Numismatic and History Discussions > Ancient Coin Forum

Price Increases Real or Illusion?

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Virgil H:
Over the past year or so, I have both paid more attention to ancient coins in a variety of places and noticed that prices seem to have dramatically increased. Inflation in the US is at a 40 year high, so maybe that has something to do with it, but the increases seem higher than even the inflation rate, which, as the grocery shopper in my household, is killing us. Has anyone else noticed this? Or is it just my imagination and/or my being more tuned into coin sales than I was before? I hope this discussion is OK, I am not asking about specific coin prices. What I do know is that my budget is seriously being strained these days compared to, say, pre-Covid times. And I have been pretty amazed at what some coins have gone for in auctions and in fixed price listings. Is ancient coin collecting suddenly that much more popular? Or what. Inquiring minds want to know.


Oh, prices have gone up on ancients considerably. I usually got 4-6 coins a month and this year I got a whole 24, which isn't much. Coins I could normally buy for $40-$60 are near $100 now. Many of us over on cointalk have had this discussion over and over this year. Many regular have cut back on buying too. U.S. coin collectors have noticed it too.

I still buy a coin now and then but I've moved onto my other 35-year long hobby, autographs. So far they actually have gone down for various reasons so good time to grab a few long-time wants.

Virgil H:
Mat, thanks for your response, I guess I am not alone. With a few exceptions, I have moved into buying lots where I am getting more for my money, although I am sure there are cases where I am still paying too much. I do try to be selective and there are lots of downsides to lots. But, I also like attributing my coins, so that is a big bonus. Plus I am at a stage where I am still OK with getting common coins and a few duplicates and I am well aware than anything really valuable is not going to be found in a lot. To me, coins prices have gone up a staggering amount and that has coincided with me becoming very active in collecting. Kind of a bummer there. LOL.


Well, much sympathy with you.  My take on it, assuming you are also collectors in the United States:
 -- "inflation" has nothing to do with it.  The inflation rate of 6.2% in the U.S. (this morning) is based on industrial and retail transactions compared to which coin collecting has no market impact whatsoever. The entire numismatic market is a drip in a drop in the bucket of industrial bucket-making. I bought a dishwasher this year that was a "Choice Extremely Fine" denarius.  But, even so, the "hammer price" movement has far exceeded the US inflation rate.
-- coin auction prices have certainly moved with aspects of supply and demand, along with discretionary spending due to many other factors that reduced collateral expenditures for collectors, especially collectors whose life-expenditures have stabilized ("old timers").
-- Why? because, in part at least, many collectors have had to shift entirely to online purchasing.   Most "face to face" trading in 2020-2021 was not possible.  Some face to face collectors had been used to travelling and socialising at coin shows, as did the dealers, adding 10-20-even 50% to their cost of goods sold/acquired. (I certainly did.  I often spend a "nice coin" on transit, food and ... booze when I am at a show, and I only travel day trips on the U.S. East Coast).  Most retailers have resisted conforming their pricing to accommodate lower-cost items, because the actual inflation rate/interest rate, is practically still very low, so they can carry inventory in hopes of moving coins in various fora (no judgment in that; markets are markets, and some may disagree).
-- so, some collectors added their travel savings to their budget and bid-up online items
-- also, some sellers over-hyped the items they were selling, taking advantage of the lack of in-person comparison of items and new collectors who have no comparison basis (a return to the pre-internet days);
-- some buyers had to adapt to changes due to exchange rates, auction premiums, shipping, sales tax, and other expenses that were previously melded with face to face show sales.  Shipping, in particular, along with "Brexit" and other ill-timed big picture financial strategies, had an impact on numismatics; so, too, did auction premiums, which should have dropped in traditional economic terms, but did not.
-- finally, due to the pandemic, there seems to be a great deal of "YOLO" buying. 
Stay healthy and safe in the New Year, coin friends!

Joe Sermarini:
Prices have been rising the whole time I have been in business. This is not something new.


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