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Time to make a decision about commems

dave170.jpgDid you buy any commemorative coins this year? More importantly, will you have purchased them before the coins go off sale Dec. 14?

Before you answer, let me refresh your memory. The two commemorative programs in 2007 honored the 400th anniversary of the first British settlement in what is now the United States at Jamestown, Va., and the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, Ark.

You might be forgiven for not remembering. They do seem to have flown under the radar this year with all of the excitement over the Presidential dollar coins and the First Spouse gold coins that went with them. This is not to mention all of the standard issue coins and sets that depend on the prices of gold, silver and platinum.

That is not to say that the two commemorative programs did not get some attention. They did. The Jamestown silver dollar and the $5 gold piece went on sale in January. There was the usual pre-issue discount period for the proof and the uncirculated issues.

Queen Elizabeth II thought so much of the historical occasion that she visited Jamestown in May. More important for the Mint, though, is how important do collectors consider the event?

Can I say sales have poked along? It seems like it, yet when I checked last week’s Mint Statistics to see how they have done, I see that the Jamestown silver dollars have sold about two-thirds of the 500,000 maximum mintage and the gold $5 has seen sales of about half the 100,000 that are possible. That’s not too bad. These numbers will get a boost from last-minute buyers, too, but it is fair to say that these coins are not likely to sell out.

The American Legacy set, which features a proof Jamestown $1 also has a shot at selling out its 50,000 maximum, which is a nice increase from the 18,689 number that was reported last week.

Little Rock has fared less well. It went on sale in May. It is a silver dollar only. There is no gold and no royal visit to grab any headlines. There wasn’t even a special Mint ceremony of the kind that has come to characterize state quarter launches.

Roughly one-third of the 500,000 possible coins that can be sold have been sold. Some collectors might look at the 39,644 uncirculated number. That is half the number for Jamestown. It seems kind of low. Such a perception if held by enough people might boost sales at the end. Additional uncirculateds are out there in the Coin and Medal Set.

This set has a maximum sales number of 25,000. It moved rapidly in the first week it was available in May and then just turned into molasses. As this is written, the total is just about but not quite 25,000.

The proof Little Rock dollar is also in a set, the American Legacy set, and the potential 50,000 coins that can be sold could end up being a significant number because the proofs sold individually total just 94,403.

So now are you ready to give an answer? Have you purchased either or both commemoratives, or do you plan to do so? Let me know at david.harper@fwpubs.com. I’m still on the fence, to

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