What should the mintage number be for the quarter-ounce gold Standing Liberty Centennial quarter that will be released Sept. 8?
It is the second of three gold coins the Mint is issuing this year to mark the 100th anniversary of the very popular 1916 designs for the dime, quarter and half dollar.
On April 21, the gold dime sold out in less than an hour. Mintage was 125,000, but because of orders that did not go through for various reasons, the actual sales figure is 116,110.
Let’s use that as a baseline to figure out what the gold Standing Liberty mintage should be.
Those collectors who would argue that mintages should match to allow collectors to form complete sets have a point.
But gold American Eagle buyers know that mintages aren’t identical because collectors react to them differently. As prices rise going up the weight sizes, fewer individual coins are purchased until the standard one-ounce size is reached, when the number jumps again.
We can rule out the one-ounce size for the Centennial coins because there isn’t one.
If we cut mintages roughly in half to 55,000, collectors would still have to spend more than the $23.8 million they spent on the gold dimes because there is 2.5 times the precious metal in each one and bullion prices have risen since April.
Trying to smooth out total dollars spent would imply that mintages would be halved again to 27,500 for the Walking Liberty design when it is released.
While the logic is sound, such a small number might make it seem that the Mint is deliberately trying to shut out most buyers of gold Mercury dimes when the offer of the Walking Liberty design is made.
That would not look good.
Yet on the other hand, to set mintages too high destroys the secondary market.
A bad reaction to the gold Standing Liberty quarter will poison the well for the gold Walking Liberty half dollar that will follow.
What is the happy medium?
Collectors do not have infinite sums of money at their disposal. However, they are willing to pay more because many believe lightning will strike twice, a sellout will occur and the buyers will be able to resell what they obtain for even more money on the secondary market.
That being the case, potential gold Standing Liberty quarter buyers are probably willing to spend more than the $23.8 million they spent on the dimes.
If collectors will spend 50 percent more, that gets us to $35.7 million.
Using a hypothetical $550 issue price, gets us to a mintage of roughly 65,000 quarter-ounce pieces.
That is mintage figure I would select if I were in charge.
Following this same logic, the gold half dollar would cost around $53.55 million, putting the mintage of the Walking Liberty when it comes later in the year at roughly 49,000, let’s say 50,000 in round numbers.
That would put total collector expenditures for the three coins at over $114 million.
Such a figure is a very large sum. It would exceed the proceeds of the gold Kennedy half dollar. It is a very strong number, but I think doable. That would give us formal mintage numbers announced in advance of 125,000, 65,000 and 50,000, for the gold dime, quarter and half, respectively.
How does that sound?
Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
• Like this blog? Read more by subscribing to Numismatic News.