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Spotlight: Good or Bad?
November 19, 2008

A columnist in the New York Post wrote about the continuing high demand for bullion coins, both U.S. and foreign. I happened to see it and John and Nancy Wilson kindly e-mailed me a copy in case I had not. My thanks go to them.

There was nothing in it that the numismatic media have not been reporting for some time now.

What is significant is the fact that it is mentioned in a non-hobby paper. Often when numismatic trends are discussed outside the hobby, the trend is getting close to coming to an end.

We had wonderful press in 1989 about coins going to Wall Street. That year happened to be the high point for Morgan silver dollars. They haven't returned to those heights since. The rest of the hobby areas also began a downturn that lasted until the mid 1990s.

We've had a great run since the last coin market bottomed. This was fueled in part by the state quarter program.

But another factor that helped is that gold and silver bottomed out in 2001 and began an upward climb. Now don't get me wrong, bullion speculation is not numismatics, but there is a connection.

Many dealers generate nice cash flows handling bullion coins. When demand gets particularly hot, as has been the case this year, the demand for metals spills over into coins not usually as appealing to the bullion coin buyers because they are not even troy weights, such as U.S. $20 gold pieces.

While it is always good to be noticed, pardon me if my first thought this time is "Yikes."

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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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