US Mint Delays America the Beautiful Silver Coin Launch After Price Complaints

by on December 6, 2010 · 18 comments

America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins

The United States Mint planned on releasing its new America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins today. Interest in the debuting 12-year series is strong and the opening demand for them was as well — despite asking prices that were out of the park. It was the exceptionally high prices that caused the US Mint to delay their launch.

"The United States Mint is aware of reports of concern by many consumers about the high prices and premiums being charged in the market for the newly released America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins," said US Mint spokesman Michael White. "We are evaluating these reports and collecting information in order to assess the appropriate course of action to make certain that our customers are best served in the distribution of the coins, and to ensure the widest possible availability, accessibility and affordability of these coins."

As a bullion product, the US Mint does not offer America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins directly to the public but instead uses its network of Authorized Purchasers who buy in quantity and then resell to dealers, precious metals providers and others. Each AP was allocated 3,000 coins of each design, for an overall total of 15,000 coins. In addition, the five 2010 bullion coins each have a mintage cap of 33,000.

The three-inch, five-ounce .999 fine silver coins which feature the same designs as the circulating America the Beautiful Quarters® were being sold for between $280 and $340 per coin, according to price checks at many well known coin dealers from around the nation.

Each bullion coin includes five ounces of silver and carries a US Mint inherent premium of $9.75. With silver prices that hovered around $30 an ounce during most of the day, the secondary market premiums for the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins calculated to a hefty $120 to $160 per coin — a level many would call price gouging.

In response to consumer concerns, the US Mint sent the following memo to its Authorized Purchasers late Monday afternoon:

The United States Mint issued a press release on December 1, 2010, announcing the December 6, 2010, availability of the 2010 America the Beautiful Ounce Silver Bullion Coins through the established network of Authorized Purchasers who, in turn, would make them available on the secondary market. Due to the limited availability of the 2010 America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin coins, public anticipation has been extremely strong. Since the press release was issued, the United States Mint has received numerous calls and inquiries from the public regarding premiums being charged for these coins. As a result, we are delaying the launch of this program. No America the Beautiful Ounce Silver Bullion Coins orders will be confirmed today.

Some buyers were obviously spending their money. Only time will tell as to whether premiums remain so high, or go down with the influence of the US Mint.

Aside from demand, at least two things support higher than normal values — their limited mintages, and the added possibility that this year’s issues may feature design elements and specifications that could change next year, making them a unique variety. The Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act of 2010 is set to become law in days. Language within the Act gives the US Mint the authority to change the diameter of the America the Beautiful Silver Coins, remove their edge letterings and tweak their design so they have a "likeness" of the America the Beautiful Quarters instead of being "exact duplicates" of them.

The US Mint did anticipate high demand given the circumstances, and asked its AP’s to keep prices in check in a memo dated December 1, 2010:

Because the United States Mint was only able to produce and make available a limited quantity of each these silver bullion coins in the relatively short period since the authorizing legislation was approved, we anticipate that demand for these coins will be significant.

Accordingly, as Authorized Purchasers of the United States Mint, we want to remind you of your commitment, under your Authorized Purchaser Agreement, "to maintain buy/sell premiums for the United States gold and silver bullion coins with as narrow a spread between buy and sell prices as prudent business judgment permits. These premiums are to be competitive with those charged for other bullion coins, considering prevailing market conditions."

Although the United States Mint has no control over the fair market value of these coins once they reach the secondary market, we anticipate that our Authorized Purchasers will carry out the United States Mint’s objective to market these silver bullion coins in a manner which ensures that that they will be available, accessible, and affordable to all members of the public.

As can be expected with a brand new coin series that was just released and is not available directly from the US Mint, finding dealers who offer them can be a chore. Many dealers today indicated that they will only begin selling the coins toward the end of the week. Those who are offering them say demand is high. Some dealers said that their allocated inventory had already sold out, and required interested buyers to join a waiting list.

Many collectors said that the high premiums forced them out of market, and that they would instead wait for the release of the collector versions next year. In America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins release details provided last week, the US Mint said that:

A numismatic version of the three-inch, five-ounce silver coins, also minted in .999 silver, will be available for purchase directly from the United States Mint during the first quarter of 2011. The maximum mintage for these collector versions is set at 135,000 units — 27,000 units for each of the five 2010 coins. The United States Mint will strike all 2010-dated numismatic coins by the end of the year, as required by law. Additional information about the release date and pricing for the America the Beautiful Five Ounce Uncirculated Coins will be available at a future date.

While it is too early to say where prices will end up for the bullion coins, at least for much of the day expectations were that the numismatic versions would be less expensive — a rare situation for modern coinage.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Jake December 6, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Kudos, US Mint! No matter what may come out, they at least listen to us now. I was about to quit this series completely the second I saw the price from secondary market.

Frank December 6, 2010 at 5:12 pm

An easy way to address this is to distribute both bullion and collector versions together thru and set a household limit of 1 for either option. There might still be high demands, but at least consumers won’t get over-charged by the authorized dealers so easily.

Jeff December 6, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Just one problem, the US Mint is not legally able to sell bullion to the public directly without changing the law which would take at least a year to do.

Joe December 6, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Thanks for listening to us US Mint. THe pre-sale of these so called priveledge few distributors was indeed a case of Price Gouging! Since they know that they have virtual monopoly of the distribution of this 5 Oz National Parks Rounds that they can dictate exhorbitant prices and keep at least a Million dollars in profits when they sell all of their allocations. Definitely NOT a good thing for the ordinary collectors. Keep up the good work US Mint!!!

Frank December 6, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Jeff, you are right. But they may also seek help from the National Park Service to distribute the bullion coins (not sure if they can do a better job though).

But US Mint has to react quickly since the same law requires the bullion version to be only available for sale in the year their circulating quarters counterparts are issued.

Another choice is to re-work on the bullion coins to make them all collector version and then sell them next year (it seems the collector version is slated for next year anyway w/o violating the law). The law does not give the required number of bullion coins to be issued. So it can be zero.

Paragraphs from Public Law 110-456 below:
(2) Availability for sale. Bullion coins minted under paragraph (1) (A) shall become available for sale no sooner than
the first day of the calendar year in which the
circulating quarter dollar of which such bullion coin is
a duplicate is issued; and
(B) may only be available for sale during the year in which such circulating quarter dollar is issued.
(3) Distribution.
‘`(A) In general. In addition to the authorized
dealers utilized by the Secretary in distributing
bullion coins and solely for purposes of distributing
bullion coins issued under this subsection, the Director
of the National Park Service, or the designee of the
Director, may purchase numismatic items issued under
this subsection, but only in units of no fewer than
1,000 at a time, and the Director, or the Director’s
designee, may resell or repackage such numismatic items
as the Director determines to be appropriate.

Jeff December 6, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Yes NPS is the only out the Mint likely has at this point. I don’t think there is time to do anything else by the end of the year. They could withhold coins from Apmex and others until the “reasonable” price test is met, but that would not do anything to the price of the next sale. The people that already committed to buy at a higher price will just get a price break. Supply and demand in the end market will find the right price regardless of the first price point. The Mint does not and cannot control the entire supply chain. I think, if anything, the price in the end market actually goes higher now because of the exposure and “frenzy” the US Mint is causing by artificially creating even more demand by withholding supply. It’s really a mess for all involved. I feel bad for the folks at the Mint, Congress really put them behind the 8 ball since the beginning with these coins. I think by complaining and raising a stink the collectors that feel left behind because they are unable to afford these coins will only be further left behind and less able to afford the price after this is done.

maybeme December 6, 2010 at 9:18 pm

Hey, some guy has one of these sets on ebay for a buy it now price over $800,000. Gotta read the listing verbiage. It is a hoot.

Haitoofin December 7, 2010 at 4:55 am

Yes people, keep calling the US Mint!!! That’s one of the ways we can fight this price gouging. Pure greed from these authorized dealers. I agree, it would be great if the mint could sell these bulliions directly to the public.

Tom December 7, 2010 at 7:13 am

It looks like I have been priced out of the market, at least for the bullion version. Authorized dealers, your greed is showing.

Richard December 7, 2010 at 8:59 am

this program is nothing but a rip off of mountainous proportion,all the hype and buildup,and not even a kiss,it’s terribly disapointing.i for one is finished with this modern crap,the bullion program through dealers is all about money,i can’t beleive not too long ago i was crediting moy as being the friend of the collector,well mr moy i take it back,im done

Larry Kinney December 7, 2010 at 10:48 am

Way to go “Mint”. Cancel the dealers orders. It is clear they are out to charge the public as much as they can get away with! Sell direct to the public with a limit of ONE of EACH “Park” Bullion per household!

Victor December 7, 2010 at 12:53 pm

I agree with Larry Kinney! However, besides selling them directly to the public, make it by subscription, only. This way, everyone has a chance to get a complete set. I’m so tired of watching those “clown” on “The Coin Vault” telling people how they made such a great deal and that’s why they are holding prices so low. I do business with a very reputable web site, several in fact, and I bought 5 ER PF-70 2010-W Silver Eagles on a pre sale and paid only $495 for all 5 and no shipping or handling.
Coin Vault, take a lesson from real dealers.

Rob December 7, 2010 at 6:39 pm

Are they going to make proof versionS of these? The mint usually kills us on those.

DAVE December 8, 2010 at 8:43 pm

THANKS TO ALL YOU WHINERS OUT THERE!!!So what if the distributors were making a profit or would you all prefer the goverment control everything. but if you are true collectors you should realize the potential of these rare coins.sure the mint may sell the P-series for a little less but good luck getting through on the website as they will probably be gone in less than a couple hours. I tried getting through when the silver eagle proof went on sale ended up waiting till later that nite. so with a mintage of only 27,000 ea later won’t happen and you will still be out and wait to see the prices in the secondary market on these!!

Frank December 9, 2010 at 1:08 am

Dave, no offence, but why are you so obsessed to give the high profit to the authorized dealers? With the limited mintage, you have to be early and lucky to get the coins no matter how they are distributed. APMEX had 1000 sets of them sold out in 17 hours as well. Only because you happened to know some dealers other people don’t?

Samo December 9, 2010 at 8:28 am

I go by what Sarah once said: “Don’t interfere with the free market!!! that’s what the socialists would do!”

Wile E Coyote December 9, 2010 at 1:12 pm

I am a super genius but I don’t understand how the APs were only suppose to make a profit. What is a “fair” mark up? Why doesn’t anyone call the Mint and complain about people marking their coins “First Strike” or “Early Release” and charging nearly triple for a made up value? Why do brand new coins encased in plastic need to be graded? I’m gonna chase Road Runner now.

Eusebio December 9, 2010 at 4:21 pm

I wonder if these coins will follow the same path as the first spouse gold coin series.

Leave a Comment