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Collectors get a price break

The Mint has eliminated its $4.95 standard shipping fee for all orders placed online.

This remission is only temporary, lasting until an end scheduled for Sept. 30.

For collectors who order just one or two sets of the standard proof sets, mint sets, Presidential dollar sets, and the like, the savings as a percentage of an order is rather large.

The 2013 clad proof set up until now was $31.95 plus $4.95. This works out to a price cut of over 13 percent. For the four-coin Presidential set, the percentage would be larger. For something like a proof silver American Eagle, it would be smaller.

You get the idea.

This change is tailor-made for collectors who have annually purchased these kinds of sets. The question might be how many of these collectors have not yet acted this year to buy their favorite sets.

Comparing the 2013 sales figures of the clad proof set to the 2012 number shows that there might be a lot of collectors still sitting on the fence. Sales of the 2012 set were 794,002 while sales so far this year stand at 467,771.

Demand for the standard mint set for 2013 is also at half of the 2012 number, 196,422 compared to 392,224.

Will the 2013 numbers now leap ahead?

It is hard to know. Summertime is probably not the best time to influence collector behavior. A policy of free shipping might have been more effectively begun before these annual sets went on sale in the first place, that is, early in the year. It is, though, a step forward whenever it is implemented insofar as it brings the Mint marketing policies more in line with those practiced by successful online firms. That is to be commended. A permanent change to free shipping now is to be hoped for.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."