Mass marketer or niche product producer, the Mint bounces back and forth between these two very different marketing approaches like a circus performer on a tightrope.
Yesterday, from its mass marketing pole, the Mint set off and sold another 1,221,500 silver American Eagle bullion coins to its Authorized Purchasers.
Of the 3 million that were available on Monday, the Mint has 455,000 left.
So far in the month of July, the Mint has sold 5,254,000 silver Eagles.
From its niche product producer pole, the Mint’s steps might be a little more tentative as success is not guaranteed to the degree it is with its oustanding bullion coin program.
It wants sellouts and financially successful collector products, but it does not want the complaints that come from collectors who can’t get the product that excites the hobby on eBay this week, or this month.
In the wake of the Harry S Truman Coin and Chronicles set’s 15-minute sellout June 30, the Mint announced yesterday that it is doubling the projected number of John F. Kennedy Coin and Chronicles sets that it will make available from 25,000 to 50,000.
No question, Kennedy is a popular President with collectors.
The question is will they be willing to put up $57.95 for a set that contains a reverse proof Presidential dollar, a reverse proof one-ounce silver replica of the Mint’s small bronze Kennedy Presidential medal as well as a 1964 5-cent Kennedy postage stamp knowing mintage will be higher?
Collectors were quite willing to pay that price for a similar set for Truman with its 17,000 mintage.
The 50,000 Kennedy number is nearly three times the Truman mintage figure.
If collectors decide the set mintage is too high, the Mint will have unsold product.
On the other hand, Kennedy enthusiasm might produce yet another sellout. In this case there will again be disappointed would-be buyers complaining to the Mint.
The order limit will be two sets per household when order taking commences Sept. 15.
Insight will likely be provided into which of these two possibilities is most likely by the sale Aug. 11 of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Coin and Chronicles set for the same price and the same 17,000 mintage as the Truman set.
Another quick sellout will keep enthusiasm high for Kennedy in September.
Household order limit is two sets for Ike and JFK.
Last December there was a surprise sellout of the $1 American Coin and Currency set combining a Native American dollar with a $1 Federal Reserve Note.
It contained the first enhanced uncirculated dollar for that series, a fact not known to most collectors when sales began.
At $14.95, it certainly was not a strain on budgets and 50,000 went fast.
When this year’s version of the set goes on sale Aug. 24, the Mint will have made sure that the enhanced uncirculated dollar coin finish is well known to as many collectors as it can reach.
In anticipation of increased interest, the Mint has set the limit for this set at 90,000.
Adding perhaps a little more zing to the set, the dollar coin will be struck at West Point. The 2014 coin was struck at Denver.
The Series 2013 $1 Federal Reserve Note it is paired with will each have a serial number beginning with “911” in honor of the Mohawk Ironworkers recovery efforts following the collapse of the World Trade Center twin towers in 2001.
All Mohawk Ironworkers in American history are honored by the reverse design on the coin.
A sellout, or excess supply, are also the two possibilities for this set. Household order limit will be five.
Collectors are well known for jumping on the sales of the first of anything. They are often less excited by the second, though stories of very high prices on the secondary market for the Truman set could easily cancel out this tendency when the Ike set is offered.
As usual, the Mint is walking its tightrope with all of these products and collectors are watching, ready to either ooh and aah, or to make catcalls.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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