Skip to main content

Coin wisdom doesn't come from daily fluctuations

Will the stock market continue to plunge today after big selloffs Friday and Monday?

Coin collectors who have 401(k) plans and IRAs probably want to know.

Bitcoin, the darling of fad chasers, has plunged 62 percent from its recent peak.

Coin collectors are interested in this as part of their ongoing concern over the trend to a cashless society.

Prices of gold and silver are also under the microscope of coin collectors.

They are calmer.

Silver is down slightly since the beginning of the year while gold is up slightly.

Anyone who is concerned about market fluctuations can be connected to their markets of interest 24/7 because of the Internet.

Aren’t you glad collector coins aren’t as volatile?

In my 40 years in the business, I have heard complaints that it is difficult to know the true value of a coin at any given moment.

This has persisted even with the advent of eBay and online auctions by major firms, as well as dealer exchanges among themselves.

Where a share of Apple stock is valued similarly the world over, individual coins are not.

Nobody has to buy a coin. Nobody has to sell.

Because of this, there are huge gaps in trading.

A coin that sets a record price at auction one day can go quiet for years.

What’s its true worth?

Nobody can know for sure, but everybody can guess.

On days during periods of extreme volatility in the financial markets, it might be that this lack of coin price data is a good thing.

If your 401(k) took a hit yesterday, would it be helpful to you to learn that your beautiful and complete Lincoln cent set was down 15 percent also?

I don’t think so.

But if you were somehow panicking out of all assets, the hit to your Lincolns would probably be even worse.

Dealers and other collectors watch the same financial news you do.

They are not likely to pay full value when the seller is obviously feeling pressure.

Someday, perhaps artificial intelligence will be able to gather all market data everywhere and come up with accurate numbers for every coin instantaneously.

If an MS-63 sells as well as an MS-65, it could fill in the gap with an MS-64 value even if an MS-64 has not traded.

Until that happens, enjoy the blissful calm of your coin collection.

Turn off the financial news.

Enjoy the set or sets you have labored so long to assemble.

Read a book by Q. David Bowers.

Your coins have solid long-term value, but you will not maximize it by thinking about it moment to moment.

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."

• Like this blog? Read more by subscribing to Numismatic News.