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Mint has us well trained

Whenever the U.S. Mint offers something new from its stable of collector coins, there is usually quite a sales pop.

This pop can range in magnitude from panic buying that cleans the Mint out in just a few hours and leads to complaints about the lack of capacity of the website, or it can occur in a quiet manner that is easy to overlook.

In this latter category I would place the initial sales data of the Alice Paul $10 half-ounce gold First Spouse coin that went on sale Oct. 11.

Other than a few die hard fans of the First Spouse series, I think it is fair to say that the rest of the hobby is happily engaged with their thoughts on some other topic.

Yet, sure enough, as the initial sales figures come in, it is clear that collectors jump as soon as the Mint says it is time to do so.

When the Mint had compiled its Oct. 15 weekly sales report,  collectors already had purchased a number of this new First Spouse coin that equals 55 percent of the prior issue for Lucretia Garfield. The proof Garfield coin has been on sale for about a year. The uncirculated was on sale for most of that stretch before it went off sale.

That’s amazing. Half the sales occur in just four days.

Does this mean that the Alice Paul will hugely outsell the Garfield coin? It is possible, but I would say it is unlikely.

The trend for First Spouse coins has been ever lower and then bouncing along at about 6,000 for the proof and uncirculated version combined. Garfield is presently at 5,844.

When you combine the proof and uncirculated figures for the Alice Paul design you get 3,202 coins sold so far, 1,808 proofs and 1,394 uncirculateds.

Collector behavior for Mint offers seems not to vary even when coins are expected to be available for most of the year:

The pattern is new offer, sales pop and then a rapid drop in sales toward a dribble. Watch the weekly Mint Statistics column as it plays out.

The Mint has us well trained, wouldn’t you say?

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

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