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Cheaper gold, more 2016 sales?

Collectors of U.S. coins might have to say thank you to China.

Why?

Read on.

Expectations are building among coin collectors about next year’s U.S. Mint offering of gold Mercury dimes, Standing Liberty quarters and Walking Liberty half dollars.

The new versions of the old designs will be issued to celebrate their 100th anniversary of introduction in 1916.

The only fly in the ointment regarding their popularity is the fact that gold is a very expensive metal and collectors would much rather see the old designs in silver.

Silver versions will not happen.

Perhaps happily, gold is getting cheaper.

That means the price of the new gold coins will follow the metal lower.

The price of gold bullion has fallen again today. News reports indicate the metal fell below $1,100 an ounce on Chinese selling. That kicks a major prop out from under the market.

If Chinese sell as well as buy, they become ordinary rather than the vanguard of a new gold-only monetary order. It means they recognize that the metal fluctuates.

Another disappointment for the market late Friday occurred when the People’s Republic revealed its gold holdings for the first time since 2009.

China now officially holds 53.31 million troy ounces, up 57 percent in six years. This compares to the 261 million troy ounces held by the United States.

The figure is lower than market analysts had previously believed.

It puts China in sixth position of official gold holders.

The United States, Germany, the International Monetary Fund, Italy and France are ahead of it.

So the gold market sold off today.

Whatever else it might do, falling gold prices will make the gold 2016 Mercury dimes, Standing Liberty quarters and Walking Liberty halves more affordable for collectors.

Buyers will save money, perhaps a lot of money. As a result, sales will likely be higher than they otherwise would have been.

But gold coin buyers also are skittish.

If gold bullion is falling like a rock the day the order period begins for the 2016 coins, the Mint’s prices will likely be too high and sales will suffer as a result.

On the other hand, a gentle decline in gold’s price between now and then will open the door of affordability to many more collectors.

Because of the sizes, it is possible that more 10th-ounce Mercury dimes will sell than quarter-ounce Standing Liberty quarters or three-quarter-ounce Walking Liberty halves.

I hope the Mint will take that into account when it creates its various sales options.

However, cheaper gold means more of all three designs could be snapped up by collectors.

If this is the result of Chinese gold sales, then we collectors should say thank you.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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