US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Nov. 16, 2020: What is the Mint doing?

Privy-marked Proof 2020-W American Eagle gold $50 coins, mintage 1,945, are selling in the secondary market for more than five times their original release price.

Images courtesy of the United States Mint

United States Mint officials seem so determined to drive away once loyal customers that one has to wonder whether their marketing decisions are deliberately aimed at shrinking the Mint’s customer rolls.

Mint officials are offering nothing more than empty platitudes in response to customer complaints about several offerings on Nov. 5 and Nov. 9, offers featuring coins and a medal celebrating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. As the small sampling of comments from readers in Coin World's Nov. 30  print edition "Guest Commentary" and "Letters to the Editor" columns show, both offerings were unmitigated disasters for many collector customers of the Mint.

Coin World asked the Mint for an opportunity to speak with Director David Ryder to discuss the rationale behind its marketing decisions. Spokesman Michael White responded on Nov. 6, stating, “We must respectfully decline your interview request. As per our statement yesterday, we are still in the process of evaluating the various customer concerns and system constraints and/or failures we experienced.”

The problems go well beyond website glitches, though those issues also need to be fixed. Mint officials seem unable, or unwilling, to grasp that mintages as tiny as the 1,945 pieces for the 2020-W End of World War II 75th Anniversary American Eagle gold coin ensure that 99% of those who would like to purchase the coin at issue price will never succeed.

Mint officials need to get out of the business of creating artificial rarities. Collectors are infuriated when they see a coin sold by the Mint for $2,600 being sold just a few days later for $13,000. They get especially angry and downright suspicious when well-heeled dealers acquire multiples of the coins and offer them to the public at vastly increased prices.

The Mint has an image problem that officials need to address, fast. If they do not fix these problems, they risk alienating their core customers, collectors, even more than they have already. Many of those who have called us by phone or sent email or left comments on our website and Facebook pages say that they have had it with the Mint, and that they will never buy another product from them. If the Mint continues along this path, its declining customer base will shrink even more.

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