Autograph Collecting: More Questions and AnswersWritten by Lon Strickler
Autograph collecting terminology and common sense are vital for hobbyist in order to make informed purchase decisions.
Question: What advantages does autograph collecting offer as compared to other collectibles?
Answer: Autographs have been called “frozen moments in time.” Autograph collectors are curators of history. The most personal item that one person can give is his or her signature. Anything that can be signed can be considered collectible…letters, documents, photographs, books, memorabilia, etc. Few objects give a collector opportunity to own a unique or one-of-a-kind item that is actually part of someone who is known by millions of people. That is main reason why autograph collecting has become one of fastest growing hobbies in recent years.
Question: What guidelines should I consider when purchasing autographs?
Answer: Buy autographs that capture your interest. Don’t purchase items presented as “investments” or sold through pressure. Learn as much as possible language of autograph collecting. The more you study, easier it will be for you to determine what items are authentic and which items to purchase. Use common sense when buying a signed piece. If price is too good to be true, it probably is. Purchasing from reputable dealers, who will help you avoid risks and problems, is paramount. Most dealers offer a certificate of authenticity, which is only as good as reputation of dealer. If dealer cannot tell you when and where item was signed or how it was obtained, go elsewhere.
The Top Five Morgan Silver DollarsWritten by Daniel J. Goevert
Why waste everyone’s time? Let’s skip appetizers and get to meaty stuff right now: The Morgan silver dollars poised to increase most in value in years ahead are 1895, 1892-CC, 1894, 1878-CC, and 1883-CC. Pretty bold prediction, eh? At this point, reader now has three options: (1) Stop reading and act upon this information, (2) Stop reading and get on with life, or (3) Continue on, evaluate analytical approach to identify “Top Five” Morgan dollars, and then implement a variation of (1) or (2) above. If you’ve gotten this far, we encourage you to continue on with option (3).
First, a little background info on Morgan silver dollar…
The Morgan silver dollar is today one of most popular of all collector coins. First minted in 1878 following passage of Bland-Alison Act, new dollar was named after its designer, George T. Morgan. Political pressure by powerful silver mining companies, in a gambit to stabilize price of their commodity at artificially high levels, created impetus driving legislative action. Bland-Alison led to overproduction of silver dollars, resulting in millions of these unused “cartwheels” languishing in bank and Treasury vaults. Indeed, few coins have ever been released under more dubious circumstances than Morgan silver dollars. Minting continued until 1904, and then again for one more year in 1921, when series finally came to a close.
For decades thereafter, Morgan dollars were largely snubbed by hobbyists. Many dates, including those in mint state condition, could be obtained for as little as $1.00. This situation shifted dramatically in 1962, when US government began selling original 1000-piece silver dollar Treasury bags to public at face value. Stories of rare dollar finds circulated widely, touching off a veritable Morgan mania. Within a matter of months, all but a small fraction of federally owned coins were transferred from government vaults to private hands, consequently expanding Morgan dollar collector base far beyond anything seen previously.
Since then, Morgan silver dollars have proudly perched themselves atop catbird seat of numismatic world. Their physical size, availability, beauty, and historical significance have consistently attracted herds of new buyers. Numerous boom-turned-bust cycles have come and gone, sometimes driven by pure speculative motives, but from a long-term perspective, most Morgan dollar prices have trended somewhat positive.
Unlike some controversial promoters in past, I do not propose purchasing Morgan silver dollars simply as investment vehicles. However, for collectors hoping to satisfy their numismatic yearnings AND acquire coins destined to be worth substantially more in future, Morgan dollars do present a few opportunities. As noted above, as a whole, Morgans have gained moderately in value over years. The crucial challenge, then, is to identify which members of this series have enjoyed best growth patterns in past. The underlying logic is clear: coins that have demonstrated strongest gains over a long period of time are coins best positioned to show similar price advancements with continued passage of time.
In order to measure past performance and thus visualize Morgans most likely headed toward a bullish future, I developed a systematic approach. First, I researched individual Morgan dollar retail prices as they existed in 1950, for a broad range of conditions, and entered this data on a computer spreadsheet. Moving forward in time, values from years 1980, 1995, and 2000 were likewise recorded. Finally, estimated selling prices in 2005 were juxtaposed with counterpart data from those earlier years. Because grading terminology has evolved over 55 year period, certain assumptions were made to progressively track price movements throughout time spectrum (e.g. an “Uncirculated” value in 1950 is equivalent to “MS-60” of today).