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Important even if you can't have one

Everybody seems to be anxious to know the future and to assess events that might be signals about what is to come.

Each year Mike Thorne writes an auction review for Numismatic News.

The nature of the thing is to focus on the headline-making rarities.

This is not intended to rub the noses of average collectors in coins they cannot have, but rather to serve as a proxy for measuring the state of commercial numismatics.

Because most coin dealers are privately owned businesses, there is no way we can know whether total numismatic sales went up this year or down.

The information is not available.

So we look for alternatives.

One of these alternatives is an auction review that recalls the highlights of the calendar year.

Thorne points out that 13 coins sold at public auction for $1 million or more in 2015.

This compares to 14 such coins sold in 2014.

From this tidbit of information, would you say that business was about the same as last year?

Probably. I certainly do.

However, because bullion has sagged and the prices of some meat-and-potato collector issues have tumbled with them, to the average collector it might be fair to label 2015 a down year for the commercial side of things.

Does such a label matter?

It shouldn’t, but it does.

Because of the Internet we are probably too aware of every little jiggle in the marketplace.

The question in my mind is does this awareness have an effect on activity?

Do collectors actually not do a planned purchase when bullion is down?

Sometimes I think this is indeed the case.

Even letters to the editor tail off when the financial headlines online turn negative.

Last August’s stock market decline was followed by a slow September for letters to the editor.

Letter volume still has not returned to the level prevailing earlier in the year when bullion forecasters were optimistic and the stock market was on its way to new highs in May.

The best thing that can happen now is that we will start 2016 with a bang at the Florida United Numismatists convention.

I look forward to being there. I hope you can make it also.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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