What have we learned from last year’s successful Kennedy half dollar 50th anniversary coin program?
No, this is not a column about crowd control at the American Numismatic Association convention. It is about what appeals to 21st century collectors.
I think one lesson that can be drawn is that a significant number of hobbyists find special annual sets appealing. In this case two sets and one gold coin were issued.
Nearly 200,000 two-coin clad half dollar sets found homes for $9.95 each and a similar number of four-coin silver sets were sold for $99.95 each. Another 70,000 three-quarter ounce gold coins were marketed for about $1,200.
This was a very well thought out program. There was a variety of coins offered at a variety of price points. Those who wanted the best could stampede to gold. Those who lament too many coins at high prices could grab a clad set. And those addicted to the most popular metal, silver, found much to like in the four-coin set.
Why not take this further? Do we need a special anniversary to create a special set? I don’t think so. What I am thinking is collectors of half dollars were given something new last year.
Now it is the turn of collectors of cents, nickels and dimes.
Why not take what the Mint has learned with its proof, reverse proof, uncirculated and enhanced uncirculated minting processes and employ them every year?
Traditionally the Mint sells sets of proof coins and uncirculated coins because those two finishes were all it could or would do and collectors got used to the idea of buying sets of all denominations.
With reverse proof and enhanced uncirculated processes now perfected, why not add them on a regular basis to Mint output?
We could have a reverse proof set and an enhanced uncirculated set added to what is available. Or, we can follow the special set route and offer a four-coin Lincoln cent set of proof, reverse proof, uncirculated and enhanced uncirculated coins.
The same could be done with nickels and then with dimes.
Quarters technically can be done but should probably be let alone as I do not want to infuriate devotees of America the Beautiful designs by dramatically expanding an already large number of coins for a complete set.
Why not offer a Lincoln set in 2016 with coins of all four finishes? A Jefferson set could follow in 2017 and a Roosevelt set in 2018.
Unless the sets were wrongly priced, collectors would probably snap up at least 200,000 of each, making the offer viable from a Mint point of view. If only 20,000 of each were sold, it wouldn’t be worth the Mint staff’s time and resources.
Since there is no design change involved or surcharge incomes going to charities, there is no legal impediment.
It is time to add the new techniques to the standard coinage in a convenient and attractive way.