2007 First Spouse Coins a Sellout. Prices Jump on eBay. News at 11.

Who would have thought?  Gold coins with Martha Washington & Abigail Adams that cost $400+ each sell out within 2 hours at the US Mint.  40,000 coins per first lady, and apparently that wasn’t enough.


Here is a search for individual first spouse gold coins on eBay. It filters out the people who are selling all four coins at once (or tries to). Some of those sets have been selling for $4000! Right now the price seems to be climbing, but is between $650 – $800 per coin. Amazing.

I have to remind myself that the coins don’t ship for another two weeks (July 5th according to the US Mint).

I caught this article from Dave Harper today on Numesmatic News. While I think it is interesting that it has become well known that eBay is influencing the popularity and monetization of coins in the US, I disagree with his conclusion completely.

Dave argues basically the following:

  • The US Mint is producing “instantly popular” coins by limiting mintage.
  • The fact that households can buy 5 coins each means that a relatively small number of buyers can “clean out” the inventory of the mint, creating the illusion of popularity.
  • These buyers are really just waiting to flip the coins on eBay for a profit.

So far, so good. In fact, this is one of the things I have noticed as well. More issues from the US Mint are selling out quickly, and that’s because I believe that people have discovered the online site and they are able to often sell the coins on eBay for a profit to people who either don’t know about the site, or who miss the launch window for the coin.

But then Dave kind of goes off the deep end a bit with the conclusion:

Now I know sellouts are in the financial interests of the U.S. Mint. The possibility of profit is the only reason the Mint sells coins to collectors at all. However because this sales approach is so exclusionary, perhaps the Mint should sell all of the coins itself in online auctions. The windfall profits would then belong entirely to the government, and theoretically at least, a piece of the profit would accrue to all Americans as a few dollars less in taxes that would have to be paid.

Sporting events don’t sell all of the tickets directly to scalpers. They at least try to achieve some semblance of fairness. The Mint should reflect on what it is doing in this light.

Huh? What?

I had to read it again to make sure I understood what he was saying. The analogy with tickets made no sense to me juxtaposed with the idea for the US Mint to auction off coins.

Most concerts and sporting event venues try to ensure that “true fans” will have access to tickets. While I find that argument fairly specious, their solution to the problem is to sell the tickets at a fixed price, and start the sale at a public time, limiting the number of tickets any individual can buy.

That is exactly what the US Mint is doing!

They have a fixed price ($429.95) and they publicly announced the fixed time (June 19, 2007) when the coins would go on sale. They then limited each buyer to 5 coins each.

How is that not fair compared to ticket sales?

I myself posted the date and time on this blog weeks in advance – the US Mint has been advertising it for quite a while. The people who cared went to the site and bought the coins. I didn’t exactly camp out either – I flipped to the site when I had a spare moment, 52 minutes after the coins went on sale, and I bought a couple myself.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love auctions. I think that they are a great way to ensure that the people willing to pay the most get the goods, and that sellers get the most for their goods. It is literally supply meeting demand.

But it’s hard to argue that if the US Mint auctioned these coins off that it would be better for the individual investor.

It was not a given that the First Spouse coins would sell out. Believe me, I’ve purchased supposedly hot coins at the US Mint, only to see their value drop over time due to lack of interest and demand years later. The supposedly collectible nickels from 2004-2006, for example, aren’t exactly trading for a premium.

In fact, I believe I argued on this blog that the First Spouse coins would not be popular – who is going to pay over $400 a coin for a series of over 40 first spouses ($16,000 total), when most of the women featured are literally unknown to 99.9% of Americans?

Now what Dave should have argued for is a lottery. The US Mint could have reserved some coins to be distributed, not based on first-come, first-serve, but based on a lottery across interested parties. You’d put a small deposit down, to ensure only real buyers, and a valid form of a payment. Then the US Mint could collect names for weeks, and pick winners who would then get the coins.

Oh well. Count this buyer happy.

12 thoughts on “2007 First Spouse Coins a Sellout. Prices Jump on eBay. News at 11.

  1. Pingback: Psychohistory The 2007 24K Gold First Spouse Coins Are Now Available «

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  4. I didn’t realize they allowed people to purchase before 12pm EST. Where did you hear that?

    I checked the site at 12:52pm EST, and that’s when I placed my order, so it’s not like they were sold out immediately. But I agree, they should set a time and stick with it.

    Alternatively, they could take orders in advance, and only allow people to buy multiple quantities if there are extra coins.

    – Adam

  5. Pingback: Psychohistory US 24K Gold First Spouse Coins: Dates for Jefferson & Madison «

  6. The mint not only did an early sell and then cancelled the early sales, but they also oversold the hell out of the Washington and Adams gold. In the middle of July, the MInt sent out an email, stating that they were oversold and that your order may be cancelled. On August 3rd (friday afternoon one hour before closing for the weekend), the mint sent out cancellations to all of the oversold customers. Absolutely rediculous!! In 2007, how can you oversell? 40,000 was the mark in total. When I called the Mint (horrible broken english customer service), they stated that my order was merely a waiting list, even though I had an order confirmation #. eBay whores win again

  7. I think the question is now that everyone knows the mintage is so limited, will the Thomas Jefferson coin be as limited?? If you think the last record sell out was stunning, this next one will eclipse it by far. But what f the mint decides to produce 100,000 coins? Then the chance that the investment some people believe they are making is lost. Does anyone know?

  8. I don’t believe they can mint more than 40,000. I believe the mintage limits are set in the law that approves the creation of the coin. I could be wrong here, but I thought their hands were tied in terms of mintage limits, which is why the PR nightmare may be bad if they indeed took orders for more than 40,000 coins.


  9. the whole thing is a sham. a”5 coin limit !?” that is basically allowing 8000 well placed dealersa out of a population of 300 million . i have been burned multiple times by the mint even on first hour or two of release. but the same ebay crowd and coin guys always seem to have stock. the limit shold be one per customer on low mintage coins and give it a couple of weeks or even a month to flow out.

  10. Yes, I got one. I think that the Mint got the message and to that I say Bravo. I hope they stick with that plan on this series and on other low mintage offerings to let a fairer distribution occur. -Jack

  11. Pingback: Goodbye, First Spouse Gold Coins. I’m Over You. « Psychohistory

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