NumisMedia Market Report: Education Is the Heart and Soul of Numismatics

Posted on 8/23/2010

Early Proof gold is an area usually ignored by mainstream numismatics. However, the advanced collector / investor knows all too well how rare and desirable these coins are in today’s market.

Coin shows are the foundation of the coin industry. Nowadays, there may be as many as five coin shows across the country in one weekend, not all of them a rousing success. Most are judged by the amount of business dealers transact before, during and after the show. For the most part, the amount of visitors a show draws will determine how well dealers achieve their goals. When a show has a lot of attendance, the atmosphere feeds upon itself and usually results in a successful show. However, when a show is not particularly eventful for collectors, it can still be a learning experience. Collectors get the opportunity to meet dealers from out of their area and, if nothing else, compare them to their local dealers they've been buying from to see if they have been treated professionally.

The ANA World’s Fair of Money took place recently in Boston, August 10-14. This show characterizes the epitome of education. Not only did collectors get the opportunity to see and talk with the top experts in specific series, there were many educational seminars and exhibits where they could expand their knowledge about numismatics.

Speaking of education, this is a good time to educate yourself on buying and selling US gold coins. The government would prefer us to not own gold or any other kind of bullion because they cannot track the money stream. They would rather have the public buy stocks or just keep the money in the bank. The bankers would love that because they only pay one percent interest while loaning money on credit cards at 15% to 25%, and more when you tack on all the fees. If you don’t buy gold to protect your assets, what do you buy? Ask the very people who don’t want you to buy it -- the politicians, the bankers, the wall-street brokers -- if they buy gold. They all know a sick economy when they see it. They are not about to leave their assets unprotected. However, you must learn how to sell your coins as well as buy them. Make sure you have a legitimate avenue for selling your US gold. A good rule of thumb would be to purchase coins from dealers that have competitive markets in two-way transactions.

Early Proof gold is an area usually ignored by mainstream numismatics. However, the advanced collector / investor knows all too well how rare and desirable these coins are in today’s market. Early Proof Gold is quite popular but nice coins can be very difficult to locate. The original mintage for $20 Liberties, for example, is quite low. Most of the dates prior to 1880 have a mintage of 50 or less, with most in the 20-25 range. The NGC and PCGS Pop Reports show most of these with fewer than 10 coins certified in all grades. Even one of the later years, the 1905 has a mintage of 92 with only 39 certified in all grades. Remember, this does not account for possible resubmissions. The 1905 has a total of 14 graded PR 64 and only three in PR 65 with none higher. The FMV for the PR 64 is $47,810 and PR 65 is $94,380. By comparison, in January of 2005, the FMV was $30,630 in PR 64 and $62,500 in PR 65. The opportunities to buy nice Proof gold are few and far between. Moreover, when they do come on the market, they are typically from an old collection and surface in a major auction.

The following chart shows comparisons of the FMV for the most common Proof Gold dates within each listed series.

Denomination/Grade    January 2005 FMV    August 2010 FMV   
$1 Gold TIII PR 65 $8,750 $9,810
$1 Gold TIII PR 66 $11,880 $13,440
$2 ½ Gold Liberty PR 65 $13,130 $17,190
$2 ½ Gold Liberty PR 66 $16,250 $21,560
$2 ½ Gold Indian PR 65 $14,380 $27,680
$2 ½ Gold Indian PR 66 $19,380 $37,800
$3 Gold PR 65 $21,880 $32,500
$3 Gold PR 66 $29,380 $50,000
$4 Gold Flowing Hair PR 65 $168,130 $218,750
$4 Gold Flowing Hair PR 66 $200,000 $250,000
$5 Gold Liberty W/M PR 65 $25,630 $31,850
$5 Gold Liberty W/M PR 66 $34,440 $45,500
$5 Gold Indian PR 65 $28,280 $45,900
$5 Gold Indian PR 66 $32,190 $54,000
$10 Gold Liberty W/M PR 65 $32,500 $43,550
$10 Gold Liberty W/M PR 66 $42,250 $61,880
$10 Gold Indian PR 65 $36,880 $53,750
$10 Gold Indian PR 66 $46,880 $73,450
$20 Gold Liberty TIII PR 65 $62,500 $94,380
$20 Gold Liberty TIII PR 66 $90,630 $125,000
$20 Gold Saint PR 65 $48,130 $75,000
$20 Gold Saint PR 66 $62,500 $90,630


As you can see, the majority of these coins are very expensive to own and are quite rare in these higher grades and very difficult to accumulate. Each coin has advanced substantially over the past five years. What makes these coins so attractive to advanced collectors is the fact that they are so difficult to find and it is virtually impossible that a group of them would enter the market at any one time. These coins will always be rare and there will always be collectors ready to compete to acquire them.

This article is a guest article written by:

The thoughts and opinions in the piece are those of their author and are not necessarily the thoughts of the Certified Collectibles Group.