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Silver Medal vs. Coin Contest Tomorrow
June 29, 2011

Seldom do we have the opportunity to watch collector preferences for coins versus medals expressed in such a clear competition as that which begins tomorrow when the 2011 proof silver American Eagle coin goes on sale at the U.S. Mint website.

This follows by just 10 days the beginning of sales for the 9/11 Memorial medal.

It has been my experience that when given the choice, collectors always choose coins over medals by a large margin.

How large?

Rather than guess, let’s just watch sales unfold.

The proof silver Eagle and the medal share the same silver planchet and their price is a virtually identical $59.95 for the coin and $56.95 for the medal. If anything, a higher price should discourage some people from buying the coin and steer them to the medal.

I don’t think three bucks will matter in this instance.

Sales of the medal during the first week since sales began June 20 are already showing signs of slowing down dramatically. During the first two days of sales, buyers snapped up 35,036 medals. During the next five days they bought just 15,962 medals.

The full week’s total then is 50,998 medals.

I expect the first week of Eagle sales to be several multiples of medal sales. The exact number when we come to know it will tell us the current state of collector preferences.

Since the Mint did not start medal sales on the same date as Eagle sales, it did not make collectors directly choose between the two. That, I would think, actually gives a bit of a boost to medal demand as collectors don’t have the opportunity to choose an alternative during those first 10 days of medal sales.

Does any of this matter?

It does.

It tends to explain why American Eagle silver bullion coins are higher priced than other forms of silver bullion.

Collector preferences have an impact on values. This sales comparison will be a demonstration of it.

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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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