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Could Apollo program be failure already?

Two things are certain this morning regarding the Apollo 11 commemorative coin program sales, which began yesterday.

1. Coin collectors did not spend more than $87 million to buy out all of the coins.

2. Conventional wisdom that the 5-ounce proof silver dollar would garner the most attention was correct.

But it has not yet sold out. It simply quickly went on back order.

That change of status could fuel speculation online, but it does not seem to have done so yet.

The $224.95 issue price was within reach of most collectors, especially when they believe they can flip the coins for a profit.

That possibility is already coming into question.

I did not see any offers of Proof70 slabbed coins online.

All I saw were coins that are just as they come from the Mint.

Looking at these eBay listings, I see that a Buy It Now price for two coins is $570.

That works out to $285 each.

This is $60.05 above issue price for each.

Put in percentage terms, an average collector looking to sell the five coins he ordered to a dealer just to break even would be asking for approximately 79 percent of this particular retail price.

Dealers don’t generally pay such a high percentage of retail value.

Another listing showed a price of $1,616 for five coins, or $323.20 each.

To sell these at break even to this retail seller, the collector would be asking 70 percent of retail.

These numbers will change. No question.

However, they do show a lack of early enthusiasm already.

Perhaps in this case we should consider the experience of the 2017 Enhanced Uncirculated coin set.

It nearly sold out on opening day. But it did not.

As soon as the big buyers realized this, order cancellations began.

Tens of thousands of sets suddenly went unwanted.

Will the same thing happen to the Apollo 11 5-ounce proof silver dollar? It could.

Had I placed an order for five of these coins yesterday hoping for a large profit, it would be on my mind.

None of the other Apollo 11 coin sales options went to back order.

My favorite, the two-coin clad half dollar set, is still available to one and all from the Mint for $53.95.

If you want to buy on eBay, the price of a Mint-packaged, unslabbed set is $89.95.

This online price will act as a cap, once again precluding the idea of flipping by ordinary collectors.

However, I noticed online that there are slabbed versions available, too.

A presale of a Numismatic Guaranty Corporation Proof70 two-coin set that is expected to be shipped Feb. 25 is priced at $189.95.

This is three and a half times issue price.

There is space to work here between issue price, slabbing costs, and retail price. Is it enough to encourage flipping? We will see.

Average collectors who actually want to collect rather than speculate can push both the 5-ounce silver dollar proof and the clad half dollar set to sellout status despite what online sellers are doing.

Both options have maximums of 100,000.

Are collectors willing to do this?

If they aren’t, it might just be that when all the orders are counted, not a single Apollo 11 sales option will sell out.

Such a result would be quite a failure.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."