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Let's keep checking this out

One of the tasks I perform is to edit each annual edition of North American Coins and Prices. I had a heads up from the promotions department to tell me that the staff was preparing material for the release of the 2008 edition of this reference book later this summer.

This will be the 17 edition, so you can see I have been at it awhile. Part of the process is to take a look at the prior edition to try to evaluate what I thought worked and what I thought I ought to follow up on to make the next edition even better.

My eye stopped on the special chapter that I created to introduce collectors to the American Buffalo one-ounce gold piece and its proof collector version.

In the chapter I recounted the opening of the sales period for the proof 2006 Buffalo coin.

“For six hours it was a fight for anyone to get through. In the first 24 hours, the Mint sold 50,000 of the new proof American Buffalo coins.”

The fight, of course, was to order the coins online. The Mint’s Web site, which is quite good, was strained by the onslaught of eager buyers.

This year, the onslaught didn’t occur. The numbers released by the Mint show that in roughly the first five days, which included the Memorial Day holiday weekend, just 9,700 of the 2007 proof Buffalo coins were sold.

In the first five days last year, the total ordered was 75,000 and in 10 days it had risen to 100,000. Those were incredible numbers. The Mint put the coin on sale and 10 days later, it had “persuaded” many collectors to send in $80 million to buy 100,000 one-ounce Buffalo proofs. That is an achievement to be proud of.

Lightning did not strike twice for the Buffalo program. Yogi Berra said it ain’t over ’til it’s over, so I will be eagerly monitoring the sales figures as they are generated from week to week. Join me in my Mint Statistics column in Numismatic News and see where we go from here.