To buy or not to buy, that is the question.
The gold quarter-ounce Standing Liberty quarter goes on sale at the Mint tomorrow at noon Eastern time.
Frantic calculations are being made all across the land.
While cost and personal finance are factors in making a decision, first and foremost is the factor of whether the would-be buyer thinks the coin can sell out quickly.
Without such a sellout, there is no profit in owning the coin outside of pure collector satisfaction.
How long has it been since pure collector satisfaction mattered?
There will be 100,000 gold quarters offered.
For the Mercury dime sellout, the number was 125,000.
These relative numbers seem to indicate a Standing Liberty sellout, but wait, there’s more to think about.
Household order limit for the gold Mercury was 10. For the gold Standing Liberty it is one.
That means it took just 12,500 buyers to capture the whole mintage of gold dimes.
Tomorrow requires 100,000 gold quarter buyers. That is a huge number. Can it be reached?
Many would-be buyers will be looking at whether they will be able to sell what they purchase from the Mint.
The secondary market still prices gold Mercury dimes above the $205 issue cost. Raw coins are about 40 percent higher at $285. But First Release SP-70 coins are just $10 more. Call this a draw.
The gold Mercury dime premium over issue price should inspire some people to be buyers tomorrow, but the tiny markup for top grade pieces looks like a flashing caution light.
Had the Standing Liberty gold been offered soon after the gold Mercury dime, secondary market prices and buyer enthusiasm would have been higher.
It took a commitment of $25,625,000 by buyers in April to create the sellout of the 125,000 gold Mercury dimes, but then some of them backed out of part of that commitment.
Current sales count stands at 116,106 coins.
At the likely issue price of $485, a gold Standing Liberty sellout tomorrow requires a promise to pay the Mint an amount almost double that of the Mercury dime. The $48,500,000 plus the processing fees is not chump change.
Offsetting that to a degree is would-be buyers know they can cancel credit card orders, so they can commit without really committing.
Tomorrow night if there are not Internet headlines of a sellout, I expect the backing off will be even more severe than what happened for the gold Mercury dime orders.
So really it all boils down to whether there will be 100,000 individual buyers tomorrow deciding to place an order for gold quarter-ounce Standing Liberty coins.
I don’t think there will be.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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