William T. Gibbs

Bill’s Corner

William T. Gibbs

William was appointed the managing editor effective May 1, 2015. He joined the Coin World editorial staff in 1976 as an assistant editor for "Collectors' Clearinghouse" and later became a senior staff writer before being appointed news editor. As managing editor, he manages the day-to-day editorial operations for Coin World, both print and online, and leads the editorial staff. He also serves as chief copy editor for all Coin World publications, including for all books published by Coin World since 1985. He has been project editor of mulitple editions of the Coin World Almanac. Bill began collecting coins at the age of 10 and soon discovered Coin World. As a teen interested in numismatics and journalism, he identified a writing position on the staff of Coin World as a dream job, which was realized shortly after he graduated from Bowling Green State University with a major in journalism. He collects store cards and medals depicting Adm. George Dewey of Spanish-American War fame.

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Underestimating demand for sets frustrating to Mint’s customers

​When the U.S. Mint underestimates public demand for one of its products, collectors are quick to feel frustrated. When it happens twice in less than a week, the frustration doubles, not only for the collecting community but for Mint officials as well, as evidenced in back-to-back public comments by the Mint.

Collectors were first frustrated on June 25 when the Jackie Kennedy First Spouse gold coins went on sale and were quickly placed in back-order status. Then sales began at noon June 30 for the Harry S. Truman Coin and Chronicles set, and ended after 15 minutes. When sales ended,16,780 sets had been sold from a maximum edition of 17,000 sets.

The popularity of both products clearly caught United States Mint officials off-guard.

In a June 30 statement, officials addressed the Jackie Kennedy First Spouse gold coin: “The Mint underestimated the initial demand for the 2015 First Spouse Series One-Half Ounce Gold Coins – Jacqueline Kennedy and, unfortunately, the products went on back order very quickly after sales started.”

A day later, the Mint publicly commented on the Truman set (which contains the first-ever Reverse Proof Presidential dollar), noting that the edition size of 17,000 was based on sales of prior sets (lacking a Reverse Proof coin). The Franklin D. Roosevelt set, which went on sale Dec. 22, 2014, “had sold only 13,255 units as of June 29, 2015,” out of a maximum edition of 20,000 sets, the Mint noted in its comments. In contrast, the Truman set sold a “total of 16,780 sets ... in approximately 15 minutes.”
Predicting the popularity of a future product can be difficult, and basing maximum mintages on past sales of similar products is a reasonable approach — usually. However, the addition of a Reverse Proof Truman Presidential dollar, a significant change, made the Mint’s prediction of those sales lacking.
It is also reasonable for the Mint to factor in the popularity of a coin’s subject or theme. Mint officials did predict that demand for the gold coin depicting the popular Jackie Kennedy likely would be greater than for the other 2015 First Spouse coins and increased the maximum mintage to 30,000 (the other 2015 coins have maximums of 10,000 each). 
One has to feel for Mint officials, having to face customer criticism twice in such short order. However, officials can use these experiences in any future product planning. 

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An absolutely absurd rule to impose limits. I know there are some restrictions but when it took only 15 minutes to sell out the Truman Coin and Chronicle set, come on, and 5 sets per household? Who has time to sit by their computer at 9AM PST and wait for the " on your marks, get set.....go"? Stupid rule. The mint should strike their collector products based on total ordering , that way everyone has an opportunity to purchase a product.
Will the limits change or be lifted for the remaining Coin and Chronicle Sets?
Under estimating demand does not answer the core question of how the entire available supply was sold in the first half second past noon. It seems more like an excuse to cover up a back room deal. Instant B/O was experienced by everyone who tried to place an order from the moment of availability. Though previous First Spouse coins had been on the bulk order list, the Jackies were not. Meaning everyone, dealers included, by published Mint policy, had the same opportunity at NOON. Obviously someone had an inside "fix" in as less that a week later Proof Jackies, graded and slabbed, were being offered for sale. Doesn't your nose detect the same foul odor?
Will Coin World ask the hard questions? Will they submit Freedom Of Information requests to get to the truth of what happened to allow this scandalous behavior? Will they be the reporters of the truth for the coin hobby that we depend on? Or are they just press release publishers, never questioning, swallowing without complaint what ever is offered, regardless of the funny smell?