Harvey Stack calls it collector pride.
That’s why the coin market today remains strong, despite the financial chaos on Wall Street.
“A collector is one who has great pride in his assemblage,” said Stack, co-chairman of the auction house Stack’s. “The motivation for collectors is why we have a different situation market wise.”
At Heritage Auctions, co-chairman Steve Ivy said he can’t remember a time when he’s seen as many new and active buyers.
“Our $35 million Sept. 24-27 Long Beach Expo auction of coins and currency registered more bidders, over 1,400 of them, than any auction in our history,” Ivy said.
In fact, Ivy said, Heritage’s number of successful bidders was up by 11.5 percent the last quarter, while average lot value was up 8.5 percent.
Stack’s is seeing much of the same.
“The attendance at our auctions has increased and the activity has increased,” Stack said, measuring it from this past spring to the end of October.
Interest in coin collecting remains strong, regardless of what’s happening in the stock market.
“When someone is putting together a collection their goal is to have a collection as good as someone else, almost as good as somebody else, or better than somebody else,” Stack said. “That’s part of pride of ownership and pride of possession.”
Economic struggles are like a Chinese finger trap, Ivy said. Panic and it tightens, but stay calm and it slips right off.
“Coins and currency may not garner the headlines, but our market has held steady and risen in many areas, even throughout these difficult months,” Ivy said.
Stack said collectors are not engaging in wholesale divestitures of their collections.
“No large offerings are being put into the market, except at the pace we’ve enjoyed in the past,” he said.
It goes back to that collector pride.
There isn’t an abundance of rare coins on the market, Stack said, which makes it harder for people to assemble their collections, so once they do, they don’t want to sell them.
“There is no dramatic selling because of a drop in the stock market,” Stack said.
Some people are selling their collections because their children and grandchildren are not interested in them and they want to oversee the divestiture.
“When they make a decision to sell they cherish the auction catalog because that is a permanent reminder of what they had even though they don’t possess it any more,” he said.
Coins are actually a great hedge in a market like we’re seeing now, Ivy said.
“Rare coin prices, along with many other collectibles, actually rose during the Great Depression,” Ivy said, as well as during the recession and accompanying real estate and stock market collapse of 1974.”
And if the coins do take a hit, they have a steady record of bouncing back, he said.
“Enjoy the coins for what they are,” Stack said. “They’ll take care of themselves.