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Market Cycles Both Seasonal and Long Term
April 06, 2009

One of the perennial topics of numismatic writing is the arrival of the April 15 tax filing deadline, a date that usually looms larger for those who owe Uncle Sam money than those who do not.

Those individuals who are entitled to refunds usually get their returns submitted as fast as they can to get their hands on the refund.

My first boss, Arnold Jeffcoat, who occupied the editor's chair at Numismatic News 1973-1982, had his tax time editorial all ready to go.

He usually wrote that the market would slow down, either as items were sold to raise money to pay taxes or money was not available to make as many purchases.

This pause was often characterized as a buying opportunity if one was interested in the popularly traded and easily salable items like proof sets.

Rarities, of course, don't trade in quite such a seasonal manner. Their sales cycle runs in longer stretches. When markets are hot, they tend to appear in public sales more frequently as each owner grabs the prestige of adding his name to a pedigree and then decides the easy profit is worth taking in a year or two.

During down parts of the long-term cycles, the rarities appear less and less as the owners, knowing their long-term value, put them away, awaiting the next crazy up cycle that will earn them the profit they are looking for.

Sometimes life events prevent owners from optimizing their sales timing, but it is amazing to watch this speeding up and slowing down process over the years.

Heritage putting an 1804 silver dollar in the Central States auction at the end of this month just a year after selling another 1804 dollar at the prior Central States convention could be an indication that the upside of the market cycle is still intact.

Anyone active in the business will certainly hope so.

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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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