Paul Gilkes

Mint State

Paul Gilkes

Paul is a senior editor and has been a member of the Coin World staff since 1988. Paul covers the U.S. Mint beat and has memorably reported for more than two decades on many of the hobby's most important stories including the record sale of the Farouk/Fenton 1933 double eagle and the ongoing legal proceedings of the Langbord 1933 double eagles. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Grove City College in Pennsylvania and collects autographs and memorabilia from The Andy Griffith Show.

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Denver Mint 'stampede' atypical for gold half dollar purchasers

​It was a shame that United States Mint officials announced the need Aug. 7 to suspend sales early for the gold Proof 1964–2014-W Kennedy 50th Anniversary half dollars at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Rosemont, Ill., and sales centers at Mint headquarters in Washington, D.C., and the Philadelphia and Denver Mints.

But you can’t blame them, as the safety of the general public and Mint employees was of major concern. While it appears the literal stampede of potential coin buyers waiting in line at the Denver Mint for Aug. 7 sales was the likely culprit for sales suspensions at all outlets, the incident was an isolated one.

Aug. 7 was the last day of sales at the three Mint facility locations, leaving 100 unsold coins at each location to be returned to the Mint’s order fulfillment center. And the 500 coins each day for both Aug. 8 and 9 at the ANA venue were also returned.

At $1,240 per coin, the U.S. Mint gave up $1,612,000 in retail sales at the four venues combined in the name of public safety.

No one could have anticipated the size of the crowds at each site. I was present at the ANA venue, and checked the line activity throughout each day, beginning with the line assembling the evening of Aug. 4 waiting for inaugurals.

From what I witnessed, except for some line jumpers, the crowd was orderly and policed themselves. It was repeated each day a new line assembled.

I also monitored activity at the other three venues through my sources on-site, who experienced similar orderly behavior,

The sales of the gold Proof Kennedy 50th Anniversary half dollars was THE story of the show, making national headlines.

There was more positive publicity and feedback generated for the hobby from the coin launch that no amount of money could buy.

The U.S. Mint is planning to sit down for internal discussions to determine what officials felt was done right, what glitches there might have been and what things can be improved upon.

The Mint is already looking at the release of an undisclosed numismatic product at the 2015 ANA convention, to be held at the same venue in Rosemont, Ill.

It will be interesting to see what the product will be, and how the launch will be handled. I know I’m looking forward to it.

By the way, as of Aug. 10, the U.S. Mint recorded sales of 112,134 of the gold Proof Kennedy 50th Anniversary half dollars.

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Older Comments (17)
Here's a clue, monitor how many people do any purchase and don't let more than one or two per person at the entire show. The dealers hired hundreds of people to get as many coins as possible, and they kept coming every day. look at the footage, these guys were not collectors. The dealers were paying their stooges before and /or after they left the booth at the show. Look at the footage of the Denver mint, these guys were not collectors, sure some were but most were not. Why doesn't the mint monitor total sales for everyone? The Grading company's caused it because all of the special labels. But even the grading company's require an account number. Make people use an account number and monitor how many coins every individual purchases. If the mint kept the 2 retail limit the dealers would have had their pawns line up every day to buy all they could and ended up with 10 coins per stooge for the entire show while buying 5 on line. If you don't monitor the coins distributed at a coin show the only customer your hurting is the real collector who enjoys the hobby.

The dealers were sending in bus loads of people into the show. at 1:00 am. Some dealers still got hundreds of these coins. Check Ebay and you will know who is doing it. Eastsidemintcoins has 14 for sale and sold 7 already. win33332003 has 8 for sale and 2 sold. slycoins 22 for sale and 9 sold. These are all ANA label. This is why the mint needs to monitor and require everyone who buys at a coin show or a mint distribution center have an account number, if they don't have an account then have them show ID and issue an account number to them at the show. Laurence J. Ramos.

Correction: As of August 10, 2014 the U.S. Mint recorded sales of 112,134 for the 50th Anniversary Kennedy 2 Coin Uncirculated Clad Philadelphia & Denver Half-Dollars Set whereas the gold proof JFK half dollars had sales of 62,341.
The mint should STOP selling coins at these shows as the inequities are apparent and many. This first issue, early release ploy could be mitigated if the mint would accumulate orders and ship them all at the same time. Then there would be a large population and minimum premiums. People are buying the package not the coin.RC
What is the rush to get the first gold Kennedy 50th Anniversary half dollar? For a true collector, forget about the first strike? This is only the marketing for the seller.
There is no mention in this report of the trampling of people in Denver that was recorded by local tv, of the security issues at the ANA, where gang members reportedly roamed the bourse floor, of the overt manipulation of the process by handful of well-heeled dealers, etc. Was Mr. Gilkes at the same event?
The recorded sales number of 112,134 is for the two coin uncirculated half dollar set. Total sales of the Gold Kennedy Half is reported to be at 62,341 as of August 10th.
The handling of the sale of the gold Kennedy Half Dollars at the ANA convention was both poorly handled by the Mint and potentially dangerous. I have lobbied for a good many years for the Mint to establish a panel of 3-4 numismatists (collectors and dealers) on an advisory staff to provide input on how to market new releases, suggest mintage quantities, etc., but this suggestion has fallen on deaf ears. It seems to me that a panel like this, "people in the trenches", could provide a valuable service to the Mint in many areas to help future programs run smoothly. The ROI (Return On Investment) to the Mint, in my opinion, would be tremendous and eliminate situations such as the latest Chicago fiasco.

Bill Fivaz
ANA LM-1100

An easy solution - the grading services need to STOP postmarking coins, and just stick with grading.
The collectors of modern items for their label - first strike, etc. are being ripped off and will be lost to the hobby before they discover RARE coins, which are truly valued for their eye appeal, rarity and grade.
Why the rush for the gold coins? Easy--GREED! Collectors/Non-Collectors/Dealers, etc., want that precious First Day of Issue slab so they can sell them at a huge profit. For example, the first four individuals who bought the coins were offered $20,000 for them plus coins for replacing the ones just sold. I don't blame
the individuals. If someone offered me that kind of money, I wouldn't hesitate one minute in accepting.

The mintage of these coins is unlimited--the amount minted will be the amount ordered. There seems to be no finite date when orders will be discontinued.

These coins are honoring the issuance of a coin--not the memory of the man who is on them. To me this coin is no better than a gold bullion piece!
From posts left on, the ANA tried to address the issue, but the big dealers like SilverTowne had their lawyers at the show and they vetoed any solutions.
The mint should only sell these coins to their loyal online/phone/mail collectors that have an account, and limit the number of coins that can be purchased. This way these goons that are hired by the dealers to buy up the coins at the show can't happen anymore. That's my 2¢, does anyone buy it?
My personal view from the Denver mint was the number of people who were standing in line that DID NOT have money in hand to buy the coin versus the number of people who were paid to stand in line to get a ticket so that they could sell the ticket for a cash payment was at least 10-1 or greater. Yes, there were many different representations there, the ones who were paid 14.00 hr to stand in line for a possible role in a movie but had no idea why they were there otherwise. There were those who were being paid on the basis that they received a ticket they would be paid x-amount for it. Then there was the street people which I have no idea after the preceding issue that the denver mint had two weeks before would even allow them to stand in line but they did, again, and clearly these people had no possible way of actually buying a coin, but when there position was threatened or other people were in line to try and receive a ticket that actually had money in hand, they got ugly & violent and did in fact cause bodily injury to some people. If the line simply required each individual in line to have the money in hand to be able to walk inside the Mint Store with enough money to actually pay for the coin, there would have been hundreds less people in line, less violence I believe, there were rumors of bad tickets, which is always possible in a printed product, and some people who may have had legitimate tickets lost out when the mint closed down, voided the tickets that had already been given out and restarted. I don't have the answer but we definitely know at this point what doesn't work. I think the answer's aren't as difficult as one would think but that decision has to be made by the people who have the power to do so. TAG
I was also at the ANA show in Chicago. Your account of the activity there is quite different than what dealers on the floor were telling there customers. I do not know this for fact but I do know that on Wed. morning (7:45 am) there were twenty plus Rosemont police officers with there car lights & sirens going trying to maintain order. According to the dealer accounts there were four arrests and one person maced Tuesday night. The next night there were even more jailed. The rules were for each person in line to have an ANA badge from registration and many did not and had to be removed(rules set by the mint & ANA). It becomes very iffy if that rule was always followed.

For my 2 cents worth not only was this a huge black eye for the U.S. mint and the ANA but it also seemed to really detract from the over business activity going on. I was at one dealers table and I have known him for many years and he is always looking to buy coins. Someone came up to his table and he declined to look because he was keeping funds for the gold Kennedy coins. I was amused.

These coins were priced at $1240 from the mint. The dealer buy price on Wed was as high as $3600 per coin. By Thursday at approx. 2pm the price dropped to $1800.00. Not sure what they were priced after the mint stopped selling them on Friday & Saturday. No wonder people were fighting to get in line! For the sake of the hobby this fiasco should not be repeated.

They sold over $139,000,000 at 112,134 times $1240 per coin. The real story here is what the premium
was, by hour, and how many people in lines buying were shills for dealers. I heard the peak premium over cost was plus $700 to a low of $200. Do a followup story on this. Also how much all of this money took away from the ANA floor activity and dealers who could not afford to buy these latest "creations" of the mint.
The sales at the ANA were a mistake as it made the dealers at the show and the attendees at the show feel very unsafe. It is my understanding that someone who was a straw buyer for the coin was robbed at gunpoint in the toilet at the ANA show. If the mint wants to sell limited edition items they can be purchased at the show, but delivered to the buyers home address.. That way there is no panic and people can still make their few hundred dollars profit.
Greedy dealers, the ANA and the grading services all share the blame for this fiasco. There was nothing positive for the hobby here. The collector was pushed out in the cold while greedy dealers paid people to stand on the lines so they could corner the market and charge high prices. So far as I'm concerned I would not penny over issue plus postage for this issue. The show labels that the grading services put in the slabs have zero value for me. I am fast becoming disinterested in the modern U.S. so long as games like this continue. Collecting coins should be fun; dealing this mess is not.