“I want my coins yesterday” is the informal slogan of collectors who order new issues from the Mint.
How else can you get them slabbed as first strikes? How else can you flip them for a profit on the secondary market? How else can you brag to other members of the coin club that you received them first?
Word has just come that the U.S. Mint has halted deliveries of the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary 2019 Proof Half Dollar Set after 70,000 have already been shipped. Maximum production is 100,000.
The reason is what the Mint calls a clerical error on the back of the outer sleeve.
On it, Gilroy Roberts is credited as the designer/engraver for both the obverse and reverse of the Kennedy half dollar.
Longtime collectors know Roberts designed/engraved the obverse and Frank Gasparro designed/engraved the reverse.
At the time the Kennedy half was designed in 1963, Roberts was chief engraver of the Mint. Gasparro achieved that position when Roberts left.
Such a packaging error is to be lamented, but is it so serious as to warrant delayed delivery of the sets already ordered by collectors? That’s an unfair question. The Mint is shipping all sets ordered before the discovery of the error sleeve. Only new orders will have a wait. The length of wait has not been defined.
Collectors who get the error sleeve will be given an opportunity to replace it when the new one arrives.
In the age of the Internet, collectors can be emailed. “Do you want the sleeve with the mistake on it?” Lest they think it would somehow become valuable, it could be pointed out that 70,000 of them have already been delivered with the error notation.
Frank Gasparro was a really nice guy. I don’t think he would have minded this unintentional slight. He even treated me well during the coin redesign campaign in the late 1980s when his Lincoln Memorial cent reverse and Kennedy half dollar reverse would have fallen victim to the suggested design changes.
As it stands, with so many of these early sets broken up for slabbing purposes, it seems likely many set buyers wouldn’t care at all whether they get a new sleeve or not.
With 70,000, or 70 percent, already shipped, the secondary market is not likely to place much value on the error. In a sense, it will be the standard set.
Packaging errors are easy to duplicate, so any value placed on them is likely to be money wasted. In the long term, nobody will look at the sleeve. Future buyers will care about what the slabs say or that a seller can attest that the set is in the same packaging as it was when it left the Mint.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News Express. >> Subscribe today
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