Many collectors have ordered coins from the U.S. Mint over the years and upon receipt simply stored them in the original mailer.
I have done that, especially with commemorative coins. There really is no album for them, so they end up stored in beautiful Mint packaging hidden inside cardboard shipping boxes.
The valuable ones go to a safe deposit box. The cheap ones end up on a back shelf.
You would think I collect cardboard boxes to see the accumulations.
It is a good thing I do collect cardboard boxes because if I didn’t I could have taken a financial hit.
To explain, let me recall for you the 1995 10th anniversary American Eagle set.
It contained the 1995-W tenth, quarter, half and one-ounce proof gold American Eagles as well as a proof 1995-W silver American Eagle.
The only way to get the silver coin was to buy the compete set. I swallowed hard and ponied up the $999 issue price. I wanted the silver Eagle.
I got delivery.
I left the set in the mailer when I put it away.
However, the Mint had a problem.
It’s fancy packaging was not ready when the coins needed to be shipped. The original mailer contained simple make-do packaging.
Some weeks later, I don’t recall how many, the Mint shipped out its fancy package to me.
I put it on the shelf. It was a good thing, too.
Mintage of this set is 30,125. That makes the silver Eagle in it quite scarce.
If you look at the price these days you will see it listed in Coin Market for $4,000. That is a nice profit over issue price – if I had kept the set. I didn’t.
The set didn’t do much on the secondary market initially for many months. In fact, it hardly budged from issue price.
I had the opportunity to buy some paper money that I wanted, but I was short of ready cash. I did what collectors through the generations have always done. I hit upon the idea of selling my 1995 Eagle set.
I could get a few dollars over issue price and turn around and buy the notes I wanted.
I sold the set to a well-known dealer. I delivered it to him at a show.
I got a telephone call a couple of days after I had returned home saying that he could not sell the set without the original packaging.
For a moment that puzzled me. I said I had given him the coins in the box it had come in.
That was true.
Ah, but then the light went on in my mind. Original packaging in this case meant the fancy packaging that the Mint had sent me as a second shipment.
I found that box on the shelf, shipped it off, and the story had a happy ending.
Enough time had elapsed between my original purchase and my later sale of the set that I had forgotten about the second shipment.
My collection of cardboard mailers had saved me. But it had misled me as well.
Life would be easier if we collectors would focus solely on the coins and not on the boxes they come in.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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