US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Nov. 11, 2019: Mint revelations surprise readers

Last week, Coin World published three articles that generated a sizable amount of reader response, all involving disquieting news from the U.S. Mint: the destruction of $1 million in First Spouse gold coins, bulk sales of a 2016-W American Eagle silver dollar at a discounted price well below what collectors were charged, and the possibility that any anniversary 2021 Morgan dollar will have to be made of gold rather than silver. Here are some thoughts:

The destruction (beyond recovery) of the 2007-W Dolley Madison gold coins in the First Spouse series was unfortunate but apparently beyond the Mint’s ability to control the situation since the coins were in the hands of the Mint’s order fulfillment operator at the time

Collector responses to this news at our website and Facebook pages ranged from people wondering what landfill the destroyed gold coins were taken to, to comments that no one really cared about the First Spouse series anyway.

The decision by Mint officials to recently sell 183,781 unsold Proof 2016-W American Eagle silver dollars to bulk purchasers at a significant discount from what collectors paid three years ago upset a lot of readers. 

Collectors often accuse the Mint of favoring big dealers over collectors, especially when it comes to sales of limited edition products that sell out quickly. The coins that the Mint sold at a discount do not fall into that category, but the decision does reinforce collector distrust of the Mint by proving that, sometimes, the Mint does favor dealers. 

While it may have been a financially wise decision to sell the coins rather than pay to “de-trash” them, doing so is bad PR. Moreover, it highlights the question, when do sales of older Mint products actually end? The Mint should reconsider its policies of continuing to sell collectible products years after the dates on the coins.

As for a 2021 Morgan dollar, the Mint cannot move forward with a silver commemorative version without congressional approval. Issuing a gold version instead, which the Mint can do on its own authority, would be a bad idea since many collectors who would love an anniversary Morgan dollar cannot afford a gold version. Mint officials should just abandon the idea if Congress refuses to act. 

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