Fewer choices in 2008
By Mark Ferguson
In recent years, coin
shops and mail-order merchants have come to
count on strong sales in December. That wasn't
always the case, but coins and related items
have become much more popular options for gift
giving as public awareness has grown.
Proof and Mint sets are a natural and
traditional choice. Whether it's the current
year's set or a group of coins from the past
that may be tied to a birthday or anniversary,
silver or clad sets are generally affordable and
different than the usual mix.
While December is the month for selling large
quantities of modern coinage, one key element in
the mix is in much shorter supply for the 2008
shopping season. The U.S. Mint suspended
production of Proof 2008-W American Eagle silver
dollars earlier this year to focus on meeting
consistently high demand for the Uncirculated
version of the bullion piece.
Proof American Eagle silver dollar bullion coins
were offered for $31.95 apiece plus shipping
during the brief time they were available from
the Mint. For once early buyers did well, as
prices are somewhat higher today.
A check of four major mail-order firms showed
prices of $79.95, $79.95 and $85 for this year's
Proof American Eagle silver dollar, and one of
the merchants had none in stock. With
common-date Proof American Eagle silver dollars
from past years priced at $35 to $40, the 2008
version might be a tough sell to gift buyers who
are in a cautious mood due to the current state
of the U.S. economy.
So what are the alternatives? For those who
insist on giving silver, Uncirculated 2008
silver American Eagles and 1-ounce Christmas
rounds are a somewhat less expensive choice. The
2008-S five-piece 50 State Quarters Silver Proof
set can be purchased for $25.95 and from shops
at a comparable price.
Fractional gold American Eagles – specifically
the tenth- and quarter-ounce versions with face
values of $5 and $10 – are sometimes given as
gifts. Spotty supplies of 2008 pieces may mean
fewer modern gold coins in stockings this year.
Holiday shoppers are adaptable, so it's likely
that sales of Proof and Mint sets will rise due
to the higher prices for limited supplies of
Proof American Eagle silver dollars. The coin
business should fare better than mainstream
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