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Where Do We Go From Here?
December 10, 2010

What will be the next big thing in numismatics?

Right now it is easy to get distracted by the show being put on by gold and silver. It will end at some point. What comes next?

Some might say it will be the end of the economy as we know it with the dollar made worthless. I don’t believe that.

I’ve seen four fevered bullion markets. Three ended badly with prices falling by 50 percent or more. This one will end that way, too.

What comes next?

In the 1980s it was silver dollars fueled for part of that decade by the advent of commercial grading services.

That market peaked in 1989 and still has not attained the old highs.

Too many common silver dollars were bought because they were the best known. That works for an 1889-CC but is not a real effective philosophy for common coins that dominate a popular market.

Real rarity became the mantra in the 1990s against an overall backdrop of a weak market. Coins like 1804 dollars and 1913 nickels again rose to the top of collector desires.

The state quarter program wrenched the hobby back to popular mass issues and the Mint churned out such a wide variety of them that there was nothing left to do but cut back as the state program was ending even as new legislation for Presidential dollars and America the Beautiful quarters tried to keep the game going.

The present excitement over America the Beautiful 5-ounce bullion coins is reminiscent of the beginning of the First Spouse program. It took three sellouts in that series before collectors got bored. How many issues of the America the Beautiful bullion coins will be issued before the market turns its attention to something else? A sellout of the present 33,000 bullion coin sets is virtually guaranteed.

The new rules will allow many an average collector to take a speculative flier and win.

What comes next?

Good question.

Do you have an answer?

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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