US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Dec. 16, 2019: Information

What does the cult 1967 television program “The Prisoner” have in common with coin collectors? The need for information was important to both.

Original screenshots from ITC Entertainment.

In the introductory scenes in every episode of the 1967 cult television program The Prisoner, the nameless retired British spy played by actor Patrick McGoohan, captured by unidentified parties and now imprisoned in The Village where he is called Number Six, verbally duels with the figure known as Number Two. Number Six asks, “What do you want?” Number Two replies, “Information,” adding, after a few other questions, “We want information … information … information.” Number Six says, “You won’t get it.”

If we were to recast that series today, Number Two would be played by different collectors (a different actor played Number Two most episodes) and Number Six would be played by someone in the U.S. Mint’s Office of Corporate Communications.

As Paul Gilkes reports in one of his articles appearing on Page 1 this week, the Mint’s weekly sales report for numismatic products has not appeared since the first week of November. Mike White of Mint Corporate Communications (Number Six?) said the lack of updates was due to the departures of the two Mint employees who were responsible for the reports.

Collectors and dealers eagerly await each week’s report so they can check sales figures. Currently, everyone wants to know how close to 30,000 are the sales of the Enhanced Reverse Proof 2019-S American Eagle silver dollar. It is likely that at some future moment, the Mint will quietly reopen sales for the coin, with just a few hundred pieces available.

The weekly online sales reports were one of the most reliable services offered by the Mint. Coin World publishes a monthly recap of sales, and collectors without computer access expect that monthly recap. Well, not everyone.

Years ago, before the Mint was online, I used to get phone calls from a reader who got irate whenever we published sales information about a Mint product with low sales. The reader’s reasoning, as he clearly stated every time: He had his, but if we told others about the low sales, then others might order the coins or set, thus reducing his chances of later profiting on a low-mintage item. He repeatedly asked us to stop publishing that kind of information because it was unfair to him. We declined to agree to his request.

We do agree with other readers, though. We want information, and are looking forward to the resumption of the reports. 

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