Most collectors have to stretch to be able to buy a gold coin.
That is why gold collector coin mintages are generally lower than silver coin mintages.
At first blush, the purchase pattern for this year’s 50th anniversary Kennedy half dollar coins is following this time-tested pathway.
In the first 12 hours of sales, collectors gobbled up 85,670 of the silver four-coin Kennedy sets, which were first offered on the Mint’s website on Oct. 28.
In three-months’ of sales, the gold proof Kennedy coin has registered sales of 65,039.
But not so fast.
When you begin to look at the financial effort collectors have to make to achieve these numbers, it can be argued that their preference, at least in this program, is for gold.
To buy the 85,670 silver sets, collectors had to dish out almost $8.6 million not counting the handling charges.
But to date, they have spent nearly 10 times that amount to acquire the proof gold Kennedy coin. Here they have handed the Mint nearly $81 million.
Even if the silver program sells out completely the 300,000 the Mint said it can make available, collectors will only have spent about $30 million.
That’s just 37 percent of what they have spent on the gold.
Why did they go all in on the gold relative to silver?
The gold coin is a special coin. It is unusual in the American series as it is a denomination that is not struck in the usual metal.
Is this fact enough to have spurred on buyers to spend three times the money or more on gold?
Could it have been the pre-sale hype surrounding the gold issue?
No question collectors were really wound up by the time the gold went on sale in August.
Before buying the silver set, collectors were able to watch the rocket ride taken by the gold coin, first up and then down.
This might have dampened their enthusiasm for another speculation.
That would mean that pure collectors are doing most of the buying of the silver issue, which is what many say they think should be the case with any Mint program.
When the Mint comes to analyze its sales results, which one do you think they will judge to be the greater success, the gold or the silver?
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."