San Francisco Silver Eagle Set A Success

July 16, 2012 – Collectors were excited in anticipation when the US Mint proposed the issuance of a special American silver eagle proof set to mark the 75th anniversary of the San Francisco Mint this spring. Particularly the prospect of the first “S”-mint reverse proof coin in the series was appealing to long-time collectors and coin enthusiasts.

Enthusiasm was dampened by a new plan to deal with distribution for the high-demand product, however. The sets, according to plan, would be issued only by demand with orders taken during a one-month window from June 7 to July 5. While there was no household limit on orders of the sets, the Mint planned a “sales odometer” on its web site so buyers knew how many sets were being sold on a daily basis.

Issuing the product with no mintage limits and in the period of a particularly long sales window raised concerns for buyers of a decrease in secondary market values. The approach appears to have dissuaded many buyers and investors from buying the sets who normally would have, though strict quantification is difficult to achieve at this time.

Even with relatively low silver prices, the $150 price for the product also gave investors reasons to be wary of the set. A combination of an unlimited mintage, a one-month sales window, and a higher price than collectors expected brought concerns that the set would fetch less on the secondary market than the mint was asking.

With the order window over, it appears the “mint to demand” model resulted in a lower rather than higher mintage, actually adding to the secondary market potential of this particular set. Though final mintage numbers cannot be known accurately for some time, on July 6 the semi-final mintage number is 251,302 ounces ordered. For purposes of comparison, the 20th anniversary American silver eagle sets sold 248,000 units in about two weeks in 2006. The sets, which issued at a retail price of $100 now sell for approximately $400-500 per set.

The emerging consensus regarding these particular sets is that secondary market values will actually be quite solid. It may take time for the coins to realize full potential, though this discourages the coin flippers from entering the market, which can be advantageous to collectors. However, with sales not reaching 300,000 the sets are poised to perform similarly if not better than other US Mint releases.

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