The Apollo 11 commemorative coin program is coming next year.
Unveiling of the designs occurred Oct. 11.
Excitement is building.
I have had my first contact from a reader worried about not being able to get them.
“Is there any group you could put me in touch with to campaign for the little collector to get a fair shot at the moon coins?
"I have been socking away $10 a month since it was first reported.
"Who could I contact to put forth the idea of open ordering the first 72 hours, one to a customer unlimited coins during that time frame?
"I seem to remember other coins were sold that way.
“I am retired on Social Security, but really would love to buy a set at Mint issue prices.”
Is this reader right to be worried?
Will he not get a fair shot at these commemoratives?
Mintages are already set by law.
It is not likely that any change in the numbers would occur no matter how many letters are written.
Is this a problem?
There are four coins in the set: a gold $5, silver dollar, clad half, and a silver 5-ounce $1 coin.
Maximum mintage for the gold $5 is 50,000.
Let's compare that to recent offers.
The 2018 Breast Cancer Awareness gold $5 has just reached 14,000 out of its potential 50,000.
For sure, it will not sell out.
But Apollo 11 is a more important anniversary, isn't it?
The 2017 Boys Town $5 couldn’t reach 10,000, but Apollo is more important.
No gold $5 has come anywhere near 50,000 since the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame coin. It sold out 50,000.
It was cupped. So, too, will be the Apollo 11 $5.
The 400,000 mintage of the Apollo 11 silver dollar is also a commonly used ceiling these days.
Again, no issue since the baseball coin of 2014 has reached it.
But Apollo 11 is more important than baseball.
The half dollar’s 750,000 mintage ceiling is the same as the baseball coin of 2014.
Even that clad coin couldn’t sell out with its appealing cupped design.
Sales ran 400,000 in round numbers.
Can Apollo 11 generate nearly double sales of the baseball half dollar?
Then there is the new 5-ounce dollar coin.
Mintage is set at 100,000.
We have no commemorative coins to relate to this.
All we can do is look at the America the Beautiful 5-ounce coins.
Recent sales of the collector version of these run at less than a quarter of 100,000.
The Mint has already expressed its intention to go beyond what the law authorizes and create a special two-coin half dollar set.
One coin will be the Apollo 11 coin.
The other will be an enhanced reverse proof 2019 Kennedy half dollar.
Mintage is set at a maximum of 100,000.
Will this set sell out?
It is clearly the Mint’s hope that it will.
So knowing all of this, is the reader right to be worried about being shut out of the Apollo 11 coin program?
I think the answer for nearly all of the coins is clearly yes.
What can be done now?
We cannot change the law, but we collectors can insist on an order limit of one coin or one set per household.
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."
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