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You might just want to wait

Proof of how dependent we have all become on the Internet was given yesterday by the opening of the U.S. Mint’s Bald Eagle Commemorative Coin Program.

Because of the process of migration of the Web site from one server to another, online orders could not be taken when the program began at noon Eastern Time yesterday.

Hobbyists were referred to the Mint’s telephone ordering number, 1-800-USA-MINT. Enough collectors responded to jam the lines and the lines are currently still backed up as this is written. I received e-mails from readers yesterday afternoon asking what was going on and did I know that they were having difficulty getting through on the telephone.

My thanks go to all readers who provided me with the updates.

Because so many regular Internet buyers were being funneled through the telephones, it is probably a good idea that I point out that product order limits are in place and allowed quantities are high enough that collectors shouldn’t be too concerned about quick sellouts.

Last year, neither Mint commemorative program sold out its primary offerings and even the previously sure-fire Legacy Set did not reach its 50,000 maximum.

That, of course, doesn’t mean a sellout can’t happen. But let’s look at the numbers and see what you think.

Overall maximum mintages are 100,000 gold $5s, 500,000 silver dollars and 750,000 clad half dollars. These are pretty standard totals.

There are some special sets within these totals. A three-piece proof set will have a maximum of 25,000.

A Coin and Medal Set that features an uncirculated dollar and a bronze bald eagle medal from the National Wildlife Refuge System Centennial Medal Series has a maximum of 50,000.

A Bald Eagle Young Collector’s Set features an uncirculated bald eagle half dollar and its total production will be whatever is ordered Jan. 15-April 15.

Introductory prices end Feb. 14 at 5 p.m. Eastern Time. Prices below indicate the current price followed by the post-Feb. 14 price in parentheses.

Proof $5 $294.95 ($319.95)
Uncirculated $5, $284.95 ($309.95)
Proof dollar, $39.95 ($43.95)
Uncirculated dollar $35.95 ($37.95)
Proof half $9.95 ($10.95)
Uncirculated half $7.95 ($8.95)

There are no introductory prices for the set options. The three-coin proof set is $369.95, the Young Collector’s Set is $14.95 and the Coin and Medal Set is $44.95.

Order limits for 30 days are 100 coins per household for the individual coins, one three-coin proof set and five Coin and Medal Sets. Because there is no maximum, there is no order limit for the Young Collector’s Set.

Later this year a Legacy set with a proof dollar will be offered.

So if you have not yet gotten through to the Mint on the telephone, you now have the information you need to determine whether you want to wait until the online ordering mechanism is back up and running.