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Long Numismatic Winter?
October 25, 2010

The woolly caterpillars say that the winter in Wisconsin is going to be warmer than normal. That is good news for those of us who do not like to shiver in January when it is 20 below zero for days on end. This season perhaps it will be only 10 below for days on end. I can hardly wait.

I shouldn’t get my hopes up too high, though, because this local weather forecaster is only 70 percent accurate.

The woolly caterpillars of the gold investment industry are still forecasting higher highs in the coming weeks even though actual physical demand for gold for jewelry and other uses is down significantly and it is investment buying that is keeping demand ahead of supply.

Buying momentum is nothing new to anyone who follows the stock market. Nobody cares anymore what the future of a company’s business is. What matters is whether a high-speed computer can trade according to algorithms and take advantage of its direction. In short, it goes up because it goes up.

Gold and silver’s momentum is having a deleterious impact on coin collectors. The meat and potato buyers are being priced out of the market and more and more coins are simply being sold for scrap.

If this phenomenon doesn’t last too long, it isn’t a bad thing, as it injects some ready cash into commercial numismatic channels and gives sellers new bucks to play with in our field.

However, if it means that collectors will hibernate for the winter like Chippy, our resident chipmunk who has gained popularity this summer by regularly gazing through the office window, then it will be a long winter no matter what the woolly caterpillars and the thermometer say.

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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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