Skip to main content

Sophistication comes at a price

I was looking through some back issues of Numismatic News yesterday looking for some information.

As usual, I found more than I was looking for. The front pages are an education as to what was occurring back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, years just before I became a coin collector.

As might be expected, there were stories about forecast Mint coin production with numbers around 4 billion coins. You could almost run those again and be correct.

Stories on the state of the commercial coin market were also prominent. These stories never seem to lose their appeal.

However, the nature of the commercial market has surely changed. One story caught my eye with a very large headline proclaiming that the Indian cent series was expected to be up 25 percent when the new edition of the annual Red Book hit the market.

Those were the days when all of the coins in the series were on the move. Price hikes were not concentrated in just the very highest grades of the very rarest pieces, like the MS-65 1877, 1908-S and 1909-S coins. It was across the board.

Beyond the fact that the numerical grading system did not exist for coins outside of large cents, the differences in prices between the circulated grades and the uncirculated coins were far narrower.

Mass series price movements like that are far less common today. The hobby is more sophisticated. We know more than we did then.

But it comes at a price. Perhaps we have lost some of the sense of numismatic adventure that prevailed then where filling the hole in the album for the 1877 with a VG was considered a triumph and not a reason to point out that investment performance of an uncirculated coin would be far higher over time.

Don’t you miss that? I do.