Where Did the Proof Jackie Kennedy Coins Go?
A Tale of Two Coin Releases
Today (June 30) at 12:00 pm EST the U.S. Mint began accepting orders for the Harry S. Truman coin and chronicles set, which includes the first reverse proof presidential dollar ever minted. The sets have a fixed mintage of 17,000 units, and buyers could place orders for five sets per household,though large numbers of buyers got around the limits and secured larger numbers of sets.
Within 15 minutes the sets were unavailable and likely sold out, which appears to be a record for the time a product took to sell out. With most buyers ordering either a couple sets or five, it only took a couple thousand orders to make the product disappear.
Fortunately,there were no computer glitches this time, and people who were on the ball secured their sets and they are already bringing $150-160 per set on eBay. I would not be surprised if they reach the $200 level by next week. Many average buyers who could not get away from work will be forced to pay a huge premium, which is why I previously suggested a lower household limit.
Orders for these sets are shipping out quickly, according to buyers.
Last week on Thursday the Mint began accepting orders for the Jacqueline Kennedy $10 First Spouse gold coin, but only orders for the uncirculated coin began to be processed after being placed. The proof version was on backorder from the time sales began. Orders could be placed, but the web site said no stock would be available until September 1.
Many buyers found this frustrating, especially since the proof spouse coins are always more popular and bigger sellers than their uncirculated counterparts.
In the numismatic blogosphere rumors began to swirl that the proof coins were all snatched up by the big boys, major coin dealers, or in the colorful description of one poster, “the big pig dealers.”
I was skeptical about such claims, and yet now I see that several companies not only have the proof coins in stock already, but they even have coins that have been graded with “first day of issue” labels.
I contacted the sales kiosk at the Mint’s Washington, DC headquarters on the first day and was told they had no proofs, but when I called back a couple days later I was told they did get some proofs, and they sold out quickly. This facility does not typically have a large supply of such coins with the exception of last year’s gold JFK half dollars and the baseball issues.
So where did these dealers get all those proof coins, and how did they manage to get them delivered to the Sarasota, Florida offices in time for first day release grading?
And since the Mint clearly knew these coins would be in high demand given their decision to up the mintage to a maximum of 30,000 coins if necessary, why were no coins available for people who are not dealers?
I’ve always said our Mint is the world’s only mint that tries to give collectors and coin sellers a mostly even playing field, but I am troubled by how the Kennedy proof coin release was handled. I believe the Mint owes its individual customers an explanation.
Is it fair to give dealers all the available supply of a coin at release time so that they can maximize profits and make everyone else wait until Labor Day? If that is not what happened, I would love to know how those dealers got coins on the first day when there was no first day sales announcement.
In response to my inquiry the Mint's Office of Public Affairs provided the following statement: "The Mint underestimated the initial demand for the 2015 First Spouse Series One-Half Ounce Gold Coins - Jacqueline Kennedy and, unfortunately, the products went on back order very quickly after sales started. As of June 30, additional product arrived at our distribution center in Memphis that will clear a majority of the backorders. The Mint has resumed production and we expect to fulfill all customer demand in the coming days and weeks. We apologize to our customers for the delay."
On July 1 the Mint's Adam Stump, who is Deputy Director of Public Affairs, told me that the Jackie Kennedy gold coins, including proofs, were sold at all three of the Mint's retail locations at its mints in Philadelphia and Denver as well as its Washington, DC headquarters.
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