Strong Market Exhibits Positive Atmosphere

Posted on 10/19/2007

Numismedia’s recent research says that there’s still plenty of money out there for truly rare coins.

NumisMedia is proud to offer a new upgraded format of our monthly Fair Market Value Price Guide, beginning with this October issue. The reduced overall size is more compact and easier to carry while maintaining its readability. We have added the MS68 grade to all series and now list Standing Liberty Quarters, including Full Head. You will also note that we now report the ups and downs of the market in bold for increases and in italics for declines, based on values from the last issue. Most advertising is now located on the back pages and features full color. We hope you enjoy these enhancements.

Results from the last few major coin shows (including auctions) indicate that the market remains very strong for coins that are properly graded and at least slightly difficult to obtain. The market has been dividing itself into two categories for a few years. This is now becoming more obvious to astute observers and participants. Over the last several years, new collectors of numismatics have been purchasing most of the common coins for their particular set collections. This has occurred in mass, and thousands of coins have been taken off the market. However, there has been a slowdown in demand for these very same coins. As a result, many common coins are just resting in dealer inventories until additional new collectors enter the market. The majority of dealers tend to reasonably price these kinds of coins compared to issues that are more active.

There are a few areas of the market that gather the majority of numismatic attention, yet numerous series receive little recognition. Most of these coins quietly trade within the upper echelon of dealers and collectors, experts to their rarity, with little need to advertise their availability. These advanced traders know who to call and how much they will pay for these desirable issues. Just about all Bust material and most of the Seated coinage falls into this category. Many experts in these areas do not want updated prices reported because it makes for an even playing field for those with less knowledge and experience. In the past few years, we have seen some major advances for this early material, and the current market continues to support even higher levels.

Bust Half Dollars are very popular and have been for quite a long time. Numismatists are looking for original specimens that have not been cleaned or retoned. For the following FMV comparisons, we used prices from January 2005 and today’s current levels. The common Flowing Hair Half Dollar was $25,000 in MS60 in 2005. Today it has an FMV of $35,630, and we see few traded in this grade or higher. In the last three years, we have only seen three mint state examples traded in Heritage auctions, and one of these was an MS64 for over $100,000. Draped Bust Halves have increased from $96,880 in MS60 to $218,750 today. Several dealers would be more than happy to purchase any of the mint state coins that may come onto the market. If you study the census reports from NGC and PCGS, you soon realize that the number of coins certified is generally very small compared to the original mintages. Further, mint state coins are so infrequently traded that new information on potential sales can be multiples of the current FMV.

Most of the Capped Bust Half Dollars have more than doubled in price in various grades since early 2005. The main reason for these increases is the low quality of the coins we see on the market. Many of the raw coins in dealer inventories may look nice, but have surface problems upon close scrutiny. The reason they are not certified is that NGC and PCGS will not grade coins that have damage, excessive marks, or artificial toning. When you see really nice certified coins in inventory, there are always customers willing to buy them. The only drawback may be that dealers act unreasonable with their prices. Consequently, the more aggressive collectors are the ones adding these little gems to their collections. An additional factor that influences premiums for Bust Halves is the Overton variety. There are thousands of collectors acquiring coins by variety, and when two potential buyers see the same rarity (usually in an auction), the price realized can be dramatically higher than the present FMV. Below are some examples of specific dates and how much they have advanced since 2005.

Bust Half Dollars January 2005 October 2007
1808/7 AU58 $1,380 $1,950
1811 AU58 $504 $1,110
1812 MS60 $870 $1,530
1815/2 MS60 $10,630 $15,630
1815/2 MS63 $24,440 $30,940
1818 MS64 $3,340 $4,560
1821 MS63 $2,050 $3,030

In this short timeframe, we note an interesting fact: the lack of a significant increase in the number of new coins certified by either service. Demand is higher for a relatively fixed number of coins in the market. Further, this supply diminishes almost on a weekly basis. But, judging by what we saw at the just completed Long Beach Expo, the demand for properly graded Bust Halves may not slow for quite awhile.

Another area that does not seem to be slowing down is Early Gold. Again, the same factors apply when searching out what serious connoisseurs are desiring in Bust $2 ½, $5, and $10 Gold coins: eye appeal, no damage, and properly graded coins. The majority we see traded are usually in XF through the AU grades. Most collectors do not expect to locate coins in mint state because of the low census numbers, but when available, they need to be extremely aggressive to make a purchase. In the past month there have been many increases for these early issues. The only reason many of the others have not increased is their lack of availability in the market.

One characteristic all these coins have in common is that they would probably trade at even higher levels if available to the thousands of advanced numismatists in today’s market. The significance of the coin market is that the majority of truly rare coins are not readily available when a willing buyer is anxious to make a purchase. With plenty of money still available for truly rare coins, buyers must broaden their search or await the battle that will ensue upon the next rarity to hit the market … either way, the future appears very bright for numismatics.

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.

Stay Informed

Want news like this delivered to your inbox once a month? Subscribe to the free NGC eNewsletter today!


You've been subscribed to the NGC eNewsletter.

Unable to subscribe to our eNewsletter. Please try again later.

Articles List

Add Coin

Join NGC for free to add coins, track your collection and participate in the NGC Registry. Learn more >

Join NGC

Already a member? Sign In
Add to NGC Coin Registry Example
The NGC Registry is not endorsed by or associated with PCGS or CAC. PCGS is a registered trademark of Collectors Universe, Inc. CAC is a trademark of Certified Acceptance Corporation.