This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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I received an e-mail regarding the 2004-D Wisconsin quarter extra leaf low in MS-67. This coin is listed at $10,000 in Coin Market for that grade and the sender of the e-mail questioned the value since he had seen one available on eBay for a great deal less in a reputable certified holder. The question is a legitimate one and the answer deserves close scrutiny by all, especially those who favor ultra-high-grade modern issues, which I feel can be a trap pricewise, because they have no long-term proven stability of value. They are also fickle according to current fads. Here is the response I gave:
“The main reason being the thinness of the market and the quality level on the grading, in this case we have a coin offered at $1,450 with no takers and I have a record of a PCGS coin at $11,500. The possibilities here are several.
1. The other coin was not particularly nice for some reason. 2. There could even have been a scratched holder. 3. There could have been a bad picture. 4. Or perhaps no one was shopping for one that week. 5. The PCGS price could have been two registry set guys battling for the finest available. 6. In a practical sense in pricing on modern coins PCGS usually beats most other reputable slabs by about one grade and that is mainly because of registry set demand and sometimes very slightly tighter standards.”
The registry set issue can very often distort market pricing because when you get two or more egos involved vying for that elusive item it can get wacky. Several months ago I saw an early half dollar in AU-58 sell for considerably more than an MS-62 and an MS-63 of the same date that were also available. This was because several collectors that were putting together circulated registry sets all needed the point value of the highest circulated grade possible to vie for the #1 position. While unusual, this sort of distortion is becoming more commonplace.
There has been a lot of action in old-fashioned collector coins and a hot bullion market. One would think all bullion-related items would be soaring, but there are anomalies in this area as well. While most bullion-related U.S. gold type coins are up (not all) they are not nearly as strong as one would think and proof gold Eagles are down 10-20 percent. The market is anticipating new ones soon.
There has been a strong surge in Mint State Barber coinage and the later Seated dimes and quarters. In earlier type, the no drapery quarters are sought in most grades and Trade dollars in EF and AU are experiencing good demand.