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Boxes Not Needed
August 07, 2008

It is still a race to get this week's Numismatic News out the door later today. I am finishing up the photo pages as soon as I finish this post.

One interesting experience I had while I was at the American Numismatic Association convention in Baltimore was that I happened to look into the trash barrel in the aisle by the Krause table. The contents were almost uniformly blue. It was a blue I recognized as Mint boxes, so I looked closer.

There I am, the editor of Numismatic News standing in the aisle in a crowd of people poking in a trash can. Nobody said anything. Perhaps nobody noticed.

However, I had to find out what the boxes were. There were all for the 1987 Constitution $5 gold piece. That is the most common of the $5 commemoratives that have been struck since 1986 and it trades based solely on bullion value.

Anybody who bought it at issue price suffered for years by watching its price decline. Now that gold is fluctuating around the $900-an-ounce mark, the coins are worth far more as metal than as a collector's item.

If the coins are heading off to a refinery, there is no need for boxes. So as was the case in 1980, mintages of precious metal coinage become ever more suspect.

Will this change the common status of the coin? I doubt it. It will take a long while to get rid of a significant number of the more than 800,000 uncirculated and proofs that collectors eagerly snapped up.

It is also a lesson about the value of original packaging. It can't overcome the larger factors of underlying bullion value or collector demand.

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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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