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Will Quantity Buyers Pounce?
December 20, 2007

The first-year-of-issue phenomenon is a familiar one to collectors. Look at many coin series and the very first ones are often cheaper than the rest of the set.

This springs from the souvenir hunting instinct many people have. Something that is new and interesting is immediately tucked away. It also stems oftentimes from higher mintages that help assure a smooth introduction of a new coin.

The First Spouse series may be taking on the contours of the first year of issue. One month into its sales period, the Dolley Madison First Spouse gold coin is still on the market with only half the maximum supply sold. This is the fourth coin in the set. The first three sold out in the first few hours they were offered.

We are now a week into the sales period of the 10th anniversary platinum American Eagle two-coin set that offers a proof and a reverse proof of the half-ounce coin. Maximum mintage is 30,000. Roughly half have been sold so far while a one-per-household order limit was in effect.

At the end of the initial seven days, the Mint says it will remove the order limits. What will then happen? Will buyers snap up quantities? Certainly some will driven on by that first-year-of issue impulse to get something first that is brand new to the market. There seem to be many willing buyers online who don't seem fast enough to go directly to the Mint to get them.

Quantities, though, are a double-edged sword. They can depress market prices. If there is mass availability on the secondary market, that tends to dampen buyer enthusiasm.

We will see how these factors play out with the platinum set. With the facts we have, quantity buyers have a shot at acquiring roughly half the supply. That could keep secondary market prices lower. Their willingness to do so is what we don't know this morning.

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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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