By David Menchell
I have just about given up on trying to keep up with purchasing all the high priced Mint products, especially since they are no longer coinage in the sense of being a circulating means of exchange.
All the silver and gold items, many being retreads of older coin designs, are just a way to generate income for the Mint and the various organizations looking for money from the sale of commemorative coins.
I’m sure that gold Kennedy halves will find some buyers because it’s Kennedy, it’s gold, and some collectors need to have everything the Mint produces.
It’s the same mentality as those individuals who purchased the gold recycled Indian Head/Buffalo pieces and the continuing silver and gold bullion “coins” also using popular images from the past.
I also feel that commemorative coin programs in general are viewed as cash cows that allow different organizations to get funding for their pet projects, courtesy of coin collectors. But it appears that this scheme is running out of steam.
Look at the recent disappointing sales of the Girl Scouts Centennial commemorative silver dollars. The program has not produced enough income for the Girl Scouts to receive any surcharges from the U.S. Mint because sales failed to cover production costs. Not surprising. It appears that people are losing interest, particularly at a time when discretionary income for many does not allow for purchases perceived as frivolous.
At this point, I’ll get my regular Mint and proof sets, some of the commemoratives that appeal to me and don’t cost an arm and a leg, and some of the U.S. Mint medals, which I find are artistically superior to most of the current coinage and less pricey.
If I were running the Mint, I would promote more programs like the State and National Park quarters, which make more sense by allowing the average person to collect at affordable levels. And they’re real coins meant to circulate.
I think looking for gimmicks to sell more bullion pieces at inflated prices, which is how I view these proposed Kennedy halves, does little for the hobby except to foster the perception that coin collecting is for the wealthy few and discourage the majority of people from participating.
This “Viewpoint” was written by David Menchell of Fresh Meadows, N.Y.
Viewpoint is a forum for the expression of opinion on a variety of numismatic subjects.
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