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Can You Influence Prices?
January 18, 2012

One of the advantages of being a collector is there is so much to collect. You can buy just about anything you want.

A disadvantage about collecting is you can buy anything you want. Some older issues are so little known or so out of favor that selling them is a great challenge.

That’s why the great coin dealers and auctioneers are great storytellers. They leave little to chance. They prime their potential audience of purchasers with the history that goes with the numismatic items they sell. They create an atmosphere that inspires something close to yearning in buyers that they just have to satisfy.

I know that feeling well. I think all collectors do.

Many Franklin Mint medals created in the late 1960s and early 1970s were eagerly snapped up by buyers. The artwork was first rate. The sales pitch was a great story.

I remember looking at the silver Michelangelo series. I thought the medals were incredible. I was restrained from buying the set only by not having the money to spend at the time.

Today the medals are still very beautiful and they will be beautiful in the future.

However, the market for art medals does not make headlines and these pieces often sell simply for the price of the precious metal in them. When silver is high, as it is now, that isn’t a bad thing. When silver is low, it becomes another story.

I get questions as to why this is so.

There is no answer that satisfies when someone basically tells me, “I find these appealing. Why can’t I sell them for more?”

It becomes a question of self-worth. The price paid or offered becomes a referendum on the seller’s taste.

That is not how it should be viewed. We all buy things that we like. We all find that some of the things we buy drop in price.

Even within the generally very popular and salable U.S. coin field there can be fads. The 1950-D Jefferson nickel was popular from its time of issue until 1964. Then it went to sleep for many years. There is nothing wrong with the coin.

I thought I was getting a deal when I bought one in BU in 1969 for $12, which was half the 1964 price. But as the years passed, the price went lower still.

If I had invested my sense of self-worth in that purchase alone I would have been unhappy for years. Instead, I viewed it as the coin that completed my set and I went on to collect other coins. That is how everything should be viewed. Always ask yourself how you are doing on balance. Perhaps when I sell it in 2029 the 1950-D will be the hottest coin on the market.

On another note, I am reminded that today and tomorrow there is a half-price sale on Check it out, especially if you want to buy a book to tell you what the price of a 1950-D nickel is these days.

More Coin Collecting Resources:

State Quarters Deluxe Folder By Warmans

• Subscribe to our Coin Price Guide, buy Coin Books Coin Folders and join the NumisMaster VIP Program

Strike It Rich with Pocket Change, 2nd Edition

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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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