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How Many Coin Collectors Do You Think Are In The U.S.?

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Ian Russell of GreatCollections estimated there are 10 million coin collectors in the U.S. on Larry King Now...

 

http://www.coinworld.com/news/larry-king-talks-coins-with-ian-russell-of-greatcollections-com.html

 

Do you think this is estimate is high, low, or close to accurate?

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Ian Russell of GreatCollections estimated there are 10 million coin collectors in the U.S. on Larry King Now...

 

http://www.coinworld.com/news/larry-king-talks-coins-with-ian-russell-of-greatcollections-com.html

 

Do you think this is estimate is high, low, or close to accurate?

 

Considering the context of the discussion, I would think the estimate may be on the low side.

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I think there are a several of classes of collectors. There are probably 10 million people (including kids) who go thru their change and save ones they think are nice or interesting. Then there are some lesser number of bullion collectors who consider themselves coin collectors as they buy all of the certified bullion coins from around the world. Next would come low budget coin collectors who actually buy coins at shows and online. Based on the number of ebay listings that would probably be some where in the 4 million range (just a guess). Lastly there are the high budget collectors who buy from shows and the major auctions. This group is a much smaller number. So like the previous post, define collector.

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I think there are a several of classes of collectors. There are probably 10 million people (including kids) who go thru their change and save ones they think are nice or interesting. Then there are some lesser number of bullion collectors who consider themselves coin collectors as they buy all of the certified bullion coins from around the world. Next would come low budget coin collectors who actually buy coins at shows and online. Based on the number of ebay listings that would probably be some where in the 4 million range (just a guess). Lastly there are the high budget collectors who buy from shows and the major auctions. This group is a much smaller number. So like the previous post, define collector.

 

Again, within the context of the interview.

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(1) There is the total number of 'collectors' defined loosely.

 

(2) There are those who are ACTIVE in collecting modern or older coins. This means adding to the collection or actively looking to add/buy/sell at least once a year, IMO, if not more frequently.

 

(3) There are those who are ACTIVE in collecting modern/older coins.....and either research trends/what is happening on a weekly or monthly basis.....and/or attend a coin show or go to their local coin dealer at least once a year.

 

(4) Then there are the SERIOUS COLLECTORS.....folks who attend at least 2+ coin shows a year or go to their local dealer a few times a year......make 1-2 or more purchases a year (or sales).....do research on the Web at least weekly....post on message boards :grin:....etc.

 

I think #2 is maybe 25% of #1.

 

I think #3 is maybe 50% of #2.

 

I think #4 is maybe 25% of #3.

 

So.....I think the difference between the entire group of COLLECTORS vs. the SERIOUS COLLECTORS is probably 5-20 fold, depending on your definition. But I think my definitions and numbers are somewhat in the ballpark.

 

Happy to defer to veterans here who can compare their experiences now vs. 10 years ago vs. 30 years ago vs. maybe 40+ years ago. Especially at local/regional/national coin shows, where it is easy to compare traffic and dealer numbers (I was a serious baseball collector and the change has been massive, needless to say :cry: ).

 

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Counting those that buy current Mint products with subscriptions and focus on inexpensive moderns , I think that number is a bit low.

 

Either way, congratulations to Ian and Great Collections for the awesome publicity! :golfclap:

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I bet Stacks & Heritage have a pretty good feel for this, at least in the upper tiers......

Not if Stack's uses the same IT department to keep their records as they do to build their website.

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10 million coin collectors?

 

Passive or sedentary, maybe.

 

Active, hardcore...no way, I bet it's less than 2 million, possibly even lower. Are the flippers on eBay collectors, no...that's 300,000 right there! Was my Aunt who had 2 coffee cans full of circulated clad Kennedy half dollars from the 70's & 80's a collector, no.

 

The numbers swelled at the beginning of the Statehood quarter program but has dwindled steadily since that era has ended. The US Mint is saturating the market with over 130 different products for collectors. If you buy something from the US Mint as a gift, say to honor an event, is the gifter & the giftee considered a collector? In other words, the US Mint sales figures are skewed to make the collector market larger than it really seems.

 

Do I have any facts to back this up...no.

 

Lot's of no's here, sorry, but 10 million?...the dealers/flippers wish.

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Was my Aunt who had 2 coffee cans full of circulated clad Kennedy half dollars from the 70's & 80's a collector, no.

 

This is where I was going with my comment above about defining collector. If she was interested in varieties or trying to even put together a date/mint mark circulated set, yes, I would consider her a collector.

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Counting those that buy current Mint products with subscriptions and focus on inexpensive moderns , I think that number is a bit low. Either way, congratulations to Ian and Great Collections for the awesome publicity! :golfclap:

I don't think the Mint does the business today that they did decades ago....total $$$ may be larger, but I bet individual collectors are likely smaller.

 

Check out the images at FUN or most any other coin show, local/regional national....then check out images of a baseball card show during the bubble years with tons of kids:

 

 

Make sure you check out the images at 1:15. The entire video is very informative.

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Was my Aunt who had 2 coffee cans full of circulated clad Kennedy half dollars from the 70's & 80's a collector, no.

 

Not by my definition, and certainly not active, which to me is the key word.

 

If someone goes out of their way to obtain coins, as opposed to just saving what they get via change or as presents from family members, that shows collecting interest:

 

*Going to a local dealer to look or purchase

*Going to a coin show to look or purchase

*Swapping or buying/selling coins with friends

*Buying or looking online, auctions, Ebay, etc.

I think that narrows it down to the true definition of a collector. Someone who COLLECTS may not necessarily be a collector, they might get coins for their bday or holidays but do nothing on their own. Not a collector, IMO, at least under a more active definition.

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I agree with your sentiments. Maybe two million who are actively buying and selling, at most. This is somewhat more than 1% of the adult population and substantial groups (African Americans and women generically) have much lower participation rates than the European demographic.

 

From the standpoint of Great Collections, what they are really interested in are potential customers and there aren't anywhere near this number who quality for it, whether 10 million or two million.

 

In the 1980's, David Bowers estimated 50,000 who would pay $100 for one coin. If this was "in the ballpark", I estimate somewhere between 100,000 and 250,000 who might now spend up to $100 or maybe $250.

 

I also have nothing to back up this number other than it should be apparent given the price level and the number of coins that are so expensive that it is still quite large.

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In the 1980's, David Bowers estimated 50,000 who would pay $100 for one coin. If this was "in the ballpark", I estimate somewhere between 100,000 and 250,000 who might now spend up to $100 or maybe $250. I also have nothing to back up this number other than it should be apparent given the price level and the number of coins that are so expensive that it is still quite large.

 

I think that figure is actually kind of low. I think there might be alot more than that, I'm gonna guestimate 500,000 - 2 million actually.

 

$100 TODAY is only like $30 back in the 1980's, don't forget. Now, if you want to make it $250 to keep it consistent, I still think it's more but maybe 150,000 - 750,000.

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Start with the mint's product sales and subscriber lists. The info is in the RFP issued about a year ago.

What is RFP, where is it, what's the # say ? I don't have that info, but seems to be relevant to the key point of this thread.

 

Treasury releases its mailing list totals ? Didn't know that.........

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Would be great to know how many people visit/watch/bit on stuff at Ebay. I just noticed that they have filters on the left side for year, MS condition, etc. Not sure it had been there years ago when I would just glance at the site (but maybe it was, don't quote me :grin: ).

 

Would also be interested in online auction numbers by Heritage, Stacks, etc. I suspect the quality and higher-price make that much more selective and limited, probably in the low thousands.

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Tye Mint released a Request for Proposal (RFP) to industry last year for the purpose of hiring a contractor to redesign the web page and ordering functions. In the RFP were statistics on numbers of users/access/network loads, etc. At this point, you will have to do an internet search to find a copy.

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The Mint/Treasury/govt doesn't help their cause when they say absolutely asinine stuff like 147 million adults participated in the Quarters Program:

 

https://www.usmint.gov/downloads/mint_programs/50sqReport.pdf

 

That's virtually ALL adults...what was their definition of 'participated' -- held one as loose change ???? :mad:

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$100 TODAY is only like $30 back in the 1980's, don't forget. Now, if you want to make it $250 to keep it consistent, I still think it's more but maybe 150,000 - 750,000.

 

I am aware of that and I don't disagree with you. The price level supports a larger population of large spenders than 250,000. Must be thousands who will spend over $10,000 on a single coin and a large multiple who will spend more than $1,000.

 

As for the buyers of US Mint products, not sure how many of these I consider actual collectors. Those who subscribe and buy regularly, certainly. In the past, it has been my understanding that a very large percentage were not. They were buying gifts for other collectors. As indicated by the Kennedy gold coin, I also believe a substantial number are buying for speculative purposes. I don't believe there are anywhere near 75,000 actual collectors who really want that coin.

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I am aware of that and I don't disagree with you. The price level supports a larger population of large spenders than 250,000. Must be thousands who will spend over $10,000 on a single coin and a large multiple who will spend more than $1,000.

 

Agree on both parts....many people gravitate to some of the numismatic commons when they realize it's not much more than buying a 1 oz. ASE or gold coin.

 

As for the buyers of US Mint products, not sure how many of these I consider actual collectors. Those who subscribe and buy regularly, certainly. In the past, it has been my understanding that a very large percentage were not. They were buying gifts for other collectors. As indicated by the Kennedy gold coin, I also believe a substantial number are buying for speculative purposes. I don't believe there are anywhere near 75,000 actual collectors who really want that coin.

 

Agreed....where did you get that 75,000/JFK number...is that the number of people who placed orders with the Mint ?

 

And you are right, I had at least 3 or 4 of my relatives in my youth give me coin sets in the 1970's as BDAY or Christmas presents. In fact, my uncle got me an ASE a few years ago for my BDAY and it got me interested in the Silver Eagles as a stepping-stone between gold coin purchases (which because of their cost$$$ are more infrequent) and now I have been adding silver coins, slabbed and non-slabbed, when I have a few bucks but not enough for a gold coin. (thumbs u

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Agreed....where did you get that 75,000/JFK number...is that the number of people who placed orders with the Mint ?

 

It's the sales number I recall from the PCGS Forum. Actual sales are probably somewhat less but whatever it is, it is somewhere near it and still far more than the number of real collectors who want it. I expect most of them to end up with "investors".

 

I also believe that many "collectors" are primarily buying even the proof ASE and "investment" coins like the Morgan dollar and generic type gold as bullion substitutes. I know ASE proofs are very popular but the mintages of these coins are huge.

 

The second group especially as leveraged plays on metal prices. Looking at the census counts of the common date Morgan and Peace dollars, I don't believe anywhere near this number of actual collectors are buying them. These coins aren't worth that much more than many 20th century classics that are also very common, but I don't believe the actual popularity between these series is anywhere near the difference in the census counts.

 

Someone on the Ike thread wondered why so many lower MS grades of these coins are in the census and why collectors would bother to submit it. My suspicion is that to a great extent, they did not. The submitters were telemarketers and coin brokers doing so to sell them to non-collectors in bulk..

 

From a financial standpoint, these buyers are possibly a substantial minority.

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Okay - the 147 million Statehood quarters participation is a very interesting statistic. Completely irrelevant for # of collectors, but still very interesting that someone came up with it in reference to the U.S. Mint website.

 

I agree with many of the posts here. It all depends on the level of collector. Also, there are many more collectors per capita in the U.S. than other countries, in my opinion.

 

- Ian

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I agree with many of the posts here. It all depends on the level of collector. Also, there are many more collectors per capita in the U.S. than other countries, in my opinion.

 

- Ian

 

I consider this fact, not an opinion. I don't believe there are anywhere near the same proportion of collectors but even if there are, they certainly are spending far less money even proportionately. The price level proves it.

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