US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for August 10, 2020: Violating a trust

Among the products the United States Mint reoffered for bulk sale were 192,607 of the 30th Anniversary Proof 2016-W American Eagle silver dollar coins.

Original images courtesy of United States Mint.

For years, collectors have speculated that dealers get special treatment not afforded to the Mint’s collector customers, citing suspicions that a majority of limited edition products go to wholesalers and retailers rather than to those who want just one for their personal collection.

Mint officials just gave us the evidence that dealers do get special deals. The announcement in July of the sale of unsold 2016- to 2018-dated numismatic products in U.S. Mint inventory — tens of thousands of gold and silver coins — by sealed bid auction to select bulk dealers confirmed collector suspicions. The sale also angered collectors, who are justified in their disgust with the Mint’s actions.

Mint officials say the decision resulted in a higher return to the Mint than melting the coins would have provided. However, such decisions should not be made strictly on dollars and cents; maintaining a trusting relationship with collector customers is more important.

Collectors need to be able to trust that older products like what was just sold to dealers will go off sale at specific times. Selling them years after the initial release violates that trust. The Mint needs to establish a policy that dictates how long a product will be made available and to make that known to customers from the start, and then stick to the schedule. Only then will the Mint regain some of the trust it has lost.

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