Feeling like a sucker? I hope not.
Every time a major Mint offering is about to go live on its website as the gold Walking Liberty half dollar is set to do at noon Eastern Time today, I get emails alleging favoritism and back door deals.
Here is one that came in my email overnight from a New Jersey collector.
“I write this several hours before this product is scheduled to go on sale at the U.S. Mint.
“What surprises me is that earlier this week, I was flipping TV channels, and noted that Home Shopping Network was offering this coin, certified by one of the grading services as 'SP 70.' They claimed to have 180 available. (I won’t discuss the price,which seemed quite high).
“What I don’t understand is how they can offer a product not yet available – if the coin is a sellout, how can they claim to be able to obtain that many pieces (let alone guarantee grading) unless they have special access to Mint products. This clearly puts the collector at a disadvantage. I would appreciate your, and the collecting community’s thoughts re this.”
My response to this email will be the text of this blog. Since I happened to have had a similar complaint in my Monday email, I was able to quickly reply with the Mint’s official response.
There is a level playing field. Everybody is treated the same.
Here is the actual Mint text:
“As we have previously said on several occasions, dealers are never given preferential treatment for any product that we offer. The Walking Liberty coins go on sale to everyone this Thursday, November 17th, at noon Eastern Time via our website and call center. The household order limit is three, and the mintage will be 70,000.
“Unfortunately, we cannot restrict any company from making claims that they have the coins available for sale. However, we can assure all our customers that no firm or individual has any Gold Walking Liberty coins—despite whatever claims they may make. We can also assure our customers—and your readers—that the coin will be offered on our website or through our call center at a price that is far below what your reader may have heard or seen on a shopping network.”
Rather than just let the Mint statement speak for itself, I would like to point out a couple of other things.
There is no law against advance advertising. In fact it is common practice in most consumer fields.
A car dealer does not wait to advertise the new car models until they are on his showroom floor.
Apple’s iPhone 7 was not a deep dark secret until it was in its stores.
Why should coin advertising be any different?
When there is the expectation of having coins delivered on a specific date, it is easy to offer them a few days ahead of time.
The Mint begins shipping immediately and a huge number are in collector hands in just a few days.
Perhaps what throws people the most is the promise of a specific grade.
However, it must be remembered that virtually the entire mintage of the gold Walking Liberty half dollar will be graded SP 70 or SP 69 if the coins are submitted to the grading services.
The coins that prove to be 69 will be advertised and sold off later at a 69 price.
Coin collectors who are eagerly waiting for the Mint to be taking orders for the gold Walking Liberty half dollars today are not suckers.
They will have their reward.
They will pay issue price.
Many if not most of them also will have the highest quality of coins delivered to them by the Mint in the next couple of weeks.