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Little reason to pay big price

I had an inquiry from a reader who wonders why packaging seems to be such a big deal in recent years.

The underlying value of the set is supplied by the coins in it, right?

This is one of those questions that you answer by saying listen to what I say but don’t watch what I do.

Many collectors would say that indeed the main value factor comes from the coins. However, if you watch trading on the secondary market, you come to the conclusion that such a statement often is self-evidently wrong.

The most recent example of this is the Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set. You take five coins that were made available in other ways and put them in a special package. There are only 50,000 of those special packages.

Voila, you have a product on the secondary market that is priced at $180 that contains coins that can be purchased for a third to half that amount.

Is the package worth $90-$120?

Hobby thinking is a cross between traditional thinking and a cat chasing anything that moves.

The 1986 cherry-wood box for the Statue of Liberty set was valued at $100 for a time shortly after issue. However, the general commonness of the coins eventually won the battle of valuation and the pretty package did little to augment the secondary market price.

So why do we fall for the packaging issue over and over again? Good question, but the fact that we do gives the Mint that makes them and eBay sellers a nice future income stream.

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2 Responses to Little reason to pay big price

  1. Douglas Belland says:

    I think that in this case, the package is the collectible. My non-coin collecting friends really like the whole package. They have never understood my passion for the hobby, but wanted to buy this item for their grandchildren. It’s the history lesson they want. That may be worth the price we are seeing.

  2. Jerome Curtis Watts says:

    I’ve collected the "modern commeratives"…and I prefer the 4, 6 or 32 coin box. I regret not buying the box for the Statue of Liberty set (but have all the others).

    Numismatic News has a major advertiser who sometimes lists the modern silver commeratives for sale…and I look in the print ads and sometimes see modern silver commeratives for sale.

    However, I don’t see the boxes ever offered for sale…maybe because these were purchased by the "hard core" collectors…and they will not come to market (until they get inherited by somebody).

    I purchased the "Prestige Sets"…and I would refer you to the pricing on the 1995 Set (to talk about the relative value of "packaging").

    A few years back…Numismatic News readers were always saying harsh things about the T.V. show "The Coin Vault". I watched the show…but didn’t buy any coins. One night Mr. Chambers repeated comments about how many modern coins they have graded…and commented that the coins in the Prestige Proof Set, on average, graded 1.5 points higher that coins not in that packaging. It seems reasonable that the U.S. Mint might take some extra care with some coins and "special" packaging. For those wishing to own high grade certified coins…the purchase of "special packaging" might be a path to low cost acquisition of those coins.


    Jerome Curtis Watts
    Vacaville, CA

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