Jim Bisognani: There’s No Place Like Coins for the Holidays

Posted on 12/3/2020

Even during this unprecedented time, coindexters are finding ways to rejoice during the holiday season.

On the last leg of a year that brought us a worldwide pandemic, we have, for the most part, adapted to the simple safeguards that protect us, well, from each other. Social distancing and wearing masks, while meeting initial resistance, has become commonplace.

Even the hard-fought US presidential election held a full month ago, as this article posts, was in no way traditional as a plethora of my fellow Americans had to find safe alternatives to casting their votes in person.

The world we inhabit, is an entirely different place than the one we ushered in at the beginning of 2020. Doesn’t it seem so long ago? Yet here we are, already in December, with the holiday season fast upon us. We all could benefit from an infusion of that warm and joyful feeling.

The numismatic community continues to thrive

Those of us in the numismatic fraternity have a lot to be thankful for. While third-party grading was initially met with strong resistance, as all changes are, NGC certification provides safeguards and protections that the industry has long needed and are now commonplace.

In fact, the newer generation of numismatists has only known third-party grading! One of the newer generation’s numismatists is my friend and fellow Price Guide Analyst, Kevin Stoutjesdyk, who just returned from his late November vacation. It was an enviable scenic 5,500-mile road trip across the US. Originating from Florida to points west, this grand excursion allowed Kevin to see our great country’s sites and landmarks up close. The highlight of the trip was a visit to the Grand Canyon before swinging back through the Rockies and returning home. In total, he traversed at least 17 states!

Kevin takes a Holiday Eve detour

When we last spoke on the phone to wish one another a Happy Thanksgiving, Kevin told me he was just entering Colorado. Since his carefully planned itinerary had afforded him some unallotted time, we brainstormed other points of interest he could visit.

“Hey, Jim how far from Denver is the ANA headquarters and Museum?” Kevin asked through the speakerphone while he was driving through the Rocky Mountain State. I Googled it and told him that it was about 70 miles to Colorado Springs. I then checked to see if the ANA was open that Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Sure enough, although offering limited hours due to COVID-19, the ANA Money Museum was open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

I mean, what else would a hearty, young numismatist want to visit on Thanksgiving Eve than the holy shrine of numismatics? After his visit, Kevin opined, “For any collector, the ANA Money Museum should be on their bucket list and is worth the 'pilgrimage.' The Harry Bass Jr. exhibit was tremendous!” I guess there is no place like coins for the holidays.

Demand for coins is surging

An army of ardent coin collectors and those more casual allies who have been relegated to working from home have been spending a record amount of time and money scouring the internet, buying and bidding on coins in record fashion. Coin-dealer sites have lit up like the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. Virtually every major dealer I have spoken to has reported that their sales have been utterly fantastic. I guess this is one of the realities during the pandemic. Many collectors and people are looking for something to do and what to buy and have zeroed in on coins.

Aside from the mainstream numismatists who are always looking to fill a void or two in their respective collections, we’re also seeing many investors and speculators enter the arena. Some are doing so on recommendation, while others are solely intent on repositioning paper assets to the “rare” certified coin market.

Numismatics nostalgia dissipates cabin fever

It seems another faction may simply be reprising a more latent numismatic desire. As one proud repatriated Indian Head Cent collector, Dave G from Ohio, relayed, “Working and being at home pretty much all day and night since mid-March was getting me a bit stir-crazy. I found myself in the attic rummaging through some things just for something to do. I wound up finding a box of Indian Cents and Wheat Back Lincolns that were sitting in an old cedar chest. Just digging into that box and smelling the cedar brought back memories of my parents leaving some spare change for me there when I was a kid.

Looking back, I think my mom and dad were hoping that I would have taken that cue and become a collector. Well, now, some 42 years later, I am actually buying some NGC-certified Indian Head Cents. I’ve picked up five common dates from the 1900s to start, and each coin is a nice MS 64 RD. They look great. It’s been fun picking them up at auction and has definitely kept me from going stir-crazy.”

Pandemic or not, the holidays are at hand and the die-hard numismatists must find time to fit in their passion. So, whether a road trip finds you on a detour to the ANA Money Museum or a flight to the attic recaptures your youthful appetite for Indian Head Cents, there is no place like coins for the holidays, my fellow coindexters.

Until next time, be safe, happy holidays and happy collecting!

Jim Bisognani is an NGC Price Guide Analyst. He has written extensively on US coin market trends and values.

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