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Little Reason to Pay Big Price?
November 17, 2009

I had an inquiry from a reader who wonders why packaging seems to be such a big deal in recent years.

The underlying value of the set is supplied by the coins in it, right?

This is one of those questions that you answer by saying listen to what I say but don’t watch what I do.

Many collectors would say that indeed the main value factor comes from the coins. However, if you watch trading on the secondary market, you come to the conclusion that such a statement often is self-evidently wrong.

The most recent example of this is the Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set. You take five coins that were made available in other ways and put them in a special package. There are only 50,000 of those special packages.

Voila, you have a product on the secondary market that is priced at $180 that contains coins that can be purchased for a third to half that amount.

Is the package worth $90-$120?

Hobby thinking is a cross between traditional thinking and a cat chasing anything that moves.

The 1986 cherry-wood box for the Statue of Liberty set was valued at $100 for a time shortly after issue. However, the general commonness of the coins eventually won the battle of valuation and the pretty package did little to augment the secondary market price.

So why do we fall for the packaging issue over and over again? Good question, but the fact that we do gives the Mint that makes them and eBay sellers a nice future income stream.

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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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