Most active collectors in the United States focus on the issues of the U.S. Mint.
They comprise a very large group of people and the commercial aspect of this part of numismatics is the very definition of a mass market.
This is not true of every country.
Certainly places like Australia, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom are other examples of a mass market.
But there are approximately 200 countries in the world today plus their historical antecedents. Some are very small. Many are not widely collected.
A handful of hobbyists form the core demand for these places. It is possible to identify them and get to know them.
I happened to spot one such individual as I approached the registration table at the Chicago International Coin Fair on Friday. What he does moves the market for his country.
This encounter was probably made possible because this year the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center hosted both the CICF bourse and the Heritage Auctions world coin sale and foot traffic from both rooms funneled right past the registration table.
I immediately knew why the collector was present and what he had been doing. He wasn’t the only such collector there.
I had a conversation the next day with Marc Emory of Heritage.
He told me the overall auction result before the Internet portion of the sale is added in was $4.8 million.
He also went on to explain that Heritage has worked very hard to identify individuals such as these country-moving collectors and alerting them to auctions that feature the coins of their countries.
It is a technique that works very well for Heritage and it had its impact on the CICF auction results.
In Marc’s words, “The market for small countries is represented by limited but very committed collectors and dealers.”
This doesn’t mean there aren’t important collectors in the U.S. field. There are. But they have to work harder and compete harder with others.
Certainly nothing I buy moves markets. But imagine being the one collector that everyone identifies with a specific country. That is the stuff of daydreams.
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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