US Coins

U S Mint to evaluate sales of Proof gold Kennedy half dollars

Time will tell just how popular the Proof 1964–2014-W Kennedy gold half dollar will become.

Images courtesy of U.S. Mint.

The United States Mint will evaluate its handling of the inaugural in-person sales of Proof 1964–2014-W Kennedy gold half dollars at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money and three other venues Aug. 5 to 7, as it anticipates releasing an undisclosed numismatic product at the 2015 ANA convention. 

Retail sales at the ANA show had been scheduled to also run Aug. 8 and 9, and Aug. 8 at sales centers at the Denver and Philadelphia Mints and Mint headquarters in Washington, D.C.  U.S. Mint officials discontinued sales those remaining days, amid concerns for the safety of the public and U.S. Mint employees.

READ: Denver TV affiliate catches stampede for gold Kennedy half dollars at Mint facility on tape

The Mint’s decision to suspend the sales was made in conjunction with ANA officials, said Tom Jurkowsky, director of the U.S. Mint’s Office of Corporate Communications.

The U.S. Mint returned more than 1,300 gold Kennedy half dollars to fulfillment inventory with the sales suspension. The retail value of that inventory, at $1,240 per coin, was more than $1.6 million.

“The United States Mint fully intends on evaluating its recent presence at the World’s Fair of Money and the launch of the John F. Kennedy Gold Proof Half-Dollar,” Jurkowsky said Aug. 11 by email. “Appropriate staff members will convene to discuss lessons learned and how best to proceed with similar coin launches in the future.

“It would be inappropriate at this time to discuss a timetable for when these internal discussions will occur. The Mint will announce decisions on how it will handle future coin launches at the appropriate time.”

As of Aug. 10, the U.S. Mint reported sales of 62,341 of the Proof Kennedy gold half dollars online, by phone and at the four in-person venues.

U.S. Mint and ANA officials were caught off guard by the size of the crowds seeking the coins, which numbered in the high hundreds at each venue. 

READ: Wait for first gold Proof Kennedy 'worth every second,' while 'chaos' described further down the line

Lee Minshull from Lee Minshull Rare Coins Inc., in Palos Verdes, Calif., and recipient of the 2014 ANA Dealer of the Year Award, said Aug. 12 he would be offering some suggestions to the U.S. Mint on how to handle future similar U.S. Mint coin releases.

Minshull, a wholesaler, managed to acquire several hundred coins from the venues where the coins were offered, for resale to other dealers.

Minshull said he did not want to outline the specifics of his recommendations until he presents them to the Mint.

“You have to try and take the premium away and allow the Mint to sell the coins so the dealers don’t profit from a huge premium,” he said. “Otherwise, you’ll still have the craziness.”

READ: First gold Kennedy half dollar sold at ANA convention resold for $100,000

Max Spiegel, vice president of sales and marketing for Certified Collectibles Group, which owns the grading service Numismatic Guaranty Corp., said that unlike past coin launches at ANA shows, the Mint announced well in advance the number of coins available daily and where they would be sold, providing an opportunity for those seeking multiple coins to work around the allotted one-coin-per-person limit the Mint imposed.

Spiegel said the Mint needs to strike a balance between the number of coins available, a reasonable order limit, and when details are announced. However, “For such a chaotic release, the ANA and Mint did an outstanding job of keeping things under control,” he said.

As of Aug. 11, NGC had graded more than 2,100 of the 3,600 coins that were sold in person at all four venues, with nearly half of the NGC total from the ANA site.

Kevin Lipton from Kevin Lipton Rare Coins in Beverly Hills, Calif., and David Hendrickson from SilverTowne, Winchester, Ind., had representatives buying coins at all four venues. 

Lipton, like a number of other dealers and collectors, suggests a lottery system to disseminate the coins being offered through the Mint, but ANA and Mint officials said the method would be inappropriate.

“There were not that many collectors there for the coins,” Lipton said. “Most were merchants or speculators. Collectors that were there and wanted the coins should absolutely be able to get them.”

Hendrickson said part of the attraction for the Proof Kennedy gold half dollars was the extensive pre-publicity.

“It was a boon to the collecting hobby, collector coins and the collectors who wanted them,” Hendrickson said. “The ANA sold a lot of early bird badges and ANA memberships.

“The Mint and the ANA did a great job.”

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