By CoinWeek Staff Reports …..
The Mint came prepared.
Sales for the 2017 Enhanced Uncirculated Set began at noon Eastern Time on August 1, and in less than 10 minutes it had become “Currently Unavailable” on the Mint’s online catalog. Meanwhile, there were almost three hours to go before attendees at the American Numismatic Association’s (ANA) 2017 World’s Fair of Money in Denver, Colorado would have a chance to buy their sets in person at the U.S. Mint booth. A line formed as soon as ANA members were admitted to the bourse floor at 12:30 pm Mountain Time (2:30 pm ET), and, according to Dave Harper at Numismatic News, the first customer bought 20 sets.
The Mint had set an individual order limit of 500 units at the show; carts were available for customers who needed them. And out of a maximum total product limit of 225,000, the United States Mint had brought enough inventory to the ANA that collectors were still buying and receiving their sets when the bourse closed for the day five hours later. Slightly smaller inventories had also been allotted for sale at the Denver Mint, Philadelphia, and Mint headquarters in Washington, DC.
Contrast this with the fact that there was no household order limit either online or over the phone.
But even though the Mint apparently had set aside a large quantity of sets for sale exclusively at the show, we began to hear some of the same complaints from collectors that we’d heard about other recent blockbuster releases – mainly long lines and dealer’s order after massive dealer’s order. Then confusion as word got out that the set was no longer available online.
It wasn’t an unpredictable situation, nor did we here of anyone breaking the Mint’s self-imposed rules. But once again, collectors were left frustrated and alienated, regardless of how well the U.S. Mint actually handled the show release.
And looking at the dramatic ups and downs in the sales figures, maybe this time collectors have had enough.
Specifications & Labels
Before we get to that, however, it is worth noting that the 2017 Enhanced Uncirculated set does have a certain appeal. It contains 10 coins from the San Francisco Mint:
- One Kennedy half dollar;
- One Roosevelt dime;
- One Jefferson nickel;
- One Lincoln cent;
- One 2017 Native American dollar coin featuring Sequoyah, the inventor of the Cherokee syllabary, on the reverse, and;
- Five America the Beautiful Quarters including Effigy Mounds National Monument (Iowa), Frederick Douglass National Historic Site (Washington, DC), Ozark National Scenic Riverways (Missouri), Ellis Island (New Jersey), and George Rogers Clark National Historical Park (Indiana).
All feature the “S” mint mark and each coin has been treated with a special laser frosting effect that produces a range of matte and mirror finishes on the same coin surface. It’s not the same as a Proof finish, but it is certainly more elaborate than a regular Uncirculated finish. As noted above, there is a maximum mintage limit of 225,000 pieces per coin and a maximum product limit of 225,000 sets.
Naturally, third-party grading services were ready with commemorative labels for show purchases.
Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) was offering DENVER ANA RELEASES labels for coins purchased and submitted at the World’s Fair of Money, and FIRST DAY-ANA labels for coins purchased and submitted on the first day of sales at the ANA. Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) was offering 2017 DENVER ANA labels, and similar labels from ANACS were also available.
The Enhanced Uncirculated set had a retail price of $29.95 USD.
Up… and Down
As previously noted, the set became “Unavailable” online within minutes of going on sale on August 1. By early August 3, however, several large orders had been cancelled, which changed the set’s status back to “Available”.
It then remained available for order through at least August 7.
Nevertheless, on August 14 the set was once more listed as “Unavailable” – only to be available again two days later! At the time of publication, it remains available on the Mint’s website.
Now, let’s track the numbers and see how they line up with the changes in status.
According to the Mint’s official sales figures, which are updated every Sunday and posted online the following Tuesday evening, the first week’s sales as reported on August 6 totaled 217,514 units. By August 13 an additional 5,796 sets had been sold, for a total of 223,310.
So far so good. Demand for almost every United States Mint numismatic product drops steeply over the second week of availability.
But the numbers for last week tell a much stranger story. By August 20, the Mint had adjusted their sales figures down by 12,037 pieces, for a total of 211,273 “sold”. For a non-bullion numismatic product, this is highly unusual. So unusual, in fact, that CoinWeek was inspired to resume its “State of the Mint” U.S. Mint Weekly Sales Report column to see just where this was all headed.
Anecdotally, we have read comments about some sets containing low-quality coins. This, however, doesn’t seem adequate to explain over 10,000 returns. A quick check of the after-market on such auction sites as eBay shows that Enhanced Uncirculated sets are not commanding much of a premium over retail – if they’re selling at all.
This would seem to imply that demand is low.
So are hundreds or thousands of collectors “rage quitting” on the Mint and returning their shiny new laser-frosted Enhanced Unc sets? Probably not. If demand for the set in the secondary market is really so low, then the high number of returns suggests that dealers who previously speculated on its success are getting out already.
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