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Silver Shock
April 21, 2011

When the proof silver American Eagle coins are placed on sale June 30, what do you think the price will be?

Whatever it is, it will be a far higher than the $21 price of the very first one sold in 1986.

Collectors have long memories. Whether people with good memories become collectors or collectors develop good memories, the fact remains that sticker shock might hit the hobby.

There were loud complaints about the $45.95 issue price of the 2010 proof silver Eagle late last November, but collectors swallowed hard and purchased 860,000. They had been deprived of the 2009 issue and the hunger for the proof overcame their price resistance.

I am sure they are happy they did so because that price now seems like a screaming bargain with silver today at $45.77, almost double where it was when the proof Eagle was priced.

Even if silver stays at the current level, issue price is going to be approaching $90. That’s more than four times the 1986 issue price. Collectors will notice.

What if silver bullion continues its upward spiral as some are forecasting? $60 silver would probably push the issue price of the proof to $100.

At what point will collectors in large numbers quit buying the coins? Their incomes and resources are not infinite.

This is not to pick on the 2011 proof silver American Eagle. It just happens to be timed well to judge the market reaction. In the 1979-1980 boom collector reluctance to buy silver coins became noticeable before the investor enthusiasm ended. Perhaps it was an early warning of larger market trends.

Whatever it was, it was a phenomenon I remember and will watch for to see if it happens again.

When you look at the prices of collectible silver coins, are you starting to feel stretched yet?

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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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