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Unwanted gold?

Popularity is a killer in terms of long-term collector value.

The first three designs of the First Spouse gold coin series that began in 2007 sold out rapidly. The half-ounce gold coins for Martha Washington, Abigail Adams and Jefferson’s Liberty Head design were hot.

Now the test:

Name the three cheapest First Spouse coins in 2014.

You are correct, it is those very same Washington, Adams and Jefferson pieces. You can also throw in the fourth issue for Dolley Madison as well. It was not the sellout that the others were, but it still sold in high numbers.

I examined these prices yesterday as Harry Miller supplied data for the monthly update of the Coin Market price guide.

He lists both the BU and proof versions at $710 for the four.

If you move along to the fifth issue, which was for Elizabeth Monroe, mintages dropped by more than half from the earlier issues and prices, as you would expect are higher at $975 for a BU and $950 for a proof.

So far, the most expensive one is the proof for Julia Tyler at $1,800 and the second most expensive is her BU version at $1,650.

Don’t cry too hard for the buyers of the first issue. They are safely in profit due to the rise in the price of bullion. The BU coin issue price was $410.95.

Mintage limits were set at 40,000 for each 2007 issue. The mixture between proof and BU was determined by what the buyers ordered.

In the fog of speculative fervor, apparently when the sold-out final sales were tallied they fell somewhat short of the limits.

For Martha Washington it was 19,169 proofs and 17,661 uncirculateds.

In contrast Julia Tyler mintages are 3,878 proofs and 2,188 BU examples.

Obviously, interest had fallen dramatically by the time the 2009 Julia Tyler issue became available.

This again demonstrates the paradox of long-term collector values. To benefit, you must buy what most collectors seem to be turning their noses up at and ignore the issues that everyone seems to want.

That’s hard to do.

This is why the pattern repeats itself.

What these prices patterns also indicate is that it might pay to keep an eye on current offerings, which have sales numbers below that of Julia Tyler. Time might change that, but if you can find the next Julia Tyler might that not be worth the $820 BU issue price, or $840 proof issue price?

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."