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Time to buy back sets?

The first nice weekend of the year in this part of Wisconsin saw many of us on area roads and highways running errands while others were out in their yards clearing away winter debris.

I did not receive anything interesting in my change in the past few days, but I did notice a number of new “Help Wanted” signs at various businesses.

Have we reached a general uptick in business?

That would be a good thing for numismatics at what I call the popular level.

Prices of proof sets and mint sets and state quarters were depressed by the recession. Average collectors were hard pressed to meet their family budgets in the past five years. When that happens, numismatic assets that can be easily sold often are.

Those assets are the popular sets that many collectors buy each year.

Perhaps an increase in general hiring will send prices higher as previously hard pressed collectors can breathe a little easier.

We’ll see.

There is no way I can know what percentage of hobbyists were forced to cut back on numismatic purchases, or sell off portions of their collections during the hard times.

What I can say is that many of us have been there. The 1968 proof set that I currently own is not the set that I bought in 1968. That first set is long gone. It went along with others when I needed funds.

When my discretionary income rose, I bought back some of the items that I had previously owned but had disposed of.

That still doesn’t make that 1968 set a good investment. I have what I would have to say is an emotional investment in the proof set, and for its few dollars of value I do not plan to break it.

I expect others out there would like to buy back at least some of what they were separated from by economic necessity. That process should help firm up prices.

If you are of a mind to buy some of the collector sets issued since the state quarter program began in 1999, now might be a good time to get ahead of the returning crowd.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."