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Who Will Buy Silver Dollar Tomorrow?
February 15, 2012

When the 2012 Infantry Soldier silver dollar commemorative goes on sale tomorrow at the U.S. Mint’s website, the price of both the proof and the uncirculated pieces will be below $50.

The proof has an introductory price of $49.95 and the uncirculated is $44.95.

Are those prices low enough to begin a revival in demand for American commemorative coins?

Every collector is going to make the same bullion calculation that I make and consider the fact that each coin contains $26 in silver at the present price of bullion, leaving a mark-up of $$23.95 for the proof and $18.95 for the uncirculated.

I don’t see that generating much enthusiasm.

How about the mintage?

The ceiling set for this program is just 350,000 coins, down from the 500,000 level from last year.

That seems like a significant cut until we look at the actual sales numbers of the two 2011 silver dollar coins, which did not reach 200,000 pieces.

The Army dollar’s proof and uncirculated sales numbers combined for a total of 163,346 and the Medal of Honor equivalent number is 157,619.

That means this year’s ceiling will likely have little impact on collector ordering behavior.

How about the theme?

The infantry soldier.

I don’t think anybody will knock the theme, but on the other hand, it takes something of a mental fizz in the minds of collectors to want to add something to their collections. Boy Scouts and Lincoln are examples of recent issues that did generate such a fizz.

I don’t see much prospect for that here.

What this all boils down to is demand for this commemorative dollar will come from the hardy collectors who year in and year out want to add the new commemorative issues to their growing sets of silver dollar commemoratives.

The Mint and the organizations that benefit from the $10 surcharge placed on each coin will owe these collectors a big thank-you.

Perhaps a future commemorative silver dollar should take as its theme the average collector.

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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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