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Commem overload left Patriot $1 unnoticed

The 1998 Black Revolutionary War Patriots dollar is already one of the most costly of the modern silver dollar commemoratives, but based on factors like mintage it would not be out of the question to see it continue to post solid gains.

We can get into all sorts of discussions about why the Black Patriots dollar had limited sales, and there would probably be an element of truth in most. The overriding factor was simply that commemorative sales were weak at the time. It was still close to the Atlanta Olympic program and the other issues of 1995 and 1996 that had flooded the market. Sales of any and basically all commemoratives would suffer for a number of years since buyers had been completely turned off by too many issues.

Combine that with the fact that the heroic sacrifice of Crispus Attucks and other black patriots is a lesser known chapter in American history, and you have all the elements for low sales. It was very much the same with the Robert F. Kennedy silver dollar, which was the only other commemorative of 1998. The popularity of the Kennedy family should have produced solid sales, but barely 200,000 were sold.

It does not take an experienced market analyst to tell you that if a Bobby Kennedy half dollar only sells 200,000 pieces, then a Black Patriots dollar featuring Crispus Attucks is not going to do much better. It should have – it’s an interesting topic and a well-done coin with an obverse by John Mercanti and a reverse by Ed Dwight. But sales were very low.
It was not for a lack of effort. The regular proof was priced at $33 in the pre-issue period and $37 in the regular ordering period. The BU was $30 in the pre-issue period and $32 in the regular ordering period.

There were also efforts at special offerings with a young collector’s set and a coin and stamp set with a proof silver dollar and four postage stamps honoring Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Benjamin Banneker and Salem Poor. These suffered because of their sales prices. The coin and stamp set was priced at $84, and the young collector’s set was priced at $40 in the regular ordering period.

The totals that matter are 75,070 proof dollars sold, resulting in a price of $123 today. In the case of the BU, sales were 37,210, which means a $175 price today. Those totals leave us with a combined supply of about 112,000 coins. That’s nothing – in a hot market 112,000 commemorative silver dollars can be sold in a week.

The Franklin silver dollars sold out very quickly and are now being offered in the $80-$90 range. The total of either of the two Franklin silver dollars is more than double the combined total of proof and BU Black Patriots dollars. Compare them to virtually any other modern commemorative silver dollar and you come away convinced that the Black Patriots dollar can move higher just because of type demand.

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