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This Week's Letters (11/20/07)

A selection of letters from readers of Numismatic News to Editor, Dave Harper.
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From the November 20th issue of Numismatic News:

Prices were increased by more than 23 per cent for the Dolley Madison First Spouse gold coins as compared to the prices for the three previouse coins. Is this too much?

The market will tell whether the price increase is too much. However, as of yesterday I was astonished when I logged onto the U.S. Mint?s Web site and I found out that the Dolley Madison First Spouse coins were not sold out in just a few hours as had been the case of the prior three coins. I believe that the U.S. Mint has to make a profit and based on the premiums charged for the prior three coins that the new pricing is in line, however, based on the low appreciation as opposed to the initial issue price and the history that was learned from the State Quarter program, i.e., the first ones had significant interest which eroded with the issuance of four new quarters each year, that the First Spouse gold pieces will eventually sell close to spot, or, possibly, as were the gold medals sold at the U.S. Postal Service, trading at less than spot.

William H. Brownstein
Santa Monica, Calif.

Yes, I think the price increase is too much at one time. The Treasury already had the gold on hand for these coins purchased at a much smaller price. So greed may be replacing good sense as they may shoot themselves in the foot on this coin. The increase should come on future coins as the Treasury has to buy gold at a higher price.
 Griff Carnes
Kerrville, Texas
When you consider the price of gold during the time of the Martha Washington First Spouse issue (January 2007 the price of gold was $650), the 23 percent increase would be exactly right. That?s because at a current price of about $800 an ounce, gold?s price has increased by 23 percent.

Charles Pace,
Hartwell, Ga.

I just dropped out of the market.

Allen Merritt
Dyersburg, Tenn.

I bought the first two in this series (Washington and Adams on e-Bay) as they were sold out at the Mint; they ended up costing a couple hundred dollars more for each coin than their original price. I got lucky on Jefferson?s Liberty and got it through the Mint at the regular price. I am currently back ordered for the Madison, and it looks like I made it before the wait list started.
Anyway, with the new price increase, these coins are a lot less collectible. With the way that they are selling out, if you aren?t able to get them directly from the Mint and you have to get them secondhand, it?s possible that you could pay $800 to $1,000 per coin. That?s enough to make a casual collector such as myself back off this series. I almost didn?t start this set to begin with because of the cost; if the price would have been 23 percent higher from the beginning, I certainly wouldn?t have started it.
In regards to collectibility, when they get to Harrison and Tyler (presidents that most people don?t know much about, much less their first ladies), people will start to give up on collecting these coins. Furthermore, once someone gets a couple missing in the set, they will be more likely to abandon the set completely. These coins are just overpriced.

Eric Hetzel
New Orleans, La.

The increase in the amount that the U.S. Mint charged for the Dolley Madison was an unwarranted increase. It seams like the Mint was acting like drug dealers; once hooked, the price increases for no reason.

Russ Neyman
Forest, Va.

It seems a bit excessive to me. The Buffalo Gold Proofs only went up about $75 for a full ounce while the Gold Spouse Proofs went up $100 for a half ounce. It seems unnecessary to build that much insurance into the price since the Mint knows it will sell out almost immediately. How much more can the price fluctuate in the next few weeks?

Andrew Keltner
Tallahassee, Florida

With the volatility in gold prices hitting record highs, (on 11/20 it jumped $25.00 USD an ounce), I do not think it was too much. I actually enjoyed calling the US Mint, speaking to someone on the phone on the first try and finding out the Dolley Madison was available with no problem. Hopefully, the higher prices and double checking on orders by the Mint discouraged the eBay flippers and new coin hoarders. This way the people who want them to collect them like myself actually have a chance to purchase them without fighting for position.
As of this writing on 11/20, I do not believe the item was sold out. If you are a collector and follow the price of gold, you?ll see that with the current uptrend in commodities that this will be a bargain in 5 years. And yes I bought the coin and the 2007 proof coin presentation case for the 3 of the 4 First Spouse coins I own.

Tom Howze
Anaheim, California

This is too much of an increase. The coins are too new and already fairly expensive (due to gold content) for the Mint to raise the price that much. I do not think the Mint should even think about drastically raising price until the coins have ?caught on? and are somewhat popular within the field of numismatics. In my opinion, that won?t be for a few years...

Andrew Keene
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Yes it is to much of an increase.

Robert Long
Claremont, New Hampshire

Yes, it was too much and it really made a difference in their selling. it took me 30 minutes to make my purchase compared to two hours on the first three. they were still available at 9:30 this morning.

Jim Crowe,
Millers Creek, North Carolina

Yes, the coin prices are to high, but as I have all the others I went ahead and bought the Madisons, but about a $50 increase would have been about right, not the $100.

Harold Ferrell
Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Gold has went up in value, so has gasoline. they are tied togeather. If gas reaches 6.00 a gallon. Gold will reach 1500 right now gold is over 800. Raising the price is a way for the mint to profit from us. Depends on gas if we can get our money back. I don?t think so. Maybe break even at today?s prices. If we get out of the middle east gas prices will come back down. No one realizes the amount of gas our military is using. Bring them home gas will drop & so will gold. I will guarantee this.

Donald D. Winner
Ruskin, Fla.

Yes.. they went way up over spot gold. The orginal spouse coins are
selling for somewhere around spot plus..
The mint is making the large profits that others were making on Ebay. Now
its no fun chasing the spouse.
If they raise the production next year they won?t find any buyers..

Brad Courter
Rockford, IL.

I am not ordering the Dolley Madison coins directly from the U. S. Mint.
I purchased the first three Spouse coins from the mint, but believe, based on the track record of these first three issues, that I will most likely be able to add the Dolley coins to my collection at a lower price on the aftermarket. It appears that the mint has over reacted to the recent gold price increase, and that a sure sell-out of these latest Spouse coins is at the least going to take quite some time, may even not sell-out at all.

Mike Bozynski
Royal Oak, Michigan

Too much.. Coins still available and I was thinking about canceling my order.

Jim Foley
Long Island, New York

This increase is a bit much but I want to keep my collection complete so I ordered them.

James Stottman
Del City, Oklahoma

 Regarding your ?Buzz? on Presidential Dollars, ?Do we really need them?? My answer is ?YES?. I personally like using the dollar coins instead of dollar bills. I find it very handy to keep a couple of rolls in my car all the time in the event I need to grab some quick change.
 The dollar coin is easier to hand to a fast food or a toll booth employee on the fly. Handing quarters, dimes or nickels stacked on a one dollar bill always seems to take more time for the transfer so the coins do not fall off of the dollar. (Baby Boomers are taking over these jobs, and their hands are not very steady).
 The problem with the dollar coin, which is no secret, is that there is no place in the purchasing economy to use them like the quarter. I wish business?s would make the change over and adopt the dollar coin. I?d rather carry a one dollar coin with me in my pocket instead of four quarters, where I have to use quarters for a purchase.
 With three to four dollar per gallon gasoline, inflation will make the quarter some day look like a nickel and the dollar coin will be very common in our economy.

Jim Kamenar