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Not so bold prediction for Franklin sales

Mint Stats columnist takes a look ahead at what's in store for Franklin commemoratives.

This is the last 2005 issue of Numismatic News and what a year it?s been.

From the plummeting sales of platinum bullion to gold eclipsing $500 an ounce to the hot-selling Marine Corps 230th Anniversary commemorative to the reappearance of the Buffalo nickel, there?s been no shortage of news.

And that doesn?t take into account the continuing popularity of the Mint?s 50 State Quarters Program.

Yes, the Mint has to be feeling pretty good about 2005. And the good news keeps on coming as the quarter-ounce gold 2005 Proof American Eagle sold out this week. The product sold to its production limit. The last known sales figure is 9,917.

But now that the year is almost done, who wants to look back. That?s ancient history in this what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world. It?s much more fun to gaze into the crystal ball to see what 2006 holds in store.

The day this column was written the Mint sent Numismatic News a product release schedule for 2006. Most of the dates are still tentative, but the big one is Jan. 17. That?s when the new Benjamin Franklin commemoratives are going to be released.

The question on my mind is, how?s the Franklin offering going to sell? Will it fly off the shelves like the Marine Corps commemorative or will it die a slow death like the John Marshall?

This isn?t exactly going out on a limb, but I?m going to say the Franklin coins are going to fall somewhere in between. While the tercentenary of the birth of this great statesman and inventor is worthy of celebration, it?s hard for me to imagine it whipping the buying public into a frenzy.

Perhaps it?s unfair, but when you put Franklin up against the Marine Corps commemorative, he just doesn?t seem to have the same cachet as our armed services. America likes its military and if there?s one thing I?ve learned in my short time here it?s that numismatists are patriotic. Many are former armed services personnel themselves.

Considering the times we live in, with the war in Iraq, and the emotions stirred up by patriotic fervor, you could almost see that the Marine Corps commemorative was going to go like hot cakes.

Now, on the other hand, Franklin is certainly more popular than Marshall. I don?t need a pollster to tell me that. Marshall was a jurist and a great figure in Supreme Court history, but he?s not someone who commands the public?s attention. Marshall wrote thoughtful, influencial opinions for Supreme Court rulings; however, few have ever read them and that?s sad, but it?s a fact.

As for Franklin, if you don?t everything about the man, you at least know the story about him flying a kite and getting struck by lightning. And it?s stuff like that that sells.

If you have any questions, write to me at