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Wanted: Army of buyers

Supporters of the U.S. Army commemoratives are doing what they can to promote the purchase of the $5 gold pieces, silver dollars and clad half dollars.

I get emailed tidbits of information such as the use of an Army coin as a flip coin to start a football game, or the pending mid December conclusion of the program.

It is nice that they consider coin collectors to be important. It is so unlike the early days of the modern commemorative program.

When the 1983 and 1984 U.S. Olympic coins were being offered, hired marketers had grand plans to push collectors aside and sell millions and millions of coins to the general public.

It didn’t work out that way.

The public might like to watch the Olympic Games on television, but buy a coin or two to support the U.S. Olympic team? No way.

It was collectors who stepped up to the plate to support the program that raised $74 million in surcharge profits for the two Olympic committees involved.

Surcharges from the Army coins will go to the Army Historical Foundation to support the construction of the National Museum of the United States Army at Fort Belvoir, Va.

Times have changed, though, and collectors are much more reluctant to buy commemoratives even when special committees say pretty please, because there are so many other coin programs to choose from. Also, the recession doesn't help.

So far for the Army program, the surcharge total raised is just under $2.9 million.

However, collectors have two months to buy additional coins and top up that figure. Museum supporters hope it will be topped up by quite a bit more. I am sure I will get a few more emails before the Dec, 16 sales conclusion as they pursue that goal.