Welcome to 2014. The past year, 2013, has been a very fine one for numismatics. I hope that this was true for you as well. As I write these words, the market continued to be strong. Our sale of world and ancient coins at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City is just days away. After that the next event will be our Americana Sale in New York City in the first week of February. I plan to be there and look forward to seeing you if you attend. This is always a nice event — coins from colonials to territorials, tokens and medals, and just about everything else. Plus, of course, federal coins.
As we start 2014 the price of gold bullion is lower than it has been in several years. This has the favorable consequence if you are a collector (as opposed to being a gold bullion investor), as American double eagles, one of the most popular series, are less expensive now. If you enjoy $20 pieces it is a pleasant exercise to see how many different dates and mintmarks you can get in MS-63 grade for a modest premium over the bullion value.
Some series remain asleep, with classic silver commemorative coins from 1892 to 1954 coming to mind. It is amazing to contemplate that most issues in higher grades are cheaper now than they were back in 1989 — more than a generation ago. Commemoratives are infinitely interesting, each one with a story. If you are looking for a new area to collect, you might check on these. It is standard operating procedure in almost all markets — stocks, real estate, coins, art, you name it — to want to buy when the market is moving strongly upward. However, a better advantage can be taken in buying in quiet markets. In writing his biography, Wall Street tycoon Bernard Baruch attributed his success to buying when everyone else was selling, and selling when everyone else was paying ridiculously high prices.
This year also affords a nice opportunity to investigate some new series. I highly recommend two books for which I am co-author: The 100 Greatest United States Currency Notes and The 100 Greatest United States Medals and Tokens. Both are available easily enough on the Internet from Whitman. Each has a detailed discussion on many different items, some of them fascinating, some rare, many quite inexpensive. I know you will be delighted when you read them.
All good wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2014.