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Silver Dollars Eclipse Bullion Coins
By Patrick A. Heller
March 04, 2014

With the recent uptick in gold and silver prices, there has been a slight increase in the amount of bullion-priced gold and silver being liquidated by retail customers in the United States. At the same time, demand for physical gold in China continues to break the all-time records set last year.

On the other side, demand to purchase physical precious metals in the United States has softened. With more bullion items being liquidated and lower demand to purchase them, a wide range of gold, silver, platinum and palladium products are being sold back to wholesalers. Within the past week, there have been several opportunities to acquire selected coins or bars at lower than normal premiums.

Among silver items, the premiums for silver American Eagle one-ounce bullion coins and U.S. 90 percent silver coins are down. Sometimes, you can also find deals on silver bars and rounds.

In gold, some premiums have fallen for pre-2014 dated U.S. gold American Eagles and Maple Leaves, Mexico 50 pesos, Austria 100 coronas, and various sizes of gold bars. The bargains in platinum and palladium tend mostly to be bars of different sizes.

When I worked the floor at the American Numismatic Association National Money Show in Atlanta last week, I saw first-hand that demand for high-grade Morgan and Peace dollars and for somewhat better date Morgan and Peace dollars was even stronger than it was a month earlier at the Long Beach show.

Dealer inventories of such coins were much lower than I am used to seeing. More than one dealer told me that “everyone” seemed to be chasing the somewhat better date coins in Mint State condition. One dealer friend purchased a complete Morgan dollar set, including the proof 1895, near the start of the show and sold it all within 48 hours.

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I anticipate that demand for the little bit scarcer Morgan and Peace dollars will continue to grow, pushing up prices no matter what happens to the spot price of silver. Also look for the prices of Mint State generic dates to gradually appreciate. Although Mint State rolls of Morgan and Peace dollars have not been strong over the past few months – with Peace dollars actually dropping in price – it appears that this is more a case that the average quality of coins in such rolls is declining instead of prices being weak.

The Saddle Ridge hoard of gold coins has caught the public fancy.

Last week, the story about a discovery hoard of U.S. gold coins dated from the mid-to-late 1800s broke. The 1,427 coins discovered a year ago in Northern California had a face value of around $28,000. Dubbed the Saddle Ridge Hoard after a nearby by geographical landmark, this is perhaps the largest face value discovery of buried gold coins in U.S. history. All the news reports repeated that the hoard could be worth as much as $10 million.

After I returned home last Saturday, I took my daughter to her indoor soccer game. As soon as I approached the stands, it seemed like almost all the other parents wanted to talk about the gold coins in the Saddle Ridge Hoard. Fortunately, I had read a number of the articles about them and viewed some of the coins at the ANA Atlanta show. Therefore, I could discuss them intelligently. I hope every one of these coins finds a retail buyer. The media publicity about the Saddle Ridge Hoard is perhaps the greatest ever accomplished for any numismatic news story. Kudos go to Don Kagin and the Professional Coin Grading Service for excellent public relations work. Who knows how many new or renewed collectors will emerge because of all the coverage on this discovery hoard.

Patrick A. Heller was the American Numismatic Association 2012 Harry Forman Numismatic Dealer of the Year Award winner. He owns Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Mich., and writes Liberty’s Outlook, a monthly newsletter on rare coins and precious metals subjects.

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