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Morgan silver dollar saves the day?

Whether we like it or not, we have all been changed by the 21st century bull market in gold and silver.

Next month will mark the third anniversary of the top of the silver market, which occurred at the end of April 2011 during the Central States Numismatic Society convention.

Anybody who sold silver at that show must be very happy with the decision.

Silver this morning is an even $20 an ounce as reported by the Kitco website.

Anybody who has ridden silver down from that high has seen a loss of over 58 percent.

The third anniversary of the peak in the gold market will occur in August or September depending on whether you mark it at the highest daily closing price or the highest intraday trading price.

Making it a nice round number of $1,900 a troy ounce, owners of gold presently have seen their holdings decline in value from the peak by 31 percent to today’s Kitco reported price of $1,310.

The gold peak did not occur during a major numismatic convention, but it was close enough. The American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money held Aug. 16-20, 2011, was a big bullion party.

One dealer told me he had gone on vacation beforehand and when he came back he found his inventory was much more valuable.

We should all have such a vacation.

As nice as bullion profits are, they are corrosive to the habits of average collectors.

Who doesn’t now calculate the bullion value of every single coin as a first thought?

There are a few who are still trying to build complete sets because they want to rather than on any expectation that they will make a fortune due to a rise in gold or silver.

I have an occasional email from these collectors who are still trying to collect. They point out from time to time that certain coins they have an interest in are priced too high because bullion has made them so.

But these still are few and far between.

There are signs of hope. Harry Miller, the Numismatic News price guide editor has been reporting for a year now that Morgan dollars have been frisky.

This is an interesting parallel to the period after the 1980 bullion top. It was Morgan dollars that made the decade of the 1980s what it was. It was Morgan dollar grading that made the third-party grading services what they are today.

The Morgan dollar seems to keep us all in touch with our inner bullion speculator, but at the same time, feeds our collector sense of wonder.

Who doesn’t like the stories of the Carson City Mint, the General Services Administration sales and the mysteries of certain mintages like the 1895 Morgan dollar?

Perhaps the Morgan is now leading us all back to the collector path just as it did in the 1980s. That would be a good thing.

It also would mean that the next five to 10 years will be a great time to be a collector.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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