News that the United States Mint is going to reach out to kids in 2019 is welcome. If anyone can reach that age group, it is the Mint. I write this not because I think the new cartoon characters will magically change kids’ attitudes toward coins. They won’t. But only the Mint has the deep pockets required for a sustained effort – and I do mean sustained.
A few months of marketing only will be a colossal waste of money. Seeds have to be planted. They have to be given time to grow.
How much time? Well, we have yet to see an evaluation of the American Numismatic Association Young Numismatist program. It has been ongoing for roughly half a century.
Has it brought anyone into the hobby?
Measuring results, of course, is the tricky part. I hope the Mint will have good metrics. In fact, I am counting on it.
In the meantime, the Mint needs to take care of its customer base. What that means is keeping guys like me happy. At the Numismatic Forum last week, the Mint said 79 percent of its products go to customers 55 years of age and older.
There is no magic formula for keeping middle-aged and older collectors happy. But putting a stop to riling us up would be a good place to start.
Considering the idea of selling bullion coins directly to average Mint customers is wonderful news. Not being able to buy them directly has been a burr under many a saddle among collectors.
Order limits are another way to help. Average collectors want an even playing field. Sellouts in which they do not participate raises eyebrows, jealousies, and anger. Perhaps a universal household order limit of one for the first 72 hours of every product would do it.
The Mint has employed the order limit selectively. It has guessed right sometimes. It has also guessed wrong. The damage done when it guesses wrong is not easily repaired.
Mintages are the big question. Too high and there is no excitement. Without excitement, interest fades. Too low and there are too may sellouts and too much bad feeling.
Is there a solution? Perhaps not. But letting everyone know the Mint is continuing to try should be a permanent effort.
Take a look at Pat Heller’s report on the Numismatic Forum. Some really interesting topics were addressed.
I am sorry that Miss Liberty might fade into the background, but new designs can be pleasing without her.
Cooperation with other world mints is not a bad thing, but finding the right formula will be the tricky part. Putting a Canadian coin or a Mexican coin in a set with American coins is not necessarily additive. Many collectors will ask why they should pay for foreign coins when all they want are the American coins.
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