“In fact, when I go in houses, or talk to potential consignors, that’s usually what I tell them — ‘Do you have a coin collection or any jewelry that you would be interested in selling?’ That is what is really going up in value,” says Cindy Stephenson, who represents second-generation leadership for the nearly 50-year-old company.
It’s a buyer’s and seller’s market because of high gold and metal prices, she says.
“Buyers are buying to hedge against the economy collapsing,” she says, lightheartedly, “and the sellers are saying, “Hey, prices are great right now.”
At least for Stephenson’s business, most consignors are not coming in the door because they have found themselves in tight financial situations. Instead, they have high-value items, and they’re looking to cash in.
“I think people are buying them to just hold on to them as potential investments,” she says. “I’ve never seen it like it is now, and I’ve been doing this for about 27 years.”
Prices for coins are running high, overall. Stephenson says Roosevelt silver dimes, with $2 face values, are bringing as much as $60 at auction.
“That’s insane,” she says. “That’s probably why we’re getting a lot of coins to sell. People are selling their grandfather’s coin collections.”
That situation played out well for Centennial Auctions, North Conway, N.H., which in late August conducted what might be its best coin auction ever, says the company’s Steve Schofield, CAI, BAS.
The auction, which featured what Centennial dubbed a “Time Capsule” coin collection, comprised proof sets from the turn of the 20th century and brought more than $1.5 million for the collector’s heirs.
The original owner purchased 25 proof sets, with dates ranging from 1883 to 1916, from the Philadelphia Mint, according to a news release. The sets were handed down, unopened, through the family.
Bidders gave $258,750 for the 1895 set, $68,425 for the 1897 set and $79,350 for the 1913 set. More than 120 people attended the auction, which included the proof sets along with many additional coins.
Schofield says interest in coins is increasing, as collectors in today’s market are retiring or getting close to retirement age, and they have a lot of disposable income.
Baby boomers, for example, who collected coins as children are now pulling their collections out and getting back into the hobby, Schofield says.
“Instead of spending 10 cents on a coin, they have the ability to spend $10, $50, $100,000 or more on a coin,” he says. “That’s what I’m seeing happen.
“The amount of disposable income that we’re seeing available now versus what we saw 10, 15, 20 years ago is remarkable to me.”
Plus, the state quarters program introduced in 1999 helped bring a new group of collectors, including children, into the market.
“I’ve seen over the last 10 plus years a lot of younger people around coin shows and around coins … even dads and moms bringing them to my coin auctions,” Schofield says.
Prices, in part, are up because high-value coins are now being removed from the marketplace more rapidly, he says. Coins are being placed into new collections, where, he predicts, they might stay for the next five to 25 years.
“That’s been driving the price of very rare coins over the past five to 10 years,” Schofield says, explaining that in the past, coins exchanged hands about every two years.
Like other NAA Auctioneers, Schofield says the marketplace is quickly absorbing gold, silver and other metals that come from private collections or estates.