By Louis Golino for CoinWeek….
No JFK silver sets in Baltimore
In the aftermath of the chaotic events surrounding the release of the JFK gold half dollar last month, which were discussed in this column last month and in the in-depth analysis by my CoinWeek colleagues, both the U.S. Mint and the American Numismatic Association are exploring how to better handle in-person coin sales.
ANA executive director Kim Kiick said in comments posted on the association’s web site that the hiring of proxy buyers not only created security concerns, but also went against the spirit of the sale, and “hurt the ANA.”
In addition, Kiick said: “Any future sales are contingent on whether the Mint and the ANA can put together a security and sales plan that will address the concerns raised from the Kennedy sales.”
Kiick said the goal of the sale was to boost public interest in the hobby, but that as a result of what happened, there will be no onsite sales in the future unless the ANA can come up with a new process that prevents these problems from emerging again.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Mint said it intends to evaluate its presence at the ANA show in August and that: “Appropriate staff members will convene to discuss lessons learned and how best to proceed with similar coin launches in the future,” according to Tom Jurkowsky, director of the Mint’s Office of Corporate Communications.
In addition, both the Mint and ANA have indicated that a lottery system to handle the distribution of coins at shows would not be appropriate.
The four-coin JFK silver sets that many collectors have been eagerly awaiting since last year will be released on October 28 and the Mint plans to have 150,000 sets ready to ship. Because the upcoming Baltimore Whitman Expo starts two days later, October 30, many people have been speculating about whether the sets would be sold at the show.
But Mint officials have explained that that will not happen, and that the coins will only be sold through the regular web and telephone operations.
New order system
On September 3 the Mint announced that it is launching its new, long-awaited order management system:
“The United States Mint is launching a new retail solution for selling its coin and medal products (numismatics). The new system includes a modernized retail website (eCommerce platform), a new Order Management System, enhanced Customer Contact Center and fulfillment operations, related information technology solutions, and support for robust interactive marketing strategies.”
“This end-to-end solution will better serve United States Mint customers by gaining cost and processing efficiencies, and enhancing the customer experience through a fully integrated solution. The end-to-end solution will allow the United States Mint to capitalize on industry best practices leveraged by other brand-name retail organizations, enabling the United States Mint to keep pace with market developments.”
As a result of the implementation of the new system, no orders will ship between September 24 and October 1.
The fact that the new system will be operational when the JFK silver sets will be released bodes well for buyers who want to get up to the maximum five set household limit, as does the plan to have a large supply on hand. I would not expect these coins to acquire substantial premiums at least in the short-term, apart from graded examples. They are for the true collector, who will be treated to the very first reverse proof Kennedy halves ever issued, and the very first enhanced uncirculated coins. And over the long-term they may well acquire premiums as more and more people become JFK half dollar collectors.
Survey on 2015 and 2016 coins
One other significant development at the Mint that should be noted is a new survey went out that asked about collector interest in some of the special products planned for 2015 and 2016 that were hinted at by Deputy Director Richard Peterson at the ANA show in August.
Different versions of the survey were received by Mint customers. Thanks to several collector friends I was able to find out the main proposals in the surveys.
In particular the Mint is considering issuing special March of Dimes commemorative sets in 2015 that would include the March of Dimes silver dollar and a reverse proof silver dime, and a second set with the dollar coin and a proof silver dime, all with West Point mint marks; a gold Mercury dime in 2016 to mark the 100th anniversary of the coin; and a gold Walking Liberty half dollar also in 2016 to mark the centennial of that coin as well.
Some people have questioned the wisdom of issuing coins that honor coins, but most collectors like the idea, and I have seen a lot of positive comments from collectors about these proposals.
2014 American Platinum Eagle bullion sales ending
On September 8 the Mint announced that to prepare for the launch of the 2015 American Platinum Eagle bullion coins sales to authorized purchasers of the 2014 coins will end on October 1. Sales of the 2015 coins will start in early January.
This coin was re-launched this year after not being minted for six years with the 2008 platinum coins being the last ones minted until this year. Sales were initially very strong but then quickly tapered off.
Louis Golino is a coin collector and numismatic writer, whose articles on coins have appeared in Coin World, Numismatic News, and a number of different coin web sites. His article, “Proposed Design Change Takes Flight,” which deals with the CCAC’s recommendation for a new reverse for the American silver eagle, appears in the July issue of the Numismatist. His column for CoinWeek, “The Coin Analyst,” covers U.S. and world coins and precious metals. He collects U.S. and European coins and is a member of the ANA,PCGS, NGC, and CAC. He has also worked for the U.S. Library of Congress and has been a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international affairs for a wide variety of newspapers and web sites.
I think the decision not to release anything at Whitman is probably a wise one, though I regret it somewhat as I occasionally go to Whitman. After the fiasco at the ANA and the mint’s over the counter sales, I cannot imagine the silver Kennedy sales going any better. I am glad to see that further over the counter sales seem like they will be handled more cautiously in the future.
I am not quite as optimistic as you are about the new site/ordering system as the release of the silver Kennedy will be its first real test, so who knows what will happen. I am planning to be ready for anything!
On the March of Dimes set, I expect the proof dime/silver dollar set to do relatively poorly, especially if the Mint releases a March of Dimes set with a reverse proof dime in it. Most people are likely to buy for the reverse proof dime and not the other coins, in my opinion. With that being said, they will need to release the March of Dimes reverse proof set early in the year or they run the risk of people skipping it to buy the upcoming reverse proof silver mint sets.
Finally, I am wildly enthusiastic about the gold mercury dime and gold walking liberty, particularly the mercury dime as it’s my favorite “classic” coin. 2016 can’t get here soon enough!
A gold 2016 Walking Liberty Half and a gold 2016 Mercury Dime would be a terrific way to honor the 100th anniversary of these coins’ initial release, as well as recognize Adolph Weinman, who designed these beautiful coins.
I think the gold dime and half dollar coins would be great, but a 3 coin set including the Standing Liberty quarter in gold would be even better.
It seems like non gold coins are afterthoughts these days. Let’s not forget that probably the majority of collectors can’t afford anything gold created by the mint. Hopefully they make some nice silver and clad commems
Joe – You have a good point. The Mint would do well to offer silver commemorative 2016 Mercury Dimes and Walking Liberty Halves, but please no clad version of these!
Scott – Any commemorative Standing Liberty Quarter should be minted without a date, to accurately most of the ones that are out there…
to accurately reflect most of the ones that are out there…
LOL! But wouldn’t it be great if there were also clad circulation strikes of these coins to educate the public on how beautiful our coinage was 100 years ago.
Please, Mint, do NOT leave out that gorgeous Standing Liberty Quarter from the golds!
Submitted by the Quarter Master