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Who is doing the buying?

I was on Harry Rinker’s “Whatcha Got” radio program yesterday to talk about the 2009 editions of Coin Digest and North American Coins and Prices.

We talked about gold and silver prices, his mother’s regular purchases of silver proof sets in the early 1960s, which he was pleased to see, had gone up in price, perhaps because the dime, quarter and half dollar on those pre-1965 sets are made of 90 percent silver alloy.

When he wondered what was hot, I couldn’t help but mention Lincoln cents. Next year is the 100th anniversary of the coin and 200th anniversary of the birth of our 16th President. We will see four new collector designs and no matter what the price of gold and silver happen to do, there will be huge attention focused on their issuance.

Time flies by on a radio program and my spot was less than 15 minutes. His final question was about foreign money and whether it was buying U.S. coins. I said that it was, that Russian and Chinese buyers had broadened out into American silver dollars as well as the historical coins of their homelands.

That is worth thinking about. While there have been some active foreign buyers from time to time in the past, there has really never been a large foreign presence in the market for American coins before. It may never get to that stage of significance, but our globalized world may also sweep the American coin market into its scope.