By Richard Giedroyc
We might be turning a very important corner. One of 20 1838-O Capped Bust half dollars minted was hammered down at $504,000 at a Nov. 15 auction. Price increases are beginning to show for certified, exceptionally-graded commemorative half dollars from the classic series.
In London, an English gold 1703 Vigo 5-guinea coin realized the equivalent of more than $1 million USD while an Umayyad gold dinar dating from CE 723 was bid to an astonishing figure equating to more than $4 million USD. At the same time, I attended a local coin club auction recently where bidders took no interest in well-worn Barber dime multiple coin lots or a one-ounce silver medal offered below its spot value. Modern gold and silver commemoratives are getting hammered.
What does all this say? There is a well-defined movement in both rare and in very high-grade coins when certified, but anything that is intrinsic value impacted is going begging. (The exception to this is gold and silver American Eagles, many sought as collectibles rather than as bullion.)
Collectors are active, but they are getting increasingly fussy, not being afraid to make a significant single coin purchase rather than purchasing single or groups of lower value coins. As an example, it has been a long time since there have been many plus signs in the commemorative half dollar field, but they are slowly showing up. Market interests continue to shift, with a surprising number of the normal market mainstay Morgan silver dollar prices continuing to lag.