Do coin collectors need to suffer to truly get excited about new coin issues? Do we have to be told that there might not be enough to go around to get our juices flowing and to try to jump to the head of the line?
Or is it simply the second year effect that hits most programs that accounts for the drastic fall-off in collector interest in the 5-ounce silver America the Beautiful coins?
I ask these questions because as this is written the 2011-P Glacier National Park 5-ounce uncirculated collector coin went on sale for $229.95. Yawn. Collectors can have 35,000 of these, up from the 2010 limit of 27,000 coins. Yawn.
It is hard to believe the passage of a year can change reactions from hyperventilation to snoring. If we had done a poll last year telling would-be buyers there would only be 35,000 of these 2011-P collector coins, they would have been chomping at the bit to get them.
After all, the 33,000 mintage of the bullion version of the 2010 coins caused near metaphorical riots by indignant readers. The year 2010 ended and 2011 began with hobby heartburn rather than champagne toasts. Real life long lines then appeared outside a coin shop that happened to have a supply of 5-ounce coins on hand.
It was quite a spectacle. The adrenalin was flowing as the Mint’s authorized silver purchasers jumped through Mint sales hoops and collector/buyers scrambled to find the key to gaining access to these sets of five coins. Nobody was laughing at the time, but sales were brisk. It was more like they were spitting tacks.
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This “enthusiasm” spilled over into the 2010-P uncirculated collector versions of the 5-ounce bullion coins, which were then sold one at a time for $279.95 each. One sellout of 27,000 coins followed another for the first four designs. Only the fifth, the Mount Hood, remains on sale today, but it too probably will sell out before the year ends.
Then came the second year of issue. The Gettysburg and Glacier bullion coins sold out of the 126,700-coin supply for each and then the novelty began to fade. The Olympic design has sold 82,200, leaving 44,700 unspoken for. The Vicksburg total of 31,500 means the Mint is still looking for buyers for another 95,200. For Chickasaw, only 21,600 bullion pieces have been sold, leaving 105,100 on hand. Sales are creeping along.
This lethargic sales pace seems to have infected collector attitudes to the first offering of the 2011-P uncirculated collector coins. Buyers have taken just 13,157 of the 35,000 available Gettysburg National Military Park coins since Sept. 22. Do you think it will sell out? I don’t – and it is $50 cheaper than the 2010 coins.
With more ATB coins widely available and at a cheaper price, collectors are less likely to be frustrated in their attempts to buy them. But it is the second year of issue. A decline in interest is expected. I’d rather think the present ATB interest level is the well-understood second-year phenomenon at work rather than evidence of a need to be treated badly. How about you?