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The Age of Manufactured Rarity

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Mokiechan

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As you're all aware, the US Mint is giving us all an incentive to purchase their proof sets, and uncirculated set in the form of 3 different Lincoln Cents with a West Point Mint Mark.  One of the W Lincolns, standard proof, is already in the wild and will soon be slabbed by the tens of thousands, the other two, a reverse proof, and an uncirculated version.  This is a very smart marketing decision by the Mint, they have guaranteed themselves higher sales for each of the three sets and they have also created some needed excitement in the collecting world.

My problem, and I speak only for myself, is the idea that the mint is creating a scarce (rare) coin in an unnatural way.  When you look at the history of the Lincoln Cent, certain rarities stand out, the 09-S VDB, the 22 w/o visible mintmark, the 55 Double Die and a few others.  In each case, some unplanned set of circumstances led to the creation of the rarity, it did not occur due to some prior decision by the Mint.  Now obviously the W Cents are going to have a mintage of several million for each coin, but most collectors of the W Cent will want all three and, at least in the early stages, these Cents are going to be pricey.  How high they go and how far they eventually drop is something I cannot speculate about.  I do want to get one of them or my Lincoln Type Set, representing another mintmark, but I am going to be patient and wait for that, hopefully, large drop. 

So Mint, please do not start making this a habit, I don't want to see a series of W nickels next year, etc.

 

 

 

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Well.....if these W cents result in a significant rise in the sales of the various sets offered by the US Mint, I think that the US Mint will continue to issue these manufactured scarcities in future years.  Look at the behavior of the US Mint over the course of time.  The State Quarters Program was a success.  Rather than letting that successful program stand on its own, the US Mint had to beat the idea to death and then there were President Dollars, ATB Quarters and now American Innovation Dollars.  They made admittedly neat sets in 2006 for the 20th Anniversary of the Gold and Silver Eagle programs, but then they beat that idea to death by expanding the ASE program offerings to ridiculous levels with further special sets in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and we're now at a point where ASEs without mint marks are certified as being made at different mints based on the strapping bands that the big green boxes are held together with, an uncirculated coin with a mint mark and two proof coins with two different mint marks a year.  They made one curved coin program in 2014, and now this year, we get another curved coin program including a ridiculous 5 ounce curved silver "dollar".  The point I'm arriving at is that once the US Mint identifies a cash cow, you can be sure that they will milk the thing to death.  If these W cents create a huge rise in the sales of annual US Mint sets, which they will, I think that those W nickels or something like them are sure to be on the way. 

 

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It is a cynical bald-faced money grab of the worst sort.  This does not rejuvenate numismatics but rather degrades it.

But then again, what would you expect?

 

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1 hour ago, Beijim said:

It is a cynical bald-faced money grab of the worst sort.  This does not rejuvenate numismatics but rather degrades it.

But then again, what would you expect?

 

Indeed it is.  This is quickly what the US Mint is becoming well known for.  Not that all modern mints aren't guilty of it to varying degrees.  I just think some of this stuff from the US Mint is so easily seen through for what it is.......a blatant, unapologetic cash grab.  And to make it more insulting, they try to make this thing sound like a gift to collectors!  They don't want to give anyone a gift, they want to sell more proof and mint sets, which have both been having lagging sales numbers since the end of the State Quarters in 2008.  While other modern mints can easily be accused of making too huge of a number of products, at least they appear to be trying to make appealing products that reach varying customer bases with varying numismatic interests and, on some products, they do work to keep mintages decently limited.  To me, the US Mint appears to be saying "Screw you.  You'll buy it.  If we make it, you'll buy it.  Even if it's complete garbage.  We'll make a huge number of them and they won't have a shot of holding their value, let alone rising in value, but you need it for your sets. So you'll buy it."  And they don't care.  At all.  They're making money.  Now that I think of it, I said something similar about the attitude of another institution beloved by numismatists..........Etsy.  Wow.  That's a sobering thought.

Edited by Mohawk

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I completely agree with you. I read an article that they were thinking of putting some varieties in different runs. Cents nickels it fell short. So now I read about these W cents. So they did find a way but not in the scale they wanted. It would of caused our hobby to become a treasure hunt. This was a bad idea. I'm glad it failed. Now I have been collecting for twenty five years. A wonderful collection of coins and coin books. This cent I received with my proof set for my books was destroyed. It came out of the envelope not sealed and the packaging destroyed it. This cent and the next two will not be sent in. I called the mint Who is calling Texas. This is to see if they can seal the envelope protecting the cent. Now it has no value to me. By the time these get to wear there going I will be in the big vault in the sky. So mine will remain in there unsealed envelope inside the thinnest plastic they could find. I wish the your people good luck. Well all of you. But the younger you are the better value you will get. Thanks for your great point.  Mike

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I think the mint does this because collectors generally want it. This kind of thing goes back to at least the 70's when the silver 1970 Kennedy Half was only available in mint sets. I think collectors really want coins that at least aren't run of the mill and a little scarce. They want coins with lower mintages over the coins that are produced in the hundreds of millions. That said, the argument of too much of a good thing can be made concerning the frequency of manufactured rarities.

Edited by gherrmann44

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6 hours ago, gherrmann44 said:

I think the mint does this because collectors generally want it. This kind of thing goes back to at least the 70's when the silver 1970 Kennedy Half was only available in mint sets. I think collectors really want coins that at least aren't run of the mill and a little scarce. They want coins with lower mintages over the coins that are produced in the hundreds of millions. That said, the argument of too much of a good thing can be made concerning the frequency of manufactured rarities.

That is undoubtedly part of it.  But I think you are also right on with too much of a good thing happening here.  The 1970-D Kennedy was a pretty cool thing.  So were the 1981 Anthony Dollars.  But most things since the advent of the State Quarters have been overkill and they've gotten progressively more ridiculous. 

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On 3/14/2019 at 11:35 PM, Beijim said:

It is a cynical bald-faced money grab of the worst sort.  This does not rejuvenate numismatics but rather degrades it.

But then again, what would you expect?

 

I am not quite that cynical, I think it is a sincere effort on the part of the Mint to stimulate sales of their basic sets.  It will probably work, but like Mohawk stated earlier, it will probably result in future overreach of the same method.

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7 hours ago, gherrmann44 said:

I think the mint does this because collectors generally want it. This kind of thing goes back to at least the 70's when the silver 1970 Kennedy Half was only available in mint sets. I think collectors really want coins that at least aren't run of the mill and a little scarce. They want coins with lower mintages over the coins that are produced in the hundreds of millions. That said, the argument of too much of a good thing can be made concerning the frequency of manufactured rarities.

I think you are on to something, the average collector is probably yearning for the kind of coin that gives them excitement without having to reach deep into their wallet, at least initially.  The W Cent(s) is fairly easily obtained, has a certain cachet about it, and are attached to sets that several million people would have bought anyway.  Now the Mint will sell a few more million sets, will get a lot of press for a few months, and will make a lot of collectors happy.  Some collectors will look at this with a great deal of cynicism, some will embrace it.   Since it will not compel me to buy any of the 3 associated sets, I guess I am in the somewhere in-between.

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On 3/16/2019 at 2:20 PM, Mohawk said:

That is undoubtedly part of it.  But I think you are also right on with too much of a good thing happening here.  The 1970-D Kennedy was a pretty cool thing.  So were the 1981 Anthony Dollars.  But most things since the advent of the State Quarters have been overkill and they've gotten progressively more ridiculous. 

It's been years since I heard / read this, but a while back I read something saying that the mint had issued so many coins / designs in such a short period of time between the statehood quarters the ATB quarters, the Lincoln 2009 specials, the new reverse, the Jefferson nickel redesign, the presidential dollars... that some people were finding it hard to tell the difference between real and fake coinage - there were so many designs floating around in such a short period of time people just didn't know what was what anymore. Kind of crazy to think about really and it goes to show you just how much I think they've overdone it in the 21st century.

In my last year of undergrad someone asked me if they could have a dollar to buy a scantron because they'd forgotten theirs at home, didn't have time to go back and needed to get to a test. Maybe I'm a sucker but I gave them the dollar - but it was a dollar coin. She took it at first, then stopped and asked me if it was a quarter or a dollar. I had to explain that it was a dollar.

The mint has really just muddied the water in a bad way.

Edited by Revenant

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On 3/14/2019 at 8:40 PM, Mohawk said:

They made admittedly neat sets in 2006 for the 20th Anniversary of the Gold and Silver Eagle

Definitely winners there...got a hold of many & proved wise....on other things I'm glad I passed....

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On 3/15/2019 at 12:31 AM, Mohawk said:

just think some of this stuff from the US Mint is so easily seen through for what it is.......a blatant, unapologetic cash grab.  And to make i

I noticed over many years the most expensive items they sell can also appreciate the most...the unadvertised major drama experiences like regular large precious metals and or gold sets, platinum sets....of course, these are always costing more but when you look at resale, it's like a proof set in hundreds of thousands or millions, vs. Gold, even silver, sells faster and less issues...JMHO...I get discouraged at the U.S. Mint also...they are for profit...Jordan's book explains a fact...initial rise, hyperbolic, leveling then drop and steady....about 4 years later you can buy for below what the mint issued price was....all in the loser bin?

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8 hours ago, Numismatic, A.A.S. said:

Definitely winners there...got a hold of many & proved wise....on other things I'm glad I passed....

Yeah, the 2006 sets were pretty neat and they continue to be.  They were sets that actually commemorated a significant milestone in their respective series.  It's all of the crazy sets that came after them that really turn me off.  In my opinion, it would have been better to have let the 2006 sets remain unique than to keep pumping out sets that were just the US Mint milking a cash cow to death.  We really didn't need the 2011, 2012 or the 2013 sets at all.

Edited by Mohawk

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On 3/16/2019 at 6:22 PM, Revenant said:

It's been years since I heard / read this, but a while back I read something saying that the mint had issued so many coins / designs in such a short period of time between the statehood quarters the ATB quarters, the Lincoln 2009 specials, the new reverse, the Jefferson nickel redesign, the presidential dollars... that some people were finding it hard to tell the difference between real and fake coinage - there were so many designs floating around in such a short people of time people just didn't know what was what anymore. Kind of crazy to think about really and it goes to show you just how much I think they've overdone it in the 21st century.

In my last year of undergrad someone asked me if they could have a dollar to buy a scantron because they'd forgotten theirs at home, didn't have time to go back and needed to get to a test. Maybe I'm a sucker but I gave them the dollar - but it was a dollar coin. She took it at first, then stopped and asked me if it was a quarter or a dollar. I had to explain that it was a dollar.

The mint has really just muddied the water in a bad way.

Indeed they have.  It's gotten pretty crazy!  I'm all about freshening up US coinage, but they've done it in the wrong way, in my opinion.  They need to get rid of the bland, decades old Presidential depictions and try something all new for all of the coinage denominations.  That would be pretty cool and would likely bring more collectors into the US coin market.  And what they really don't need to do is make a new depiction of the same guy who has been on the coin for over 80 years (new Jefferson Nickel, I'm looking at you).  The Westward Journey and 2009 Lincoln Cents should have been send offs, the last of their designs with something brand new for the cent and nickel coming the next year.  That would have been exciting.  What the US Mint is doing now is not, in my opinion. 

Edited by Mohawk

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The mint "manufactured a rarity" with the W Roosevelt dime in 1996 but did not repeat it after that.  They do have a habit of overdoing everything (how many coins would it take to make a complete set of modern commemoratives?), and the Silver Eagle issues have gotten ridiculous. Here's hoping this W Lincoln is a one-time experiment as well.

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Those 2016 gold versions of the 1916 coins are the only good thing I've seen come out of the US Mint since they started the bullion program in 1986.  Still not quite interested enough to actually buy though

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On 3/17/2019 at 8:54 PM, Mohawk said:

We really didn't need the 2011, 2012 or the 2013 sets at all.

This was the subject of debate (one subject of several) at the PCGS Luncheon last year and I heard a dealer support the fact that the first strike and multiple eagles were the big ones for the future. I have to laugh now, look at those years I quoted you on...we didn't need them and the marketing/thinking behind them...maybe a large scale dealer flipper needs it...example, one coin in the set first strike sold before even released at 399.99...today's value, can be bought for....24.99...certain market makers are responsible for the demise in youth, new collectors woes, concerns and fears....can't blame them.......peace

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1 minute ago, Numismatic, A.A.S. said:

This was the subject of debate (one subject of several) at the PCGS Luncheon last year and I heard a dealer support the fact that the first strike and multiple eagles were the big ones for the future. I have to laugh now, look at those years I quoted you on...we didn't need them and the marketing/thinking behind them...maybe a large scale dealer flipper needs it...example, one coin in the set first strike sold before even released at 399.99...today's value, can be bought for....24.99...certain market makers are responsible for the demise in youth, new collectors woes, concerns and fears....can't blame them.......peace

I'd agree with you.....those Eagle sets were good for certain dealers and the grading services, but that was about it.  They were the definition of taking a good idea and then killing it by overdoing it.  Anyhow, I don't let it get me down......I just enjoy collecting my Canadian coins from 1959 to 1989......those are already made and it doesn't matter what insanity any modern mint gets up to.  The set parameters don't change :).  The RCM can be as insane as it wants to be.  So can the US Mint, I guess.

 

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5 hours ago, Mohawk said:

enjoy collecting my Canadian coins from 1959 to 1989......those are already

Very cool! I always wanted to own a goose that was doubled you know the famous one with the even rarer PL examples, very few, out there. They are on the silver dollar I think. It's in flight...facing left? The story about it is awesome too!! Beaver nickels my Dad used to give me. I always think of him when I see one. I was so young and was just mesmerized to have another one to add to my collection. I kept the only 2 varieties out of all of them and parted ways with the rest....a grown man in 2015 holding on to the sack seeing visions of Dad and a tears forming in my eyes as I just couldn't let go but had to move forward like a solider in battle. The young kid and his dad in Texas were happy to buy them, cheap and it was huge step for me spiritually to move on. 

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