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Older, wiser and with growing interest in bullion

Trying to figure out what is important to coin collectors is based in part on learning about them through reader surveys.

Our latest reader survey for Numismatic News shows that the average reader is 63.2 years old.

The median age is a younger 59.5.

Median means that half of the readers are over this age and half are younger.

When I began working here at Numismatic News 39 years ago, the average age was right about 50 on the head.

Obviously, we are collectively older.

However, if that average reader of 1978 is still with us, he is 89.

I say “he” because readers are still 96 percent men. That has not changed over 39 years.

Income is higher than average.

Median income for the nation is about $56,000 while for readers it is $87,000.

Average income of readers is $117,000.

This means we have some well-funded collectors out there.

Average expenditure on U.S. coins each year is $3,441.

That is 4 percent of the median income and 3 percent of the average income.

Seems reasonable, doesn’t it? Readers aren't overdoing it on their expenditures.

There are some interesting statements that seem to conflict.

Fully half of readers say they spend no money going to coin shows and 33.5 percent say they never attend a show.

This probably means that there must be a few who don’t count the gas money expense to get to a show as spending money.

With such a large number who don’t go to shows, they have to rely on other means of buying and selling coins.

As you might guess, 28 percent said when they sell coins they do it on eBay.

But larger percentages still indicate they are living the traditional collector life as we have known it for the past 50 or 60 years.

When the time comes to sell, 32 percent go to coin shows and 39 percent go to coin shops.

Overall, the survey numbers are reassuring in that they indicate coin collectors have broad interests and a broad approach to numismatic life. They also show the growing importance of bullion.

No bullion purchases are made by 39 percent of readers and fully half spend less than $75 each year.

However, the other half brings the average expense on bullion to $1,112.

That means the half who are spending more than $75 are buying an average of over $2,000 worth of bullion each year.

Clearly, interest in bullion is significant among coin collectors.

Where do you fit in among all these numbers?

Figuring out the answer is most of the fun of statistics.

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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