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Another Sign of Silver Frenzy
May 04, 2011

I saw a very unusual ad in the Wall Street Journal yesterday.

Being offered were uncirculated U.S. Army commemorative silver dollars.

These coins are a current commemorative program of the U.S. Mint, but it wasn’t a Mint ad.

A private firm was offering them for less than the Mint is: $49.95 as compared to $54.95.

The ad said shipping was free for the first 1,000 orders, so I suppose the shipping charge could eat away at the price differential, but then the Mint has a shipping and handling fee as well.

To a collector who hasn’t ordered one of these yet, the coin offered looks like a good deal, but the ad wasn’t aimed at collectors. It appears to me to be aimed at investors.

Nowhere in the ad is the coin called a commemorative. Contrariwise it is called a bullion coin. It isn’t.

A bullion coin is a coin of a standard design that contains a convenient well-known amount of bullion. Nowadays, that means one-ounce coins.

Commemorative silver dollars do not contain a troy ounce of silver. Each contains .7734 ounce and the designs change multiple times a year.

Text in the ad proclaims that it contains an ounce.

Misrepresentation or carelessness? I vote for the latter.

Considering the hot demand for silver these days, the firm probably ran out of one-ounce coins to sell and the copywriter probably doesn’t know the difference.

The Army coin might have been chosen because Osama bin Laden was just killed. Certainly this design won’t impede sales.

It is likely that the coin is being offered for only two reasons: it is silver and it is a coin. Those are the only qualifications that seem to matter in the present silver buying frenzy.

The most important question is why the U.S. Mint isn’t advertising them in the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers as well. Now would be the time.

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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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