Paul Gilkes

Mint State

Paul Gilkes

Paul is a senior editor and has been a member of the Coin World staff since 1988. Paul covers the U.S. Mint beat and has memorably reported for more than two decades on many of the hobby's most important stories including the record sale of the Farouk/Fenton 1933 double eagle and the ongoing legal proceedings of the Langbord 1933 double eagles. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Grove City College in Pennsylvania and collects autographs and memorabilia from The Andy Griffith Show.

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Collector ire raised over Ike set sales

Coin World received multiple complaints from collectors peeved they were unable to order the 2015 Dwight D. Eisenhower Coin & Chronicles set Aug. 11, which sold out of its 17,000-edition limit in 15 minutes. The primary problem was a computer software misfire blocking access to the U.S. Mint’s website.

Not until I interviewed Rhett Jeppson, the Mint’s principal deputy director and President Obama’s nominee for Mint director, two hours after the Ike set went on sale, did I learn that the Mint has two portal components on its website (See the story I wrote, in this week’s Aug. 31 print issue and online at

Seems that has the news link to the catalog options. The site is operated by the Mint. The glitch was a software problem at the site, totally unrelated to the Ike set sales launch., however, did function without problems and is where most of the orders were successfully placed. is maintained by PSFWeb, under a multimillion-dollar contract. PFSWeb is a Mint contractor located in Texas. PSFWeb also operates the toll-free 800 ordering and customer service telephone line, and the order fulfillment center in Memphis, Tenn., from where the Mint’s packaged numismatic products are shipped.

Orders taken via the 800 line are input online by PSFWeb to maintain inventory control. Order processors at PSFWeb may or may not have accurate answers for the questions customers ask who use the ordering-by-telephone option or simply customers calling to ask a general Mint-related question. However, answers to many of the general questions posed to the Mint can be found under FAQs on the site.

Another beef we heard a lot of from collectors was a belief, based on misinterpreting advertising claims, that dealers or others with deep pockets had been able to order thousands of sets despite the two-set-per-household ordering limit imposed by the Mint. Not so.

Nothing prevents orders being placed through multiple accounts as long as each account has a different delivery/mailing address and credit card for payment. Multiple orders for a single address or credit card will be flagged.

A number of high profile dealers did send requests to their customers to order the two-set limit. When those customers passed the sets on to the dealer, they would receive a premium several times the $57.95 purchase price from the Mint.

Those dealers did end up with large numbers of the sets that they re-marketed themselves, some after having the Reverse Proof 2015-P Eisenhower Presidential dollar and the silver presidential medal certified by a third-party grading service, or they peddled the sets directly to shopping channels like Home Shopping Network. The sets are now generating secondary market retail prices in the hundreds of dollars per set.

The sets are in demand for the Reverse Proof Presidential dollar and silver medal which are available only in each featured president’s respective set.

Mint officials have not announced whether they will further limit household orders, to one per household, to spread out the set distribution, when the John F. Kennedy Coin and Chronicles set goes on sale Sept. 16 or for the Lyndon B. Johnson set release sometime in October.

Decreasing the household ordering limit to one might make customers who obtain a lone set less inclined to sell it to a dealer, even for a premium. Secondary market prices may rise further, though, as dealers work harder and offer more incentives to pry sets loose for resale to collectors still seeking the relatively low mintage items.

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I talked to U.S. Mint officials and the site did not work properly under such high volume. The Mint said the Ike set was sold in "5 minutes" NOT 15 minutes. Load testing and marketing research of demand was all flawed by U.S. Mint employees and subs. I was kicked out of web site during 5 minutes ordering period 40 times on two different computers in my home. I called the call center and got a busy signal 8 times and the line was then dropped. This was not fair to ordinary Americans who were ready to order before noon, only to fall victim to complete randomness during 5 minute ordering period which is quite ridiculous.
I was lucky to have my order processed AFTER being dropped 3 times online. 3 times at the accept terms and conditions the final step of the ordering process, I got a sorry connection was lost reply. This happened at 12:02, 12:04 and 12:06.
I hit my back button and resubmitted and finally got a order accepted reply. There is a glitch in the system during the ordering, it happened before when I tried to order their remaining Roosevelt dime sets, had in cart and entered my credit card 3 digit number on back of card and then got a sold out AFTER item was in my shopping cart! I guess your cart is not secure and item is not yours until order is credit card processed which is where the glitch many at once caused a disconnect from the server.
I checked the website at 12:10 and it said sold out so I wasn't sure if my order would be actually processed. I got an acknowledgement about an hour later saying in process, and mailed two days later. I never really felt my order was complete until I got that shipped notice from the fulfillment center. The fiasco with the gold baseball coins had orders that were never shipped, my proof and uncirculated until several months later when my in process order got cancelled with no advance warning, just a sorry sold out email, which should have been done with a day or so at the latest.
Also outrageous limits like 50 for baseball and other limited items are a joke.
Why do a special limited edition with a low limit of 17k, minimum should be 50k, limit of 2,3,4,5 means everyone that can get their order processed will order the max to re-sell, so the 17,000 limit is really 8,500...why order 1 of a very limited mintage?
I plan on trading my "extra" Ike set for the Truman set that I got shut out of because of the web processing glitch.