US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for May 4, 2020: An unknown answer

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted daily routines worldwide. Among the unknowns is the effect the stay-at-home orders will have on sales of numismatic products.

Image courtesy of Centers for Disease Control.

This year will be best remembered for one thing, primarily: the COVID-19 pandemic and the havoc it has unleashed on the world, including the worldwide numismatic community.

What remains to be seen is the effect the stay-at-home orders here in the United States and around the world will have on numismatic sales.

Auction companies have switched to a mostly online approach, conducting their “public” auctions from the safety of their corporate headquarters buildings. In the United States this seems to be working well; much of the bidding at auctions in recent years has been done online anyway, so the switch has not been too detrimental. Of course, opportunities to view lots in person are somewhat or completely curtailed, but the quality of online images at the major firms tends to be good.

Convention business, however, has been hammered. The last major coin show was the American Numismatic Association’s National Money Show, held in late February in Atlanta. Since then, the March Whitman Baltimore Expo and Central States Numismatic Society convention were both canceled, under state orders limiting size of in-person gatherings. Smaller coin shows were canceled around the nation and the world. Whitman’s June Baltimore Expo is also canceled. ANA officials indicate that the August World’s Fair of Money is still scheduled for Pittsburgh; stay-at-home orders in Pennsylvania will determine whether the ANA can conduct that show. Nonetheless, the cancelation of all these shows may affect collector buying habits, although many dealers sell coins online and thus can stay in contact-free contact with their customers.

Sales at the United States Mint may be affected as well. Temporary closures of the West Point Mint and San Francisco Mint have stalled sales of new numismatic products, including both commemorative coin programs. However, traditionally, most sales of a new numismatic product tend to occur in the first days of availability, so the impact may be low. Hopefully, some normalcy is in the near future.

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