US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Aug. 8, 2022: Mint marketing

U.S. Mint officials unveiled a new promotion offering a free 2018 American Liberty tenth-ounce gold coin with the purchase of the 2017 1-ounce version of the gold coin, offered for a limited time.

Original images courtesy of the United States Mint.

The marketing staff at the United States Mint has embraced innovation in recent weeks by contracting with a private partner to sell coins, offering buyers a “free” gold coin, and opening enrollments for a 2023 program well before the new calendar year.

The contract between the Mint and Stack’s Bowers Galleries to sell the first and last of the 2021 American Eagle gold and silver bullion coins should come as no surprise. Mint officials announced that they would seek a private partner a year ago. To be offered at auction in August are the last 500 bullion coins of each metal with their 1986 designs and the first 500 each of the 2021 coins with their new designs.

This is not the first time the Mint has worked with a private partner to sell coins. It consigned a 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle to a Sotheby’s/Stack’s auction that comprised just that one lot. What sets  apart that 2002 auction and the upcoming sale is that the offering is of current coinage and not of a historical coin as a result of a settlement in a lawsuit brought against the Mint by the holder of a 1933 double eagle from whom the Mint confiscated the coin. I suspect that, if the results of this auction are strong, we may see similar offerings in the future.

Opening enrollments for the 2023 Morgan and Peace dollars months before their physical availability was a good move. It takes the pressure off Mint customers, who instead of trying to buy the coins online on the day sales launch, can enroll to buy their coins now. Mint officials should continue to stress the convenience of enrollment sales, and their customers should take advantage of them.

The inclusion of a free Proof 2018-W American Liberty tenth-ounce gold coin with the purchase of a 2017-W American Liberty 1-ounce gold coin is an interesting offer. The “deal” still carries a price that is well above the value of the gold in the coins, and the continued availability of both coins years after their initial release suggests that the Mint overestimated demand for the pieces. The coins are beautiful, but the mark-up over the Mint’s cost prevents many collectors from buying the coins, even when one of them is now “free” with a purchase.

So, what’s next?
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