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Rare Coin Market Keeps on Sizzling

This Lincoln cent with designer Victor David Brenner's initials on the reverse made specially by the United States Mint in Philadelphia in 1909, was sold at auction by GreatCollections for a record $365,625. (Image courtesy GreatCollections.)

This Lincoln cent with designer Victor David Brenner's initials on the reverse made specially by the United States Mint in Philadelphia in 1909, was sold at auction by GreatCollections for a record $365,625. (Image courtesy GreatCollections.)

The rare coin market continues to be on fire. During August, auctions conducted by Heritage realized more than $85 million. This may illustrate the keen interest in this market sector, but the better illustration is likely the 10 20th century Lincoln cents that, combined, were sold for $1.1 million in a GreatCollections auction. A 1909-S VDB cent in the Great Collections auction may have set a record price of $365,625, but consider that four additional cents dated between 1909 and 1915 at the same auction each realized more than $100,000.

Truly rare coins, be they sought for the date or for the certified condition, continue to rise dramatically in value as such coins join other non-numismatic collectibles including sports cards, fine art, weapons and antiques as each is being recognized as a tangible asset class. Impressive prices are also being realized for top-of-the-line foreign and ancient coins despite the smaller audience for these numismatic fields. There is an advantage to purchasing these coins overseas due to the strength of the dollar against the euro and other currencies.

The many U.S. coins that could be classified as collectible but reasonably available continue to hold their own. Dealers are finding it easier to restock some of these coins as some momentum among investors has shifted towards selling. U.S. coins valued primarily for their intrinsic content and bullion coins are seeing slower sales now that the spot price of gold and silver has declined. Freshly minted and introduced U.S. Mint commemoratives and proof and mint sets continue to sell well, these being important entry-level products for many new collectors.