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How Many Coins in the Cupboard?
March 19, 2008

Final mintages of Dolley Madison First spouse gold coins are not available, but pending the usual accounting finalization procedures that can take months, the sales totals stand at 10,400 uncirculateds and 16,268 proofs.

The uncirculated coin went off sale within four days of the uncirculated Elizabeth Monroe pieces going on sale for $90 more and the proofs hung on for nearly two weeks more with the same cost differential.

During the parallel sales period fewer than 400 more uncirculated Madison coins were sold and about 1,000 proofs were purchased.

What does this tell us? Well, perhaps it is just a matter of repricing. Or it could give us an idea that the Mint is not striking coins significantly ahead of demand. Theoretically, before 2007 ended the Mint could have struck right up to the 40,000 total limit and kept them on sale until they were sold or until they got tired of holding them in inventory. It is clear the Mint does not want large inventories. That is certainly a good business practice. In the event perhaps final mintages will total right around 26,668.

This would explain why more and more Mint coin offers start with a sales period and a message that the coins are available for delivery days or weeks later.

The 2008-W uncirculated silver Eagle went on sale March 17 with a message that they will not be available until April 9.

Waiting a few extra days is a good thing for collectors, too, because it means there is less chance that the secondary market will be perpetually distorted by unwanted Mint inventories.

In contrast to current sales of 2001 Kennedy half dollars, there won't be 2007 Madison First Spouse coins being offered by the Mint in 2014.

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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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