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Will price drop make gold coins a bargain?

Gold has dropped to $1,256 this morning. Sudden market weakness has taken the precious metal down by over $50 in recent days.

Unless an equally sharp bounce occurs, the Mint will have to reprice its gold issues.

Of primary interest to buyers will be the price of the quarter-ounce gold Standing Liberty quarter.

Since it went on sale Sept. 8, buyers have paid $485 each. If gold continues to trade in the $1,250-$1,299.999 range, the price will come down to $472.50, according to the Mint's pricing grid.

A slip by gold into the $1,200 to $1,249.99 range would take the price down to $460.

Will $25 make a difference to collector perception of the Standing Liberty issue? Nearly 80,000 out of a possible 100,000 have already been sold.

To be precise, the latest Mint sales figures show the issue at 79,367, up 4,029 for the latest week of sales.

That leaves 20,633 to go.

Will an issue price dropping to $472.50 or $460 push the coin to sellout status?

In practical terms, probably not. For psychological reasons, it might deter a buyer, but most average collectors placed their order on the first day.

What is left since the lifting of the household order limit from 1 to unlimited is what mass marketers can do with the coins once they buy them, slab them and send their offers out online.

More importantly will be the impact of gold’s price on the upcoming gold Walking Liberty half dollar.

Sales date is not yet determined by the Mint. It is supposed to happen before the end of the year.

If gold stays in the $1,250-$1,299.99 range, the half-ounce coin will be priced at $890.

I expect collectors who have already purchased the gold Mercury dime and the gold Standing Liberty quarter to want to complete their set come what may.

They have already spent $205 and $485 for the first two coins, respectively. The combined cost was $690.

The Walking Liberty coin will cost more than the first two coins put together, but having the first two means the mental commitment has already been made to buy the third.

In this case, buyers of the Walking Liberty would get a bit of a break with lower gold prices.

If gold would return to the higher level at which the gold Standing Liberty quarter was first priced, it would put the issue price of the Walking Liberty at $915. If gold slides below $1,250, the issue price would be $865, a $50 savings.

While every little bit helps, it probably isn’t enough of a savings to even be noticed.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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