US Coins

Previewing 2017: A long-term outlook

Many collectors wonder, if they take a long-term outlook on their coin investment — as is advised — will there be another generation of collectors willing to buy their coins? The U.S. Mint’s demographics is typical of what is seen on any coin show bourse — customers who are mostly older, white and male.

Image courtesy of U.S. Mint.

To open 2017, Steve Roach tackles the appeal of rare coins and why they command the hobby's attention. Below is the fourth and final segment of his extensive look at the rare coin market as it exists today and what may garner attention in the coming year:

As the stock market reaches for record heights and precious metal prices stay at relatively stable levels, one wonders where the rare coin market is headed in 2017. With all of the potential for change under a new presidential administration, many are optimistic but cautious; hesitant to make any major changes in their investment strategies and perhaps waiting for the right time to buy rare coins.

Will established collectors come out and buy rare coins in 2017? Will new collectors and investors enter the rare coin market, increasing demand?

If you’re interested in stepping up your rare coin game, or if you’re entering the rare coin marketplace for the first time, you should look at the rare coin market as it exists today and seek to understand the pitfalls and possibilities inherent in rare coin investing. Smart coin buying today requires at least an awareness of the changes that might impact the future when it comes time to sell. 

Looking ahead

Because of the transaction costs inherent in buying and selling coins, it’s almost always well-advised to take a long-term outlook for collecting, with a holding period of at least a decade.

But many collectors wonder, if they take a long-term outlook on their coin investment — as is advised — will there be another generation of collectors willing to buy their coins?

The U.S. Mint recently released a report that showed their product sales and revenue since 2000. The report shows general declines in both in the past five years. This speaks to a decline in interest in coin collecting — at least in collecting modern Mint issues — that can be attributed to the end of the 50 State quarter dollar program in 2008. 

Read more of Steve’s look ahead at the 2017 rare coin market:

1835 Coronet centThe appeal of investing in coins: Even though it may not feel like it all the time, there are still hundreds of thousands of people who collect coins and millions who have fond memories of coins.

1942-S Washington quarter dollarThe strategic advantages of investing in coins:This is often seen in 20th century U.S. coins. A 1942-S Washington quarter dollar has a mintage of nearly 20 million pieces and is considered a bullion coin in circulated grades.”

1787 New York Excelsior copper coinLearning lessons from veteran collectors:There’s a general concept across collecting categories that the highest caliber of objects is most desirable for investing, but this is not universally true. Read insight from these collectors”


One particularly jarring graphic showed a decline in the numismatic customer base over the past decade paired with declining sales volume. The Mint confirmed the statistics seen in numismatic publications and hobby organizations like the American Numismatic Association: the people that buy coins are largely white males; few collectors are women and even fewer are non-white.

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The Mint’s statistics were not encouraging, in that even as the United States is becoming increasingly diverse, rare coin buyer demographics aren’t budging. Especially as non-white groups become upwardly mobile and have increasing buying power and discretionary income, it is essential to make coin collecting attractive and accessible to a broader range of groups including African Americans, Hispanics and women. For rare coins to be a solid long-term investment, coins have to remain relevant to potential buyers.

Surveys of collectors show that an interest in collecting is usually sparked when people are very young; most collectors recall being introduced to coins when they were approximately 6 to 9 years old.

Even if the young person doesn’t start collecting coins right away, the seed grows and then something sparks renewed curiosity in them as an adult. They might start buying small, and then the buying grows. This cycle must be nurtured in young people today, where collecting in general may not come as naturally as it did for prior generations.

A coin can be used to teach history and economics; its designs can cultivate artistic and aesthetic values just as coin grading can teach about relative quality. The greater rare coin market consists of hundreds of thousands of individual transactions online, at coin shows and between collectors. These many individual micro transactions combine to create the greater rare coin market and these seemingly individually insignificant events can, over the course of months and years, shape the rare coin market in massive ways.

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