Skip to main content

Look over shoulder before you buy?

Will American coin collectors have to jump when some outside power says jump?

No, I am not talking about the U.S. Mint, though that is probably what many think after reading the first sentence.

What I am referring to is changing trends that are not beneficial to American coin collectors.

When the American Numismatic Association wants to hold a national convention, years ago it could go just about anywhere and be welcomed.

Now the event is considered too small for many locations.

Others have tax problems for participants.

We are like orphans huddled in a storm.

Then we complain: Rosemont again?

That’s what happens when we can no longer turn out the numbers to a national show.

Many collectors have followed gold and silver for years.

They think they know it.

In recent years, Wall Street money has poured in as Exchange Traded Funds were created for the metals.

But yesterday, Wall Street decided that as investments in an economy with rising interest rates, gold and silver don’t cut it.

Gold fell below $1,300.

It was $1,289.70 when I checked Kitco’s website this morning.

Silver was below $17, at $16.86.

For most of my career, collectors who lived in the United States constituted the first or second most powerful forces in the marketplace for coins from most nations of the world.

Now we have Chinese money bidding certain coins into the stratosphere.

Russian money is lofting that nation’s historical rarities.

Great Britain seems to be in the process of becoming turbocharged as a new active scene of soaring prices.

Germany has always been strong, but it is a growing focus for outside buyers.

Coin Market price guide editor Richard Giedroyc reports that premiums on slabbed gold coins have shrunk so much that there isn’t much difference between the price of a circulated piece or one that is MS-63 or -64.

It is the time to buy the MS pieces, for sure, but tell that to any buyers of the graded gold when the financial crisis of 2008 sent premiums soaring because of the shortage of American Eagle bullion coins.

How do they get their high premiums back?

Naturally, when we benefit from outside forces, we smile.

If we were selling graded gold in 2008 and converting the high premiums into more ounces of bullion, wonderful.

Not everyone was working it that way.

The present generation of hobbyists has been used to saying that American collectors like this or that.

It was so.

It had to be reckoned with.

No more.

Now we have to reckon with outside players.

If you are collecting today, you might want to consider what Chinese, Russian and Wall Street money might be buying when you will want to sell.

And for all its size, the U.S. Mint is being buffeted by the same outside forces tossing American collectors around.

It is a new world out there.

Will American collectors get used to it?

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.