US Coins

Bots attempt to sabotage limited-edition silver American Eagle sales

The U.S. Mint website was able to thwart a cyberattack Nov. 14 from a user attempting to circumvent the bureau’s ordering restriction for the Enhanced Reverse Proof 2019-S American Eagle silver dollar, a Mint official reported the next day.

None of the orders attempted through the use of bots were processed, according to Todd Martin, acting chief of the Mint’s Office of Corporate Communications.

Bots are automated computer software applications that can run much faster than manual processing by a human.

The limit was one coin per household for the 30,000 coins available.

Order placement and processing for the limited-edition numismatic product created initial headaches for the Mint and consternation from collectors and speculators attempting to acquire the coin.

“At the moment of launch, there were 99,000 people online and 4,700 callers waiting to purchase the American Eagle 2019 One Ounce Silver Enhanced Reverse Proof Coin,” Martin said Nov. 15 through one of several email announcements. 

“The Mint catalog website had more than 150,000 unique visitors and 1.6 million page views in the first hour of sales of the American Eagle 2019 One Ounce Silver Enhanced Reverse Proof Coin (19XE). For context, the catalog website’s previous highest traffic and page views were for the Apollo 11 product launch, when we had 124,000 visitors in one day and 863,000 page views in one hour,” Martin said via email.

He added, “We are pleased with the numismatic community’s response to this product. The volume of traffic did briefly slow down our site response. However, after the first two minutes we were able to process over 1,800 orders per minute on average.

“Completed orders were processed until all inventory was sold.

“Additionally, we identified approximately 5 percent of traffic as coming from bots, including 3 percent of traffic from a single IP address, of which zero orders were processed.”

The coins were not offered at the Mint sales centers at headquarters in Washington, D.C., or at contracted sales outlets at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. 

The Mint, did, however, offer several hundred coins at the Whitman Baltimore Expo, an opportunity that was not widely announced before the show. See the article on Page 10 for details about those sales.

Resumption

The Mint also reportedly resumed sales of the coins for a brief period Nov. 16 by phone and online, after initial reconciliation of processed orders. 

“As inventory becomes available, it is placed on the online catalog for sale,” according to a U.S. Mint statement released Nov. 21. Such offerings may include coins from orders that had to be rejected because of credit card problems or for other reasons.

Market action

Secondary market prices for the limited-edition silver American Eagles have skyrocketed to whatever the market will bear.

One eBay seller, using the seller ID rarecollectibles 91, was offering Professional Coin Grading Service Proof 70 First Strike coins pedigreed to the Whitman Baltimore Expo sales for a Buy It Now price of $15,000, with a Make Offer option. The seller indicated 10 coins were available.

Pinehurst Coin Exchange Inc. in Pinehurst, North Carolina, has sold more than 250 of the silver American Eagles via eBay at what the firm’s owner said was a small margin above cost. Sales were for coins graded and encapsulated Proof 69 or Proof 70 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp.

Pinehurst owner Vincent Wade told Coin World his buy/sell margin is roughly only $50 to $70 per coin and not the huge spreads some collectors believe he charges.

Wade said he purchased most of the coins through buy offers he placed and often had to increase his buy price when collectors who agreed to a sell price changed their mind when the prices being offered elsewhere escalated.

Wade said he had to seek other sources for the coins when some of those who agreed to sell their coins to him decided to keep their coins.

Wade predicts prices will sharply increase for coins shipped from the Mint’s contracted order Fulfillment Center PFSWeb in Memphis, Tennessee, containing certificates of authenticity (COAs) hand-signed by U.S. Mint Director David J. Ryder.

Ryder autographed the COAs for the first 100 coins to be shipped to customers who ordered online or by phone Nov. 14 as well as a random number included in sales at the Baltimore show.

The hand-written signatures also include a signed number that corresponds to the printed serial number.

Wade said one of the coins he purchased from a customer as a result of his buy offers was sent to NGC in its unopened Mint packaging. The coin was accompanied by a COA with serial number 00068 signed by Ryder.

The coin graded NGC Proof 70 with a First Day of Issue grading label, according to Wade.

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