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Public Uproar Over Prices for 5-Ounce Silver Coin

This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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It’s a bullion coin behaving like a collector coin.

That’s how Dillon Gage Inc. President Terry Hanlon explained the furor over the 5-ounce silver America the Beautiful coin that was supposed to go on sale Dec. 6.

“Anything with limited mintage is going to be a modern day issue rare coin because people are always interested in limited mintage,” Hanlon said.

2011 U.S. Coin Digest: Bullion Coinage
2011 U.S. Coin Digest: Bullion Coinage

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But don’t blame the Mint, he said.

“My perception is that what happened here is it’s the first time the U.S. Mint did a 5-ounce coin, they ran into snags they weren’t expecting and it happens. The original messagqe was that there were supposed to be 100,000 of each coin and it turned out to be 33,000.”

The Mint wanted to get them out to the public by the end of 2010, so the only way to do that was to offer 33,000 five-coin sets to the Authorized Purchaser Network, he said.

Naturally, collectors want the first year of an issue, so there is more demand than sets available, Hanlon said.

“It’s very natural for everyone to be chomping at the bit,” he said.

With silver at $30 an ounce, Authorized Purchasers could buy the coins for about $150 plus a $9.75 premium assessed by the Mint. But because of high demand, they were selling for much more.

“With the limited mintage as it was, premiums are way, way up there,” said Marc Watts of Gaithersburg Coin Exchange in Maryland.

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