US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Sept. 28, 2020: This will kill the program

The price of the new USS “Indianapolis” medal will increase from $39.95 to $160 starting Jan. 1. Will the huge price increase torpedo collector interest in the Mint’s bronze medals program?

Original images courtesy of the United States Mint

There is a guaranteed way to kill a U.S. Mint program: raise prices by 400 percent.

Mint officials are preparing to do just that by increasing the price of the Mint’s 3-inch bronze medals from $39.95 to $160 each. Yes, you read that correctly — $160 for a medal with zero precious metals content and no published mintage limits.

Astonishingly, the $160 price is just $18.25 less than what the U.S. Mint currently charges for the America the Beautiful 3-inch 5-ounce .999 fine silver quarter dollars. They currently sell for $178.25. That price proximity is astonishing, making the Mint’s decision even more bewildering.

Mint officials tells us that they lose money in producing bronze medals. But is that justification to increase the price of the 3-inch medals so high? And how long has the Mint been losing money on the program?

In 2002, the Mint increased the price of its 3-inch medals from $24.50 to $38, somewhat shocking at the time, but that was nowhere near as shocking at this just announced increase. Minor price changes, up and down, have been made since then.

I suspect that sales of the 3-inch medals will plummet once the price increase takes effect. The theme and the design will have to be top notch for many collectors to justify a $160 price tag.

Charging $160 for a bronze medal will kill the program. Few collectors will be willing to pay that cost, I predict. No matter the Mint’s rationale for the increase, raising the price by so much does not seem to be a wise decision.

Tell me what you think.
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