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Great Deal or a Trap?
November 30, 2011

It is that time of year again when collectors of U.S. commemorative coins decide whether the sales levels of current programs are so low that they must jump in and buy some additional examples.

Complicating this end of the season ritual is the fact that the premium over gold value for many of the modern commemorative coins has sunk to zero. They have become just interchangeable chunks of precious metal as far as the commercial market is concerned.

Will this current market reality squash any impulse to buy from the U.S. Mint the U.S. Army $5 or the Medal of Honor $5 in the next two weeks? It certainly could.

Any collector worth his salt has to consider the commercial market unless he has just absolutely fallen in love with the theme and can’t imagine not owning one.

With this in mind, is the current 7,227 sales figure for the Army uncirculated $5 tempting? How about the 7,597 number for the uncirculated Medal of Honor $5?

Once you have made your decision relating to these two coins, another angle presents itself.

If gold commemoratives are trading for gold value, now is the time to sort through them to pick up whatever coins of the last quarter century you do not have in your collection. Why pay a numismatic premium if you do not have to – unless, of course, you think gold bullion is going to fall drastically.

That’s the trouble with being a thinking collector. There’s always a catch.

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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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