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Coin collecting spreads its influence

If I said there are more coin collectors now than at any time in history, you would probably think I am crazy.

There are few Young Numismatists, you would say.

The primary cohort of collectors is aging and leaving the hobby, you would say.

Prices are getting so high for certain United States Mint offers that some are even giving up in frustration.

All of these statements are true.

If you look at the United States alone, there is no question that there are fewer coin collectors compared to years ago.

I can make the case that the top U.S. coin collector population was reached in 1964.

That is the year the circulation of Numismatic News was at its peak as well as the circulation of its competitors.

It has been all downhill since then.

Yet we have had a good 53 years.

When I considered coin collecting in all other countries early in my career, I could write that the United States was home to either the largest or second largest population of collectors of the coins of this or that country.

After all, back in the 1960s and 1970s who else collected coins of The Gambia?

Times change.

In the last 20 years, China has gotten immensely rich.

The middle class population is about to outnumber the middle class population in the United States, according to The Economist newspaper.

That is both surprising and obvious.

China has 1.3 billion people.

The United States has 323 million.

With its 4-1 advantage in numbers, it is probably no surprise that many are taking up coin collecting.

Auctions of Chinese coins are setting records.

Grading services and auction houses have offices there.

Chinese buyers are increasing in numbers, and their purchasing power is being felt.

There are Russians who are buying up the rarities of Czarist times.

These buyers make a splash in German auctions.

Germany has always been home to a strong collector base during my career.

There are also well developed markets and collector bases in places like Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Before the last financial crash, Australia was home to a coin-buying mania.

United States collectors are not the only ones to be entranced by new issues and special coins and sets.

Coin collecting is reorganizing itself.

It is becoming more international.

It is logical that, as people get richer, some of them use their funds to collect coins.

As The Economist has pointed out, there is no time in history when the human race as a whole has been richer.

There is no time in history when the percentage considered poor has been lower.

Coin collecting is the beneficiary.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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