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Mint Can't Sell What it Doesn't Have
April 22, 2009

I get a lot of e-mails from frustrated collectors. When it is about a sold out item, I can sympathize with the U.S. Mint, because somebody is always disappointed in a sellout.

Most collectors think it wonderful that something sells out as long as they get one. I know. I have been there, done that myself.

However, in any sellout, there are more potential buyers who could not have their orders accommodated. This is what breeds disappointment.

When everyone can get something for weeks on end, there might be less disappointment but suddenly fewer collectors seem to really want it. Just look at the pattern of sales for the First Spouse gold coins. The first three sold out 40,000 mintages within hours. Sales totals since have declined by as much as 75 percent, but you can still buy them.

E-mails have begun to reach me with complaints of canceled Lincoln commemorative silver dollars orders. It is a popular coin that sold out within six weeks.

Someone had to lose.

The salt in the wound seems to be the electronic messages that show that orders are accepted and then canceled later. Is there anything that can be done about that? That might help.

But then again, disappointment is bitter no matter how it is coated. Hence my sympathy for the Mint. Even with a success, it just can't win.

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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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