US Coins

Last batch of gold 'Mercury' dimes sell out quickly

The several thousand 2016-W Winged Liberty Head gold dimes that were made available by the U.S. Mint Dec. 15 sold out quickly.

The thousands of 2016-W Winged Liberty Head gold dimes that were made available Thursday afternoon were completely bought up within 90 minutes or so of going on sale.

The United States Mint website currently lists the item as “Sold Out.

“This item is no longer in stock and is no longer available for sale,” is how the website explains the “Sold Out” status. 

So it might finally be safe to say the “Mercury” gold dime saga is over.

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As many as 8,000 to 9,000 unsold 2016-W Winged Liberty Head gold dimes had been languishing in the U.S. Mint’s inventory for almost eight months. 

The unsold coins were returns from individuals who originally ordered and received them as well as product never shipped because orders could not be processed due to expired credit cards or other obstacles, after the first sales period ended with a proclamation that the coins were sold out on April 21.

The unsold coins, which Coin World first learned about in April, went on sale at 12 p.m. ET Thursday, Dec. 15, at $200 per coin. Coin World currently does not know the exact time the sellout was reached, but based on collector feedback, the Round Two sales window lasted about 90 minutes before reaching the sold out stage.

The Mint did not state the number of coins it made available Thursday. However, as of the Mint’s Dec. 4 sales report, 116,096 of the dime's maximum mintage of 125,000 coins were recorded sold.

That would leave nearly 9,000 coins for the Dec. 15 offering.

Orders were limited to one coin per household for this second round of sales. U.S. Mint officials did indeed anticipate a sellout within minutes of the Thursday release, similar to what occurred when they initially went on sale in April.

When the gold dimes were offered April 21, sufficient orders were placed to exhaust the maximum mintage in a matter of minutes. The household limit then was 10 coins, a number collectors said was much too high and catered to dealers rather than collectors.

The gold dimes are struck on planchets matching the Mint’s specifications for .9999 fine tenth-ounce gold blanks used for the American Buffalo fractional gold $5 coin, last produced in 2008.

Why did the U.S. Mint issue a gold Winged Liberty Head dime?

The 2016-W Winged Liberty Head gold dime is one of three special commemorative gold coins issued in 2016 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of three classic U.S. coins that were first struck in 1916: the Winged Liberty Head dime, the Standing Liberty quarter dollar, and the Walking Liberty half dollar.

The dime and half dollar were designed by Adolph A. Weinman, while the quarter’s designs were the work of Hermon A. MacNeil.

Read Coin World's historical features on all three coins:

1916 Winged LIberty Head dimeWinged Liberty Head dime celebrates 100th anniversary milestone: The Winged Liberty Head dime series is extremely popular with collectors, many of whome began in the hobby by retrieving examples from general circulation.

Standing Liberty quarterStanding Liberty quarter dollar celebrates centennial: Hermon MacNeil's designs for the 25-cent coin, which would be called the Standing Liberty quarter dollar, are arguably the most beautiful for the denomination in its long history. 

Walking Liberty half dollar design
Weinman’s masterpiece: 100 years of the Walking Liberty half dollar
: In a time of war abroad, economic disruption at home and discord at the United States Mint, the Walking Liberty half dollar, which marks its centennial this year, was conceived.

The 2016 gold coins were issued in order from smallest denomination to largest. 

As mentioned above, the gold dime was issued in April, the gold quarter was issued in September, and the gold half dollar was issued in November

Are there unsold gold quarters and half dollars?

The Mint has potentially higher inventories of Standing Liberty gold quarter dollars (from a maximum mintage of 100,000 pieces) and Walking Liberty gold half dollars (from a maximum mintage of 70,000 pieces); neither program is sold out yet. 

Those two coins had tighter initial order limits placed on them — one per customer for the gold quarter, and three for the gold half dollar — than the gold Winged Liberty Head coin had during its initial release.

Order limits on both the quarter and half dollar were lifted when coins remained after the initial sales rush with the coins’ release, and both coins remain on sale.

The phenomenon of sales almost immediately hitting the maximum mintage did not happen with the quarter dollar and half dollar as it did with the dime partly because of the sales limits, and partly because the two larger gold coins are more expensive, beyond the reach of many of the collectors who could have hoped to purchase the dime.

Undamaged returns or canceled orders on these products, since they are not sold out, simply return to the remaining inventory on sale, without fanfare.

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