At the current prices for Morgan Dollars and Double Eagles, it’s much easier to assemble a respectable collection
By Jeff Garrett for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) ……
When the stock market has wild swings, such as was experienced last week, market pundits fill the airwaves with advice and observations.
One of my all-time favorite market sages is the “Oracle of Omaha”, Warren Buffet. When stocks take a plunge in price, Buffet likes to move in for the kill. He has some great saying for times of falling prices. One of my favorites is “Opportunities come infrequently. When it rains gold, put out the bucket, not the thimble.”
Warren also points out that if you liked a stock yesterday and now it’s on sale, you should start buying.
Much of the same advice could easily be applied to the rare coin market these days. Many prices are at multi-decade lows. There are several series that are experiencing drastically reduced demand, and thus, lower prices.
Now is a great time to consider collecting US coinage. The stock market has been volatile in the last week or so, but is up a staggering amount in the last few years. Perhaps you should consider putting some of that money into a well-planned collection of US coins.
Most of the market attention lately has been for mega-expensive coins, and those continue to do well when offered at auction or private sale. The huge success of set registry collecting continues to drive the prices for the very best coins to sometimes fantastic levels. Even coin series that are generally thought affordable become much less so for the top population examples. Decades ago, I would have never dreamed that a Washington Quarter could sell for over $50,000.
For now, we will concentrate on the coins that have been largely ignored in the last few years. These include a lot of great series in nice quality, but in grades less than ultra-Gem. With the exception of buying top population examples (the finest graded of certain coin), I still recommend buying the best you can afford. This has been a proven successful strategy for decades in the rare coins market.
Some rare coin market experts like to suggest buying coins in the best grade you can afford before they take huge jump in price. For Morgan Silver Dollars this usually means buying coins in MS 64 rather than MS 65. The price difference between these two grades can be giant for some dates.
Morgan Silver Dollars are one of the best series to consider at today’s lower price levels. This series has seen rather steep declines in the last few years, but they still remain one of the most popular coins of all time. The series is also easy to collect, with dozens of dates available for $50 to $200 in MS 63. These include the following: 1878, 1878-S, 1879, 1879-S, 1880, 1880-S, 1881, 1881-O, 1881-S, 1882, 1882-O, 1882-S, 1883, 1883-CC, 1883-O, 1884, 1884-O, 1884-CC, 1885, 1885-O, 1886, 1887, 1887-O, 1888, 1888-O, 1889, 1890, 1890-O, 1890-S, 1891, 1891-S, 1896, 1897, 1897-S, 1898, 1898-O, 1899-O, 1900, 1900-O, 1901-O, 1902, 1902-O, 1903, 1904, 1904-O, 1921, 1921-D, and 1921-S.
These 48 coins would be an excellent start for collectors wanting a challenge but at an affordable price. The remainder of the set can be purchased over time in the best grades you can afford to acquire.
There have been several books written about the history of the series and how to collect Morgan Silver Dollars. Whitman Publishing has several titles covering the series. As has always been recommend, learn as much as possible before spending serious money. There are also quite a few dealers who only sell Morgan Dollars. Try getting to know experts in the field and learn as much from them as possible. Having a great mentor when collecting can really pay off in the long run.
Another series to consider that is equally popular but also seeing depressed pricing is Saint Gaudens Double Eagles.
The price premiums for Saint Gaudens Double Eagles are at the lowest in my 35-year numismatic career. These coins contain .96725 ounces of gold and melt for nearly $1,300 at today’s gold price. Many dates can be purchased for a small premium over the price of gold. The following dates can be found for less than $2,000 in NGC MS 63: 1907 No Motto, 1908 No Motto, 1908 With Motto, 1908-D No Motto, 1908-D Motto, 1909, 1909-S, 1910, 1910-D, 1910-S, 1911, 1911-D, 1911-S, 1912, 1913-D, 1914-D, 1914-S, 1915, 1915-S, 1916-S, 1920, 1922, 1923, 1923-D, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, and 1928.
The nearly 30 coins would be a great start on a magnificent set and have the added bonus of being a solid gold bullion investment.
The same strategy can also be applied to the Liberty Double Eagles, 1850-1907. There are dozens of dates in the series than can be purchased for a small premium over melt value in Mint State. For recommended reading on these series I would suggest my Encyclopedia of United States Gold 1795-1933. Whitman has also published several other books about these extremely popular series.
Other currently depressed series include classic Gold and Silver Commemoratives struck from 1892 to 1954. Some of these coins sell for 10% of the market high prices from 1989. They are incredibly cheap at current levels. Assembling a complete collection of these coins has never been more affordable based on the current value of the US dollar.
My final advice is that no matter what series or coin you decide to collect, pay close attention to quality. Buy coins with nice eye appeal and, if possible, buy frosty white or attractively toned coins. What a coin looks like has never been more important in terms of market value. A quick study of auction records will reveal the large differences coins can sometimes bring based on appearance.
If you do not understand grading, then start your numismatic education there. You will be well rewarded in the long run.
NGC-Certified Saint-Gaudens $20 Double Eagle Gold Coins Currently Available on eBay
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