US Coins

Buyers line up to buy Enhanced Reverse Proof silver American Eagle at expo

When the U.S. Mint's sales at the Whitman Baltimore Expo for the Enhanced Reverse Proof 2019-S Silver American Eagle began at noon Eastern Time on Nov. 14, hundreds of collectors, dealers and speculators had already braved the elements for hours ahead of schedule outside the Baltimore Convention.

The line started forming at 2:30 a.m. James Sego from JMS Coins, Coeur d’alene, Idaho, said he was third in line at 4:30 a.m.

Those in line weren’t let into the Baltimore Convention Center until 6:30 a.m. to get out of the frigid temperatures. Once inside, those waiting to buy the coins were huddled inside a staging area inside the convention center before the appointed hours for sales to begin.

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 opportunity to buy the several hundred coins from the Mint at the Baltimore Expo was not widely announced before the show. 

The Mint reported total sales of 800 coins at the show.

Show staff managed the distribution of numbered cards to those standing in line seeking to purchase the limit of one coin per buyer.

Those seeking the coins had to be registered for the show, either days before the Nov. 14 opening or on arrival at the expo, according to Mary Burleson, president of Whitman Publishing LLC, which operates the expo three times a year.

The numbered cards bearing the show imprint that were distributed were used to secure a separate number from U.S. Mint personnel. 

Once each coin was purchased, the numbered card bearing the show imprint was inked with a check mark by Mint personnel to prevent buyers from securing more than one coin.

Burleson said for registration, show attendees were required to present government-issued identification before being given the necessary numbered cards for sales admittance and the opportunity to purchase the maximum of one coin per person.

Burleson said show organizers were not notified of the Mint’s intentions to offer the coin at the show until eight days before the opening day of the show.

Hot commodity

The secondary market price for the coins at the show venue exploded even before sales began.

Some of those in line who planned to resell their coins immediately after purchase were given prepaid $100 credit cards from dealers seeking additional coins to meet their customers’ demands. The prepaid cards were used to pay the $65.95 purchase price of the coin.

Once the coin was secured and delivered to the dealer, another $100 premium was given to add with the balance left on the prepaid card.

Some of those in line reneged on giving up their coins before purchase after other dealers upped their offer to buy to then at $450, then $750 and soon at $900.

U.S. Mint Director David J. Ryder hand-signed certificates of authenticity (COA) from noon to 2:30 p.m. Nov. 14 and numbered them according to the number on their purchase ticket used to buy the coin from the Mint.

Some of the coins sold in Baltimore included the numbered COAs already signed by Ryder (see Page 1 article), according to Mint officials.

Sego sold his show number 3 coin with COA signed by Ryder on location on eBay for the $3,950 asking price. The coin was graded and encapsulated Proof 70 by Professional Coin Grading Service with a grading label pedigreeing the coin to the Baltimore Expo.

Sego also purchased show coin No. 14 from the person who bought the coin from the Mint. That coin, also a PCGS Proof 70 accompanied by a Ryder hand-signed COA, sold on eBay for close to its $4,250 asking price.

It sold according to a Best Offer bid that was accepted. 

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