By Richard Giedroyc
We appear to be dealing with a tale of two markets. There always have been multiple marketplaces through which collectibles and bullion are sold, but what is glaring now is the difference between those coins that are sold by public auction… and “everything else.” In theory, any coin should be eligible to be offered through an auction. In reality, it is the grade or the date rarity coins that are sold through this venue.
Most other collectibles, but not necessarily what could be defined as being between scarce and rare, sell over-the-counter. Anything selling based on its intrinsic value has done poorly recently. Some notable highlights are copper coins and 5-cent pieces. Even being certified by reliable third-party services don’t appear to help. The better coins are being sold at auctions in record numbers.
While the value of many more common coins has, at best, stayed level, recently the coins sold via an auctioneer are doing much better. Of course, the cost of these services can be as high as 20 percent of the hammer price, but to realize prices this appears to be the primary route that needs to be followed.
Overall the market remains friendly to collectors. Investors who truly understand coins will flourish, but many who are oversold on mintage and rarity figures rather than on supply and demand may take their lumps. I say, hobby first, investment second.