With the U.S. Mint due to report on the future of U.S. circulating coinage in 2013, perhaps now is the time to also look into the relationship of the U.S. Mint and its products with coin collectors.
We are a critical constituency for the U.S. Mint and our opinion of this government institution is going to become ever more important.
New products are probably in our future. I don’t know how you felt about the suggestion last week for a $4 coin from David L. Ganz, but more and more ideas of that type will have to be seriously discussed.
Current trends are not encouraging for the Mint. Anybody who has gone through corporate restructuring and product reviews knows what the U.S. Mint will be facing as time goes on.
In recent years we have seen more and more multi-year circulating coin programs. They were a good idea once. Nobody who looks at the state quarter program can find much to criticize about it, but the present America the Beautiful program that stretches into 2021 is another story and the 2009 Lincoln cent program of four different designs was a wonderful idea, from a 20th century, circulation finds era perspective, but all it did was irritate most collectors who clearly no longer have the patience collectors had 40 and 50 years ago to wait for designs to come to them through usual channels.
Modern collectors want it and we want it now.
How is the Mint to cope with these changes?
Good question. I do not have all the answers. Perhaps I don’t have any answers at all, but I am thinking.
Perhaps the Mint will have to go into marketing experiences as much as coins.
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What do I mean by that? Well, nowadays people take adventure vacations rather than lying on a beach somewhere, or they engage in service vacations where they help their less fortunate fellow man.
In numismatics, how would such an experience play out?
What if the Mint offered the experience of actually touring a mint, meeting designers, technicians and production workers and at the end of this multi-day educational process actually get to strike a coin – a very special coin that is not obtainable in any other way?
Take the $4 coin. The Mint could revive it, but only for people who participate in the new Mint experience vacation. They could strike and buy one, but only one. Whatever the design, it would have the current date on it and the person striking the coin would get to buy it with a certificate attesting not only to what it is, but date and time stamped to prove that it was struck on July 23, 2014, at 2:07 p.m.
How many collectors would participate in such an experience?
If too few do in the first year, the high prices on the secondary market for the $4 would induce more to participate in the second year. Each year there would be a different coin. Mintages this way would stay very limited and prices high.
Preposterous? The future often is.