Themed annual sets like birthday, anniversary and congratulation sets are largely ignored by collectors. Rightly so, as they are aimed at the gift market to mark a special occasion or event. Besides that the coins in the set are usually identical to coins found in proper proof sets or other distinctly numismatic products at any rate.
The United States Mints' Congratulations set is no exception to this rule, as a good number of collectors aren't even aware that the product is produced every year. However it seems that the Mint may have stumbled across a way to change this perception and make the Congratulations Set a more desirable purchase to the numismatic market.
Usually the Congratulations Set has the regular West Point minted silver American Eagle coin that can be purchased from the US Mint is a velvet presentation case. This year however they have decided to include a San Francisco minted coin bearing the “S” mintmark instead. The only other way to obtain the “S” mintmark silver American Eagle is from the Limited Edition 2017 Silver Proof Set, due out later this year.
The Congratulations Set is priced at $54.95. This makes it a full dollar more than the “W” mintmark silver American Eagle dollar proof coin, which comes in a blue velvet clamshell presentation case.
Here the coin is encapsulated and mounted in an attractive cardboard folder with printed black, gold, and silver ribbon curls to add a festive and elegant flair. A Certificate of Authenticity is printed on the back of the folder, while coin specifications are printed on the back of the accompanying sleeve.
A product limit of 75 000 sets has been set, while no household order limit is imposed.
The silver American eagle proof coin is struck from 1oz of pure .999 Fineness silver to a 40.6mm(1.598 inch) silver round. The coin is treated to a high quality proof finish with a reeded edge. As noted above the coin is identical to the West Point produced silver proof coins, except for the “S” mintmark indicating it's origin from the San Francisco mint.
It will be interesting to see how the sales of this item is affected by the inclusion of what is essentially a different variety of an already popular coin. I suspect that the increased interest from collectors for the San Francisco minted coin will give the item's sales a significant boost over previous years.
Well, that was interesting. In the text above I said that the sales might receive a boost, and I was technically right. The item managed to sell out in under five minutes. 75 000 products gone in less than five minutes. With various sources stating that the actual time was between as little as 2 minutes and 5 minutes.
Now technically the US Mint doesn't declare an item as “sold out” until after final reconciliation has taken place. Accounting for cancelled orders, returns and so forth. Instead they merely say that the item and your order is on “Back Order”, and this started happening to some collectors as early as two minutes after orders opened.
The fact that there was no household order limit is likely a leading culprit in this event, allowing dealers to “swoop in” as it were, and place large orders for what is a limited item. As a result I suspect that very few of these sets will remain as is. Most will end up slabbed and sold by dealers very soon.
Given the overwhelming response to the release the US Mint will have to had taken notice and we might see more offers like this in years to come.