Strong Baltimore, weak gold

Challenges for midsized shows
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Published : 11/28/11
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After a few “boring” months, bullion markets are again moving.

On Nov. 21, gold dropped $60 during the day’s trading, finding a low of $1,665 an ounce while reminding collectors and dealers alike of the current market’s volatility. As the U.S. dollar rose, stocks fell and gold and silver hit four-week lows.

If there’s been a single area of the market that has lagged over the past few months, it has been the classic generic U.S. gold coin market.

Many type coins are available for little more than melt value as premiums and demand for many major third-party certified type coins have evaporated.

For example, one can purchase a certified Mint State 64 Saint-Gaudens $20 double eagle for just $100 more than a circulated example. Even Mint marked dates like 1911-D, 1914-D, 1914-S, 1915-S and 1923-D are trading at nearly the same level as the most common examples, as dealers struggle to move their inventories of these coins.

The market for Proof American Eagle silver and gold coins has also slowed in recent months, as the availability of 2011 coins reduced pressure on existing supplies and dramatically reduced premiums. Only the Proof 1994 American Eagle silver coin retains a substantial premium over common Proof issues, with dealers sill paying up to $80 per coin.

The weekend of Nov. 18 to 20 marked the final Santa Clara Coin, Stamp & Collectibles Expo. A Nov. 10 press release said the twice-yearly show owned by Collector’s Universe would end its 33-year run since a new buyer for the show could not be found.

On the same weekend on the East coast, the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo in Baltimore seemed to be a well-rounded success. The month break from the last national show helped dealers rest, rebuild want lists, and arrive with money to spend and coins to trade. Collectors have seemed to warm to the show, accepting it as part of their autumn collecting rituals while dealers appreciate the city’s affordability and Maryland’s coin-friendly tax situation.

While the Santa Clara Expo was corporate owned, many regional shows are managed by state and regional nonprofit coin collecting groups, which share their profits with co-sponsoring local clubs. As regional shows struggle to attract dealers and attendees, coin clubs around the country lose a key funding source. ■

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