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Shed a Tear for Louis Braille
July 01, 2009

No, not the person. The commemorative coin program.

Here we are at the beginning of July. The prime sales season is pretty much over for the Louis Braille commemorative silver dollar program. The calendar doesn't say that. My experience watching commemorative programs since 1982 does.

Sure, the coins will be offered for the next six months. A few more will be sold. But I would bet it will be relatively few.

It is amazing in a way. Collector behavior in 2009 is very similar to collector behavior before the Internet and before the Mint kept coins on the market for months or even years on end.

Demand is front-end loaded. Collectors who want the new coins act quickly. For a start, they want what we used to call the pre-issue discount.

Saving money is always a good reason to do something, but I think collectors just like to get on with life.

If they like something, they will buy it. They won't dance a jig and then put the decision on the shelf for six months as a rule. If the toes start tapping when they see the coin, they are going to buy it fast.

Sure, come December in the final days of the program a few collectors will scan the sales numbers and decide whether they are low enough to risk some money making a purchase for a quick turnover on the secondary market.

But with 111,311 proofs already sold, the numbers aren't going to look too appealing to speculators.

The current 42,020 uncirculated pieces sold so far is low, but not tantalizingly low. By December the number will be somewhat higher.

But what of the easy-open capsule? Will this new kind of holder inspire speculation? Some 18,016 have been sold so far.

Nah, I don't think so.

Time to shed that tear.

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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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