See future in tea leaves or clad proof sets?

The CNBC financial news network says this morning that holiday spending is on track to be the highest in 12 years.

That is good news.

Money spent by one person is another’s income.

This principle applies to numismatics as well, but are coin collectors loosening their purse strings along with everybody else?

There is no national survey.

However, I have been watching sales of clad 2017 proof sets by the U.S. Mint.

It is a holiday tradition that clad sets be purchased and given as gifts.

Since the beginning of October, buyers have been scooping up more and more clad proof sets.

Sales have jumped by 153,890 sets since the last week of September. The increase took total sales to 522,521 from 368,631.

That’s a 41 percent increase.

Tis is a strong number.

Better yet, it is a pure collector play.

It has occurred even as buyers of bullion coins have been turning up their noses at making their usual purchases.

Retired Coin Market Editor Bob Wilhite always cited his “money in the jeans” factor in the commercial coin sector.

If average collectors have money, sooner or later some of it will find its way into making coin purchases.

Buying clad proof sets is one focus of this potential revenue stream.

Certainly long gone are the days when collectors would take up millions of proof sets, but don’t let these comparisons make you miss the current uptick.

Good news is good news.

We have to measure from where we are now and not from where we were in 1980 or 1990 or 2000.

The Florida United Numismatists convention the weekend after New Year’s could not occur at a better time.

If coin buyers continue to spend the money they seem to be accumulating in their jeans, then the collector market will thrive again.

Many of us have been wondering where the buyers have been since the American Numismatic Association convention in August.

It looks like we just might be about to find out.

The year 2018 might just turn into a darn good one.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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