Let's go back to 1968

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by midtncoin, Jun 3, 2020.

  1. midtncoin

    midtncoin Well-Known Member

    I was able to recently obtain a 1969 Redbook and was looking through it and thinking how nice it'd be to go back in time to be able to pick up some nicer dates at a fraction of their cost today. I put 1968 in the thread title since the 69 Redbook was printed in 68. In fact, there's a handwritten notation of 12/68 in the inside cover of this one which I assume is the original purchase date.

    Here's a few of the incredible prices of some select keys and semi-keys... (with today's value in parenthesis)

    1793 Chain Cent -- Fine -- $850 ($23k)
    1877 Indian Cent -- VF -- $270 ($1200)
    1909sVDB Lincoln -- EF -- $167 ($1000)
    1885 V-Nickel -- F -- $95 ($700)
    1916d Mercury Dime -- EF -- $300 ($5800)
    1916 SLQ -- EF -- $650 ($8700)
    1836 Gobrecht $ -- VF -- $900 ($12.5k - 2020 Redbook)
    1893s Morgan -- EF -- $525 ($9000)
    1929 Half Eagle -- Unc -- $1500 ($31k)
    1928 Hawaii Half -- Unc -- $450 ($2000)

    Granted, two or three or five hundred dollars was a lot more money in 68 than it is now, but if one could have had the foresight to pick up a few of these!

    Just looking at the Chain Cent, that's a 2600% increase. Quite a return on investment.
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  3. Robert Ransom

    Robert Ransom Well-Known Member

    If only I had taken my father's advice on many things...;)
  4. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Oh course, buying in Today's dollars at 1968 prices always seems like a good deal. However, let's see what else you could have bought:

    DJIA at 943, today it is 26,156. Wait, there is more! Annual dividend returns are about 2-3%, let's call it 2.5%. Reinvesting these over the last 52 years would have made you about another 17,283 over the years, meaning if you invested 943 your return would have been 43439, a return of 46 times your money, or 4600% increase.

    The key is to not spend money, but invest money in assets that either kick off an income stream or appreciate, or both. I am not at all saying buying good coins versus wasting money on lobster dinners and vacations is a bad deal, far from it. Just putting it into perspective of OTHER good ideas. :)
  5. midtncoin

    midtncoin Well-Known Member

    Agreed. I would never buy coins as an investment. There are much better investment vehicles. But if I'd been around in '68 and bought these coins as a collector, they would have been a good investment. :)

    But ignoring the investment question, some of these coins were simply "cheaper" in 68. For example, the Chain Cent was $850. I checked several websites and they all agreed that $850 in '68 was the equivalent of approximately $6K today. But the coin today is $23K. So that coin was a fourth of it's cost today in real money. Still, dropping the equivalent of today's $6K on a coin in '68 was not something the average collector could do.
  6. Treashunt

    Treashunt The Other Frank

    Remember in 1968 minimum wage was about $1.15 an hour.

    so, that chain cent which looks like a bargain would have taken you 739 hours of work to pay for it.

    Or: nearly 18 1/2 weeks of pay. @ gross without considering taxes.
    Paddy54 likes this.
  7. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    I'm not sure whether I'd become aware of coin collecting by then, but it wouldn't have been long after. And I was getting an allowance, too -- as I recall, a quarter a week. :rolleyes:
  8. Barry Murphy

    Barry Murphy Well-Known Member

    The return on the chain cent is only 7%/year. Good but not spectacular. Stocks would have done much better.

    Barry Murphy
    kaparthy likes this.
  9. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    If you go back in time you must take everything that goes with it, not just low coin prices.
    Skyman and kaparthy like this.
  10. okbustchaser

    okbustchaser I may be old but I still appreciate a pretty bust Supporter

    You mean kids dying in a never ending war? An epidemic of an unknown strain of flu? Riots in the streets after a black man is murdered?

    Kinda sounds to me like we DID go back to the late 60's.
    Skyman, DJsMom, CamaroDMD and 7 others like this.
  11. Randy Abercrombie

    Randy Abercrombie Supporter! Supporter

    Makes me want to see if my bell bottom pants still fit.
    DJsMom, manny9655 and okbustchaser like this.
  12. okbustchaser

    okbustchaser I may be old but I still appreciate a pretty bust Supporter

    Not interested in trying on my bell bottoms--and no, they wouldn't fit anyway--but it does make me want to dig out my copy of Easy Rider and rewatch it.

    On reflection, Easy Rider was 1969 instead of the OP's stated 1968. How about watching Bullitt?
    robec and Randy Abercrombie like this.
  13. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    Here’s a little perspective.

    I was sitting in a college accounting class, and one of the older guys (in his mid 20s, but he seemed older to me since I was 20) commented that one of the local accounting firms was paying “good money” … $9,800.00 a year.

    My first job in 1971 paid $9,000 a year plus an extra $900 or so for over time. That was a little above the national average.

    When you take out the taxes, rent and meal money, that did not leave very much for coins. I used to save $100 a month for a "rainy day" and have $50 to $75 a month for coins.
  14. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    Another thing to consider is that everything was raw then. There were no certified coins. You had to know how to grade coins, and you had to be able to spot counterfeits or work with a dealer who was honest and knew what they were doing. Sometimes you had to pay more than the Red Book prices to get the right coin.

    I learned those things via "the school of hard knocks." That's why some people think I am such a difficult fellow when it comes to criticizing coins from problems.

    A few dealers point out problems before you buy something, but not many. When you are trying to sell them something, they will knit pick you to death for problems, real and imaged, to drive down the buying prices.
    Sunflower_Coins likes this.
  15. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    I think of 1968 in different terms: of turmoil. The assassinations, the war, the civil strife. It was a tough year for America and the world.

    But it wasn't all bad, as many of you old enough to remember 1968 will attest. I got a baby sister that year (I was a mere ankle-biter myself, so while I have memories of 1968, they're pretty vague). People were happily collecting coins. And the world didn't end, and the country didn't collapse, though there were some cracks.

    That's how I think of 1968. We've been through tough times before. This too shall pass.

    (OK, so that's not really a numismatic stream of consciousness, but it is cautiously optimistic for the long term.)
  16. Morgandude11

    Morgandude11 As long as it's Silver, I'm listening

    Can’t compare prices in 1968, and now. One could buy a well-equipped car for $3000, and the average price of a house was $15,000 nationwide. Now, the average car costs $32,000, and the average home sells for $226,000. Inflation has changed costs and values across the board.
  17. willieboyd2

    willieboyd2 First Class Poster

    I wonder what the 1968 or 1969 values are for a 1909-S Indian Head cent.

    Leno LaBianca, the coin collector who was murdered in 1969, had one, grade unknown.

  18. Mike Thorne

    Mike Thorne Well-Known Member

    I was still in graduate school in 1968 and living "high on the hog" because my wife was working and all the money I got from a fellowship and an assistantship was tax free! In 1971, when I got back into coins, I went into a coin shop that had a counter covered with Saints priced at about $70 apiece. If I had only known then what I know now.
  19. thomas mozzillo

    thomas mozzillo Well-Known Member

  20. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    According to the 1968 Red Book, the range was $70 to Good to $315 in Unc. In 1969, the numbers were $67.50 to $300. The prices for Indian Cents hit the skids in the late 1960s though the mid 1970s. I know because I lost my shirt on the set I built when I was in high school. The coins in the set ranged from Fine to Mint State. The 1877 was a Fine (today's VF-30) and the 1909-S was an EF.

    The Unc. price was for a brown or R&B Unc. coin. Mint State grading was not the hairsplitting affair that it is today. It was Brown, R&B, or Red. That was it.
  21. willieboyd2

    willieboyd2 First Class Poster

    johnmilton, thank you for the information.

    Leno LaBianca's 1909-S Indian Head cent is still out there.

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