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U.S. Mint? Never Heard of it
November 06, 2009

A number of collectors have expressed their disappointment about the Mint not striking the proof and uncirculated collector versions of the American Eagle gold and silver coins this year.

That is not a surprise. When you count on something, it is always frustrating when it disappears, even if it is only for one year.

But I am still contacted by people who do not know the difference between the standard issue American Eagle bullion coins and the collector versions of these coins, both the proof and the uncirculated “W.”

These questions usually are prompted by private ads on television offering the bullion coins for sale. The question inevitably posed to me is that if collectors can’t get their coins, who are these big boys getting theirs?

Either this means there are a lot of newcomers to the hobby and they have just joined us in this great hobby, or we have all done a very bad job in explaining the various Mint products.

A third possibility is that even after the paring that took place last year there are still simply too many products.

Now mere numbers of products do not necessarily mean there are too many. The American economy has many products of many descriptions, and people have no problem distinguishing them one from another and buying what they prefer.

This process is helped along in private industry by advertising.

A conclusion that might be drawn is that the Mint is spending too little on advertising or is not spending the funds it does expend in the right places.

Which might it be?

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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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