Demand Stymies Early 2013 West Point Silver Eagle Set Orders

by Mike Unser on May 9, 2013 · 61 comments

Collectors were challenged Thursday in early attempts to place orders for the highly anticipated 2013 American Eagle West Point Two-Coin Silver Set.

Sales Update: In the final hours of availability, orders for the set jumped 29,615 to end at 281,310. This article will be updated with a final sales total reflecting returns and cancellations. However, the U.S. Mint is not expected to report that figure until October since it states some of the sets will not ship until September.

2013 West Point Silver Eagle Set

The reverse proof (left) and enhanced uncirculated coins in the 2013 American Eagle West Point Two-Coin Silver Set

Complimenting the set’s creation but also antagonizing some buyers wanting it, massive ordering slowed and stymied visitors to the U.S. Mint’s online catalog with the website eventually throwing out a familiar message to some:

The United States Mint is experiencing technical difficulties. During this time period, you will not be able to use the website. To place an order, please call 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468). We apologize for the inconvenience.

Using the phone offered few comforts with many collectors pressing through the automated messaging menu only to hear a busy signal. By late afternoon, the U.S. Mint warned customers on an online banner for the West Point set that the:

"Catalog Web site (is) slow due to demand. Please return later to access — thank you!"

Collectors’ excitement to buy early was not out of sellout worries. The 2013 West Point Silver Eagle Set has no mintage limits or household order limits. They will be minted to meet demand. The single restriction is a four-week ordering window from today May 9, 2013 through to June 6, 2013, at 5 p.m. (ET). The U.S. Mint reiterated these points in a later statement Thursday, saying in part:

"Our online catalog has not stopped working. However, because of the large number of customers attempting to place orders for the American Eagle West Point Two-Coin Silver Set, you may experience delays. This product will be on sale through and there is no mintage limit, so try later when the site is not experiencing so much traffic. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience."

Early buyers do hope, however, to get their set(s) quicker and some will send their new coins off to a grading service to get "First Strike" or "Early Releases" designations. Like it or not, coins graded with such designations tend to sell for more.

Case for 2013 West Point American Silver Eagle Set

Case for 2013 West Point American Silver Eagle Set

And when there is money on the line, frustration builds easier. Some red-faced comments have appeared on collecting forums with collectors deriding the U.S. Mint for not upgrading a system the Mint has already admitted needs updating. But the price tag to do so is hardly trivial, and it could be argued that its wasteful to spend money to resolve an issue that crops up briefly once a year or so — especially when prospective buyers have at least a month to place orders for highly sought after products.

Number of Early Sales for 2013 West Point Silver Eagle Set

CoinNews.net placed several orders for the West Point set to gauge opening demand. The earliest went through at 12:04 p.m. ET and was tagged with an order number in the 41478XXX range.

Like others reported, we did experience down time where it was impossible to reach the Mint’s online catalog. By 4:00 p.m., sluggishness was greatly reduced for us. We had another order go through at 4:11 p.m. ET with a number in the 41500XXX range.

By early evening, everything was smooth sailing. Our final online order went through immediately at 7:01 p.m. ET with a number in the 41508XXX range.

In short, the U.S. Mint received more than 22,000 orders in about four hours even as downtime limited collectors’ access. Another 8,000+ were added in the next three hours. While some of those orders were certainly for different products, many collectors also had more than one 2013 West Point Silver Eagle Set in an order. It’s entirely possible that more than 100,000 sets will have sold by the end of today.

Update on Actual First Day Sales

The United States Mint provided the following statement, noting that the load on the system was much heavier than order summaries above would show:

From noon until the system failed 90 minutes later, close to 65,000 orders had been placed. We rebooted the system, which took less than an hour, and by 4:45 (3 hours and 45 minutes later) 110,000 orders had been placed.

We want to emphasize that we are well aware of the need to upgrade our system — and we are doing that. We just need a bit of patience on the part of our customers. It is one of our top priorities as we move forward.

The top of this article will get updated when the U.S. Mint provides new sales figures. Additionally, the U.S. Mint has added a sales odometer on the set’s product page that offers an approximate count of units ordered. That total is updated each business day at around 3 p.m. ET.

Backorder Dates and Shipping

Backorder dates did change in our orders. The first transaction had a backordered date of June 17, 2013 while the the second and third transactions both had dates of July 25, 2013. Generally speaking, these early dates don’t necessarily indicate shipping times — especially for the latter orders. The U.S. Mint tends to catch-up and often ships products earlier than first indicated.

Coins in the 2013 West Point Silver Eagle Set

Special coins within the two-coin set include a 2013-W Reverse Proof American Silver Eagle and a 2013-W Enhanced Uncirculated Silver Eagle. The U.S. Mint notes that the set celebrates the 75th anniversary of the edifice that houses the U.S. Mint facility at West Point. Each of the Silver Eagles carries the "W" mint mark for West Point.

2013-W Reverse Proof American Silver Eagle - Obverse

2013-W Reverse Proof American Silver Eagle from West Point – Obverse

Reverse proof Silver Eagles have been offered in earlier years, namely 2006, 2011 and in 2012, but they are vastly outweighed in numbers by standard annual proofs that kicked off with the American Silver Eagle series in 1986.

"Reversing the mirror-like background finish of a traditional proof coin and applying it to the design elements of the coin achieves a magnificent contrast," describes the set’s product page for the reverse proof.

Enhanced Uncirculated Silver Eagles are brand new, featuring three different finishes that are the result of a newly developed polishing and laser technique that is applied to the dies that strike the coins.

2013-W Enhanced Uncirculated American Silver Eagle - Obverse

2013-W Enhanced Uncirculated American Silver Eagle from West Point – Obverse

The United States Mint website describes the enhanced uncirculated Silver Eagle this way:

"On the obverse, the mountains, the red stripes and blue parts of the United States flag, the year, and Liberty’s sandals have an uncirculated finish. The remaining elements and lettering on the obverse have the heavy frosted finish.

On the reverse of the coin, the ribbon in the eagle’s beak, the arrows and olive branch, the alternating stripes in the shield and the border around the shield have an uncirculated finish. The lettering and other design elements on the reverse have the heavy frosted finish.

The fields on both sides of the coin have the light frosted finish."

Ordering

The 2013 Silver Eagle Set from West Point is priced at $139.95, which is $10 less than first published as a result of falling silver prices. The online product page for the two-coin set is found here. Use 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468) to place phone orders.

{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

Craig b June 29, 2013 at 8:34 pm

It gets stupider. My 2 sets ordered at 3pm on the first day, have changed dates 3 or 4 times and now sit at 7/19. I ordered a 3rd set, on the very last day at 3pm, it just changed today to 7/14. Makes no sense, so I have 0 faith in any of these dates. I can’t imagine one of the very last orders shipping before one of the very first orders. Go figure.

jim June 29, 2013 at 9:56 pm

At first I was thinking the smaller quantities were being fulfilled sooner and the larger later. That’s not true so maybe the sort is by last name. I’m assuming for Craig b the last name starts with B and his shop date is Jul 14. My last name starts with a G and my ship date is Aug 08.
Maybe others can share their last initial and anticipated delivery dates and that will shed some light on the delivery process timing. Or not…
Maybe Mike Unser can do an article on the shipping center and get them to shed some light on how order processing happens.

oleskool2 June 29, 2013 at 10:27 pm

Curious about the logic / reasoning, of shipping by Mint Fulfillment.

My ship date changed, at least, 3 times.

Since I ordered the first day & I ordered at, approx. 2:30 PM CDT, possibly my order would be a, wait for it…, a First Strike, among the 130,000+.

My present ship date is 08/08 & my Last name starts with “O”

Comments PLEASE
, PLEASE

oleskool June 29, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Placed my order First Day @ approx. 2:30

Early Strike , I suppose. Pls comment

My ship date is 08/08 & my last name begins with “O”

Comments on shipping & fulfillment, please ?

jim June 30, 2013 at 10:19 am

Stop thinking about First Strike, Early Strike or other grader made up names. They’re fake! Forget about them. For all anybody knows the mint ships LIFO and only the last orders get the first/early strikes which have no meaning to the mint (and shouldn’t to you) anyway.

Since we both have a delivery date of 8/08 and our last names are so far apart that’s obviously not the algorithm they’re using either.

Bill July 1, 2013 at 9:30 am

Just received an email from the US Mint informing me that my order for 2013 AM EAGLE SILVER 2-COIN SET (WP) is now backordered to 9/17/13. I had placed my order within the first hour of sale. What the heck is going on at the mint?? I’m considering canceling at this point. Any input or suggestions would be helpful. I just so peeved.

jim July 1, 2013 at 1:23 pm

You’ve heard the Ron Popeil infomercial that says ‘set it and forget it’? Well with the US Mint it’s ‘order it and forget it’. When it’s time it’ll show up. If you cancel you’ve got a hole in your collection, assuming you’re a collector. If you’re speculating then go ahead and cancel, it won’t mean anything to you anyway.
Personally I follow the ‘order it and forget it’ rule. Much less stress and frustration and every once in a while I get a surprise at my doorstep. I collect for the long haul and in perspective a delay of a day, a week, a month, or more doesn’t have any effect on my collection in the end.

Victor August 13, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Ordered 6 sets on May 10, 2013 and today, finally, I received them. 99 days.

dalereese September 9, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Ordered mine 6/4/13 paid by m.o. set was sent 9/6/13 cant wait

Jody May 8, 2014 at 1:32 pm

I have a question guys that you may have an answer for. I have a 1996 Silver Eagle. Nothing special right? The question I have is that in the Walking Liberty side, the whole face of it is a mirror finish, BEAUTIFUL! The Strange thing is that in the Eagle Side, the Whole side has a burnished finish.

IS THIS NORMAL? None of my other Silver Eagles (100+) aren’t like this. I have a Certificate of Authenticity too, from a very well known company.

Any help would be of great service to me. I am really confused about it.

Thank you in advance for your help in this matter.

jim May 9, 2014 at 12:24 am

Not normal.
COA not from the US Mint? W mint mark? Original packaging? What’d you pay for it? I suspect you might not have a real coin. But if you have a burning desire to know the truth send it in to one of the nationally known coin graders. They should tell you if it’s real or not.

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