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Line up your cash for gold Mercury

The gold bullion market is not doing potential buyers of the 2016 Mercury dime Centennial gold coin any favors this week.

When the coin goes on sale at noon Eastern Daylight Time Thursday, the price might be an unpleasant surprise.

It looks like it will be either $205 or $210, depending on how gold settles between now and when the Mint reviews and sets its price.

Gold as of this moment is trading at $1,255.20 a troy ounce, according to the website.

The Mint’s pricing break point is $1,250, according to its pricing grid.

Pricing is evaluated on Wednesdays.

The Mint statement in the "Federal Register" that reveals the grid puts it this way:

“Pricing can vary weekly dependent upon the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) Gold Price weekly average. The gold price is evaluated every Wednesday and is modified as necessary.”

The upshot is that an average price below $1,250 will peg the tenth-ounce Mercury at $205. Above $1,250 will put the coin at $210.

Either price is an approximately 65 percent markup from the cost of the precious metal in the coin.

With all the excitement surrounding the new issue with a Mercury dime design, the Mint’s sale price might not deter any buyers.

The Mint’s maximum mintage of this gold coin will be 125,000. Household order limit is 10 pieces.

Perhaps the potential $5 higher price would be considered peanuts by buyers if they knew about it. But two prices won’t be presented to them. After all, none of the gold Mercury dimes has been sold yet, so issue price on Thursday will be the issue price.

Still, the gold bullion market movement today is not doing potential gold Mercury dime buyers any favors.

No sales dates have been set for the gold quarter-ounce Standing Liberty Centennial coin or the half-ounce Walking Liberty half design.

However, if hypothetically they were to be sold at the same time as the Mercury design on Thursday, the pricing grid puts the sale price of the quarter-ounce Standing Liberty at $460, a mark-up of about 47 percent from bullion value.

For the Walking Liberty half dollar design, the price would be $865, a markup of about 39 percent.

$205, $460 and $865 puts the price of the three-coin set at $1,530. That’s a lot of money for a collector to come up with.

This probably explains the reason for the Mint offering these coins separately rather than together.

A sellout of the gold dime would likely motivate many fence-sitters or skeptics to jump into buying the higher priced pieces.

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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