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Chalk it up to sticker shock

Chalk it up to sticker shock ? for now.

The Dolley Madison First Spouse gold coin, maximum mintage 40,000 pieces split between proof and uncirculated options, had not sold out more than a week after going on sale Nov. 19, garnering the distinction as the first of the First Spouse gold coins not to sell out in a day.

It is also the first of the series to be offered at a new price: $529.95 for the proof, some $100 higher than the price of the three previous First Spouse proofs.Uncirculated coins cost $509.95, up $99 from the others.

?I thought the price was simply too high on them,? said dealer Kirk Kelly of The Coin Depot, Greenville, S.C. ?I ordered a few but I didn?t order very many. Certainly when I add something on to them, I definitely think the price will be high enough that they won?t sell.?

Has the new price outpaced collector budgets?

?I think so,? Kelly said. ?There?s a fair number of dated half-ounce gold eagles that have mintages below 40,000. ... There aren?t very many people who are going to be able to afford to collect the whole set, so just to buy a single coin, I think the price is pretty high.?

The future of the First Spouse series, he said, depends on the Mint?s next move.

?Depends on what the price is. If the government sticks with their price, I think they?re going to have the same problem; if they lower their price, I think they?ll probably sell well.?

The new higher prices were occasioned by the significant rise in the market price of gold. In recent months, several of the Mint?s bullion-containing products, particularly American Eagle and American Buffalo coins, were taken off sale and repriced at higher levels.

Harry Miller of Miller?s Mint, Patchogue, N.Y., was clear in stating that he?s not a fan of the First Spouse series.

?I think they?re just glorified pieces of gold bullion,? Miller said. ? The U.S. Mint is doing what the U.S. post office did to the philatelic market years ago when they kept coming out with bigger and bigger stamp items to collect,? Miller said.

He suggests people consider more traditional numismatic series.

?My favorite issues are things like the Indian Head pennies and Buffalo nickels and the Barber coinage, and if you have a little deeper pockets, the
Seated coinage.?