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First Spouse opinion comes cheap
August 30, 2007

Will the third offering in the First Spouse gold coin series sell out when they go on sale at noon Eastern Daylight Time today?

When the first two were offered in June, buyers snapped them up in approximately two hours, leaving some collectors shut out of the process.

If I consider the results of the Numismatic News online poll that closed yesterday, I would have to forecast that a sellout is imminent.

Only a minority of respondents, 38 percent, said they planned to buy the proof and uncirculated coins that carry the image of a Draped Bust half cent design used 1800-1808 during the time Thomas Jefferson was President of the United States. That minority, though, is enough to ensure a sellout.

Because Jefferson was a widower when he was in the White House, the numismatic design was chosen to represent this period. Martha Washington and Abigail Adams were on the first two issues and Dolley Madison with be on this year's fourth issue.

Rather than base a forecast solely on the poll, would-be buyers will have to consider the steps the Mint is taking to assure maximum fairness and availability. Only one unc. and one proof can be acquired per household. That is a reduction in the order limit from the five imposed in June.

Overall mintage is 40,000, which evenly split means 20,000 buyers can grab the whole issue.

That doesn't sound like a large number but it requires some $16.8 million in expenditures by buyers. That is still a large amount of money for the hobby.

Another consideration is totals. I find it interesting that three First Spouse sellouts would add up to 60,000 troy ounces of gold. That is almost double the amount of gold currently on the market for 2007 proof Buffaloes and it nearly equals the amount of gold in the 2007 bullion Buffaloes sold to investors.

These numbers seem to imply that the Mint is becoming a custom minting institution existing for the pleasure of meeting collector desires for esoteric coins that have no basis in the real economy.

That doesn't mean the third First Spouse coins won't sell out. It also may be a desirable state of affairs for the Mint, because the profits are higher for collector coin sales.

What do I really think? My gut tells me they will sell out perhaps not in one day but since I am not planning to buy any, my opinion is a cheap one.

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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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