If Only I Could Use eBay to Short Sell Coins…

Caught this article yesterday on the new 2009 Lincoln pennies:

2009 Lincoln Penny Mania

A quick review of recently completed eBay auctions shows unmarked rolls selling for $30 to $50 each. Single pennies have sold for $2 to $4 each. Rolls with a Lincoln postage stamp and cancellation from the first day of issue at Hogdenville, Kentucky have sold for over $200. Most astoundingly, a single 2009-P Lincoln Cent graded NGC MS66RD and attributed “First Day of Issue” has sold for $400.

View the current eBay auctions.

It’s truly bizzare.  $0.50 rolls of the new Lincoln pennies are going for $30-$50 on eBay.  That’s insane.  We’re talking about a coin that will be minted in the hundreds of millions, if not billions, this year.

What I would love to do is to “short” these rolls – effectively presell them at this price, collect money now, and then send the rolls in a few months when you’ll be able to source them at less than $1/roll.

Unfortunately, that violates eBay policy. It’s for good reason, since short selling actual inventory is hard to distinguish from a scam transaction.  After all, how do you know the seller will make good on the future delivery?  What is the recourse for the buyer?

The lack of short selling, however, means that temporary supply/demand imbalances like this lead to effective price gouging for buyers who assume the eBay price is “fair”.  It’s certainly fair for the moment, but the expected ROI on this purchase for the collector is likely to be disasterous.

Still, I wouldn’t mind the ability to short sell a few hundred rolls.  If you have access to a bank that actually has these rolls, you’d be a fool not to put them up on eBay quickly, before the prices settle down.  Do I have any readers in Kentucky?  If so, can you pick me up a box?

2009 Lincoln Cent Designs Unveiled

This past week, the US Mint published updated material on the new, 2009 Lincoln Cent program, which will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the coin, and the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

From the US Mint website:

In 2009, the United States Mint will mint and issue four different one-cent coins in recognition of the bicentennial of President Abraham Lincoln’s birth and the 100th anniversary of the first issuance of the Lincoln cent. The reverse (tails) designs were unveiled September 22 at a ceremony held at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. While the obverse (heads) will continue to bear the familiar likeness of President Lincoln currently on the one-cent coin, the reverse will reflect four different designs, each one representing a different aspect, or theme, of the life of President Lincoln.

The themes for the reverse designs represent the four major aspects of President Lincoln’s life, as outlined in Title III of Public Law 109-145, the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005:

The new one-cent reverse designs will be issued at approximately three-month intervals throughout 2009. The Secretary of the Treasury approved the designs for the coins after consultation with the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and the Commission of Fine Arts, and after review by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.

For collectors, there will be a variety of coins.  You’ll likely see each of the four cents from both the Philidelphia and Denver mints (“P” and “D” mint marks).  It also looks like there will be true copper versions, with the same metal content as the original 1909 penny, from the San Francisco mint (“S” mint mark).  That’s 12 coins, at least.

For those who are interested, here are the four designs:

I don’t expect a lot of collector activity, largely because of the low nominal value of the coin.  Since there are always active movements to get rid of the penny, this might turn out to be the last hurrah for the one cent piece.

I wonder what the US Mint will charge for a roll of these pennies?