US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Oct. 12, 2020: Consult collectors on price changes

The price of the new USS “Indianapolis” medal will increase from $39.95 to $160 starting Jan. 1. Will the huge price increase torpedo collector interest in the Mint’s bronze medals program?

Original images courtesy of the United States Mint

The U.S. Mint has announced a new series of price increases, this time for many of its silver numismatic products, after previously announcing increases in the prices of its bronze medals.

We get it. Costs of materials and production rise, and the Mint has to be responsible to taxpayers in ensuring that its products do not lose money. Indeed, surcharges cannot be paid out to commemorative coin program beneficiaries until all program costs are recouped.

Still, no one likes to see the cost of their favorite products go up. The response to the Mint’s planned increase from $39.95 to $160 for its 3-inch bronze medals has triggered numerous negative comments from readers.

As expected, some are saying that the price increase, which takes place Jan. 1, will lead them to stop buying the bronze medals at their new prices.

I am sure that Mint officials consider the ramifications of raising (or not raising) prices for some its most popular collector products. But I wonder whether they do so in a vacuum. It is easy to tally dollars and cents, compare costs and revenue, before deciding on a price increase. But are they considering the human factor and what those increases will do to the market for the products?

Mint officials should consider — if they are not already — consulting with representatives of the collecting community on potential price increases. The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee already advises the Mint on coin and medal designs and on future programs. They would be in a good place to advise the Mint on the potential backlash to price increases, especially at the levels planned for bronze medals.
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