In an article published this week on Coin Update, Lou Golino interviews author Eric Jordan. Here's an excerpt - be sure to read the complete article online.
Eric Jordan, who has degrees in engineering and business, started as a collector of classic American issues like Prooflike Morgan dollars in the 1980s, but in the 1990s discovered he would not be able to complete that set and that indexed to inflation his collection had "leveled out or worse." His attention then shifted to "the radical drop in high-end modern coin mintages" and the "low-risk opportunity they presented," as he wrote in his well-received book, Modern Commemorative Coins (Krause, 2010). Later he co-authored with longtime dealer John Maben Top 50 Most Popular Modern Coins (Krause, 2012), which extended the analysis to coins issued after the publication of the first book and included updated mintage data.
Eric's key argument in these books is that the potential appreciation of most coin series comes mainly from their key and semi-key dates with the rest of the series mostly along for the ride from an investing perspective. Mature, classic U.S. coin series' key and semi-key dates have had a long time to appreciate to the point that the average collector can only afford them in low grades, if at all. As for modern coins, "Today's key date moderns are displaying exactly the same behavior but are still affordable to the broad middle class," as he said in a 2012 Numismatic News article.
His response to the frequently mentioned argument that modern coins have been poor investments is to focus on the key dates in series' whose overall populations are increasing, not the common coins, and that many collectors are impatient and do not give the key coins' value enough time to appreciate. As he noted in that 2012 piece, "All one needs to do is focus on low population attractive issues in series with rapidly expanding total populations just as collectors with foresight have for generations."
It is true that both of Eric's books were written at a time when interest in U.S. Mint precious metal issues was higher than it is today and that classic and modern key dates have seen their values come down as the overall coin market has softened, but the basic approach is still valid. For example, prices for the 1995-W Proof Silver Eagle have come down, especially for graded 70s, but that coin is still worth more than the rest of the series combined for ungraded examples and 69's [or was until the 2019-S Enhanced Reverse Proof (ERP) was issued on November 14]. For graded examples, the story is different because of advancements in minting technology. MS-70 examples of the earlier dates that are very common below that grade are very scarce and expensive in the top grade (unlike recent issues that have almost no premium in MS-70).
Eric was also the first analyst to compare the American Silver Eagle to the Morgan silver dollar in his books and articles — a comparison that other writers have picked up on. I recently interviewed him about his arguments about key date coins; how the new reverse design the Mint plans to launch in 2021 and the issuance of the 2019-S ERP, the new king of Silver Eagles, will impact the series; and how he expects that coin and its cousin, the 1995-W Proof, to perform over time.
To read the complete article, see:
Key date coins, the 2019-S Enhanced Reverse Proof, and the future of American Silver Eagles: An interview with Eric Jordan
Wayne Homren, Editor
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