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A 'silver' of disappointment?

A regular reader notified me overnight that he saw the new two-coin 2012 San Francisco silver American Eagle proof set offered for sale on television for $199.95 plus shipping and handling.

If that price becomes the market standard, individuals who ordered the set from the Mint for $149.95 plus the $4.95 handling charge in the four-week order period that ended July 5 will find that they have made no profit on their sets if their intent is to sell them immediately to dealers.

With a routine profit margin built into that retail price, dealer offers to buy the set will fall at or below issue price.

What a vast difference this is from the immediate aftermath of the 25th anniversary set sold last October. Retail prices for these are still nearly three times issue price.

Buyers of the two-coin set who intend to submit them for third-party grading might be bailed out if their coins achieve Proof-70 status, but initial market indications show these high-grade sets retailing at just about double issue price, meaning that when you build in profit margins, wholesale pricing will fall to around $180-$200.

In light of these prices will buyers consider their efforts worthwhile?

Certainly the Mint’s new policy of striking to order allowed anyone who wanted to buy the 2012 Eagle set to get one. This virtually eliminated complaints of the kind that came from would-be buyers of the 25th anniversary set whose attempts to get one failed because of the limited supply.

But how many of the buyers of the 2012 sets actually wanted the set for their collections and how many simply took a chance on being able to make money on them?

We will be able to discern the answer to that question by seeing where prices settle in the next 90 days and by monitoring demand for the next 2012-S proof Eagle offer, the Making American History set issued by the Mint jointly with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

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