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Numismatics Trends Toward Modern Coins

There will always be purists who snub modern numismatic collectibles, but in the past decade or so several emerging trends have depressed the “classic” part of the coin market in the United States, excepting of course particular high-end rarities which will always be coveted by serious collectors. Here, we will examine these trends and consider what may be driving them.

One major factor in the slowdown of the classic coin market is aging. Numismatists who spent years amassing and curating collections of these coins are older, or even deceased. Newer collectors with fresh perspectives have greater interest the modern series. Another key consideration is that the demographic shift we just mentioned combined with the economic distress some people experienced in the last decade forced some collectors to liquidate their holdings for much-needed cash. Valued coins from classic series as well as key dates within those series have stagnated on a flooded market. Exceptional, high-grade coins seem to have escaped this downturn, but there are still a few bargains to be found. Morgan dollars, for example, have mid-range examples considered undervalued by some experts. Additionally, certain classic commemorative series, such as half dollars from 1892-1954 have experienced declining values, even compared to their prices from just a few years ago. They are simply less interesting to younger collectors.

The appeal of modern coins is growing particularly among younger collectors just beginning their journeys in numismatics for several reasons. A big factor in this is budget. Many new collectors avoid classic series because their budgets are limited. This, especially when combined with a lack of experience means that they may not have the resources to obtain good classic coins and if they can afford it they may not feel knowledgeable enough to spend so much with confidence. Modern coins may simply feel more accessible. Besides, modern series are generally easier to complete providing a great sense of accomplishment, rather than the frustration that may attend attempting to acquire rare and expensive pieces.

While experienced collectors are likely to enjoy the depth and breadth of knowledge needed to pursue, for example, older American coins, new collectors could find that difficult rather than challenging. It requires a good deal more time and sometimes more resources to study classic coins and the history that surrounds them. Young collectors, or those just starting out may be engaged in the preliminary studies of grading, errors, investment versus collecting, strike characteristics, etc. and not wish to put any more on their proverbial plate.

In the past few years, the U.S. Mint has released a number of particularly interesting coins such as the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle, the reverse proof American Silver Eagles and the American Palladium Eagle. These fascinating pieces and their strong performance on the secondary market have absolutely bolstered interest in modern coins. So if modern coins are what piques your interest, lean into it. Follow your numismatic passion and know that whatever you collect, part of your enjoyment should come from studying the pieces and pursuing the exact items you want. As time goes by, you will appreciate your collection as much for the expertise you have gained as for the items themselves.

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