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Viewpoint: Mint sales at show created interest

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By Bruce R. Frohman

The U.S. Mint deserves a big thank you for kicking off sales of the new proof Kennedy gold commemorative coins at the American Numismatic Association convention in Rosemont, Ill. The event brought a lot of attention to the hobby and was a big incentive for attending the coin show. Exciting events like this attract new collectors.

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Criticism for problems created by the event seem unfounded. Who would ever imagine that people would line up overnight to buy coins at retail? It is unheard of. If anything, the Mint should be praised for creating a product with such widespread appeal.

Should the Mint decide to launch another product at a major coin show, some simple procedures can improve the entire process.

First, have each prospective buyer sign his name and address to a purchase sign-up sheet before sales begin. This will enable the Mint to develop its customer mailing list while controlling the manner of sales.

Second, issue a numbered ticket corresponding to the number of the line on the sign-up sheet. A customer may sign the sheet only once.

Third, when sales begin, call numbers by lottery. The number called will correspond to the ticket handed out and the line on the sign-up sheet. This will eliminate lines of people waiting to buy.

Fourth, to buy one item, the person claiming the ticket must provide a picture ID corresponding to the information on the sign-up sheet. This will eliminate multiple sales to the same person. Dealers hiring shills will no longer be guaranteed purchase of extra coins as every potential buyer will have an equal chance to acquire a product. Some shills may leave empty handed, discouraging the practice of hiring shills.

On the last day of sales, if all of the product allocated for the show has not been sold, raise the purchase limit to two items. Continue to use the sign-up sheet for all sales.

Lotteries create excitement. Using this system can only enhance the value of the event.

When the U.S. Mint sells products at coin shows, everyone benefits. Let us hope that the gripes from the Rosemont, Ill., show do not bring an end to such a beneficial endeavor.

This “Viewpoint” was written by Bruce R. Frohman of Modesto, Calif.

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

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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