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First Million-Dollar Coin of 2020 in the Books

By Richard Giedroyc 

The first million-dollar coin of the year came quickly in 2020, and it isn’t even an issue of the United States! A British 1936 gold sovereign of King Edward VIII, one of six known, was brokered by the British Royal Mint for the equivalent of $1.3 million even before the Florida United Numismatists show was underway. This may be a good omen for the business of coins. The fact that a mint got involved in what would be expected to be a private sale may not be a good omen.

While there are signs that the demand for very desirable scarce to rare U.S. coins is increasing, there are also indications that the sales of some heavily promoted third-party certified and autographed modern coins are on the decline. These coins have been described as being good for short-term performance. In the longer term, it doesn’t appear that these coins will perform as well. This, in turn, may bode poorly for neophyte collector-investors, discouraging them from getting involved with acquiring true rarities.

Collectible coins whose value is based at least in part on their intrinsic value performed poorly throughout the past year. Modern issues (especially commemoratives) also performed poorly once they entered the secondary market. Nineteenth-century type coins remained firm, while some appreciation could be seen particularly in higher-grade Barber coinage. Morgan silver dollars continue to be a less than stellar mixed bag, with more minus than plus signs following current values.