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Coins without price

Most collectors have gotten used to the fact that U.S. Mint issue prices fluctuate for gold, silver and platinum products.

How could they not change regularly considering the state of the world’s commodity markets?

When the Mint’s latest sales catalog arrived in the mail on Saturday, I naturally had to spend a few minutes paging through it so see what was being offered.

A pleasant surprise was that the silver products were priced, though there were asterisks attached to them. These led to a note that said, “Due to the variability of pricing on the precious metal markets, prices of products containing silver are subject to change.”

That is certainly a sensible warning, yet it allowed me to compare the price of a proof silver American Eagle to that of the uncirculated version. The proof is $52.95 and the uncirculated coin is $43.95.

It is nice to see a widening differentiation between the two products. Both prices are also in the realm where most collectors will feel they are affordable.

Gold products like the proof gold American Eagles and the proof Buffalo coin listed no prices at all and the asterisk took me to a note that said, “Due to the variability of pricing on the precious metal markets, please visit our Web site or call for pricing and to place your order for gold coins.”

Overall, the 16-page color catalog makes a very pleasing impression and I expect it will fire up the flames of numismatic desire in more than a few collector hearts.

But of course there has to be at least one thing for a numismatic editor to wonder about and I found it for the America the Beautiful quarter rolls and bags.

A photo montage shows the Great Smoky Mountains quarter reverse next to a $25 bag next to PDS rolls.

Like the Pavlov’s dog that I am, when I see the “S” mintmark on anything, my attention is captured and I read the section.

There were no prices to put asterisks on, but there was a note that said, “These products are offered in 100-coin bags, two- and three-roll sets and 40-coin rolls. Please visit our Web site for a variety of product options.”

I expect this was to save space as there are a lot of sales options listed on the website (Numismatic News writing style uses website as one word and in lower case). It is certainly not due to fluctuating prices of copper and nickel.

The catalog did the same for rolls and bags of dollar coins.

Collectors who will go to the Mint website to get the prices will not care whether the term for where they are going is one word or two, but they will make a judgment as to whether prices are reasonable and base their order decisions on it.

And like me, buyers of individual quarter bags seem to be drawn to the “S” mint as well, according to the latest sales figures in Mint Statistics.

With this new catalog in the hands of collectors, those Mint Statistics should really start to pop.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."