It is time for a decision.
The San Francisco Mint’s two-coin silver American Eagle proof set goes off sale at 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, July 5.
The Mint’s odometer figure shows that 175,588 have been ordered so far.
That number does not look particularly high to me, though the weekend’s sales numbers need to be added to it. At first blush, you might think it will be well worth your while financially to order the set in the expectation of a pop in the price when it goes off sale.
If this were a pure mintage number discussion, that might be the logical conclusion.
But as every collector who has ever ordered from the Mint before knows, if quantities can be ordered, there is a strong likelihood that as soon as deliveries start, the buyers of these quantities will start putting them into the market and thereby put a ceiling on any price appreciation.
Sure, many of these will enter the secondary market in the form of sets slabbed as Proof-70 and Proof-69, gaining an initial premium covering the cost of grading and marketing, but even so, secondary market buyers have only so much cash. If they have the opportunity of satisfying their desires with coins that have been graded for them at the top of the scale, they will not be chasing raw sets that you or I might have taken a flyer on.
Another factor to consider is the depressed price of silver during this entire ordering period. Collectors were considering the $149.95 cost of the two-coin set rather pricey at the beginning of the order period. There has been nothing to persuade them otherwise since then.
That, oddly, is a reason why it might be profitable to place a last-minute order in the hopes of a pop in price.
If there are a lot of price conscious silver addicts out there agonizing over every dollar swing in the price of bullion, come July 6 they might end up kicking themselves for not buying a set that they really are attracted to. They will then chase it on the secondary market.
At bottom, the set’s price is going to be established in the marketplace in the coming months based on its numismatic scarcity, not by its silver content. Any price under $200 is going to be considered affordable as long as the final mintage figure is not too much above 200,000.
Does that make you want to get your order in?
Yes, I know.
You have three more days to decide and will probably take just about every minute of the time left to reach your conclusion.
Perhaps we will see the Mint’s website overwhelmed in the final hours of availability just as it has been in the first hours of other offers.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."