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Letters to the Editor: Nov. 15, 2022

New York Coin Show a Disappointing Experience

I recently attended [a New York] coin show, a two-day event. This used to be a much larger show where I made many purchases, but it was downsized from a larger regional show to a ballroom show at a Marriott a few years ago.

I went early on the second day, Saturday morning, and about half the dealers had packed up after the first day and gone home. Needless to say, I would not have attended if I knew that in advance. So a show that should have had about 35-40 dealers barely had 15 and some of them only did currency or foreign coin. So, in effect, it was less than 10 dealers selling U.S. coins

I left after 10 minutes, vowing never to return to a show I have gone to for almost 20 years.

There was so little fresh material, it was hard to buy anything – and I used to always make many buys at this show.

The people who run this show are at fault for allowing dealers to pack up after the first day of what is supposed to be a two-day show.

So, dealers, don’t complain about poor collector turnout when you allow this to go on.

I will be choosier in the future about which shows I choose to attend.

Roy Herbst

Address withheld

Digital Subscription Could Quell Security Concerns

I have been a subscriber for about three years now. I truly enjoy the information your publication supplies. I do question, in this climate of elevated crime, why the magazine is not mailed with a plain brown wrapper. Curious eyes could certainly put two and two together if they saw the cover of Numismatic News.

I know all publication costs have elevated but I, for one, would be willing to pay more for the added security of discreet packaging. It is a shame to even have to think of this, but the reality of civic unrest and crime spurred me to inquire.

Name and address withheld

Publisher’s Note: The short answer is, we are unable to offer this type of service; however, we do offer a digital subscription option for all of our publications, at a lower rate than our printed subscription, which comes to subscribers via email, ensuring privacy and the ability to view your issues on your computer or mobile device. Perhaps that would be a solution for those who are concerned about mailbox peekers.

Mint Responds to Customer’s Survey Entry

In response to an online survey where I made my great unhappiness with the Mint [known], this form(?) letter arrived. If anything is of interest to readers of Numismatic News, feel free to share.

Name and address withheld

Editor’s Note: Following is the text from a copy of the U.S. Mint letter received by the above reader, dated Sept. 29.

I am writing in response to your letter of August 17, 2022, to United States Mint (Mint) Director Ventris C. Gibson, regarding prices of our numismatic products. Director Gibson asked me to respond to you on her behalf.

Regarding prices of our numismatic (collector) products, a primary objective is to control costs and keep prices as low as practicable. We regularly review prices of products in our entire numismatic portfolio, adjusting them as necessary to continue providing products of the highest quality at a reasonable cost to the public. As a Federal Government agency, the Mint practices fiscal responsibility in its decision making, with prices set to fully cover our costs and yield modest margins.

When establishing prices for its numismatic products, the Mint works on a cost-recovery basis. As we are not authorized to use any tax dollars to fund our numismatic operations, our goal is to provide the highest quality products while keeping prices as low as practicable. Our prices must cover all of the associated costs of our numismatic portfolio, plus enough margin to cushion against volatility.

To achieve self-sufficiency, we determine the estimated cost to produce and sell products, which is used as our baseline. When calculating margin, we consider such factors as: (1) prices of similar Mint products already offered; (2) customer perceptions of value; (3) appeal to customers at various price points; and (4) forecasted consumer demand and disposition of any unsold inventory.

For Mint numismatic products containing silver, prices must take into account its cost, with the face value shown on coins being nominal, or much lower than the actual value of the coin. As a result – although they are legal tender of the United States – they are not intended to be used for commercial purposes. For silver dollar commemorative coins (sold only within the calendar year in which they are minted and issued, as authorized by public law), which are minted and issued through individual public laws to help raise funds for important and worthy causes, part of the price of each is a surcharge authorized to be paid to one or more recipient organizations identified by Congress. All operational costs associated with commemorative coin programs must be fully covered prior to any surcharges being paid to those recipient organizations identified in the authorizing legislation. These costs include coin design, production, marketing, overhead, sales, and shipping. As all of these costs are based on estimates prior to coin sales, a small margin is built in to the price to cover contingencies and fluctuations.

Pricing for other precious metal numismatic products including palladium, platinum, and gold varies by the average cost of the underlying metal. We use a pre-established pricing range table the week prior to sale to determine the product’s price. If the average weekly price of the precious metal moves up or down into another cost range, the price of the product will also go up or down, respectively, by a fixed amount. Additionally, prices charged for any Mint products being bought and sold on the secondary market are generally significantly higher than those established by the Mint for its numismatic product portfolio.

On August 18, 2020, the Mint announced price increases for its bronze medals and their corresponding presentation cases. Production of bronze medals is labor-intensive, and previous cost and other financial analyses confirmed that the Mint was losing a considerable amount of money on their sales at the former prices. Additionally, the prices of the presentation cases were only covering the direct cost from our vendors. The adjusted prices of these products allow us to fully cover our costs and yield modest margins.

Prior to the increases that went into effect on January 1, 2021, the Mint’s bronze medal prices had last increased in January 2011, when the price of three-inch medals was raised from $42.00 to $44.95 and the price of the 1.5 inch medals from $6.00 to $7.95. In March 2012, these prices were lowered to $39.95 for the large medals and $6.95 for the miniature medals. While we understand that the most recent increases were significant and of concern to many of our customers, they reflected sound financial considerations on our part.

The Mint administers all coin programs, including those for commemorative coins, in accordance with legislation enacted by Congress and signed into law by the President. Typically, the authorizing public law specifies the coin subject, design, and metal composition, as well as other requirements, such as the year of minting or issuance and recipient organizations of surcharges generated by commemorative coin sales.

While each year’s numismatic product portfolio is set well in advance to meet manufacturing and production requirements, we always appreciate ideas and suggestions from our valued customers as we plan ahead. Your feedback helps us plan and maintain a product portfolio that has broad appeal to as many collectors and other customers as possible. One of our top priorities each year is producing popular products to generate sufficient revenue to cover manufacturing and production costs. Our offerings of classic coin designs – including especially those featured on the centennial anniversary 2021 Morgan and Peace Dollars – have proven to be extremely popular with collectors and the general public, and we plan to offer these again in 2023.

We appreciate your support of the Mint and hope this information is helpful.


Matthew M. Holben

Associate Director for Sales and Marketing