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Get coin buyer's adrenaline flowing

Are you watching the sales rate of Apple’s new iPhone 5?

I am.

Some 2 million were purchased in 24 hours and the demand is apparently so high that delivery has been pushed back a week.

I am sure buyers don’t mind.

The image of the iPhone 5 and its predecessors in the minds of consumers is very high.

I often roll my eyes and think, “That’ll be the day I’ll stand in line for hours at an outlet just to be the first on my block to get a new phone.

Then my mind kind of changes gears to think that I, too, might just need a new phone.

So why do consumers flock to a product that makes them stand in line or wait longer than expected for delivery and yet feel good about it?

That kind of sounds like what happens to collectors from time to time as they scramble to buy special sets from the U.S. Mint.

Why don’t we feel good about it?

Are we just cranky?

If the U.S. Mint could apply the lessons of Apple and achieve the same result, it would be most helpful.

How could they do it?

I would suggest an experiment.

For some future product that the Mint thinks might be a door buster likely to overwhelm its online sales capacity, try something new.

Schedule its release at the Mint booth at an American Numismatic Association convention first. And I am not talking about a First Day Cover. I am talking about something like the 2011 5-coin 25th anniversary silver Eagle set.

Give ANA attendees a 24-hour head start on making the purchase. I think seeing a long line form at the Mint booth could help humanize the process and bystanders might start to feel they were somehow missing something and join in.

Remember the lines at the booth for the 2009 High Relief gold $20?

I do.

You could feel the energy on the floor.

Photos or videos of the buyer stampede would validate the actions of other buyers who remained by their computers or telephones.

If the online system then gets backed up the next day, instead of yelling at the computer and muttering about the competence of the Mint, would-be buyers would be thinking how lucky they are that they can sit at home or in their office to place their orders and not be standing for hours in line.

This would make the ANA a bigger event and attract higher attendance. It would humanize the Mint ordering experience.

And just maybe, a little razzmatazz as the first sales are made just might make us think that there is new life and relevance in an old institution because we just gotta have those coins.

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