Fewer coins being melted with lower gold, silver prices

Fresh material hard to find; key-date coins remain in demand
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By Michael Findlay-Canadian Coins Market Analyst
Published : 08/26/12
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In the past few months, silver and gold prices have been hovering around $27 and $1,600, per ounce, respectively. Such prices give me the opportunity to remove the “BV” designation from some issues, especially George V and George VI silver coins. When silver is at $40 an ounce, many dealers put lower grade or slightly better coins in the melt bucket. At two-thirds of this price, you can afford to keep them and try to get a premium.

I am hoping that, since the great “melt” has slowed a bit with reduced metal prices and the falloff in demand, dealers will start working through piles of coins put aside for sorting and we will all have more coins to look at. Very little fresh material has been available lately so, at coin shows, trying to buy enough for customers has been frustrating.

Key-date coins are still very much in demand, especially in the entry level grades, Good to Fine. These coins are on many want lists, but they remain hard to find in quantities. Other coins in demand are the harder to find Victoria and Edward 10- and 25-cent coins in Extremely Fine and About Uncirculated. Victoria 50-cent coins in Very Fine and higher grades are possibly the least traded of all Canadian issues currently, as they become quite pricey, especially in AU or better. Canadian silver dollars generally remain the most solid area in Canadian numismatics, with the key dates, 1945 to 1948, hard to keep in stock.

The market for Newfoundland coins is spotty. The 1865 to 1888 issues in Good to Fine sell fairly well. For the issues of 1890 to 1945, the market is relatively slow. All issues seem to be slow in VF, AU and Mint State. The most sought after Newfoundland coin continues to be the 1946-C 5-cent coin, in all grades. I have raised the prices of this coin in the entry level grades, as they tend to be about EF or better.

So far, in 2012, the Royal Canadian Mint continues to produce a record amount of products, as the queen’s Diamond Jubilee was responsible for at least a dozen different issues. We had other themes. Add this to the birds, lady bugs, glow-in-the-dark dinosaurs and coins with crystals, and I am sure the total number of different issues this year will break the 100 mark!

Many issues sold before 2004 are selling at below issue prices, unless they are chunky silver or gold coins. Even the Chinese Lunar coins of 1998 and 2009 are sluggish. These had previously been perpetually good sellers.

High grade and expensive coins have been fairly slow, unless they are exceptional or finest graded. Demand from collectors to upgrade their Professional Coin Grading Service Registry set continues to help fuel this market, but if the coins do not place in the top one or two grades known, they usually sell at discounts to catalog levels. The same holds true for coins graded by International Coin Certification Service, in Canada.

Generally, the market continues to chug along, with shows being more sluggish in the last few months. We look forward to predictions of much higher metal prices, which, if they come to pass in the near future, will give hope to all the investors who are full to the gunnels with silver Canadian Maple Leafs or American Eagles. ■

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