Monday Morning Brief for Sept. 20, 2021: Transparency and trust
- Published: Sep 20, 2021, 7 AM
The United States Mint’s rejection of our request for the identities of the 18 participants in the Authorized Bulk Purchase Program came as no surprise to the Coin World staff. We anticipated that Mint officials would reject our request filed under the Freedom of Information Act. We will continue to seek the participants’ identities, because the collecting public has a right to know.
We do not intend any malice in seeking these identities. We believe, as do many of our collector readers, that transparency in government is essential. The Mint has long made the identities of its bulk purchaser partners — those who buy American Eagle, American Buffalo and America the Beautiful bullion coins — public. Despite the Mint’s citation of trade secrets as a reason to not disclose the identities of its ABPP partners, we believe that the transparency exhibited for the authorized bullion purchasers program should be extended to its bulk purchasers of numismatic products.
We also do not object to the concept of the Authorized Bulk Purchase Program itself. In fact, years ago we advocated for something similar, a suggestion that was not warmly embraced by some of our collector customers and that will likely find new opponents. The Mint should be able to meet the needs of both its collector customers and its dealer customers, as long as the Mint is fair in its distribution and allocations of limited-edition coins and sets. We also believe that the Mint should vigorously pursue individuals and dealers who try to circumvent household and bulk purchase limits, and deny them access to Mint products for a suitable period of time. Whatever the techniques used by re-sellers — bots, having employees buy the maximum number per household only to turn them over to their employer — the Mint should do everything it can to catch the culprits and punish them accordingly.
We are not seeking details of how much product an ABPP participant purchases; we can sympathize with dealers who do not want that becoming public knowledge. However, by participating in a government program, they should be willing to accept that public disclosure of their membership in the ABPP comes with the benefits.
Interestingly, as Paul Gilkes writes this week, participation in the ABPP program may not be the windfall collectors imagine, as least for some dealers. Paradise Mint Inc. in East Ellijay, Georgia, the only ABPP participant to be publicly identified by the Mint, claims that they have actually been harmed by their participation. “I’m not sure what you are imagining the program is, but it supplies dealers like me with a FRACTION of the inventory I was able to order before,” said Kevin Campbell of the firm.
“In fact I am getting less than 10 percent of the inventory I was able to buy in prior to the release of the ABPP program on just their normal dealer program.”
With the lack of any public comment from Mint officials or other program participants, some collectors are imagining that all ABPP dealers are raking in profits while collectors go wanting. If Campbell’s experience is common, then some dealers are experiencing problems.
We welcome comment from other Authorized Bulk Purchase Program participants addressing their experiences and responding to the many Letters to the Editor, Guest Commentaries and Editorials on the subject. Collectors have voiced their views, and we would like to hear of your experiences in the current bulk program versus older, similar programs. An open, honest conversation is better than pent-up collector dissatisfaction.
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