Is there such a thing as offering a popular Mint product too early in the year?
The thought crossed my mind as early reports of sales of the 2015 proof silver American Eagle coin do not seem particularly strong.
Going on sale Jan. 2, by Jan. 18 the Mint had sold 284,625.
That number doesn’t look all that bad, but when you break down the two sales reports that have been compiled by the Mint since the coin went on sale and it adds up to a question mark.
As of Jan. 11, 264,350 were ordered by collectors.
That figure is congruent with the usual early surge of collector demand for any new Mint product.
However, in the seven-day period after that, ending Jan. 18, just 20,275 more coins were reported claimed by collectors.
Sales should fall in the second week. That is pretty well how the script goes.
But should the drop be over 92 percent?
That is unusual.
Usually it is by around half, or 50 percent.
The sales number that comes out this week will be very interesting.
Will it confirm this rapid loss of interest, or will sales pop back up some as Mint accounting catches up with orders that have already arrived, or as other collectors placed new orders because they decided their holiday expenditures were under control and they can splurge on a favorite Mint item?
If sales don’t pop back up, it might mean that collector budgets truly are like everyone else’s and they are paying off the credit card balances that come due in January.
This would lead to a conclusion that there is such a thing as offering a popular Mint product too early.
For comparison, last year’s proof sales numbers sit at 750,091.
It will take quite a while for the 2015 coin to reach such a total, if ever.
I write “if ever” because the early days of any offer seem to set a tone that is not overcome.
If collectors think that it won’t be as good as last year, they will make it so by staying away.
It is hard to believe that so much can be read into these numbers even though January is not even over yet.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."