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Some U.S. Coin Prices Have Soared as Inventories Disappear

Images courtesy United States Mint.

Images courtesy United States Mint.

With the announcements early this year that the 2021 Morgan and Peace Dollars would be produced plus all the forthcoming design changes starting in 2022 as detailed in the Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020, it looks clear that the numismatic hobby will almost certainly expand over the course of this decade.

Whenever there has been a major change in coin or currency designs, collector interest has grown. This was especially true for the introduction of the Kennedy half dollar in 1964 and the Statehood Quarter series that began in 1999.

Now that the U.S. Mint has accepted the maximum number of orders for some of the 2021 Morgan dollars, this will almost certainly spark a buying surge when these coins are shipped to buyers late this year.

In anticipation of this coming surge, there have been two developments that are already starting to boost some U.S. coin prices. First, there are companies that will almost certainly try to market older Morgan and Peace Dollars to the general public as the 2021-dated coins come onto the market. In order to acquire sufficient inventories for these upcoming promotions, these companies have become more aggressive at buying these coins, including offering to pay higher prices.

Second, knowledgeable collectors realize that the coins they want to add to their holdings are likely to rise in price, so the best time to buy them is sooner rather than later. Many of them have done so.

The net result of these two different sources of higher demand, especially for U.S. coins, has been to deplete dealer inventories. When I visited the office of a numismatic wholesaler a few weeks ago, the employee who helped me apologized that their inventory was down about 75 percent from typical levels. This same lack of inventory has plagued the company where I work and dealers across the country. Many nice coins are selling much faster than in years past.

When demand increases and supplies tighten, prices rise. As an example, here is how much the retail selling prices have increased at the company where I work from Dec. 31, 2020, to May 26, 2021:

Common-Date Pre-1921 Morgan Silver Dollars

MS-63: +48%

MS-64: +56%

MS-65: +40%

MS-66: +26%

Common-Date Peace Silver Dollars

MS-63: +55%

MS-64: +35%

MS-65: +49%

MS-66: +20%

Better-date Morgan and Peace dollars have not enjoyed as large of price increases. But, because collectors are chasing them so aggressively right now, attractive specimens are difficult to find.

In the months we must now wait before the U.S. Mint starts shipping the 2021-dated Morgan and Peace Dollars, the current market for the common-date older coins may be relatively stagnant. Then, when the national promotions to the general public commence, there may be one last round of price increases.

Be warned, however, once the marketing campaigns to the general public have run their course, prices for common-date Morgan and Peace dollars may start to decline. Sometime between now and a year from now may be a great opportunity to cash in some profits if you hold some of these coins.

As for the less common coins of all metals, an expansion in the number of collectors could lead to continuing slow price increases long after these common-date marketing programs have concluded.

Patrick A. Heller was honored as a 2019 FUN Numismatic Ambassador. He is also the recipient of the American Numismatic Association 2018 Glenn Smedley Memorial Service Award, 2017 Exemplary Service Award, 2012 Harry Forman National Dealer of the Year Award and 2008 Presidential Award. Over the years, he has also been honored by the Numismatic Literary Guild (including twice in 2020), Professional Numismatists Guild, Industry Council for Tangible Assets and the Michigan State Numismatic Society. He is the communications officer of Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Mich., and writes Liberty’s Outlook, a monthly newsletter on rare coins and precious metals subjects. Past newsletter issues can be viewed at www.libertycoinservice.com. Some of his radio commentaries titled “Things You ‘Know’ That Just Aren’t So, And Important News You Need To Know” can be heard at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday and Friday mornings on 1320-AM WILS in Lansing (which streams live and becomes part of the audio archives posted at www.1320wils.com).