidation at this low end of the spectrum contrasts with accumulation at the high end.

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Most silver issues have risen either because of their bullion value or their numismatic value. Barber coinage has done particularly well. The scarce date issues have risen nicely along with all mid-grade coins of series. Even the lower grade issues first pushed up by higher melt values stayed up after silver leveled off. When silver moved into the mid-forties much low grade material was dumped into melting lots, thereby decreasing the available supply.

Gold bullion has gained approximately 20 percent for the year while platinum is nearly 15 percent lower. Silver gave ground versus gold by showing an increase of about 15 percent, lagging gold but still outpacing equities.

Bullion prices had an obvious positive effect on many numismatic issues, although many did not rise quite as much as the corresponding metal value. In other words, they declined in premium value versus their melt value. A clear example is the proof gold Eagle gaining roughly 12 percent versus 20 percent for the metal. The silver Eagle in business strike (Mint State) did the same as the proof gold, but its counterpart, the proof silver Eagle gained 30 percent. The decrease in premiums is explained by the fact that precious metals, especially gold, are reacting more and more like money.

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U.S. gold type coins generally did well, although again many did not increase as much as their melt value did. The most notable strength showed in the smaller denominations with emphasis on the American Indian designs.

Other U.S. type coins fared well especially those of premium quality with nice original surfaces or attractive patina. Coins with that special skin, hourglass luster, rainbow toning or of particular date rarity continued to set record prices time after time.

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