If you are a commemorative coin buyer, what is the best deal among the Boys Town offerings?
The clad halves?
The silver dollars?
The gold $5s?
Many collectors would consider something made of precious metal to be a better buy when compared to something made of copper-nickel clad.
However, in terms of numbers sold, the clad half dollars in this program are doing quite well.
There are 11,944 individual proof halves that have been sold and 11,804 of the uncirculated coins.
Those numbers are astounding insofar as proofs usually outsell uncirculateds by 2 or 3 to one.
So far, this regular pattern is not playing out with the clad halves.
Is it the price?
Proofs are $21.95 each while the uncirculated halves are $20.95.
The difference between the two you would think is not large enough to steer buyers to the uncirculated piece.
If we add the proof half dollars in the three-coin proof set to the overall proof total we arrive at a figure of 15,825.
This makes the sales ratio 1.34 proof halves sold for every uncirculated.
It is still a far cry from 2 or 3 to one.
The proof set is the critical factor that puts the ratios in traditional bounds for the silver dollar and the gold $5.
When you add in the 3,881 proof set number to the individual proof dollar number, you get 17,746 compared to 6,830 uncirculateds, a comfortable 2.6 to 1.
For gold it is 4,898 proofs to 1,351 uncirculateds, which is 3.6 to 1.
It is early days yet in a program that will run until the end of the year.
The proof to uncirculated ratio for half dollars can easily move to more familiar territory in the months of sales to come.
However, for the moment, buyers of uncirculated clad half dollars have skewed the traditional sales ratio.
They have also created sales numbers that imply that they view the uncirculated half dollar to be a better buy than the uncirculated silver dollar, 11,804 to 6,830.
These numbers are a puzzler.
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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