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Is silver Eagle set price too high?

I have already had one call from a collector who believes the U.S. Mint has set too high a price on the two-coin silver American Eagle Set that goes on sale Thursday.

I have to admit, the $149.95 price tag strikes me as a bit aggressive. Neither my view, nor the view of the collector who phoned me represents a tidal wave of collector opinion against the price – yet.

Why do I think the price is too high?

Rather than put too much emphasis on the Mint’s need for cash, or fluctuations in bullion prices, or the sets potential popularity, I like to consider the very basics.

Last year the U.S. Mint sold the anniversary set. It featured five silver American Eagle coins. The price was $299.95. If you will allow me to round up to get rid of the nickel, that works out to a price of $60 per coin.

There are two coins in the set that goes on sale June 7. At $60 apiece, that works out to a $120 price for the set, $30 lower than the actual asking price.

Is silver higher now than in October?

Not at all. In fact it is a tad lower.

Are the coins different between the sets?

Well, there was a regular proof and a reverse proof in last year’s set, but the reverse proof was from Philadelphia and the regular proof was a product of West Point.

Both coins in the current set are from San Francisco.

Is that “S” mintmark worth an extra $30?

How about the packaging?

I would expect the package for two coins to be less expensive than a larger one for five coins.

Also, since I expect collectors will buy more than 100,000 sets, the Mint should be able to buy more packages at some reduction from last year’s average package price because it is presumably buying many more of them and would get a larger volume discount.

It can be argued among marketers that if you have such a quick sellout as occurred with the anniversary set last October that you priced it too cheaply. That logic would inspire a higher price for this set.

That could be the logic that trumped all other considerations when the two-coin set price was decided upon.

Come Thursday we will begin to see how actual buyers react.

Despite the $149.95 price, I expect the Mint will sell more than 100,000 of the two-coin sets between now and the July 5 order cutoff date. How many more the Mint might have sold at a lower price we will never know.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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