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What Mint product would you rescue?

If you could abolish every single collector coin issue from the United States Mint except one, what would you choose to save?

Now note that I say collector coin.

What I mean is something specifically produced for sale directly to coin collectors.

Circulation coins would still be struck.

Bullion coins would still be sold to investors. Proof versions are collector coins.

This blog is all about just collector coins.

I expect it would be near unanimous that commemorative coins would be ended.

The only people who support them these days are groups who have their hands out and their congressional enablers.

We have gone from incredible excitement about and high mintages of commemoratives in the 1980s to near microscopic demand totals these days.

The First Spouse gold coin program mercifully ended before mintages fell into the hundreds from the 1,500 to 3,000 range after starting out at 20,000 each.

It is often said that if collectors don’t like something, they don’t have to buy it.

This is true.

The First Spouse series is a good example of how this works in practice.

But what about more popular coins like proof silver American Eagles?

Even these have dropped drastically in sales numbers in recent years.

Has their time passed?

Five-ounce silver coins? I have said good things about them. I like them. But in a general sweep, I would happily see the collector version chucked out as an ongoing program.

What about bags and rolls of uncirculated America the Beautiful quarters and Kennedy half dollars?

Technically, these are simply circulation strikes going to collectors.

I would say let the private sector offer these as was once the case by dealers like Philadelphia’s late Harry Forman.

So once you have gone through reverse proofs and proofs and enhanced uncirculated products, where has your mind settled as the last-ditch product?

The traditional clad proof set?

The uncirculated coin set?

Perhaps the silver proof set?

Do you have your answer?

I can’t see defending the clad proof set. It is a guaranteed loss maker for buyers over time.

Ditto uncirculated coin sets.

My baseline is the silver proof set.

It is the last product I would want to see go.

Even though it has only been offered since 1992, it honors the approximately 200-year-old tradition of proof coins.

It is a worthy successor to the pre-1965 regular silver proof sets.

It is affordable for a large number of collectors.

It also holds its value on the secondary market better than the clad proof set.

That’s what I would choose to save. Everything else can go.

What’s your choice?

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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2 Responses to What Mint product would you rescue?

  1. Vachon says:

    I would only keep the clad proof set and only because that proof set reflects the actual composition of the circulating coins it represents. They should also be made the year after not the year of in order to prevent another debacle like the 1999 proof set which did not include the SBA dollar of that year. It’s honest whereas the silver proof set is a fantasy. Having them is not about creating value over time but in that vein they should cost a lot less than they do.

    Mint sets should be abolished simply because it’s like cheating: find them in circulation.

    Half dollars and dollar coins should only be made (and included in proof sets) when business strikes are called for not struck for collectors only at high markup. Coin sets used to have missing date and mintmark combinations for years they were not needed. It gave the sets character. Nowadays coin series feel like a mindless march.

    Even the bullion coins should be discontinued or at least have their denominations changed. The idea that they should not circulate seems to defeat the idea of a coin in the first place. Non-circulating legal tender does not a coin make. Values have been very unstable lately but a $10 value for the SAE would’ve been appropriate from 1986 until 2006 anyway. I guess $20 would have worked for all but a few years afterward (which may have resulted in production halts until the price of silver stabilized and Congress re-authorized its value). It would have also allowed the coin to sell for face value (plus postage)

    If people felt the bullion coin was worth more as a coin than a collectible they should’ve been able to feel free to spend it as such. Giving it the fictive $1 value was just wrong. Same with GAEs.

  2. Vachon says:

    I would also like to add that the Mint should not be in the business of creating artificial scarcity nor implying anything they sell will have increased value in the future (which is what artificially low production limits are intended to signal to would-be buyers). There should be no production/order limits placed on any product. For the sake of example, had the buying public wanted to purchase 1.5 million of those gold Standing Liberty Quarter replicas in 2016, the mint should’ve obliged.

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