It took longer than I expected, but sales of the Mint’s Enhanced Uncirculated Coin Sets are going backwards rapidly.
I first raised this possibility in my Aug. 9 blog.
I thought big buyers would get cold feet, when the Aug. 1 sellout suddenly reversed Aug. 3.
The Mint’s posted sales number should decline, I reasoned then.
In the following week, the numbers did not decline but rose to a point very close to a sellout of all 225,000.
It was so close that I threw in the towel Aug. 16 and said it was hard to see how the set would not sell out.
But then the returns flooded back to the Mint.
Being stuck with a huge inventory of a sellout that turns out not to be one has panicked buyers.
The set has become numismatically “radioactive.”
The phenomenon has gotten the attention of Harvey Stack, an elder statesman among coin dealers.
He wrote an email to other news gatherers in the field and sent me a copy.
“Let’s hope we can stop the Mint from continuing raping the public, stop the special promoters from also over selling the value of the new issues.”
Numismatic News has long advocated for the Mint to accept all orders and produce sets to meet total demand.
The lack of support for this concept by collectors has been ongoing.
As a consequence, we get fixed mintages and speculative sellouts.
Striking coins to order has the huge problem of coins not being available immediately.
Nobody wants to wait two or three months to receive something.
Without striking to order, we must live with these speculative attacks and outraged collector opinion.
It can be unwise to participate in these offers.
I have written as much many times in the past.
However, there is always the possibility of ordering something and then quickly selling it at a huge profit.
It is like the next spin of the roulette wheel.
There is always the possibility of winning.
Winning is something we all want to do.
Winning is fun.
Winning, once experienced, is something we want to do again and again.
This applies to everyone, not just to collectors placing their bets, er, orders, with the United States Mint.
Stack writes: “How can you, and the other publications, give the true stories about the special issues, the promotion by their dozen or so providers (no doubt at a special bulk price), and just the true story what is going on?”
The publications do give the true stories.
In my July 24 blog, a week before the sets went on sale, I wrote two short sentences:
“So far there is no household order limit.
“That means large orders can be placed.”
Large orders were indeed placed Aug. 1.
Now some of these are being sent back.
Sales figures are tumbling.
Coin collectors are adults.
They must weigh the facts and act accordingly.
The Mint must also assess what damage these speculative coin offers have on its reputation.
Collectors who believe these offers are not good for the Mint or the hobby should make their opinions known.
They should contact the Mint.
They should write letters to the editor.
Just as Harvey Stack has done.
His long-term view is a valuable resource for all of us.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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