As numismatists, we are all very fortunate to enjoy one of the
strongest markets ever.
In the last several years, while America and the world has been
suffering the most severe economic recession since the 1930s, the rare
coin market has been doing well. For anyone who has been forced into
unemployment or foreclosure, this news is irrelevant.
Like the idea or not, the state of the economy drives the results
of national elections. Following the Panic of 1837, President Martin
Van Buren lost his bid for re-election. In 1932 President Herbert
Hoover, who had no real answers for the Depression, was wiped out by
Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had plenty of ideas. In 1980, with
double-digit inflation, long lines at gas pumps and other problems,
Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan in his effort to secure a second
term. All eyes on 2012. However, there is still time for incumbents to
take stock of economic reality and do something effective about it.
Changing the drift slightly, today many people have a lot of
money. Traditional investments have proven to be uncertain in recent
times. It has been very difficult for any person to pick a winner in
the stock market. Cash investments in CDs, Treasury bills and money
market funds now yield very little in the way of return.
The rallying call of the day seems to be “What the heck! I’ll
spend my money on something I will enjoy owning!” Sales of luxury
automobiles are very strong. The pages of The Wall Street Journal,
Forbes, The Economist and other periodicals with upscale subscribers
are filled with advertisements for watches costing thousands of
dollars. The art auction houses of Christie’s and Sotheby’s have both
reported recent highs in volume and profits. Gold and silver bullion
prices have risen to all-time highs.
Along the way more than just a few numismatists have turned their
attention to buying “dream coins” that otherwise might have been
ignored. As an example, acquiring a choice or gem Uncirculated 1907
Saint-Gaudens, High Relief, Roman Numerals gold $20 double eagle,
costing say $20,000 or more, becomes an easy decision for anyone with
money in the bank, without fretting that the same $20,000 could be
earning 6 percent interest, as would have been the case a few years ago.
Did you know that the mid-1930s in the depth of the Great
Depression saw the greatest boom ever in the coin market? Factors
included new albums on the market and speculation in commemoratives.
The strength continued and launched the modern coin market.
Q. David Bowers is chairman emeritus of Stack’s Bowers Galleries
and numismatic director of Whitman Publishing LLC. He can be reached
at his private email, email@example.com,
or at Q. David Bowers, LLC, Box 1804, Wolfeboro, NH 03894.