Holiday shopping 2011 is in full swing.
For those who give numismatic collectibles for gifts or are hoping to receive them, hundreds, if not thousands, of choices await buyers — depending on whether your list is confined to the United States or broadened to include coins, medals, tokens or paper money of other nations.
A common thread this year is that if the collectible contains precious metals such as silver or gold, prepare for sticker shock. While the daily world market quotes for both metals have been on a roller coaster in recent weeks, understand that both are traveling on a much higher track than just a year ago. For example, according to Kitco.com’s historical records, the average spot price of silver during 2010 was $20.19. As of Nov. 23, the average spot price during 2011 is $35.62 per ounce. Translated: For those who have a long tradition of giving generic American Eagle silver bullion coins as stocking-suffers, even if shopping the bargains, you will be hard pressed to find these all-American coins for much less than $3 over the spot price of silver. Depending on the day you shop and your method — in person at your local shop or via the Internet — count yourself lucky to find one in the $35 to $39 range.
For those who have been giving American Eagle silver bullion coins for years, there is a “feel-good” takeaway. The coin you had to pay $25 for last year is worth more. And remember the good old days (first five years of the decade) when you could buy the current year’s silver bullion coin for $8 or less? If the recipients have been saving their gifts, they are beginning for store up a tidy treasure trove. If the recipients happen to be noncollector family members, be sure to share with the responsible keeper of the treasure trove that those stocking-stuffers of yesteryear are becoming more valuable.
U.S. Uncirculated Mint sets and Proof sets have been for many years the favorite gift in many coin-collector households. If they’re on your list, either to give or receive this year, there’s a bonus of sorts. The U.S. Mint has kept prices for the sets at last year’s levels — $31.95 per set.
The 2011 Uncirculated set contains two folders of 14 coins each, one with coins produced at the Denver Mint and the other, coins struck at the Philadelphia Mint, for a total of 28 coins. They include America the Beautiful quarter dollars honoring Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania, Glacier National Park in Montana, Olympic National Park in Washington, Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi and Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Oklahoma; Presidential dollar coins depicting Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes and James Garfield; a Native American dollar coin with a reverse design emblematic of the peace alliance created by the 1621 Wampanoag Treaty; a Kennedy half dollar; a Roosevelt dime; a Jefferson 5-cent coin; and a Lincoln cent.
The 14 coins in the Proof set are the same denominations as within the Uncirculated set, except they are Proof versions bearing the S Mint mark of the San Francisco Mint.
Each traditional set packs a lot of history and lots of fun for collectors. They constitute the basic of basics for U.S. collectors. Of course, dozens of options featuring the various series and denominations are also available, designed to fit every pocketbook.
Remember to keep numismatic items at the top of your gift list! ■