New sales tactic for U.S. Mint

To make anniversary set to order
By , Coin World
Published : 05/07/12
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United States Mint officials recently announced that the Mint will be producing Proof and Reverse Proof 2012-S American Eagle silver dollars to honor the 75th anniversary of the current San Francisco Mint. The coins will be offered in a two-coin Proof set, packaged in a custom-designed lacquered hardwood presentation case.

The Mint is trying a new distribution approach with this set. It will allow unlimited orders for a one-month window after the coins go on sale June 7. Sales will end on July 5. During the ordering period, the Mint will put a sales odometer on its site to track set sales.

While the Mint releases weekly production numbers, this immediate tracking is a new concept.

Functionally, this should avoid much of the chaos that accompanies the first hours of ordering for popular new issues with limited mintages — such as the five-coin 2011 American Eagle 25th Anniversary Silver Coin sets, which had a limited issue of just 100,000 sets. Collectors spent hours trying to secure their household allotment of five sets, and the secondary market for these 2011 sets exploded.

In theory, the most active sales hours for the 2012 set could be potentially at the end of the ordering window, if the odometer at that point shows that the sets don’t have strong sales numbers.

Even if the 75th anniversary set’s mintage were to approach the 200,000-set level, the coins would still be keys to the Proof American Eagle silver bullion coin series.

The Mint has not yet disclosed a price for the 2012 sets nor has it disclosed a household ordering limit.

The Mint employed a limited-sales-period approach with the 2009 Saint-Gaudens, Ultra High Relief 1-ounce .9999 fine gold $20 double eagle. It was released on Jan. 22, 2009, at first with a household limit of one coin. Eventually the ordering restrictions were loosened to a maximum of 10 coins, and all restrictions were lifted Sept. 21, 2009.

Even with strict ordering restrictions, in the first four and a half days of sales by the U.S. Mint, 40,727 of the coins were sold. By the time the coins went off sale on Dec. 31, the Mint had sold 115,178 coins. Today, these coins sell for a substantial bump from their initial retail prices because gold’s price has increased and so has demand for this issue.

Sales figures for most recent U.S. coin programs show a similar trend: front-loaded coin buying for limited issues.

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