An interesting Peace

While browsing on eBay, I noticed a few auctions of what I thought were philatelic (stamp collecting) cachets with Morgan and Peace dollars honoring different aspects of history. Not knowing much about them, I placed some bids based on the estimated values of the coins.

The difference between a First Day Cover (FDC) and a cachet is that the FDC is stamped on the first day of issue usually with a special commemorative postmark. A cache is a souvenir cover that is not postmarked as the first day of issue.

Another interesting collectible that combines philately and numismatics is called a Philatelic Numismatic Cover (PNC) or sometimes just coin cover. The U.S. Mint has produced coin covers for the 50 State Quarters, Westward Journey, and Presidential Dollars series as well as the first Sacagawea dollar. These are fun collectibles and something I will talk about in the future.

When the auctions were over, I won one with the 1926-S Peace dollar. Although the description seemed in order, I did not know what to expect. When it arrived I think it is more interesting than advertised.

First, the item is not an envelope by a heavy stock card that is 9-inches long by 4.875-inches wide. It is to honor the anniversary of the United States agreeing to join the World Court on January 27, 1926. The card includes a 5-cents stamp commemorating International Cooperation Year that was issued on June 26, 1965, and a 33-stamp that was in use when this was created in 2001. It is postmarked on January 27, 2001 in Washington, D.C., the 75th anniversary of the event.

The Peace dollar is definitely circulated and would probably grade in the Very Fine range if sent to a third-party grading service. It is encased in plastic which is sandwiched between two panels of cardboard to make up the card. The back of the card has a longer narrative of the history.

Originally, I was only interested in it for the coin since I am a fan of the Peace dollar. But seeing the card makes me wish I would have bid higher for more of them. The other problem is that I do not know who made them. This card looks similar to ones described as being from the Postal Commemorative Society. However, I have seen several different descriptions to make me unsure.

If anyone can provide more information, please post it as a comment below. I would like to learn more!

High relief speculation

2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin

2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin

Last week, the U.S. Mint sent a notice on its press list to announce the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee meeting on Tuesday, July 22 at 3 PM. As usual, the meeting will be held at the U.S. Mint Headquarters located at 801 Ninth St. NW, in Washington, DC. What caused a buzz amongst the numismatic press was the agenda:

“Discussion of a potential 2015 24K Gold Ultra-High Relief Coin and accompanying silver medal.”

In 2008, it became then Mint Director Edmund Moy’s “pet project” to create the ultra-high relief Augustus Saint-Gaudens double eagle design in a manner that Saint-Gaudens originally envisioned. The result was the 2009 Ultra High Relief Gold Coin. The design was based on the plaster casts originally made by Saint-Gaudens that was digitized and the equipment purchased that would be able to strike the coin.

Moy is no longer Director but the U.S. Mint still has the equipment used to strike the coin. The question is what does the U.S. Mint have in mind for creating a high-relief coin?

Also, what do they have in mind for an accompanying silver medal and how do they justify creating a medal? While the U.S. Mint can use the same law that authorizes the 24-Karat Gold Buffalo coin (31 U.S.C. § 5112(q)), it is uncertain what can be leverage for the silver medal. It is possible that the U.S. Mint might be leveraging 31 U.S.C. § 5111(a)(2) that says The Secretary of the Treasury “may prepare national medal dies and strike national and other medals if it does not interfere with regular minting operations but may not prepare private medal dies.” Before we pass further judgement we will wait to hear what the U.S. Mint says.

As for the subject, since they Saint-Gaudens double eagle design as been used, what other high-relief design has issues? The only design that comes to mind is the Anthony de Francisci Peace dollar. But not just the Peace dollar, but the original design with the broken sword.

The broken sword was not well received. According to numismatic researcher Roger Burdette, he discovered a editorial that appeared in the New York Herald that summarized the feeling about the broken sword:

A sword is broken when its owner has disgraced himself. It is broken when a battle is lost and breaking is the alternative to surrendering. A sword is broken when the man who wears it can no longer render allegiance to his sovereign. But America has not broken its sword. It has not been cashiered or beaten; it has not lost allegiance to itself. The blade is bright and keen and wholly dependable. It is regrettable that the artist should have made such an error in symbolism. The sword is emblematic of Justice as well as of Strength. Let not the world be deceived by this new dollar. The American effort to limit armament and to prevent war or at least reduce its horror does not mean that our sword is broken.

1921-D Peace Dollar

1921-D Peace Dollar

Aside from being too high of a relief for efficient striking, U.S. Mint Chief Engraver George Morgan modified the models using fine engraving tools under extreme magnification at the last moment to remove the broken sword. De Francisci was asked to be in Philadelphia as Morgan made the modifications to ensure the work met with his approval. As part of the modification, Morgan extended the olive branch and removed some of its parts to make it look as if it was de Francisci’s original work. Morgan also sharpened some of the details, strengthened the sun’s rays and straightened the eagle’s leg to give it a better appearance. The work was done so well that nobody realized that Morgan made these changes until Burdette uncovered the details in his research.

Although struck in Denver in late December 1921, the 1921-D Peace dollar was released into circulation on January 3, 1922.

Later that year it was determined that the high-relief design was causing dies to break at a faster pace than planned. The Mint then lowered the relief in order to keep striking coins at the rate required by law. This became the second type of the Peace dollar series.

Because 2015 will be 95 years since the first Peace dollar, I suspect that the high-relief gold coin will be a 2015 tribute to that first Peace dollar.

Artist's conception of a 1964-D Peace dollar.

Artist’s conception of a 1964-D Peace dollar.

As for a companion silver, there is an interesting story about an attempt to produce the Peace dollar in 1964. In 1964 the price of silver rose to new heights that it made the value of ordinary circulating coins worth more for their metals than their face value. Because of this, silver coins were being hoarded by the public and becoming scarce in circulation. Western states that relied on hard currency including the gaming areas of Nevada needed the U.S. Mint to strike additional coins for circulation.

The striking of a dollar coin had a powerful ally: Senator Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, Democrat from Montana, whose state would be directly affected by the new coins. Although the numismatic press was not in favor of the measure because of its limited ability to solve the coin shortage, Mansfield pushed a bill through congress to authorize the Mint to strike 45 million silver dollars.

After much discussion, the Mint looked for working dies but found that few survived a 1937 destruction order. Those that did survive were in poor condition. Mint Assistant Engraver Frank Gasparro, who would later become the Mint’s 10th Chief Engraver, was authorized to create new dies of the Peace dollar with the “D” mintmark. Since the coins would mostly circulate in the west it was logical to strike them closest to the area of interest.

When the coins were announced, coin dealers immediately offered $7.50 per coin which would ensure that they would not circulate as intended. Everyone saw this as a poor use of Mint resources during a time of severe coin shortages. Adams announced that the pieces were trial strikes never intended for circulation and were later melted under reportedly heavy security.

There have been reports that some Peace dollars were struck using base metals (copper-nickel clad) as experimental pieces in 1970 in anticipation of the approval of the Eisenhower dollar. The same reports also presume these coins have been destroyed.

While we are speculating, the companion silver medal could be a modern tribute to the 1964-D Peace dollar by minting a 1915-D silver medal with the same design but without a denomination. It would be the same design but with out “ONE DOLLAR” struck on the reverse.

A high-relief 24-karat gold Peace dollar design and a silver version without the denomination. That’s my prediction, what’s yours?

2009 Ultra-High Relief image courtesy of the U.S. Mint
1921-D Peace dollar courtesy of the author.
Artists conception of the 1964-D Peace dollar courtesy of PCGS.

Counting Down the Top 10: #7 Dollars and What Sense

Two discussions that transcended numismatics is what to do about the one dollar coin and common one-cent coin. Both coins cause different problems depending on who is doing the arguing. I find it amazing that the logic that is used to support the argument is not used consistently.

Dollar coins have been around since the beginning of the republic. In fact, the coin that currently holds the record for being the most expensive coin sold at auction is a 1794 Flowing Hair dollar. The coin is reported to be amongst the first dollar coins minted at the newly created Mint was bought by Legend Numismatics for more than $10 million. Laura Sperber, one of the principals of Legend Numismatics, was quoted as saying that she was prepared to bid higher for the coin.

If that is not enough to show how important the dollar coin has been in our history, there is always the 1804 Bust dollar, also known as “The King of Coins.” The U.S. Mint ceased to strike dollar coins in 1804 because of hoarding when the price of silver rose. The dollars that were struck in 1804 were struck using dies dated 1803 and are indistinguishable from the coins struck in 1803. The U.S. Mint continued to strike “minor coinage” to encourage circulation.

In 1834, eight dollar coins were struck with the 1804 date to include in a special set created as a gift for the King of Siam (the area known today as Thailand). One coin was included in the set, one was retained by the U.S. Mint for its collection that is now part of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and the six others were kept as souvenirs by Mint officials and eventually landed in private collections. Between 1858 and 1860 seven more specimens were surreptitiously by U.S. Mint employee Theodore Eckfelt. It is alleged that Eckfelt created 15 coins. Six are in private collection, one is now part of the National Numismatic Collection and the others were reported to be destroyed when seized by the government.

The Coinage Act of 1873, known as “The Crime of ’73,” ended the free coining of silver and put the United States strictly on the gold standard until the western states where silver was being mined became upset. Two weeks later, congress passed the Bland-Allison Act to required the Department of the Treasury to buy the excess silver and use it to strike the Morgan Dollar. Morgan dollars, especially those struck at the branch mint in Carson City, Nevada are popular with collectors because of their ties to the days of the old west. Collectors can find quite a few nice examples of Morgan and the Peace dollars that were struck from 1921 through 1938 because many did not circulate. These coins were held as backing to silver certificates in circulation and did not get released to the general public until the GSA Hoard sales that begin in the 1960s.

Such a colorful history also has a downside that is used as fodder against the dollar. After ending the production of the Peace dollar in 1938, no dollars were struck until 1964 when the U.S. Mint struck 316,076 1964-D Peace dollars in May 1965. The coins were never put into circulation and the entire population of 1964-D Peace dollar were allegedly destroyed. There have been reports that some Peace dollars were struck using base metals (copper-nickel clad) as experimental pieces in 1970 in anticipation of the approval of the Eisenhower dollar. The same reports also presume these coins have been destroyed.

The Eisenhower dollar was not well received because of its size. The 38mm coin was seen as too big for modern commerce and with the exception of dollars struck with the special bicentennial reverse in 1975 and 1976, most coins did not circulate.

The Susan B. Anthony dollar coin was introduced in 1979 with much fanfare for being the first coin to honor a woman. The coin was a failure because it was confused with a quarter

The Susan B. Anthony dollar coin was introduced in 1979 with much fanfare for being the first coin to honor a woman. The coin was a failure because it was confused with a quarter

To try to improve circulation someone came up with the idea of the small dollar as part of an attempt to honor suffragette Susan B. Anthony. The copper-nickel coin was very close in size to the Washington quarter, had reeded edges like the Washington quarter, and on a simple glance was consistently confused with the Washington quarter. I even have heard coin collectors use the fiasco of the Susie B.’s as a reason not to pursue the dollar coin.

Since the introduction of the Sacagawea dollar in 2000, the dollar coin’s size has remained the same but with the addition of manganese has a golden color to be visually different from other coins. For the visually impaired, the reeding was removed from the edges. Today, the Presidential $1 coins and the Native American $1 Coins have edge lettering that keeps it tactically different from the quarter dollar. However, people continue to bring up the Susan B. Anthony dollar as a reason not to use dollar coins.

Historically, dollar coins has been more popular in the western regions of the United States where the east prefers paper. Financial centers and big city government prefers paper for its alleged ease of handling. When circulated side-by-side, the public tends to choose paper over coin.

When we look around the world for examples of how to handle this situation, we find that the United States is the only country where the unit currency is available in both paper and coin. Other countries did not give people a choice. Rather, their governments made a decision based on overall economic benefits of using a coin with a predicted 30-year lifespan over paper currency that can last 18-24 months in circulation. Instead of the argument being of practical economics where every other country and the European Union have put on their proverbial long pants and made a decision that is in their best economic interest, factions in the United States comes up with mind boggling arguments of alleging that taking the paper dollar away is akin to taking away our freedom.

Obverse of the 2013-S Lincoln proof cent. Lincoln's portrait, designed by Victor D. Brenner in 1909,  is the longest running design of any United States coin.

Obverse of the 2013-S Lincoln proof cent. Lincoln’s portrait, designed by Victor D. Brenner in 1909, is the longest running design of any United States coin.

Then why is that not an argument that can be used to figure out what the do about the one cent coin? Are we not giving up the same freedoms by forcing those who pay for good and services using cash to sacrifice their ability to pay what is due and not over pay?

The United States has a history of using its currency to boost the economic status of its citizens, aside from the various silver laws and the laws that eventually took the United States off the gold and silver standards, the creation of the half-cent was made because of the economic status of its citizens. Following Alexander Hamilton’s Treasury Secretrary’s report to congress “On the Establishment of a Mint,” Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson had another idea. Jefferson thought it would be better to tie subsidiary coins tied to the actual usage of the 8 reales coin. At the time, rather than worry about subsidiary coinage, people would cut the coin into pieces. A milled dollar cut in half was a half-dollar. That half-dollar cut in half was a quarter-dollar and the quarter-dollar cut in half was called a bit.

The bit was the basic unit of commerce since prices were based on the bit. Of course this was not a perfect solution. It was difficult to cut the quarter-dollars in half with great consistency which created problems when the bit was too small, called a short bit. Sometimes, short bits were supplemented with English pennies that were allowed to circulate in the colonies.

As an aside, this is where the nickname “two bits” for a quarter came from.

Jefferson felt that in order to convert the people from bit economy to a decimal economy, the half-cent was necessary to have 12½ cents be used instead of a bit without causing problems during conversion from allowing foreign currency to circulate as legal tender until the new Mint can produce enough coinage for commerce.

The half-cent would come into focus in the 1850s when the cost to produce the United State’s copper coins was nearly double their face value. In 1856, the Mint produced the first of the small cents, the Flying Eagle small cent, and produced 700 samples to convince congress to change to the small cent. As part of the discussion was the elimination of foreign currency from circulation making the U.S. Mint the sole supplier of coins.

There is no record of outcry from the public on the elimination of the half-cent. Its elimination came four years after the Coinage Act of 1853 that created the one-dollar and double eagle gold coins in response to the discovery of gold in North Carolina, Georgia, and California. The gold rush caused a prosperity and inflation that not only made the half-cent irrelevant but not something on the public’s mint. In that light, the Mint and congress felt that it just outlived its usefulness and would not be necessary with the elimination of foreign currency from circulation.

More controversy was generated in 1857 over the demonetizing foreign coins in the United States than the elimination of the half-cent. While the half-cent continued to circulate, it was estimated that one-third of the coins being circulated were foreign, primarily reales from Mexico. Redemption programs did not go smoothly, but in the end foreign coins were taken out of the market and the American people adapted and it could be said we prospered as a nation.

Like the 1850s, the last seven years have found that the cost of the copper used to make the one-cent coin has increased to more than the coin’s value. Combined with the labor and manufacturing costs, it costs the U.S. Mint between 1.6 and 1.8 cents for each copper-coated zinc cent struck. Although people argue that the cent is not needed and is barely useful, the U.S. Mint reports that 65-percent of its production are for one-cent coins that are ordered by the Federal Reserve to be circulated in commerce.

Eliminating the cent has caused controversy from those concerned with the economic welfare of the less fortunate. Many are using the same arguments that Jefferson made in 1791 to create the half-cent in order to keep the one-cent coin in circulation while others point to what other countries are doing. Canada is currently the country with the largest economy to eliminate its lowest denomination coin. Proponents of eliminating the cent point to Canada’s rocky success (withdrawal of the cent had been delayed twice) as an example of how the United States can handle the situation.

Canadian 1-dollar and 2-dollar coins. The 1-dollar coin is called a Loonie because its reverse depicts a common loon. “Toonie” is a play on the Loonie nickname.

Canadian 1-dollar and 2-dollar coins. The 1-dollar coin is called a Loonie because its reverse depicts a common loon. “Toonie” is a play on the Loonie nickname.

Canada also does not circulate paper currency smaller than their 5-dollar banknote. Rather than paper (or polymer as they are converting away from rag-bond paper), Canada circulates a one-dollar (Loonie) and two-dollar (Toonie) that is regularly used in commerce. The Bank of Canada is also considering eliminating their 5-dollar note in favor of a 5-dollar coin that would be produced by the Royal Canadian Mint for circulation.

Suggesting that if the United States follows Canada’s lead in the elimination of the cent, should the United States follow Canada’s lead and eliminate the one- and two-dollar Federal Reserve Notes in favor of one- and two-dollar coins?

This debate will continue until someone decides to act like an adult and make a definitive policy decision—especially when the Fed publishes a “working paper” that cherry picks facts to support a specific viewpoint.

Image of the Susan B. Anthony dollar and Lincoln cent courtesy of the U.S. Mint.
Image of the Canadian Loonie and Toonie courtesy of Noticias Montreal.

Image of Peace at the ANA

Drawing of Peace Dollar Liberty by Peter Max (1983)

Drawing of Peace Dollar Liberty by Peter Max (1983)

Those of us that are a certain age remember growing up to with the artwork of Peter Max. His paintings and neo-expressionism posters are iconic representations of the pop culture of the 1960s. His vibrant colors made complex designs look simple as they some seemed to pop off the page. While times have changed and Max has worked on contemporary scenes, his style remains unique with an appeal that still brings a smile to my face.

Did you know that the American Numismatic Association owns a Peter Max original? While I was in Colorado Springs the week of February 19, I met briefly with Executive Director Jeff Shevlin in his office. Hanging on the wall across from his desk is a drawing of Liberty based on the design from Anthony de Francisci’s Peace dollar.

The picture looks like it was done in charcoal on paper. It is hand signed by Max and dated 1983. The picture is mounted on a fame that would have been contemporary to 1983 and has a plaque under the glass that reads:

Presented to
American Numismatic Association
by
PETER MAX
VINCENT VAN ROTTKAMP
August 20th, 1983

As a fan of the Peace Dollar and Peter Max, this is a fantastic picture.

1928 Peace Dollar is a classic and under-appreciated design

1928 Peace Dollar is a classic and under-appreciated design

Someone in the ANA offices said that this picture was the inspiration for the Peace dollar logo that used to be the official ANA logo. Remember, it was Farran Zerbe who helped push the idea of Peace dollar with his paper at the 1920 ANA convention in Chicago entitled “Commemorate the Peace with a Coin for Circulation.” In the paper, Zerbe wrote:

I do not want to be misunderstood as favoring the silver dollar for the Peace Coin, but if coinage of silver dollars is to be resumed in the immediate future, a new design is probable and desirable, bullion for the purpose is being provided, law for the coinage exists and limitation of the quantity is fixed—all factors that help pave the way for Peace Coin advocates. And then—we gave our silver dollars to help win the war, we restore them in commemoration of victory and peace.

Does anyone know why Max did this drawing? Who Vincent Van Rottkamp was and what was his association with this picture?

Maybe, we can convince Jeff to display the picture at an upcoming show for all members to enjoy.

Credits

  • Image of the Peter Max drawing by the author.
  • Quote from The Numismatist (October 1920) which can be found at Google Books
  • Image of the 1928 Peace dollar from the author’s collection.

Click on any image to see a larger version.

PCGS Declares 1964-D Peace #1

Now that it is award season, Professional Coin Grading Service is getting into the act by release its first annual listing of the “PCGS Top 100 Modern United States Coins.” PCGS is using the rising popularity of modern coins, those minted since the change to base metals in 1965, to bring this list to the public. PCGS announced the list on January 11, 2013, during a luncheon at the Florida United Numismatics Convention in Orlando, Florida.

PCGS is offering a $10,000 reward to verify a genuine 1964-D Peace dollar, the number one coin on the new PCGS Top 100 Modern U.S. Coins list.  This image is a PCGS artist's conception of a 1964-D Peace dollar.

PCGS is offering a $10,000 reward to verify a genuine 1964-D Peace dollar, the number one coin on the new PCGS Top 100 Modern U.S. Coins list. This image is a PCGS artist’s conception of a 1964-D Peace dollar.

Topping the list is the 1964-D Peace dollar, a coin that was struck but never put into circulation and allegedly destroyed.

“Mint records indicate that 316,076 1964-dated silver Peace dollars were struck at the Denver Mint in May 1965,” said Don Willis , President of PCGS, “but they were all were supposed to be destroyed.”

PCGS believes that not every 1964-D Peace dollar was destroyed and has offered a $10,000 reward “just to view in person and verify a genuine 1964-D Peace dollar.”

In 1964 the price of silver rose to new heights that it made the value of ordinary circulating coins worth more for their metals than their face value. Because of this, silver coins were being hoarded by the public and becoming scarce in circulation. Western states that relied on hard currency including the gaming areas of Nevada needed the U.S. Mint to strike additional coins for circulation.

The striking of a dollar coin had a powerful ally: Senator Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, Democrat from Montana, whose state would be directly affected by the new coins. Although the numismatic press was not in favor of the measure because of its limited ability to solve the coin shortage, Mansfield pushed a bill through congress to authorize the Mint to strike 45 million silver dollars.

After much discussion, the Mint looked for working dies but found that few survived a 1937 destruction order. Those that did survive were in poor condition. Mint Assistant Engraver Frank Gasparro, who would later become the Mint’s 10th Chief Engraver, was authorized to create new dies of the Peace dollar with the “D” mintmark. Since the coins would mostly circulate in the west it was logical to strike them closest to the area of interest.

Treasury Secretary C. Douglas Dillon was opposed to the the coin and wrote a letter to President Lyndon B. Johnson saying that the coins would not be likely to circulate and be hoarded. After Dillon resigned, Mansfield questioned the new Secretary, Henry H. Fowler, who assured Mansfield that the coins would be struck.

Although Mint Director Eva Adams, who was from Nevada, also objected to striking the coin, the Denver Mint began trial strikes of the Peace dollar on May 12, 1965.

When the coins were announced three days later, coin dealers immediately offered $7.50 per coin which would ensure that they would not circulate as intended. Everyone saw this as a poor use of Mint resources during a time of sever coin shortages. Adams announced that the pieces were trial strikes never intended for circulation and were later melted under reportedly heavy security.

To prevent this from happening again, Congress added a provision in the Coinage Act of 1965 (Public Law No. 89-81; 79 Stat. 254) that put a moratorium on striking silver dollars for five years.

There have been reports that some Peace dollars were struck using base metals (copper-nickel clad) as experimental pieces in 1970 in anticipation of the approval of the Eisenhower dollar. The same reports also presume these coins have been destroyed.

“It sometimes takes years for famous coins to surface,” said Hall. “Until 1920, no one knew there actually were 1913 Liberty Head nickels in existence. Until 1962, no one knew the 1804 Draped Bust silver dollar and the other coins in the special presentation set given by the United States to the King of Siam in 1836 were still in existence.”

“When we offered a $10,000 reward in 2003 to be the first to see and authenticate the long-missing Walton specimen 1913 Liberty Head nickel it resulted in the re-discovery of that coin after a 41-year absence from the hobby,” Hall continued. “Perhaps this new reward offer will help solve the mystery of whether any 1964-D Peace dollars survived the melting pots. It’s the number one modern U.S. coin.”

For collectors of silver crown-sized coins and large U.S. dollars, the 1964-D Peace dollar is the ultimate fantasy coin. As someone who collects silver coins including modern bullion issues, it should come as no surprise that I chose the 1964-D Peace dollar for this blog’s logo. My version was made using Photoshop and colored to not look “real” to avoid potential issues from our law enforcement friends at the Department of the Treasury.

It would be difficult to put a price if a version of the coin is found. It would certainly be a unique coin whose auction would start well out of my price range—maybe set a record for being the highest price paid for a single coin, topping the 1933 Farouk-Fenton Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle that sold for $7,590,020 in 2002.

As part of the announcement, PCGS announced the top five in the PCGS Top 100 Modern U.S. Coins as follows:

  1. 1964-D Peace Dollar: The most controversial and one of the most famous of all modern issues.
  2. 1975 proof no “S” mintmark Roosevelt dime: Only two known, and one recently sold at auction for $350,000.
  3. 1974 aluminum Lincoln cent: 1,570,000 were minted but only one is known and is graded PCGS MS62.
  4. 1976 proof no “S” mintmark Bicentennial Type 2 Eisenhower dollar: only one example is known.
  5. 2000-W proof Sacagawea dollar struck in 22 carat gold: 12 are known

1964-D Peace dollar image courtesy of PCGS.

Confusion With Investing in Coins

There have been reports of the coin market continues to grow as the economy is falling. One measure is the PCGS3000 index that is based on a sample of 3,000 coins. Looking at the graph (see the right side of the page), the trend (blue) line continues upward. In fact, there is no downward place on the line. A trend graph would give an indication that the market is very hot and trending upward. But is that the case for the entire market?

The PCGS3000 is supposed to be a representative sample of the coin market. But like the Dow Jones Industrial Average, it is not a complete view of the market since there are other segments that have reacted differently. One area that is more sensitive to the movement of the market is the Generic Gold Index (right). This index looks at what many consider common date gold and gold bullion coins where the coins are worth their metal value plus a nominal numismatic premium. The graph shows a volatility that can be traced to the market value of gold.

Gold is a volatile market. When I thought that rare and proof gold would be a better choice, I found that the Mint State Rare Gold and Proof Gold indices seem to be affected by the price of gold. While there may be individual coins that perform better than others, the market itself seems to belie the trend of the PCGS3000 index.

The idea from this article came when a friend asked me they should buy if they wanted to invest using coins. My friend heard that the US Mint was having problems producing gold coins and wanted to know what to do. Since I am a collector and not an investor, I had to do some research.

Researching market trends is not easy. Online price guides do not provide the historical data to make an analysis. Gold dealers are quick to tout the investment in gold and how great of an investment option it is. But I was suspicious. After all, if even rare coins are affected by the gold market, maybe gold is not the best of investments.

I started to click on the links for the other graphs at the PCGS site and stumbled upon the Morgan and Peace Dollar Index (right). I have heard some dealers say that this market was moving, but I thought that was wishful thinking. But the graph shows that in the last year, the trend is upward. This was very interesting until I looked at the 10 year graph for Morgan and Peace Dollars.

My first impression was that the graph would overlay the trends in the economy with the exception of the downward trend during the technology bubble.

I was not sure what to tell my friend. I mentioned the Morgan and Peace Dollar market as a potential investment area. I also told the story of the GSA Morgan Dollars and their worth to collectors. I suggested high grade Morgan Dollars and later date, high grade Peace Dollars. I even discussed finding various die varieties that gets some collectors excited.

Although I was having fun clicking through vamworld.com, my friend was looking for something to invest in to either preserve a investment or to make money. I finally relented and suggested reading Profitable Coin Collecting by David Ganz. It seems to be the type of book that investors may find interesting.

While it is nice to see my collection is worth more than I purchased it, I am not collecting Morgan or Peace dollars because they are or will be worth more than when I purchased them.

Graphs courtesy of PCGS.

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