This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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In my opinion the U.S, Mint is repeating the same mistakes that it made during 1983 to 1993.
It made more coin commemoratives and sets than it could sell. The supply of virtually every new issue far exceeded the demand. Yet the Mint kept making more of different designs and commemorations.
By 1993 the public, collectors and dealers were angry and mad. After the various promotions that the Mint made, it was difficult, if they had to sell, to get back their original purchase price or make a small gain. They found out that in order to sell these late issues, they had to take less than they paid. The Mint made a good profit after they got their seniorage back, and kept using new issues as their own profit making venture.
Premium Collector's Series: Commemorative Coin Collecting
In addition, there were numerous articles in your publications, as well as others, denouncing the continuous issuance of these allegedly valuable sets. You might remember, in U.S. Mint ads, and on certain packaging of some of these items the slogan “an investment in the future”appeared, and collectors and the public in general believed the Mint’s statement.
You might also remember that by 1995 the Banking Committee of the U.S. Congress called a hearing to determine what was really going on, and how the furor could be satisfied.
I was asked to testify at that hearing. Realizing that it was possible to save the interest in collecting coins, I suggested to the committee that collectors have to start small and develop an interest in what they collect. Then there is a possibility that demand through the years may contribute to a shortage of available examples, which then might increase in value.
As you no doubt remember it was at that hearing that I proposed the statehood quarter program to commemorate each state in the order that they joined the Union. Included in their design could be the capital of the State, a famous landmark and even one of its produce or products. These should be available at no premium. The idea was accepted and in 1999 the program began. It has been credited in bringing people back as collectors and instructive by the design proposals.
By the way, after the seniorage was accounted for, the Mint made some 50 billion dollars profit. So the coin collector helped to keep the cost of coinage down.
The entire event that resulted at this hearing can be found in the Congressional Record of July 12, 1995, and also discussed and explained more fully in back issues of Numismatic News and other publications.
Today’s problem of oversupply is the same but different. The fact that silver has once again grown in value, the premium for the raw metal has in many cases exceed the original cost with its premium when originally advertised and proposed. I might add that with the huge advertising budget that was expended on trying to market these coins and sets, in newspapers, radio and TV I feel any good promoter could have made a profit too, when they were spending the government’s money to advertise and promote the sale of these special issues at a good sized premium.
This Viewpoint was written by Harvey G. Stack, New York, N.Y., formerly senior member of Stack’s Coin Co. Viewpoint is a forum for the expression of opinion on a variety of numismatic subjects. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Numismatic News. To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.