US Coins

Gold continues to perform well amid uncertainty

Gold touched a high on Sept. 8 that it had not seen for a year, approaching $1,350 an ounce and leading to talk of a rally for precious metals more generally.

The precious metal has moved up nearly 10 percent since July. Typically, gold rises during times of uncertainty and with the current uncertain political climate both in the United States and in other major nations, two major hurricanes impacting southern states, the increasing nuclear aggression of North Korea and other significant concerns, there is a general unease that makes investors want to turn to hard assets for a feeling of control and protection.

Winners vs. Losers: Why some U.S. Mint products soar and others don’t”Did you buy a winner or a loser from the U.S. Mint? Also in this week’s print issue of Coin World, we not only learn more about rare coins, but collectible rare cars as well.

At the same time, stocks continue to soar and there’s lingering concern that the Federal Reserve might increase interest rates, as key measurements, such as unemployment, consumer income and consumer spending, document the general strength of the U.S. economy.

Many investors, however, are hesitant to put money in stocks at the current high levels, are disappointed with low bond returns, and remain nervous about gold with its volatility. In many ways, it’s a time where many investors could gravitate toward collectible assets like rare coins.

Fall offers some important barometers for the rare coin market, starting with the September Long Beach Expo with its official auctions for U.S. coins, paper money and world coins by Heritage. These are joined by unofficial pre-show auctions by Bonhams (which featured a strong collection of classic era U.S. Proof coins) and Ira and Larry Goldberg Auctioneers (who did well with rare-date U.S. gold coins). All three firms kept buyers busy with an unusually diverse group of coins.

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As auctioneers shift the cost of doing business to the buyer, enticing sellers with reduced (or zero) seller fees and “hammer plus” arrangements, where the seller receives the hammer price plus a percentage of the buyer’s fee, selling at auction could become even more attractive to those considering liquidating collections.

Smaller regional shows, like the Central Ohio Numismatic Association’s annual Labor Day weekend coin show in metropolitan Columbus, continue to thrive when organizers work to make the show appealing to dealers, collectors and those simply curious about coins. Local advertising helps bring fresh deals to the show and rising gold brings people through the door looking to buy a gold bar or a few silver American Eagle bullion coins. Shows that don’t adapt and make changes continue to suffer and evaporate.

Overall the rare coin market feels healthy right now. Increased mainstream attention to gold is bringing people into local coin shops and shows; online and smaller auctions fill the gaps in between major shows; and new buyers seem to be replacing sellers at the top of the market. The next major national convention is the Whitman Baltimore Expo, scheduled for Nov. 9 to 12, with many regional events filling in the gaps until then.

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