US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for April 17, 2023: Changes and 'Trends' returns

We are making changes to how we report on U.S. coin values, including the introduction of a new product with an old name: “Coin World Trends.”

Coin World image.

Readers will note something different in the print and digital editions of the May monthly Coin World magazine — the inclusion of a new, separate publication with an old title and a reduction in the page count in the U.S. coins valuing section in this monthly issue.

Starting with the May monthly issue of Coin World, the U.S. coins valuing section will focus on the most active series. Rick Amos, CEO of Amos Media Company, with the help of outside consultants, spearheaded the effort to identify those series. He explains, “We are listing coin values of coin prices that need to be published monthly. We are eliminating those coins that change less frequently.”

We continue to update all series, and you will continue to find the full values section here.

This change to reduce the issue’s page count was made of necessity, driven by ever increasing costs of paper, ink and printing, plus rising postal rates. Despite the reduced page count this issue, you will find most of the usual features, columns and news published in every monthly issue.

On to a new product with an old name — the introductory issue of Coin World Trends. Older readers will recognize that name as the original for our U.S. coins valuing guide, one with its origin in the very first issue of Coin World, published in April 1960. For an explanation of this new publication that will be bundled with your monthly issues, I refer you to editorial director Larry Jewett’s Editorial in that publication.

Creating the original ‘Trends’

The true genius of J. Oliver Amos’ foresight in 1960 in founding Coin World is, arguably, his decision to offer coin pricing information in every issue. Thus was born the original “Trends.”

Amos explained in an interview during Coin World’s 25th anniversary year: “We ... had the concept that a weekly presentation of coin values would be a very potent selling force or interest factor for collectors because we had found by observations that most people wanted to talk about their coins and they occasionally mentioned the price they paid for them, particularly when the value at the time we were talking was greater than what they had paid. You could tell the pride they had in being so sharp. Dealers enjoyed seeing a rise in prices.”

Amos patterned the weekly pricing section, originally called “Trends Of Today’s Coin Values,” on The Wall Street Journal’s stock price listings. Price changes were indicated by an up arrow or down arrow in the far right column, showing which way the market was going for a particular coin.

To edit the Trends values section, Amos needed someone with solid numismatic credentials and impeccable reputation. He found the right numismatist just 35 miles distant from Sidney, Ohio, our hometown.

In December 1959, Amos contracted with Dayton, Ohio, coin dealer James F. Kelly to provide the pricing and write about the coin market every week. Kelly had been one of the few dealers who thought a weekly coin newspaper a good idea. The proximity of Dayton and Sidney made it possible for Amos to easily consult with Kelly while planning the newspaper’s launch.

Jim Kelly explained what he would be doing in his initial column, in that first issue: “We are not attempting to make a market, only to report the trends of that which exists. The price spread does not indicate a ‘buy’ or ‘sell’ quotation. The difference, sometimes sizeable, can be the result of many reasons: difference of opinion, greater demand in certain locations, assumed differences in quality, or any number of things.”

“We have discounted the ridiculously high or uninformed low prices which do not seem in line with current values. Your reactions and suggestions will be appreciated and helpful in giving you the information most desired.”

The first issue of Coin World offered values for Lincoln cents, a few Indian Head 5-cent coins, Jefferson 5-cent coins, Winged Liberty Head and Roosevelt dimes, Washington quarter dollars, Walking Liberty and Franklin half dollars, and the United States Mint’s Proof and Uncirculated Mint sets.

Values were given for coins in “standard Brilliant Uncirculated” condition.

For Trends, Kelly for each coin assigned prices in a two-point range for both single and roll quantities (roll collecting was probably one of the hottest methods of collecting then).

By publishing Trends on a weekly basis, Coin World was able to react to market conditions much more rapidly than other publications. Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine and The Numismatist did not offer coin pricing, other than the buy and sell prices that could be found in coin dealers’ ads. The most prominent price guide used then was A Guide Book of United States Coins, the “Red Book,” as it was known then and is still known today. The “Red Book” was published annually (the same as today). That meant pricing data in the most recent edition could be months old, or even more than a year out of date just before the summer release of the new edition.

“Trends” would undergo many changes over the decades. Even after we abandoned the “Trends” name, collectors and dealers continued to informally reference our price guide by its original name. Now, the name is back in an exciting and informative new product. 

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