By now, I assume that most readers are aware of H.R. 3757 introduced into Congress that calls for the U.S. Mint to issue 2021-dated Morgan and Peace Silver Dollar Commemoratives. The bill was introduced on July 15 and has been assigned to the House Committee on Financial Services.
I have no special insights on the prospects for enactment of this bill, though it would definitely have a strong case to be one of the two commemorative issues for 2021 (the current policy on the number of commemorative programs put out by the U.S. Mint annually.)
It this program goes forward, I would expect it to be one of the most popular of all the modern commemorative issues since 1982. I even think it could spark greater interest among the general public into becoming coin collectors than just about all other U.S. Mint commemoratives that have come out over the past 37 years.
One reason I think this boost in collecting interest could come to pass is that the 2021 silver dollars present an ideal opportunity for businesses marketing to the general public to run campaigns offering genuine Morgan and Peace silver dollars for sale. Already, I have seen bids on coin dealer trading networks to acquire large quantities of circulated 1921-dated Morgans.
However, these possible 2021 silver dollar issues would not impact every numismatic niche the same. For some insight on where the most numismatic interest could be generated, a review of the beginning of the U.S. Statehood Quarter series is useful.
The release of Statehood Quarters beginning in 1999, with coins being released into circulation in large quantities (which I think was key to this program’s success) sparked strong public interest. At one point, the U.S. Mint released a statement that at least one hundred million people were collecting/accumulating Statehood Quarters. However, the public collecting these quarters often didn’t like having to wait ten weeks at a time for the next quarter to be released. Customers who came into our store started to investigate what other beautiful coins they might also collect.
It turns out that these novice collectors interested in expanding their numismatic collections mostly went towards modern beautiful and affordable U.S. coins. That included date runs of proof sets, mint sets and uncirculated and proof silver Eagle dollars. Prices for these coins and coin sets, other than for the uncirculated silver Eagles, rose from this surge in demand. The interest in collecting foreign coins, paper money, gold coins and older U.S. coins eventually started to rise, but not necessarily enough to spark price increases.
Since the 2021 Morgan and Peace silver dollar commemoratives would not be put into circulation, I don’t expect these issues would spark the same public interest as the Statehood Quarters. However, it would provide a natural opportunity for marketing to the general public of the older Morgan and Peace dollars at affordable price points.
When coins are marketed to the general public, whether by private companies or by the U.S. Mint, such products must be available in large quantities. A national marketing campaign cannot succeed in selling an inventory of just a few thousand coins. Instead, tens to hundreds of thousands of pieces must be in stock.
This need for large inventories is why I expect that the earliest marketing campaigns directed toward the general public will only offer what I call “Blue Chip” or “generic” coins. Blue Chip coins are those that can be accumulated in large enough quantities to sustain such programs.
It would not surprise me to see companies initially offering sets of two to four silver dollars. A two-coin set could include the 2021- and a 1921-dated Morgan dollar or the 2021-dated plus any common date (meaning not the 1921 date) of Peace dollars. Four-coin sets may include all four of these coins.
As these marketing efforts succeed, then I would expect follow-up programs offering to sell other common-date Morgan and Peace dollars, in either circulated or Mint State grades. These would be followed by sales of scarcer dollars, other older U.S. coins, and maybe even offerings of paper money or world coins and paper money. For instance, there is a wide variety of one-ounce pure silver coins and other silver dollar-sized issues from a number of countries that could be promoted as being available at not that high of a premium to the value of the silver content.
In sum, I would anticipate that the release of 2021-dated Morgan and Peace silver dollar commemoratives would spark a gradual increase in the number of American numismatists. But the initial flurry of demand will be for the Blue Chip or generic coins and for products such as modern proof and mint sets and silver Eagle dollars. The increase in interest in collecting other numismatic niches will take time to develop and only rise to a lesser degree.
U.S. Mint Numismatic Forum coming up October 24-25 in Philadelphia
The U.S. Mint has announced it will conduct its 2019 Numismatic Forum all day on Oct. 24 and on the morning of Oct. 25 at the Federal Reserve Bank in Philadelphia. This is the site where the first Numismatic Forum was held in 2016.
Attendance is again limited and is by invitation only. I have received and accepted an invitation and will be there.
In the past three years, I appreciated receiving some insightful questions from readers of this column that I was able to raise at these events. So, once again, here is your opportunity. If there is a constructive question or idea that you would bring up to the U.S. Mint if you could, please email them to me at email@example.com. As I have done with the previous Numismatic Forums, I will report on the event and on the responses I get to the points I bring up. Thank you once again for your assistance.
Patrick A. Heller was the American Numismatic Association 2018 Glenn Smedley Memorial Service Award, 2017 Exemplary Service Award 2012 Harry Forman National Dealer of the Year Award, and 2008 Presidential Award winner. He has also been honored by the Numismatic Literary Guild, Professional Numismatists Guild, Industry Council for Tangible Assets, and the Michigan State Numismatic Society. He is the communications officer of Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Mich., and writes Liberty’s Outlook, a monthly newsletter on rare coins and precious metals subjects.