Designs of the Times column from Nov. 30,
2015, issue of Coin World:
The market for Bust coins by die marriage has developed into a
multi-tiered marketplace that cannot be covered by traditional price guides.
As die marriage collecting developed,
A Guide Book of United States Coins, the
“Red Book,” gave the value of the more common die marriages. The
other, scarcer die marriages did not have a reliable price guide. The
“values” they sold for were often random, based on what a willing
buyer and seller could agree upon. More recently, collectors have
developed a database of auction prices for the scarcer marriages,
which helps to determine the values for these rare marriages.
The Coin Dealer
Newsletter came on the scene in the 1960s to help dealers
determine the wholesale values of coins. This tool has recently
morphed into more of a general price guide for the more common coins
in less than perfect condition for the grade, when used for the Bust coins.
There are at least three tiers to the market. At the top of the
pyramid are the investor coins, all housed in thick plastic slabs with
lofty grade labels. These often trade at auction, and when available
in dealer showcases, all have prices unsupported by any printed price guide.
The second tier of the pyramid is the circulated coin with
impeccable surfaces that is in high demand from many collectors who
have refined their tastes over the years to accept only the most
original coins for each grade. The higher the grade, the higher the
demand; these also do not adhere to any printed price list. Collectors
are left to determine their own comfort levels of price based on
budget and availability.
The third tier involves the rest of the coins, in lower grades of
circulated or “problem” coins that are languishing in dealer
inventories looking for buyers who are unconcerned with the “look” of
the coins or their eventual resale value. These are often discounted
to sell. Dealers are not excited to add them to inventory, knowing the
difficulty in selling them.
More and more collectors are demanding the best coins in any given
grade, making the choice coins more difficult to find and more
expensive to buy. As they are the smallest percentage of the surviving
populations, fewer trades are being recorded, leaving stale inventory
to stare at everyone show after show.
Therefore, buy carefully, my friend, as your taste today will
determine the marketability of your coins in the future.