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Missing stats start a new odyssey

This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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Where are the Mint Statistics pages?

The fact that there were none in the Dec. 14 issue was quickly noticed by readers who have come to depend on the weekly snapshot of just what is being purchased by fellow hobbyists from the U.S. Mint.

I heard about it. And how. The quickest reaction came from a hobbyist who called me when the pages did not appear in the usual locations on our websites www.numismaticnews.com and www.numismaster.com.

This first caller wanted to know what was going on with sales of the 2010 proof silver American Eagle.

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I understand. I am interested in that information, too. I want to provide it. Unfortunately, the Mint suffered a computer failure involving its weekly statistical report that is the basis for the Mint Statistics pages. That prevented the Mint from making any information available in time for last week’s paper.

Not a good situation, is it?

This has been a bad spell for the Mint and its computers. E-mails were sent out telling subscription program participants that their orders for proof silver Eagles were canceled before the program started.
Then when the order period actually did begin, 2,200 Internet orders disappeared for the Eagles and 500 for other products.

Now this.

What’s a poor hobbyist to do? We want the information and we want it now, after all.

As this is written, I am waiting for a further explanation and still have hopes that there will be some form of the statistics in this week’s paper. Look further inside to see if this in fact happens.

With these problems, I would not be surprised to discover that the Mint’s computer is named HAL, as was the one in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.

“You want the latest order numbers for proof silver Eagles?

“Sorry, I can’t give them to you, Dave.

“Proof Buffalo gold?

“Dream on, Dave. You’re just lucky I can’t shut off your oxygen.”

Thanks, HAL.

It was the birth of the state quarter program that inspired the creation of the Mint Statistics column in the pages of Numismatic News. It is amazing how we have all come to depend on this handy digest of information.

Sales numbers are important to collectors because they are the first indicators we have of potential scarcity. Scarcity is the factor that drives potential value. Hence the ongoing interest.

With the end of the year being a time when certain items go off sale, it is an unfortunate bit of timing for this failure to occur, but then would there ever be a good time for this information to cease being available?

I expect more calls and letters from readers before this is over. What the Mint will have to eventually do with its present computer system is probably junk it.

Why did the lights just go off? What’s that noise?

“I can’t allow you to write this, Dave.”

More Coin Collecting Resources:

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