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Let's call gold Mercury the Christmas issue

Imagine Mint customers buying a hot issue without the chance of getting a first strike designation.

That’s just what happened Dec. 15 when the Mint was cleaned out of its remaining supply of gold Mercury dimes.

These were leftovers from April 21.

Perhaps those who got them are true collectors. Perhaps they just want the privilege of owning one.

Perhaps they got a kick out of paying $5 less than the price in April.

The latest Mint report shows that 8,854 coins were purchased, bringing the total sold to 124,950.

That gives the Mint some wiggle room in meeting its order delivery commitments and still remaining under the 125,000 limit.

Checking some prices online, I see I can buy a Professional Coin Grading Service First Strike SP-70 coin for $359

A coin with an SP-69 grade and FS designation is $309.

That’s just a $50 difference for the top grade.

Since the gold Mercury sold out in 15 minutes back in April, the entire supply was eligible for an early release designation.

What will be scarce are the 8,854 just sold.

Perhaps a grading label should be created to call these the Christmas Release.

That might be a marketable concept.

Taking another look online, I see a gold Mercury in original Mint packaging. It is priced at $289.

The difference between this sum and the $200 charged last Thursday, no question, is sufficient incentive to get a late one from the Mint.

A lower price does matter.

But perhaps the buyers are like me.

While I did not buy the gold Mercury last week, I have done something similar.

I jumped at a late offer in December 2014 when some remaining cupped National Baseball Hall of Fame silver dollars were offered by the Mint.

I bought one.

I did not get it slabbed.

I still have it.

There was no speculative impulse involved in my purchase.

I enjoy owning it.

I like admiring the Mint’s handiwork on this very special issue.

It gives me an idea of what to expect for the new Apollo 11 coins now scheduled for 2019.

I expect many of last week’s buyers of the gold Mercury dime might feel the same way I do.

I hope so.

Speculation in gold Mercury dimes might be nice, entertaining even, as well as profitable.

But it is the pure collector impulse and joy of ownership that drives our hobby forward.

These last few gold Mercury dimes are indeed a special Christmas release.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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