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When will China buy American coins?

I stumbled on some interesting information while I was in China. A speaker estimated that there are 750,000 to almost 1.4 million buyers of gold and silver coins in China.

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That number is very similar to what is the case in the United States. If you didn’t know the country name, you might guess that the information applied to the United States.

The question to ask is what does this number augur for the future of a collector coin market? After many years of repressive communism, where owning gold and silver could get you arrested, the shackles have been coming off gradually for a generation now.

The China Gold Coin Incorporation strikes and issues the gold and silver coinage in that country. It is celebrating its 30th anniversary. It is feeding a market and wants that market to grow.

However, as we all know, collecting the regular issue coinage of a country is the backbone of numismatics. That is true here. It is not true there – yet.

But change is coming. A proofreader edition of a new book, Gold and Silver Coins of China Standard Catalogue 1979-2017, was issued while I was attending the Beijing International Coin Exposition. A thousand copies will be distributed. Errors hopefully will be noted and then corrected for the upcoming regular edition.

It will be useful to collectors and fill a niche. But it makes me wonder what coin collecting would be like in the United States if we could only focus on the modern commemorative series starting in 1982 and the gold and silver bullion coin issues that followed in 1986 and the platinum in 1997. It is certainly better than nothing.

Owning gold and silver coins is a good thing for the Chinese. They are already proving that they are as keen to bet on rising prices as Americans are.

What will another generation of further development bring to China? Will thousands or millions more be assembling collections of coins going back through the centuries?

Naturally, with a population of almost 1.4 billion people, there is a potential there to put the American market in the shade.

In my time in numismatics, the United States was not only the largest market in the world for its own coins, it also hosted the largest markets for the coins of most other nations as well.

But times are changing.

Some of those sets of circulated Mercury dimes, Standing Liberty quarters and Walking Liberty half dollars that many of my generation assembled might conceivably end up in China someday if the coins aren’t melted in some future bullion boom.

It is time to watch for developments in China to start affecting our market.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

More Collecting Resources

• The Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1601-1700 is your guide to images, prices and information on coins from so long ago.

• Order the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, General Issues to learn about circulating paper money from 14th century China to the mid 20th century.