Collectors were more than eager to slap down $1,189.00 for the 2009 Ultra High Relief $20 Double Eagle Gold Coin during its first days of availability, with sizzling sales figures reported.
The United States Mint placed the modern day recreation of the famed Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ designed 1907 $20 Double Eagle gold piece on its online store January 22, 2009.
All indicators pointed to a first day Double Eagle meltdown. Initial online orders took an hour or more to place, and collector reports about Mint phone line back-ups were plentiful.
The one-ounce highly detailed coin is struck in 24-karat, .9999 fine gold and is limited to a single year of issue. Its smaller diameter of 27mm is more than 50 percent thicker than modern US Mint gold coins. Those features and more, made the coin a hit.
Numbers are now surfacing with Mint sales of 28,173 within the first day and 40,727 sold during the first four days. In terms of revenue, the Mint generated an impressive $33.5 million on day one, or $48.4 million through the first four days. Those are exceptional figures. But they came with some negative side affects as well.
Collectors placing orders quickly discovered the coins would not ship immediately. The Mint sent out backorder notices with shipping dates in early February, and for some, follow-up notices pushing the delivery date back several more days.
Some collectors and bloggers who did buy or were thinking about buying the gold piece also voiced concern that the Mint’s pricing policy could result in higher credit card charges should the coin’s price go up before the coins shipped.
While the price of the new coins did rise to $1,239.00 on Thursday to better match climbing gold prices, the Mint said it will charge only what the coin was priced at during order time. An obvious policy taken for granted by many, but not so for those who have lost confidence in the Mint these past several months for one reason or another.
David Harper, editor of Numismatic News, wrote a thoughtful piece on Friday entitled What can the Mint Do? For those questioning the Mint’s newest pricing methodology and have felt the pain of apparent Mint mistakes, it is well worth the read.
Likewise, Susan Headley from About.com: Coins voice her thoughts about double eagle sales and the Mint’s "beating."
Both of these exceptionally experienced numismatists hit the nail on the head for many who feel the US Mint deserves more credit than it gets, or at least less thrashing.
When it comes to the newest $20 Double Eagle coin, the early sales numbers in a struggling economy speaks volumes about the Mint’s achievement.
Some $20 Double Eagle resources of interest:
And the US Mint product order page for the coin, and to place orders:
Also, for more information directly from the US Mint, follow its 2009 Ultra High Relief Coin page.