US Coins

Second sales round possible for Congratulations set

The U.S. Mint April 5 left open the possibility that sales for the 2017 Congratulation set, which recorded an apparent sellout in two minutes April 4, could be reopened.

The sets went on sale at noon Eastern Time April 4 with no household order restriction. Sufficient orders were placed almost immediately to exhaust the maximum mintage of 75,000 sets, according to the Mint, although bureau officials have yet to declare the numismatic product a sellout. Many attempting to buy the set reported that their orders were rejected starting around 12:02 p.m., suggesting that virtually the entire edition was purchased in about two minutes.

The set’s attraction is the Proof 2017-S American Eagle silver dollar, struck at the San Francisco Mint. The “regular” Proof American Eagle silver dollar is a West Point Mint product.

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The U.S. Mint’s Office of Corporate Communications released the following statement to the media at 10:09 a.m. ET April 5 concerning sales of the 2017 Congratulations set: “Sales attrition from cancellations, returns and credit card declinations could result in a very limited quantity being made available for sale.”

Mint officials are still trying to determine how many sets would be available and if the number will be sufficient to warrant reopening sales.

The bureau faced a similar dilemma in 2016 with the April 21 sales for the 125,000 2016-W Winged Liberty Head gold dimes. Customers placed enough orders within minutes of the start of sales to consume the maximum number of coins available, even with a household order limit of 10 coins.

However, reconciliation of orders over the ensuing weeks resulted in the Mint amassing between 8,000 and 9,000 coins in inventory, from returns and canceled orders for coins that were never shipped.

The Mint waited eight months before reopening sales on Dec. 15 for the remaining gold dimes in inventory. With a one-coin-per-household order restriction, it took 90 minutes to sell those remaining coins.

The Mint’s offer of the limited-edition 2017 Congratulations set without a household order limit upset some collectors who were shut out from successfully placing an order.

Collector Chris Hale contacted Coin World via email April 4 before 1 p.m. ET, asking, “Is there any way to find out from the U.S. Mint how many individuals/dealers were able to purchase this item?” (See his full letter in this week’s Letters to the Editor column.)

Hale told Coin World in an interview that he tried placing his order at 12:02 p.m. ET and received a message advising him to remove his order for five sets because they were no longer available.

Another collector, Henry Bonke, also expressed his displeasure with the Mint’s offering of the numismatic product.

“Less than 3 minutes and sold out,” Bonke wrote via email. “Canceled by the Mint at 3 minutes. I’m through with the U.S. Mint.

“This continued unfair treatment of the collecting community for the profit of a few is testament to their corrupt policies. I used to collect U.S. stamps, but their inattention to the stamp collecting community drove me away. SAME reason here. I will not buy the coin on ebay and I hope other collectors follow my lead.”

A collector from Laguna Niguel, Calif., reported he was able to successfully place an order for four sets.

From Coin World’s Facebook page:

Michael Bruni: “Lots of angry people out there posting on the Mint’s website. What were they thinking with no ordering limit on something like this? Another black eye for the Mint. ... Whenever someone asks for reasons the hobby is slowly dying it’s examples like this that should be brought up as part of the problem. Simple collectors out to put together a nice set of current issue coins can’t because of mismanagement of product releases — so many just stop trying over getting gouged on the secondary market.”

Shawn Savage: “It is BS. Some of the big dealers were buying thousands at a clip. The U.S. mint should be for selling to the collector, not to let dealers hoard and corner the market for big profits. Disgusting.”

Mint customers posted a significant number of negative comments on the Mint’s Facebook page but the link to those comments was deactivated, according to the Mint, because the product had gone into “currently unavailable” status.

eBay outlet

Following the apparent sellout April 4, examples of the sets quickly appeared on eBay, posted by sellers with confirmed orders. Subsequent completed sales ranged from $110 to $225 per set. The Mint sold the set for $54.95.

A number of eBay auctions offered multiple sets. One auction for 99 sets with a Buy It Now option at $17,500 and free shipping ended with no takers.

The auction was relisted with the Buy It Now offer at $14,500 with an added Make Offer option. As of April 6, the offer was still active.

Collectors will have the opportunity to obtain the Proof 2017-S American Eagle silver dollar in another numismatic product to be offered by the U.S. Mint later in the calendar year.

The regular annual Proof American Eagle silver dollar in recent years has been struck at the West Point Mint with the W Mint mark. The Proof 2017-W American Eagle went on sale on March 23 at $53.95 per coin, with no product limit or household order restriction and continues available.

Second opportunity

Collectors will have a second opportunity to obtain the Proof 2017-S American Eagle silver dollar in 2017 when the coin is included in the 2017 Limited Edition Silver Proof set. Details on the 2017 Limited Edition Silver Proof set — including pricing, product limit and household ordering limits, if any — are yet to be disclosed by the Mint.

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