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How Would You Fix 5-Ounce Silver Coin Program?
January 11, 2011

With all of the recent experience of people trapped at airports, the U.S. Mint is taking no chances and has cancelled tomorrow’s introduction ceremony for the 2011 Native American dollar in Plymouth, Mass.

I don’t blame them. The Mint says it will reschedule. Perhaps it could hold a virtual ceremony online instead?

This probably cannot happen because of the short notice and the online logistical preparation involved, but someday I expect this kind of thing will be routine.

Online contact is no substitute for being out and around among real people, but it is a great substitute when the alternative is no interaction at all.

Now I am sure any list of topics that Mint officials might hear about currently from real or virtual collectors would be led off by the new 5-ounce America the Beautiful silver bullion coins and why so many collectors feel shutout of the purchase process. That is the topic most on the minds of my readers.

I know that the Mint can do nothing further for the offering of the first set of ATB bullion coins, but the simple public act of listening would at least be a sign of respect to all collectors.

Certainly there are unchangeable facts involved, like the 33,000 set mintage, and listening and explaining these facts might seem both cold and futile. However, there are also relations with collectors involved. Their feelings matter and acknowledging them would be helpful to the future of the program, even if some of these feelings might be expressed in a stinging way.


Well, these five bullion coins are only the first of 56 to be issued through 2021.

Can you imagine going through this every time the next group of bullion coins is offered as well as when the sandblasted collector versions are sold?

We seem to be guaranteed at least one more unpleasant release when the 27,000 5-ounce 2010 collector sets are sold directly by the Mint to collectors.

Demand will no doubt exceed supply. Complaints will be made by those who go away empty-handed.

Will this be a turning point or will it simply pour gasoline on the fire?

Mint interaction with the public is no quick fix, but it is an important step to any kind of constructive fix to the America the Beautiful program.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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