Thursday, February 22, 2007

"First Day of Issue" Designation on New Dollar Coins

I don't know . . . is it just me? Is the hobby of collecting coins becoming more about marketing the holders than marketing the coins? NGC's new designation of "First Day of Issue" for the new George Washington dollar coin seems somewhat reminiscent of a recent marketing campaign for the "First Strike" designation. (previous First Strike article)

Here is NGC's definition: "A special designation, FIRST DAY OF ISSUE, will be available for coins released on the official release date. To qualify, coins must be received by NGC on the official release date or by overnight mail or air carrier on the day immediately following the official release date. The first coin of the Presidential $1 Coin series, George Washington, goes into circulation on February 15, 2007, and to qualify for the FIRST DAY OF ISSUE designation, coins must be received by NGC no later than February 16, 2007." (link to NGC definition)

Although I don't see this designation leading to lawsuits like the more misleading First Strike designation, I also don't see the value being added to the coin that would demand a premium. I will genuinely be baffled if premiums are demanded for coins with this designation over similar coins of the same grade. At least with the First Strike designation, a case could be made that the people paying the premium just didn't understand what the third-party graders meant by the designation. They just didn't do their homework. NGC's definition for First Day of Issue is pretty straight forward so there shouldn't be any confusion about what it means.

And before you philatelists out there tell me that this is no different than First Day of Issue with stamps, it is different. The First Day of Issue for stamps is meant to be somewhat restrictive by having the stamp be issued in a single city prior to being released everywhere else. (also, I do have an issue even with the USPS designation that I talk about at the end of my article on First Strikes)

For the Washington dollar coins, it's technically possible that the entire mintage of 300 million could get the First Day of Issue designation since it has nothing to do with when they were struck, although I admit it's not really practical. Also, what about those coins released prior to February 15? The mint actually allowed coins out earlier in some locations. Some people were able to get their hands on the coins prior to the official release date. (Mint's warning about early releases) Maybe there should be a Pre-First Day of Issue designation for those.

There are circumstances where the pedigree on a holder may demand a premium (e.g. shipwrecks, famous collections, etc.), but in general, I still believe in the philosophy "buy the coin, not the holder," but I know that there are those that are going to do just the opposite.