PNG Annual Numismatic Market Update

At the end of each year, the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) conducts an annual update on the Numismatic Rare Coin Market. The PNG estimates the U.S. rare coin market was over $4 billion in 2018. That was a significant rise from 2017, which was between $3.4 and $3.8 billion for auctions and direct sales, but not including sales by the United States Mint or bullion coins, such as gold and silver American Eagles. The U.S. Mint itself was responsible for about $3 billion of bullion and collectible coin sales. When factoring in U.S. and world paper money and bullion from other sources besides the U.S. Mint, the numismatic business in the U.S. easily exceeds $8 billion annually and is growing.

The finest known rare coins set auction price records, while easily available lower grade coins declined in value over the last year. United States rare coins selling for $50,000 or more, and those selling for $500 or less, generally did well during the last year. Four significant, historic vintage U.S. coins and three 19th century U.S. bank notes sold for $1 million or more each during the year in public auctions and several other U.S. rare coins reportedly were purchased for $1 million or more in private transactions.

Even though investment money that may have gone into numismatic purchases went into the booming stock market in early 2018, the overall demand for extremely rare investor-collector coins rose later in the year, and the rare coin market looks promising in 2019. With the stock market dropping during the fourth quarter of 2018 there was an increase in interest in the rare coin market with some people taking profits from stocks and buying coins that have proven to show sizeable and consistent increases in value over the years, as well as buying precious metals.

Two auction companies, Heritage Auctions, and Stack’s Bowers Galleries, accounted for over 70% of the overall totals, with Heritage reporting the largest amount of U.S. coins sold at auction during 2018, was approximately $187 million. Below are the aggregate prices realized for U.S. coins sold at major public auctions over the last several years.

  • 2018 totaled $345 million
  • 2017 totaled $316 million
  • 2016 totaled $342 million
  • 2015 totaled $439 million
  • 2014 totaled $536 million