Monday Morning Brief for Aug. 2, 2021: Mint plans public auction
- Published: Aug 2, 2021, 7 AM
The United States Mint is moving into uncharted territory with its announcement that it will sell 500 four-coin sets of American Eagle gold and silver bullion coins marking this year’s design changes, with all of the coins personally struck by Mint Director David Ryder.
Although it is a first for the Mint, the auction will not be the first time that the U.S. government has sold coins by public auction. From Oct. 31, 1972, to June 30, 1974, the General Services Administration conducted five mail-bid sales of Carson City Mint silver dollars that had sat in Treasury vaults for nearly a century. Every year, the Treasury Department sells at auction coins it has seized in various criminal proceedings.
One thing that should not be forgotten is that the sets will contain common coins indistinguishable from other coins of the same types. Bidders will be bidding on the accompanying COA with the Ryder’s autograph, essentially.
The Mint decision to create what officials are calling the 2021 American Eagles at Dusk and at Dawn 35th Anniversary sets continues a practice of taking the same coins and offering them in different combinations as a way to rack up more sales. Over the last couple of decades, the Mint has found creative and innovative ways of repackaging coins to add “value.” For example, the Mint has not been satisfied with just offering individual Proof American Eagle silver dollars and Silver Proof sets; it has also combined the two products into the annual Limited Edition Silver Proof set. In most cases, none of the coins in the Limited Edition Silver Proof set are unique to the set for that year; the purchasers are really paying for packaging.
So far, the Mint has provided no details about the type of auction to be conducted or how the coins will be packaged, or whether the sets or COA will be serially numbered in any way. No matter the format, it is likely that dealers will have the upper hand in successfully bidding on the sets. Dealers have the financial advantage over most collectors, especially in most kinds of auctions.
If this auction is “successful” in whatever way the Mint defines success, do not be surprised to see similar future auctions. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen.
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