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Race on for Ultra High Relief
January 23, 2009

The Mint's Web site slowed down and its 800 number backed up yesterday when sales of the Ultra High Relief Saint-Gaudens began at noon.

Fellow staff member Bob Van Ryzin, editor of Coins Magazine and our resident expert on the work of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, was one of those caught up in his effort to buy his one-per-household limit.

That order limitation had a least one dealer offering to pay people to buy coins. The price, I believe was $110 per order.

Grading services have issued their submission rules for the new coins. The race to be the first on the block to own an MS-70 version is on, or will they call it Proof-70?. Obviously some people think it is a race worth running.

I have already had an e-mail from a successful buyer who complained about the elaborate packaging. He figured the coin could have been sold for $50 less if it were simply put in a plastic capsule.

Whether his box costs $50 or not, it sounds like the opinion of someone who is going to submit the coin to a grading service.

Possible delays in delivery of up to nine months can give the coin an aura of scarcity. However, the Mint could strike up to 300,000 of the coins when all is said and done and that would make it quite common. Will the beauty factor overrule the high possible mintage factor in collector decisions?

The 27mm coin, which is $10 size is more than 50 percent thicker than the pre-1934 $10s because it contains one troy ounce of .9999 fine gold.

Perhaps it is just the "how quick can I get it slabbed" factor.

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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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