Are United States Mint new issues order limits making a comeback?
I hope so
When the new American Liberty one-tenth ounce 2018 gold proof coin went on sale Feb. 8, the Mint imposed a household order limit of five coins.
Overall mintage limit is 135,000.
Price of the new coin is $215.
There was no rush to a sellout.
The order limit was eliminated the next day.
Mint sales numbers are not yet available, but I doubt the order limit would be ended if the offer was near sellout status.
Before I write anything further, I want to thank the Mint for putting on the order limit. It was necessary.
There is little concerning the Mint that upsets collectors more than the lack of order limits. Having them on the first day, even if they prove not to be necessary, is a good thing.
It shows that the Mint cares about average collectors.
It shows it wants an even playing field for them.
It shows fairness.
This does not mean collectors will end up buying more coins for any individual offer.
What it does mean is the Mint will stop alienating potential buyers and be able to grow its sales base over time.
This is the first rule of holes.
When you find yourself in one, stop digging.
The Mint has stopped digging.
Its reputation for fairness will quickly recover if it continues to place first-day order limits.
Collectors want to be fans of the Mint.
They will be back buying on a routine basis all the coins that interest them when they are sure they are being treated fairly.
That leaves specialists like me to analyze offers to a fare-the-well.
Are collectors going to pony up over $29 million to buy all 135,000 proof tenth-ounce gold coins available?
That would be a strong result.
But my judgment is completely independent of the order limit policy.
It is a bad idea to say no order limit was necessary because there is no chance for a sellout on the first day.
If Mint marketers were omniscient and were always right, I suppose order limits would be unnecessary.
The appropriate number of coins would always be offered for sale, and collectors would buy them all.
Since that is not the case, putting a sign up on offers that there are order limits will maximize the appeal of each offer to collectors.
The Mint customer base can easily start growing again when the buzz among collectors stops being about unfair offers and more about beautiful artworks and desirable compositions.
The tenth-ounce proof is a winner of an offer because of the initial order limit.
Well done, Mint.
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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