This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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I was reading through my personal mail at lunch time. In it I was surprised to find the U.S. Mint’s 2010 Summer Gift Catalog. It was not all that many years ago when the mailing of this catalog was big news. I have done a few front pages over the years with a color reproduction of the catalog cover just to alert readers to be looking for it in their mail boxes.
What did I do this year? Absolutely nothing.
With the Internet, the Mint does fewer and fewer mailings of this kind and they are less important.
I have been on the Mint’s mailing list at my home address for over 40 years. I still feel that pang of nostalgia run through me when I see the Mint logo on the envelope.
Mint mailings used to look like income tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service. The envelopes were government issue and inside were the old computer punch card order blanks. Wow. If I haven’t dated myself already, that just did it.
The current catalog is full color, but it is only eight pages long. How the mighty have fallen.
I expect the Mint would not do a mailing if its records did not show a decent response rate.
Featured on the cover are photographs of proof state quarters. They can be ordered in both the five-quarter clad set and the five-quarter silver set.
Because precious metal prices are getting so high, the gap in price between the two sets is ever widening. The clad set is $14.95 and the silver set is $32.95. Five silver quarters contain 0.90 ounces of silver, so it costs the Mint $16.20 at present market prices just for the metal and then there are charges to make the blanks, etc.
So virtually the whole of the price differential is due to the precious metal cost. I probably wouldn’t even have given this topic a thought had I not been reading the catalog.
Also prominently displayed is the American Veterans Disabled for Life silver dollar. Perhaps this mailing will restart the order enthusiasm for this commemorative issue. Any reader of the Mint Statistics page knows that demand for these coins has been in the doldrums lately.
First Spouse gold coins get a mention on the back cover, but if you want to order them, you are referred to the Mint’s website to get current prices.
Dollar coins, half dollars and First Day Covers also merit listings in the catalog.
Overall, it is fun to walk down memory lane paging through the catalog and I am glad I am still on the mailing list.
The profit margin is high for the collector versions of the clad and base metal coinage offered, so every roll, bag or set that collectors buy drops a great deal of revenue from the purchase price right to the Mint’s bottom line – which will assure the mailing of future catalogs.
If it were up to this catalog, though, recipients would be totally unaware of the big 2010 story of bullion coin demand.
I am grateful for that. I’m still needed. That’s where Numismatic News comes in.