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Spin the wheel to pick the new sales total

There is a growing collector interest in Presidential dollars. I had an e-mail from a reader who was curious about this week’s sales numbers for the James K. Polk 25-coin rolls. They have exceeded the 30,000 total of the prior two issues and the reader is crying foul even before final numbers are known.

The Mint has not promised not to adjust available numbers, but the implied pattern of 30,000 rolls from each mint in a roll has become a touchstone apparently among Presidential dollar aficionados.

I am sure the Mint is happy that interest is growing in Presidential coins, but is equally frustrated by cries of foul whenever it tries to adjust its production levels to more adequately reflect current demand.

Any business would make adjustments but the Mint is “our” Mint to collectors and when availability patterns change it can upset the best laid speculative plans of those who closely follow each issue.

What’s the Mint to do?

Perhaps Mint Director Ed Moy can take a page from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. After he recalled America’s gold coins in 1933 but before America formally devalued the dollar by raising the official price of gold from $20.67 a troy ounce to $35, there was a period where the price was fluid and it served as a posted price as to what the Treasury would pay for the precious metal.

However, that price had absolutely no basis in supply and demand or any other trends in the real economy. It was simply a choice of the President of the United States.

He had his breakfast served to him in bed and the Treasury secretary was at his side when he would pick lucky numbers or other random numerals to set that day’s price of gold.

Roosevelt got a kick out of the fact that after he had overturned what he called the bankers’ fetish for gold that he could play such games.

This period kept the market guessing. British economist John Maynard Keynes groaned that it was the “gold standard on the booze.”

But one thing was sure, nobody could be certain what the price would be.

Perhaps to keep collectors from taking too proprietary an interest in what are considered to be movable sales ceilings, Moy could take a page out of Roosevelt’s book. But since breakfast in bed accompanied by a meeting with the Treasury secretary is not an appropriate choice, perhaps he could use some sort of adapted roulette wheel. Spin the ball and see what slot it falls into.

25,000, 30,000, 35,000, 40,000, etc.

Nobody could then get too attached to any individual number because it would always be different.

Colorful? Sure. Practical? Probably not. I am sure most collectors would not approve, but some method needs to be developed to communicate to collectors who buy coins directly from the Mint that they are not entitled to profits in the secondary market even if they can and do occur from time to time.

However much boilerplate appears in various places, it never seems to be enough to prevent new proprietary expectations from developing.

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