Are you willing to pay upward of $3,000 for a coin that sold for $424.75 only three months ago?
Buyers interested in the Baseball Hall of Fame coins are paying that and more for a multitude of graded and special label coins on the secondary market.
“It’s a good market,” said Ken Pines, owner of Coast to Coast Coins and Currency, Columbia, Md., “We’re selling all we can get our hands on.”
After the sellout at the Mint, buyers who missed their chance or want to collect graded and labeled coins moved their interest to the secondary market.
“We were lucky to snag a bunch. We had prepared for the release,” said Matt Crane of L&C Coins, Los Alamitos, Calif., “They have done well for us.”
Delays by the Mint in shipping the new coins to customers also affected dealers.
“We just got our first half dollars,” Pines said. “We haven’t even been able to market them yet.”
The shipping delays initially boosted the secondary market for the coins, said John Maben, owner of ModernCoinMart, Sarasota, Fla.
“Demand was stronger when supply was limited, and now supply is increasing due to staggered U.S. Mint shipping,” Maben said.
Dealers said both coin collectors and baseball fans were purchasing the Hall of Fame coins on the secondary market.
“I would say mostly coin collectors but also people who never thought to collect a coin,” Crane said.
While some are baseball fans, some may just be interested in its unique shape and Americana theme, he said.
Some buyers are just late to the game having passed up the chance to purchase the silver dollar and $5 gold Hall of Fame coins before sellout.
“Whenever a new item does well there is always remorse for not pulling the trigger so to speak,” Maben said. “It is always a gamble to a large extent if profit is the only motive.”
Three different denominations of the Baseball Hall of Fame coins were released by the Mint: a clad half dollar, a silver dollar and a $5 gold piece. Both the silver dollar and the $5 gold piece sold out shortly after release, while the Mint is still selling the clad half dollar. Each denomination came in uncirculated and proof versions.
So, which denomination is selling?
The silver dollars were especially popular in both uncirculated and proof, Crane said.
“We’ve been able to sell a lot. We’ve sold at least one of the $5 gold and the $1 silver in every form and label,” he said. “The gold sold out so quickly.”
By far, the $1 uncirculated and proof silver coins have been the big sellers, Maben said.
“It’s a nice big coin, curved shape, relatively low mintage versus demand, and the right price point for most budgets,” Maben said.
Although dealers feature many different examples of the Baseball Hall of Fame coins, collector preference is with the high-grade and well-labeled coins. The prices for these coins, of course, follow that interest as well.
“The MS-70s are the bestsellers; 70s are priced 50 percent more than the 69s,” Pines said.
A quick survey of eBay sold listings showed MS-69 first release halves were priced at $100 to $130 while MS-70 first release halves earned around $200 to $220. Similar price variations were observed for the silver dollars and $5 gold as well.
Dealers are pricing their coins accordingly, with MS-69 and PF-69 coins going for half or less than their MS-70 and PF-70 counterparts.
Crane said that before selling out, L&C Coins was offering MS-69 first strike $5 gold Hall of Fame coins at $875, while MS-70 versions were being sold for $1,550.
ModernCoinMart is currently offering a Hall of Fame MS-69 clad uncirculated half dollar with the Nolan Ryan signature for $59.95, while offering the MS-70 version of the same coin and signature for $119.
Labels are also playing a huge factor in the market for the coins.
“There are more labels than I’ve ever seen,” said Pines.
Grading services, besides the standard grading label, have offered first release and first strike labels, opening day ceremony labels that were only offered at the Baltimore show and even labels featuring the signature of designer Cassie McFarland.
“No secret that the show labels, available only where the U.S. Mint has done first release in conjunction with a convention, carry the highest premiums,” Maben said. “I am not a believer in them holding current values over the long term, but that’s just my opinion and others will certainly disagree.”
A significant premium has been attached to certain labels, particularly the opening day release labels, Pines said, noting that buyers “mind what’s on the label.”
A new marketing technique for graded Baseball Hall of Fame coins is the inclusion of Hall of Fame baseball player signatures on the labels of slabbed and graded coins. PCGS slabbed and signed coins feature actual signatures from players, while NGC slabbed and signed coins feature facsimile signatures.
“For us, the bestseller is the autographed coins,” Pines said.
The signature holders created a premium and demand for them as collectibles, said Crane.
“For us, the NGC facsimile signature coins were by far the most popular,” Maben said.
While both grading companies offer a variety of Hall of Fame player signatures, the most popular ones have been Nolan Ryan and Cal Ripken Jr.
“Cal Ripken Jr. has been the most popular signature,” said Crane, “They remember watching him play.”
For MCM, that would be Nolan Ryan and Cal Ripken Jr. running neck and neck, Maben said.
With the market filled with a wide variety of the denominations, grades, labels and signatures for the Baseball Hall of Fame coins, collectors and dealers wonder if this is the peak of the market.
“Yes,” Maben said. “In fact, they are off their peak from what I can ascertain.”
Initial excitement for the coin has died down a bit, he said, especially as collectors have received their coins.
How good the long-term future for the Baseball Hall of Fame coins, particularly the sold-out silver dollar and $5 gold, depends on the how many collectors are still interested in the coin in the future.
“I don’t have a crystal ball and if I did you can bet I wouldn’t work 80-hour weeks,” Maben said. “Best guess, some further decline over mid-summer and a comeback by late summer. Two to three years out, providing the Mint doesn’t start cranking out multiple curved coins, it has the potential to be a winner.”