It is time for the U.S. Mint to create a new sales policy.
Any offer of anything it makes during the first week of availability should be limited to one to a customer.
It should be automatic.
There should be no individual policy decisions by Mint leadership and marketing.
No gray areas.
One item, one week, no exceptions.
This will give every collector an opportunity to buy new Mint offers.
I am still getting collector feedback from last week’s two-minute sellout of the Congratulations set with the 2017-S proof silver American Eagle in it.
The 75,000 initial mintage has led many hobbyists to conclude that the deck is stacked against them by artificial supply and access constraints.
High prices seen in the secondary market fuels this fire.
It is reflexive for collectors to exclaim in unison that the Mint has messed up again.
It has happened over and over again.
The topic of the Congratulations set came up in conversation last night at the Nicolet Coin Club dinner that I attended.
One collector told me that a Mint operator told him that one big order took nearly all of the sets.
He was philosophical. But it is hard to be angry in the environment we were both enjoying last night.
A social occasion with good food, drink and friends takes the edge off any topic.
However, the edge has not been taken off in some collector minds.
I have had multiple emails from a reader.
The series started with the legitimate beef with the Mint.
It escalated to lashing out at TV coin sales shows.
It escalated further to lambasting all dealers, as well as all members of the Professional Numismatists Guild and the American Numismatic Association.
This does not help the reputation and well being of numismatics generally.
I am wondering if I will get yet another email.
I fear that anything I write in response in an attempt to mollify this anger will have the same impact as United Airlines saying it had a right to remove a passenger from a flight in the face of a video that has disturbed millions of viewers.
Inadvertently the Mint is poisoning collector minds against it.
I say inadvertently because most Mint offers proceed smoothly.
However, those offers that don’t go well have happened just often enough to keep the idea alive that the deck is stacked against the little guy.
Even if the Mint had a panel of the smartest collectors and marketers in the United States to set mintages and order limits, mistakes would be made.
Better that there be absolutely no ambiguity that all collectors will get a chance to buy one item from every offer.
The Mint had a five-set order limit for regular proof sets for many years after 1960s sellouts.
The limit was unnecessary for nearly every offer, yet it helped create an expectation of absolute fairness.
That is what needs to happen now.
Even if order limits aren’t needed for most Mint offers, the fact that they are in place will keep collector-buyer enthusiasm high.
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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