U.S. Mint Price Gouging
Although the U.S. Mint has been listening and communicating better this past couple of years, I think they’re getting way too greedy in their product mark-ups. Take, for example, the Jackson First Spouse half-ounce gold coin: the Mint is selling the Proof version for $619.95. (The Uncirculated version is $20 less.) On August 28, 2008, the day the Jackson First Spouse coin went on sale, NY gold closed at $833.70 per ounce. This makes the NY spot price of a half-ounce of gold $416.85 on that day. The Mint’s mark-up on the Jackson First Spouse coin is more than fifty percent over bullion value! This is a $203.10 profit on a $619.95 coin! This is absurd!
Of course, part of the problem for the Mint is the way it must do its pricing. It uses a system where it must fix the pricing for the coins ahead of time, hoping to account for upward bullion market fluctuations that might occur during the time frame the coin is on sale. In other words, the Mint sets a “worst case scenario” price and that’s what we’re stuck with. I don’t know what they need to do to bring their ecommerce systems into the 21st century, maybe congress has to pass a bill or something, but the Mint really needs to change its pricing model so that prices fluctuate based on the actual bullion market.
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About the Author
Susan Headley is the "Guide" for the About.com Coins section. Susan lives near Chicago, where she works as a consultant to ancient coin dealers, helping catalog and authenticate ancient coins and regularly attends many of the major coin shows. Susan is a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA,) the American Numismatic Society (ANS,) CONECA (error and variety coins club) and several regional and local coin clubs.