Mint to end sales restrictions on ATB bullion

To increase 2011 mintages; sales start in April
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Published : 03/15/11
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The U.S. Mint is relaxing rules set in place for its network of authorized purchasers for selling America the Beautiful 5-ounce silver bullion coins.

The Mint advised authorized purchasers March 9 of the 2011 program terms and conditions.

The first 2011 coin, commemorating Gettysburg, will be offered to authorized purchasers in late April in quantities “substantially higher” than for the 2010 releases.

In addition, Mint officials expect to begin selling the Uncirculated 2010 America the Beautiful 5-ounce silver bullion coins directly to collectors in late April or early May.

When the 2011 America the Beautiful 5-ounce silver bullion coins enter the marketplace, the terms of sales to the Mint’s network of dealers will revert to the standard agreement, replacing the terms placed by the Mint in December for the 2010 coins.

The Mint’s advisory to its network of dealers states: “Authorized Purchasers (AP’s) certifying that they have sold ALL of their 2010 America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Bullion Coins to the public, in compliance with the terms and conditions that were put in place for the 2010 program, will have their obligations under the terms and conditions lifted.”

The Mint is asking the authorized purchasers to provide certification, which must appear on company letterhead and be signed by an authorized representative of the company, that the 2010 coins have been sold before it will allow the purchasers to begin buying and selling 2011 coins.

After the Mint receives this certification, the authorized purchasers will be able to buy and sell “in accordance with the basic [authorized purchaser] Agreement and its ordinary bullion pricing policy.”

‘Late April’ for first 2011 issue

The Mint indicated that it expects to issue the first of the 2011 America the Beautiful 5-ounce silver coins, featuring Gettysburg National Military Park, beginning “in late April.”

In contrast to the end-of-the-year rush and limited quantities produced in late 2010, the Mint plans to issue 2011 America the Beautiful coins in quantities “substantially higher.”

The Mint said, “As a result, there will be no terms and conditions imposed on the 2011 America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Bullion Coins Program.

“We will allocate coins in the 2011 America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Bullion Coins Program equally among participating Authorized Purchasers.”

The Mint said that it will advise authorized purchasers as soon as an on-sale date for the 2011 Gettysburg National Military Park 5-ounce silver bullion coin is determined.

Uncirculated 2010 coins

U.S. Mint Director of Public Affairs Tom Jurkowsky said March 10 that the first of the Uncirculated versions of the 2010 America the Beautiful 5-ounce silver bullion coins are anticipated to go on sale in late April or early May.

The Mint will sell the Uncirculated coins directly to collectors and not through its authorized purchasers network.

The Uncirculated 2010 5-ounce bullion coins will be sold by individual design, beginning with Hot Springs National Park. Jurkowsky confirmed that the U.S. Mint has struck 27,000 of each design, and they are being packaged and prepared for sale. However, pricing and marketing plans have not been announced.

Unlike the 2010 bullion version, which bears no Mint mark, the 2010 Uncirculated coins will display the P Mint mark of the Philadelphia Mint where they were struck.

Reversion to basic agreement

The reversion to the basic authorized purchaser agreement will enable the firms who buy the bullion coins to sell to other dealers at prices they determine without Mint restrictions as to price and customers.

The Mint began selling the 2010 America the Beautiful 5-ounce silver bullion coins to authorized purchasers Dec. 6 under the basic agreement, but with a warning to its dealer network against charging overly high secondary market premiums for the bullion coins. Mint officials made the warning because mintages for the 2010 coins of 33,000 per design were less than a third of the 100,000 initially projected.

Under the basic authorized purchasers agreement, the dealers would have been permitted to sell the coins to secondary market dealers.

Mint officials stopped all sales to authorized purchasers Dec. 6 shortly after sales began, after receiving a deluge of complaints from consumers about exorbitant prices for the 5-ounce silver coins.

One authorized purchaser, American Precious Metals Exchange in Oklahoma City, Okla., pre-sold 1,000 sets from its anticipated Dec. 6 allocation in less than 24 hours Dec. 3. Initially, APMEX offered the sets at $1,395 per five-coin set. The Mint would have charged APMEX less than $900 for a set of five coins.

Secondary market sales for the coins on eBay reached thousands of dollars.

After halting sales, Mint officials revised the agreement under which authorized purchasers were permitted to sell the coins. The new Mint rules for the program were more stringent, forcing authorized purchasers to sell the coins directly to the public and restricting them from selling the coins to dealers. Authorized purchasers were also compelled to sell the 5-ounce coins at a price no higher than 10 percent above the acquisition price of the coins and were to enforce a limit of one coin of each design sold to each household.

As well, officers and employees of the firms were restricted from purchasing the coins themselves. ■

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