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Rare Coin Markets in August 2009, Part 2

By Greg Reynolds

This is the second part of my August market report (Read Part One Here) regarding scarce or rare U.S. coins, with a focus on bourse activity at ANA Convention in Los Angeles in early August, along with references to pre-ANA and ANA auctions. This part mostly includes analytical comments from experts relating to copper, nickel and silver coins, along with some passages relating to very rare gold coins. Analytical remarks of mine are found herein as well. I suggest reading Part 1 first. Next, please see my companion article on the growing price gap between high end and low end coins.

Numismatic landscapeIn addition to a relative increase in demand for high end coins on the bourse floor at the ANA Convention, there was intense trading in many areas, partly because there was so little fresh material available. Most market participants, who properly recognize the current levels, are cautiously optimistic about the near future. There is a good chance that underlying market levels will hold steady or increase slightly over the next few months. Keep in mind that I am talking about pre-1934 scarce or rare coins, or condition rarities, not generics or bullion items.

The market for generics is driven by speculators, and mass marketing operations, and has little to do with coin collecting. Generics are very common, often hundreds of thousands or millions are known of specific coin issues, and collectors only buy a small percentage of them.

Since numerous market participants in 2009 are gradually adjusting, or refusing to adjust, to the lower levels that have prevailed for months, it would be easy for some to get a false impression that coin trading is very slow and demand is falling. Volume is considerable, and, on average, market prices were holding steady or increasingly slightly. Most of the market declines occurred in the last quarter of 2008 and the spring of 2009. Many of the declines were not then recorded in price guides, which are becoming relatively less useful for scarce or rare coins.

John Feigenbaum has “seen Morgans drop quite a bit lately. Buffaloes are soft as is Proof type.” Steve Contursi agrees that the market for “Proof silver type is soft.”