It appears from the early reaction of collectors to the two-coin West Point silver American Eagle set that the U.S. Mint has a winner.
The question to ask is will the collectors buying the set also have a winner? There the answer is somewhat obscure.
My first thought is that sales numbers for the 2013 set are going to blast by the sales numbers for the 2012 two-coin San Francisco set. That would mean at least 225,000 sets and perhaps as many as 300,000 sets.
What would the higher number do to prices?
Again, first thoughts are that higher mintage numbers mean lower sales prices and possible losses for buyers. On the other hand, with so many different slabbing options available these days for coins of this kind, there are more ways to win the speculator’s game than simply looking at a set’s mintage and figuring out prices from that number.
With the new enhanced uncirculated coins, it is a fair bet that large numbers of these will be broken out of the two-coin set over time and promoted in their own right. There usually is higher demand levels for the first of anything in a numismatic context.
Another thing to consider is that collectors may at long last feel emboldened to spend a little more on their hobby because employment is rising and so is the stock market.
Retirement account balances are not shrinking and in recent months have been sources of good news. That situation might allow collectors to spend a little more current income on their hobby passions, including jamming the Mint’s website trying to order a new Eagle set.
If this set is a hit for collectors and it holds its value, or increases significantly, it is a fair bet that it will be time to go back to earlier Eagle sets and start marking up prices.
Silver Eagles are popular. The coins in these sets are the automatic key coins of any complete set of silver Eagles. It doesn’t take deep thought to realize this.
The Eagles are also made of silver. There is a deep attachment to silver among collectors whether the metal is trading at $23 an ounce, $33 an ounce or $3 an ounce. We simply are predisposed to buy coins made of this metal. It is rooted first in American history and then in the last 50 years of personal experience for many of us.
Most of the Eagle set ordering period has yet to elapse as I write these words. Demand could drop like a rock after the first few days and I will look foolish for even mentioning the possibility of 300,000 two-coin West Point Eagle sets. I am willing to risk it.
The set’s performance might just be a harbinger of even better things to come as the fear inspired by the Great Recession feels more and more like just a bad dream.
There is no telling where this hobby can go if we achieve a return to normalcy, to use Warren G. Harding’s term for the American hankering to tend to our own affairs in peace, coinage matters included.
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