A sellout punctuated by temporary failure of the U.S. Mint’s Web site and a backed up telephone system characterized the offering of the Lincoln Coin and Chronicles set that began at noon Eastern Daylight Time Oct. 15.
There were 50,000 of the sets available to collectors. They contain a proof Lincoln commemorative silver dollar and proof examples of each of the four 2009 Lincoln cent designs struck in a 95 percent copper alloy. It was priced at $55.95.
As of 5 p.m. on the first day, the total purchased was 29,919 sets.
There was no equivalent figure for the second day, a Friday.
All the Mint would say is that a sellout was achieved over the weekend, though orders were accepted for some days afterward from collectors who were willing to be put on a waiting list. These orders would be filled only should earlier orders get canceled.
Overall, the Mint said it had a total of 51,000 orders in hand when it declared a sellout. This number will be reduced to the 50,000 maximum as problematic purchases get weeded out.
The Mint posted an apology on its Web site for the ordering problems online.
“Unfortunately, the United States Mint Web site did not perform as expected when the popular 2009 Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set went on sale at noon Eastern Time on Oct. 15. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and frustration many of you may have experienced while attempting to purchase this and other products using our online catalog.”
A Mint spokesman said they were searching for a new chief information officer to lead an upgrade of the Web site.
Functionality was restored later in the afternoon.
“Three hours after attempting to enter the site, I was successful and able to order the limit of one set, place it in my ‘shopping cart’ and completed my transaction,” Numismatic News reader Ed Russell of Hanover, Pa., wrote of his online experience Oct. 15.
“I got one ordered at 9:12 a.m. Pacific Time, 12 minutes after they went on sale, but it was not a fun experience,” wrote Harv Laser of Torrance, Calif.
He also noted that shipping seems to be occurring quickly. He said his credit card was debited Oct. 19 and he was assigned a tracking number Oct. 20.
The breakdown of the first day’s sales numbers show that 76 percent of orders were placed online and 24 percent by telephone. There was a limit of one order per household for these sets.