Yesterday, the United States Mint launched eagerly anticipated 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coins. The program includes proof and uncirculated versions of $5 gold coins, silver dollars, and clad half dollars produced with a curved shape.
Anticipated heavy demand for the coins caused the US Mint to announce ordering limits the day before the release and utilize their online “waiting room” to handle the influx of web traffic. For more detailed information about the coins, limits, and special events, please refer to this previous post.
Based on the “waiting list” notification posted on the US Mint’s website around 6:30 PM ET, the proof and uncirculated $5 gold coins have already received orders to account for the entire 50,000 maximum mintage. Although collectors can still place orders, these will go to a waiting list. If any coins become available due to an order cancellations, orders from the waiting list will be fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis.
The silver dollars and clad half dollars both experienced a strong opening, especially compared to other recent commemorative coin programs. However, based on recently provided sales data, it will likely still be some time before sell out levels are reached.
Opening Day Sales
The United States Mint provided opening day sales figures for the Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coins this morning. These figures remain subject to change due to order cancellations, credit card, returns, etc.
|$5 Gold Coins||26,798||14,999||41,797|
|Clad Half Dollars||43,376||29,978||73,354|
Across all product options, sales reached more than $27 million during the opening day. Of this amount, nearly $3.4 million represents surcharges which are distributable to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
The figures provided indicate that the $5 gold coins have reached sales of 41,797 across both options, accounting for 83.59% of the overall maximum mintage of 50,000. The opening days sales are nearly double the number of commemorative gold coins sold for last year’s 5-Star Generals Program during the entire nine months of availability.
The silver dollars have reached sales of 156,675 across both options. This accounts for 39.17% of the overall maximum mintage of 400,000. This opening day number exceeds the full year sales for the silver dollars from either of last year’s two commemorative programs. Sales are already nearly 2.5 times the number of coins sold for the 2014 Civil Rights Act of 1964 Silver Dollars, which went on sale on January 2.
The clad half dollars reached sales of 73,354 across both options, accounting for 9.78% of the maximum mintage of 750,000. The sales are just below the full year sales for last year’s commemorative half dollar offering.
The “Waiting Room”
The US Mint’s online “waiting room” received mixed reviews from collectors trying to place their orders amidst the initial frenzy. Some readers reported only a minimal amount of time spent in the waiting room before being allowed to enter the site and place an order. Others reported long or inconsistent wait times and when they finally entered the site, slow performance or frozen screens.
It also seemed that in at least some cases, once someone made it through the waiting room, entered the site, placed their order, and left the site, the US Mint never dropped the session. The same user could later reenter the site without going through the waiting room. This may have been the cause of the continually increasing wait times, as the site continued to recognize users as active in the catalog, even after they were long gone.
This was my own first experience ordering a product after going through the US Mint’s waiting room. I reloaded the catalog page just around 11:45 AM ET, when it was closed in advance of the start of sales. At that time I was given the notice above. At 12:00 Noon ET, I was put in the waiting room with only a few minutes wait time. After the few minutes elapsed, I was able to enter the site and place an order, which was completed by 12:12 PM ET. After this I closed the browser tab.
More than an hour later when I wanted to re-check some information for an article, I went back to the US Mint’s online catalog and was immediately allowed to enter the site without going through the waiting room. At the same time, reader comments were still indicating that new visitors were being put in the waiting room. It seemed that the site was recognizing me as if I had been on the site and active even though I had left and come back after a long absence.
Some takeaways from this experience: First, collectors shouldn’t wait until the 12:00 PM ET start of sales to enter the site, but should enter at 11:45 AM ET in order to get to the front of the waiting room. Second, if the US Mint intends to continue using the waiting room, they need to re-examine how they are ending sessions after users have already placed an order and left the site.