Skip to main content

Less luster for silver, more for clad?

As collectors, we often look for historical turning points.

The year 1965 looms large for collectors of U.S. coins as the year silver was removed from circulating dimes and quarters.

The composition of these coins was replaced by a copper-nickel alloy.

Many collectors dissed coins made of this alloy right at the start.

Collectors today often look down their noses at copper-nickel and pine for the days of silver.

Or do they?

In writing a story about the four-coin silver Kennedy half dollar set, I looked at the current sales figures.

As of the most recent Mint sales report, 144,572 of the silver sets have been sold.

Then I looked at the sales figures for the clad-two coin set.

The number for this set is 148,928.

In a hobby where silver has long had a crucial advantage over clad, this is interesting.

After nearly 50 years, are we getting past the great silver vs. clad divide?

It is probably too early to say, but to even ask the question means conditions in numismatics might be changing.

Certainly pricing must play a strong role in the sales numbers.

It is easier for collectors to buy a $9.95 set than a $99.95 set. But can that be the only reason for clad to be doing equally well with silver?

Back at the American Numismatic Association convention in August, which is known as the scene of the mad rush for Kennedy gold, perhaps less remembered are the long lines waiting to acquire the clad set.

It would be nice to think hobbyists have moved on and now judge Mint offerings on more than just composition.

But sales of neither Kennedy set have ended.

I will be curious to see how the final numbers stack up eventually.

How about you?

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."