When is a Mint sellout not a sellout?
Apparently, when the offer is the 225th Anniversary Enhanced Uncirculated Coin Set.
It has been available on the Mint’s website again since Thursday morning.
That is now four more days of availability and counting.
For this offer, the Mint is having it both ways –negatively.
It got all the criticism for a lack of a household order limit.
But now buyers may be cancelling orders because they cannot flip them at a profit.
So now the Mint no longer has the satisfaction of knowing that all 225,000 have been taken.
What an interesting story this has been.
On Tuesday there was a rapid uptake on the Mint’s website.
The Denver Mint and other sales points ran out of sets quickly.
Then came the big offer in Denver at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money three hours after the online sellout.
The thousands of sets on hand at the Mint booth might have broken the market.
Dealers who could buy 500 at a crack did so.
These sets were wheeled across the bourse floor to the grading services.
A fan of Numismatic Guaranty Corporation came by the Numismatic News booth on Wednesday to tell me he had spent $346 to have the 10 coins in the set individually slabbed.
With the Mint price of $29.95, and a slabbing service getting $346, that means the Mint earned less than 10 cents on the dollar.
If you take the time to use a calculator, it actually figures out to 7.97 cents of each dollar spent by the collector.
The Mint did not reveal how many sets it had in Denver.
However supplies lasted for five hours.
A lot of sets can be sold over the counter in five hours when many buyers are taking 500 at a time.
At a hypothetical 20,000 sets, the Mint earned $599,000.
NGC, if the firm had graded them all, earned $6,920,000.
Which business would you want to be in?
I heard no criticism of NGC like the Mint got.
What I did get from time to time was a sense of wonder that the grading services were making so much money.
Actually, part of the fee was for shipping to the collector after the coins were graded.
But even backing that sum out, NGC collected $31 a coin.
That is more for each piece than the Mint got for the entire set.
Will the secondary market cover that grading cost?
By looking at eBay, you will see that it won’t.
No wonder Mint orders are being cancelled.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017. He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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