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On May 4 the U.S. Mint started accepting orders for a special three-coin March of Dimes proof set that includes the March of Dimes commemorative silver dollar as well as two silver dimes that are exclusive to the set. One is the first reverse proof dime ever minted, and the second is the first proof dime struck at the West Point Mint since 1996. The 1996-W dime continues to command a premium, especially in top-graded examples.
By the third day of sales the Mint reported that 85% of the sets (or 63,882 sets) had been sold, and almost 70% (or 52,540 sets) were sold on the first day. By May 8th sales reached 66,109. In fact, during the first hour they were available on the Mint’s web site, the sets went into backorder status after about 40 minutes. That means the Mint ran out of sets available to ship and needs to produce additional inventory, which it states it does not expect to have until August 15.
Although the Mint announced on its Facebook page that it would not be selling the sets at any of its retail locations, it did end up selling them at the sales counter at its Washington, DC headquarters with the same household limit of five sets per customer that is applied to web orders.
It appears the Mint underestimated demand for the sets based on how quickly they went into backorder status. That is surprising since there was a lot of chatter among collectors about these sets since they were announced earlier in the year.
Both NGC and PCGS are requiring that sets be shipped in sealed boxes to be eligible for special set labels since there is no way to distinguish the dollar coins from those sold separately.
Sets ordered during the first few minutes of sales are now shipping and showing up for sale on eBay. The Mint was not able to provide me with any data on how many sets were ready to ship when the product was launched.
My order from about 12:15pm on May 4 has already been received, but a second order placed about ten minutes later was backordered. It is also not clear if all backorders are delayed until August, or if some will ship sooner if the orders were placed during the first 40 minutes of sales.
Until now, sales of both the proof and uncirculated March of Dimes silver dollars have been sluggish, reaching only about 13% of their authorized maximum mintage of a half million coins. No one expects them to sell out, especially since many collectors have said they do not like the reverse side design that depicts a sleeping baby being cradled in an adult hand.
The sets, which have a maximum mintage of 75,000, that will likely be reached very soon, will push the overall sales of the dollar coin higher than they otherwise would have been. In fact, Mint watchers believe the sets were partly created to increase sales of the dollar coin.
ModernCoinMart (MCM) will carry both sets in their original government packaging and NGC-graded sets and may carry PCGS-graded sets, but that is not yet known.
The set is the best-selling and most anticipated U.S. Mint product since last year’s special JFK half dollar 50th anniversary coins. Although there were no reports of major problems placing orders, many buyers did encounter minor web site delays and glitches with the payment information.
Those delays appear to mean the difference between receiving you order right away as opposed to months later. And the shipping delays, especially if they turn out to be as long as the Mint had indicated, will mean that sealed sets received in time for the cut-off dates for NGC Early Release and PCGS First Strike labels will carry a premium.
During the first day of sales, eBay prices were averaging about $120 a set, or about double the issue price of $61.95, and by the second day they were averaging $100 per set. I expect prices to be very volatile in the first couple weeks as the market for these coins begins to form.
The main appeal of the sets is the two dimes that are exclusive to the sets.
On the one hand, most collectors of modern U.S. coins tend to prefer the larger silver coins such as American Silver Eagles. However, Roosevelt dimes have been issued since 1946 and have a relatively small but dedicated core of collectors who will need both dimes to make their collections complete.
Moreover, reverse proof coins are also appealing to many collectors, and those who want a complete set of every coin issued with a reverse proof finish will also need both dimes.
Last year the Mint hinted at a possible first-ever reverse proof set for 2015. But it appears that for now it will not be doing that and instead plans to offer the first reverse proof presidential dollars in the upcoming 2015 Presidential Coin and Chronicles sets, which begin with the Harry Truman set that will released in June.
It is also worth considering that while 75,000 coins would not be an especially low mintage for another series, in the context of Roosevelt dimes it is very low and means the new dimes both immediately acquire the status of key coins for this series.
Only the 1950 and 1951 proof dimes minted in Philadelphia have lower mintages, and most proof Roosevelt dimes have a mintage of a million or more, including 1,457,000 for the 1996-W.
All of these considerations should support a solid long-term market for the 2015 March of Dimes special proof set both graded and ungraded. I also expect there to be a strong market for top-graded examples of the special dimes.
||Louis is an award-winning numismatic journalist and writer specializing on modern coins. He has been writing a weekly column for CoinWeek since May 2011 called “The Coin Analyst,” which focuses primarily on modern U.S. and world coins and developments at major world mints. In August 2015 he received the Numismatic Literary Guild’s award for Best Website Column for “The Coin Analyst.” He is also a contributor to several magazines, including Coin World, where he writes a bimonthly feature;The Numismatist, the American Numismatic Association’s monthly publication, where he writes a monthly column on modern world coins; and American Hard Assets. He began writing about coins in 2009. He is a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum hosted by ModernCoinMart and has written articles for MCM since 2014. He has collected classic and modern U.S. and world coins since he was about 10 and first joined the ANA in the 1970’s. He was previously a congressional relations specialist and policy analyst at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress and a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international politics and national security for a wide variety of publications. He has been writing professionally since the early 1980s.|