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Silver Often Dictates Collector Feelings
October 07, 2009

Expressions of disappointment have begun to make their way to me via e-mail following yesterday’s news that there will be no proof silver American Eagle coins among other things in 2009.

It is interesting and certainly logical that the first comments I get ignore gold and focus instead on silver.

Concerns about silver have been this generation’s companions since the Coinage Act of 1965 removed the metal from dimes and quarters and reduced it in the half dollar.

The loss of gold, on the other hand, was another generation’s experience in 1933 and they are mostly gone.

We collectors seem to alternate between fear of silver’s loss to the thrill of getting it in some new collector form.

The first silver "gift" after 1965 came in the Eisenhower dollar series in 1971. Congress authorized a special version in 40 percent silver for collectors.

Collector versions of the Bicentennial quarter, halves and dollars were the next “gifts.”

Silver went wild in 1979-1980 and along with a little giddiness or glee from the profits on the coins we currently owned there came a sense of forboding that with silver approaching and then reaching $50 an ounce that we really could not afford to maintain our interests in the same manner as before.

But the silver landscape was always changing. At the point of dispair there always seemed to arise a new collecting opportunity.

Proof silver American Eagles were one of those issues in the line of “gifts” to collectors. It is a popular set. It helped collectors imagine what it was like in the 19th century as each new Morgan dollar came off the press.

Now there is a gap in it. That familiar sense of loss kicks in. It is understandable.

But as sure as that loss has arrived, there will be another “gift.” What will it be? We’ll see.

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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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