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March 2017

The Importance of the Population Reports

Recently a major dealer on one of the trading networks was offering an 1889 CC Morgan Dollar certified as MS60 at only $24,500. Now this seems like a fair price since the FMV for this date and grade is $26,880. This coin is extremely rare and one of the top Morgan Dollars sought by advanced collectors. There are only 657 coins certified in all Mint State grades by the top two grading services. With an original mintage of just 350,000 coins, the 1889 CC has always been popular among dealers and collectors.

In the past, the original mintage of a coin was used to identify rarity and future potential demand. But the methodology of coin collecting has been refined, especially since the advent of the certification services. Buyers have learned to rely on the number of coins certified in a specific grade in addition to the original mintage, while taking the total number of coins certified in the higher grades into consideration as well.

One cannot underestimate the value of the original mintage of any given coin. However, most numismatic authorities have suggested that the majority of the true classic rarities have gone through either PCGS, NGC, or both by this time, and the population reports have become the standard in identifying potential availability for each and every coin by grade.

While the use of population reports has increased so has the practice of resubmitting coins for a higher grade. In some areas of the market, resubmissions have had a dramatic effect on prices. With this in mind we offer some startling statistics on the effects of a substantial increase to the number of coins added to the pop reports over a short period as the demand for these coins decreases.

Modern Proof Silver Eagles are representative of a series that became more popular with the advent of the certification services. Collectors took more interest in the bullion valued coin looking to collect and assemble the highest certified graded sets. However, over the years the number of coins certified in these highest grades has increased substantially and, as additional demand has faded, the FMV has fallen dramatically.

The reason for the increase in the number of coins certified in the highest grades is simply that so many dealers are resubmitting PR69 coins to be upgraded to the higher valued PR70. With the increased demand for modern coins over the last two years, the practice of resubmitting coins for a higher grade has become increasing popular as well. Below is a chart showing some of the more popular dates within the Silver Eagle series along with the massive difference in the number certified in the last seven years and the effect it has had on the value.

Date Silver Eagle2010 PopFMV 2010Current PopCurrent FMV
1987 S PR70 DCameoPCGS - 37$1,440 PCGS - 1,942$550
NGC - 363NGC - 789
1988 S PR70 DCameoPCGS - 78$810 PCGS - 1,833$350
NGC - 482NGC - 1,017
1991 S PR70 DCameoPCGS - 94$780 PCGS - 1,451$350
NGC - 612NGC - 796
1993 P PR70 DCameoPCGS - 29$4,810 PCGS - 1,170$1,310
NGC - 236NGC - 657
1994 P PR70 DCameoPCGS - 311$2,810 PCGS - 1,037$1,560
NGC - 397NGC - 725
1995 P PR70 DCameoPCGS - 67$780 PCGS - 1,686$325
NGC - 620NGC - 1,270
1996 P PR70 DCameoPCGS - 99$880 PCGS - 2,002$275
NGC - 2332NGC - 959

Since 2010, all of these better date Proof Silver Eagles have shown a dramatic increase in the total population; at the same time the FMV has dropped due to a decrease in demand. The largest drop in value has been the 1993 P PR70, falling $3,500 in seven years. The population rose from a total of 265 coins in 2010 to the current total of 1,827.

Returning to the 1889 CC Morgan Dollar, the population for Mint State coins has increased only slightly since 2010 and the current population is not likely to increase much over the coming years. Yet, how many collectors can afford to spend $25,000 on an MS60 for their collection? We are all accustomed to quality which has become integral to collectors over the last ten years or so. This is why new collectors are seeking the modern coins in the highest grades possible.

It is very difficult to compare the quality of classic coins to that of modern coins. Classic coins were minted under very different conditions and generally made for commerce. Once the minting process was perfected and coins were minted specifically for collectors, the quality improved beyond what our predecessors could have ever imagined. Will the values of these Silver Eagles return to the previous highs? If demand improves and the population increases slow, it is possible.









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