Collectors seem to love the new two-coin West Point silver American Eagle set that went on sale at noon Eastern time yesterday at the Mint’s website and telephone operation.
In less than two and a half hours, orders for 88,000 sets were received and I had a couple of complaints from readers about the slowness of the Mint’s website.
Before I went home, another reader forwarded me a copy of his electronic order confirmation showing the set was back ordered until July 25.
By this morning at 7:05 Eastern time, orders stood at 140,648, according to Mint figures. The first day of sales for last year’s two-coin San Francisco Eagle set was 85,341.
Demand obviously is high.
The question, though, is why?
Is it the enhanced uncirculated coin in the set, the reverse proof, or perhaps the combination?
Is it the result of collectors eager to get the sets in hand to see if they can get Proof-70 and MS-70 grades from grading services as well as early issue status?
Collectors have four weeks until June 6 to place their orders and there is no risk that they will not get what they order. The Mint will strike as many coins as collectors want to buy.
Or have collectors been reading such a steady diet of “don’t believe the statistics” stories about the economy that they don’t take the Mint at its word that everyone will get their sets?
Whatever the reason, the Mint is to be congratulated for creation of a desirable set.
I also wouldn’t worry too much about any collector complaints about the website. The fact that it backs up seems to create in would-be buyers a desire to want the set all the more.
If there were no order back-ups, would collectors buy as many sets? I am beginning to doubt it.
The rate of sales will fall off going forward, but it now looks like the Mint has a clear shot at producing more 2013 West Point sets than 2012 San Francisco sets, which saw 224,981 produced.
American Eagles still rule the collector roost.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."