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Would a Silver Dime Work?
February 17, 2012

Legislation in Congress that calls for a March of Dimes commemorative silver dollar has some collectors slapping their foreheads.

To them, the obvious commemorative vehicle to commemorate the national charity that helped to wipe out polio is the coin that is in the name: the dime.

It seems logical.

But if Congress did authorize such a coin, would collectors be friendly to it?

I would like to believe that they would, but my gut tells me there might be problems. The negative scenario is they would react to it like collectors did to uncirculated two-roll Lincoln cent sets that the Mint offered to get the 2009 commemorative cent designs into collector hands and again in 2010 to get the new Union Shield design to them.

Instead of looking at it as paying roughly 14 cent apiece for each of the cents offered, collectors figured two rolls at $8.95 plus the $4.95 handling charge for a total of $13.90 was price gouging. Paying $12.90 for $1 face value in coins was considered too much.

That logic might easily be applied to a March of Dimes dime.

The silver value would be roughly 24 times face value, or $2.40 at present silver bullion prices, but the Mint would not be able to cover its costs if it essentially sold the coin for double silver value.

First off, there would be the surcharge that is placed on every commemorative coin to cover. How much would it be?

If the congressional sponsors set it low, there is no way it could raise much money unless multiple millions are sold.

If it were, say, $2 a coin and collectors went crazy and bought 2 million of them, it would raise $4 million. Would that potentially satisfy the sponsors?

Also, the Mint needs to make a little something.

At the current price of the Infantry Soldier uncirculated dollar, the Mint is charging $18.95 over silver value and $10 of that is the surcharge. Therefore, the Mint is working on roughly an $8.95 margin for each coin to cover packaging and all the costs of striking.

Would it need as much for a dime?

Say the Mint could shave it to $6 per coin.

We would then have a coin with $2.40 in silver in it, $2 in surcharge applied to it and $6 in Mint costs, or $10.40 per coin. At $4.95 for shipping and handling, the collector who only wanted one coin for his collection would pay $15.35 in the best possible case.

Who will go for that deal?

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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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