It wasnít that long ago when a complete set of Royal Canadian Mint products produced in a single year could comfortably be held in two hands. Based on the list of products Iím now seeing offered I wonder if "one of everything" would fit in an oversize suitcase?
Am I correct in assuming ordering one of each coin/coin set offered by RCM during 2001 would end up costing well over $1000? Frankly, when I was adding everything up and the subtotal topped a grand I didnít have the motivation to continue.
Iím not being critical. If the demand for these coins is there then fill it! If the RCM is able to create demand by offering clever-seeming products then more power to them.
If you are Mr./Ms. Average Collector and you had hoped to keep your complete collection of RCM products going forget it! Being an old fashioned coin dealer (is there a worse kind?) I think not being able to practically afford a complete set of the new made-for-collectors coins is unfortunate and not particularly good for the hobby. The RCM may also suffer in the long run by creating such a varied and expensive array of new products.
I base my misgivings on two previous occasions when the golden goose was slaughtered instead of nurtured. At one time, the Franklin Mint was the darling of numismatics, cranking out all sorts of coins, medals and the like. Today, to the best of my knowledge, their presence on the numismatic scene is minimal. I have no reason to believe their coin related products are doing much better in the marketplace. This is not to say the firm isnít doing well by offering a huge assortment of appealing non-numismatic items. Perhaps the long-term plan for the RCM is the follow the Franklin Mintís lead and gradually move away from coins and into other popular areas. As one noted Canadian numismatist has observed, the RCM produces an excellent line of giftware.
I canít look at the long list of RCM products and not think of what the manufacturers of collector and sports cards did to their industry. Instead of accurately, but conservatively, trying to measure demand and then satisfy it, the card producers buried their customers under piles of pricey products and gimmicks. Once the card collectorís pockets had been turned inside out, with their sets not nearly complete, they had no choice but to give up--and they did so by the millions.
I can honestly say that during the last twenty-five years I havenít been a big fan of any mintís products. Iíve developed what I call the ten-year plan. When a mint produces something really neat that Iíd like to have I wait ten years before buying it or until the product is available at half the issue price. Which would you guess most often comes first? I will admit this strategy has cost me some quick and easy profits. Iím also willing to bet my closets full of RCM coin sets would generate a greater profit, if sold today, than what you have in your closet. Donít tell me whatís in there. Itís your closet and you deal with it.
Based on the products available and the cost, I can only assume the RCM has developed a menu from which the collector is expected to pick and choose. You like animals? Weíve got animals. Culture? Itís available for a price. Favorite foods? Based on some of the topics Iíve seen I wouldnít dismiss the possibility. Would you like cheese fries topped with fiddleheads struck in precious metal? Iím being silly, but to this old timer it does seem the RCM may have gone a bit overboard in their efforts to serve the needs of collectors.
Certainly every collector should only buy coins they appreciate and enjoy owning. That said I seriously doubt most purchasers of modern mint products would spend what they do on this material if they expected it to significantly decline in value. There is a limit to the price people are willing to pay to be a collector.
To work properly there must be a viable aftermarket for modern mint products. New collectors must have a place where they can purchase the mintís previous issues and those who bought products directly from the mint need a place to sell them. Such an aftermarket requires the participation of independent dealers. As was the case with Franklin Mint products and collector cards many of the dealers who created and supported an aftermarket became overwhelmed by the amount of new products and the cost of maintaining an inventory. Dealers found themselves saddled with items nobody wanted and this material had to be dumped at a significant loss. Once the dumping began collector confidence evaporated and even the ďgood stuffĒ took a beating. Itís unreasonable to expect dealers to support any market when they are losing money.
Others may strongly disagree, but I feel the responsibility to caution all collectors, especially those who are new to the hobby. When buying modern mint products only purchase what you consider exciting and interesting and be prepared to keep and enjoy these coins for a very long time.
What do you think? Iíd be pleased to receive your comments and opinions about this article or any other numismatic topic that interests you.