By Patrick Montrose
I think everyone knew that there would be complaints about the U.S. Mint sale of the Eisenhower Coin and Chronicles set.
There were only 12,000 sets available and probably over a quarter million people who want to buy them. There are going to be people, lots of people, complaining about the problems in ordering them.
First, a disclosure. I was able to order two of the Truman and two of the Eisenhower sets without any problem at all. I went onto the Mint’s website, in both cases at a few minutes before 10 a.m. (MST), clicked on the sets when they became available for purchase, and was able to buy them without any problem whatsoever.
I have no plans on selling one or both of them on the secondary market. I have two grandchildren, who if interested in coin collecting when they get older, are each going to get a very nice coin collection to hopefully continue adding on to.
I sometimes wonder how the TV shows and large coin companies get enough of two-limit sets to sell them on the secondary market, but I think my experience prior to the sale of Eisenhower Coin and Chronicles set helped me understand how they do it.
It seems that the limit is two per household, so they simply have each of their employees order the two sets, using their home addresses, and that helps them build up a supply of the sets. They also did something that I did not expect. They apparently went through their mailing list of customers because I received several offers from companies I have dealt with in the past to buy my two sets, at approximately double what I would have paid the Mint for them. This probably explains the incredibly large markup these shows and companies are asking for the sets (that and the fact that with only 12,000 sets sold, there was a built in large demand for them). They even sent me detailed instructions on how to handle and ship the unopened sets to them if I agreed to sell them my sets.
I believe that the mark-up for limited edition sets sold both by the Mint and those sold on the secondary market has gotten out of control. But apparently there are enough people who want them, and can afford the inflated prices, that it makes it all worth while for the coin shows and large companies to come up with ways to get more sets.
I hope to have the same good luck with the Johnson set, which at this point has had its announced mintage increased to 25,000 sets and the Kennedy set which has had its mintage increased to 50,000 sets when they are released. That increase in mintage will help some of the people who didn’t get the first two sets get one, but I don’t think it’s fair to change the rules in the middle of a four-coin set. But that’s a topic for another discussion. The fact that the mint has increased it’s profits (the only government agency that makes money and then turns over that money to the treasury on a yearly basis) has also gotten out of hand. The recent $1000 Liberty Coin was sold by the mint for $1,450 with melt at less than $1,100 an ounce assures the mint a nice profit, but unfortunately puts it out of the range of a large percentage of buyers, although the huge markup on the secondary market seems to indicate that if a buyer wants a coin, they are willing to pay any price to get it.
Sadly, in the case of limited edition coins, less collectors and more investors are trying to buy as many of them as they can.
This “Viewpoint” was written by Patrick Montrose, a New Mexico hobbyist.
To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send email to email@example.com.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
>> Subscribe today or get your >> Digital Subscription
More Collecting Resources
• If you enjoy reading about what inspires coin designs, you'll want to check out Fascinating Facts, Mysteries & Myths about U.S. Coins.
• Come on down to the Chicago International Coin Fair in Rosemont, Ill. on April 14 to 17, 2016 to see impressive world coins, meet new collectors and participate in Heritage Auction’s fantastic coin auction.