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Community Voice Responses (08/28/12)

From the August 3rd Numismatic e-newsletter: Is the Mint taking too much of your hobby budget? Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor Dave Harper.
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From the August 3rd Numismatic e-newsletter: Is the Mint taking too much of your hobby budget? Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor Dave Harper.

The U.S. Mint has taken a huge amount of my collecting budget.
Being on a fixed income is hard enough, but with the Mint putting out so many crappy items, and going up so much on price, there is no way, except to be a rich man, to avoid it.
Can anyone afford to collect Mint products, then lose their shirt in the after market?
Gary Miller
Asheville, N.C.

No. And yes.
No. The Mint isn’t “taking” my money, it is up to me to decide whether I buy or not. Like a lot of folks, I will make a decision on a commemorative coin, special set (like the recent two coin ASE offering) or other Mint issue based on a number of factors (potential rarity, commemorative topic, remaining annual budget, etc.).
Some offerings, like the 20th and 25th Anniversary ASE issues, were very expensive, but were almost sure-fire winners on the secondary market. But some things like the upcoming San Francisco circulation strike coinage (really?) I will do without. One set of bags and rolls is taking up enough budget (and space), thank you very much.
Yes. Unless Bill Gates or Mark Cuban decides to get into numismatics big time, I doubt we’ll see another complete U.S. coin collection in our lifetime.
That said, I still do try to get at least one of all the modern issues offered by the Mint. Where feasible, I try to build a ‘like’ collection (e.g. P & D bags of all the state quarters or P & D rolls of all the Presidential dollars) within my means. Of course, these may take an awfully long time to ‘mature’ from an investment point of view – or the wife will have all the laundromat change she could want when I’m gone.
Either way, with a few notable exceptions (Eagle sets and the occasional under-purchased proof or mint set), it will take until my great-great grandchildren get interested in those obsolete things called “coins” for my modern U.S. Mint collection to mature ‘in the money.’
So, unlike a Morgan dollar or Seated Liberty half that will have value today and tomorrow, the modern issues will in general have to sit in the ever growing safety deposit box. And so, yes, the U.S. Mint is taking too much of my money (for usually too little immediate return).
But I guess that is all part of being a collector. I have been wishing that my great-great grandpa had the ability and foresight to buy rolls and bags of Mint issues like that roll of dimes from the Denver Mint back in 1916.
Steven E. Strukel
Lansing, Kan.

Yes. The Mint priced me out of “collecting everything” years ago. There are way too many special coins and high value coins being produced for the average collector to have any hope to own a complete set. And, I have to admit, the Canadian Mint is much worse in this respect.
Add to that all these limited production coins and sets that sell out in an instant without the average collector even having a chance. Insiders buy up all the coins and sell them to everybody else for a large profit. It reminds me of the IPO market in stocks.
Even the normal uncirculated and proof sets are being marketed in too many variations and at too high a price. Part of the problem here is, again, too many coins. We don’t need five quarters and five dollars every year.
One uncirculated set, one proof set, and one silver proof set costs nearly $130 – $60 without the silver proofs and with the S-quarters and W-dollars, these sets aren’t even complete.
It’s all just too much.
Walter Fortner
Milwaukie, Ore.

To answer your basic question, the answer is a resounding no. My entire collecting experience revolved around circulating world coins, then branched out into medals, elongateds, woods, ancients and more.
But I shied away from U.S. coins, mainly because of a postulated inflationary spiral triggered by establishment of grading standards in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The only time I seriously got into U.S. coins was with the silver Eagle then the 50 states quarters and I bought lots of stuff from the Mint.
However, I have a very low tolerance for B.S. and when I saw the myriad of products and large profits the Mint was realizing, that was enough. So I migrated.
This hobby has so much depth and breadth that if you stop getting enjoyment from one phase, it is easy to find something that gives new satisfaction. I have to smile at those who storm that the Mint ruined the hobby for them. Why ever for? Just go on to something else. You need only cruise the bourse floor to find a new interest.
Bob Fritsch
Nashua, N.H.

I’m a longtime collector who grew up collecting coins from circulation. I sold my collection in the 1960s to finance my college expenses and was out of the hobby for quite some time. But it’s addictive, and as my income allowed, I began again.
I began buying proof gold and silver from the Mint several years back. Now I can’t keep up with all the Mint editions. It’s great that the Mint issues inexpensive coins for collectors, such as basic proof sets and quarter sets. But now, when I try to figure out how many varieties of any silver or gold coin, it’s become too crowded.
So, rather than try to keep up, I’ve dropped back to a basic or two and am losing interest in the hobby. The U.S. Mint is becoming an imitation of private mints like the Franklin Mint. They just churn out stuff to generate revenue and activity.
The hobbyist with modest means can’t make a determination of what series to collect because the series morph and mutate into so many different varieties that it becomes prohibitively expensive for the average collector to keep up.
The Mint needs to be more selective in the number of varieties it makes available to the public.
Douglas Laubach
Garden City, Kan.

The Mint is issuing too many coins and overlapping sets. Also, the coins are priced way too high, particularly the silver coins, considering the price of silver has been relatively low lately and fairly stable/predictable. The proof ASEs and the two-coin ASE set are outrageously expensive.
David Goldstein
Tenafly, N.J.

Yes, they need to streamline the variety of coins that they are minting. Some are too expensive to buy.
Bill Moore
San Diego, Calif.

We all are having the same experience of not getting a return on our cash; and I believe in (future) price inflation and deterioration in the purchasing power of our U.S. dollar. Therefore, I’m willing to buy (mostly) gold and silver issues.
So, I’m no longer thinking in terms of “hobby budget spending” but bleeding money out of cash and into tangible assets. I try not to put money into “generic” issues. I try to put the bulk of the money into the key and semi key issues.
I still buy some Mint and proof sets; but I think the low sales of silver proof sets will be better (price) performers.
I hope you all continue to read Numismatic News and I wish you well in your purchases. And don’t forget to read “Mint Statistics.”
Jerome Curtis Watts
Vacaville, Calif.

I agree that the Mint production has gotten a little out of hand and more expensive.
I spend between $2,000 and $3,000 a year on U.S. Mint coinage, which consumes about 80 percent of my coin-spending money. I get two or more of about everything they sell in the way of proof sets, mint sets, roll coins, commemoratives, etc.
I would have more money to go towards obtaining more vintage coins if it were not for trying to keep up with the new ones coming out at the Mint.
I really don’t see any need for the Mint continuing to turn out so many different types of quarters, and the Presidential dollars series was unnecessary as well.
J. C. Parker
Dawsonville, Ga.

Not only is the Mint taking more and more of my coin budget by continually raising prices, but they continue to issue more and more of the same type of coin, i.e. American Silver Eagles.
The grading services are also becoming a party to this increase in my hobby budget by coming up with too many different labels for the same coin. This especially hurts when trying to collect graded matched sets.
Larry Bai
Pahrump, Nev.

Yes they are. And also, they are sending products, i.e., the two San Francisco proof silver dollars, where one is a regular San Francisco Mint proof, and one is a reverse proof San Francisco silver dollar, which has a large scratch mark in the reverse field, right under the letter (T) in the LEGION STATES.
Larry Young
Tyrone, Ga.

At one time it was taking way too much of my coin money. I was buying just about everything they put out. However, when the quality of what I was getting went down and the price the Mint was charging went up, I brought things to a halt. I had subscriptions for just about everything they offered. I then cancelled all the subscriptions and quit buying almost everything they have to offer.
The only thing I currently purchase from the Mint are the gold commemoratives that they issue, both proof and uncirculated.
I now limit my collecting to Carson City Mint issues and gold coins, both foreign and U.S. I consider most of the issues coming from the Mint at this time to be nothing but junk. I don’t even buy the silver Eagles any more. I can usually find them cheaper in the after market, but even then I do not buy them. I would much rather spend my hard earned money with an honest and interested dealer than I would the Mint. It has disappointed me too many times.
John T. Tinney
Volcano, Calif.

It seems to be getting worse every day. There are more and more must have options to purchase or your collection isn’t complete.
In my opinion it’s not worth it to try to keep up - too many different coins and most on unworthy subjects. Add to that the multiplicity of options based solely on merely “finish”, grade, mintmarks, combinations thereof, and holders.
I quit buying Commemoratives in 1986 and have never been sorry. I’ll admit only to buying a few on the after market subsequent to the prices settling down to a more reasonable level as is more often than not the case. Unless one really specializes it is necessary to have resources like King Midas in order to keep up.
Jerry Finch
Bluffton, S.C.

I have been buying annual Mint proof and uncirculated sets for many years, and I’m very upset that the sets have grown so large.
The sets should basically contain the six coins you will find in circulation. If someone wants the Presidential dollars or the America the Beautiful quarters, let them buy them separately. Or the Mint should give its customers the option of the six-coin sets only.
Just this year I seriously considered limiting the number of sets I buy or cease buying them altogether.
Carl Hibler
Address withheld

In answer to your question, “yes.” Too many types of coins are minted for collectors. Price are reaching levels that new collectors cannot afford.
In addition, after a couple of years these same type coins are worth less than the original purchase.
Produce quality coins, with moderate mintage and reasonable pricing. This should keep the collectors coming back.
Ed Jacobson
Address withheld

As a true collector, I think the Mint is turning into a junk store just like Canada. It just wants to make money, and that’s not its number one job.
I like the history and artwork and knowing a coin really works for people living in this world.
Todd Bucholdt
Address withheld

Yes, too much.
Jon Kukk
Naples, Fla.