2012 Wheat Sheaf $10 Gold Proof Coin

The Royal Australian Mint takes an interesting approach to selling one of their low mintage gold proof coins. Since the mintage is presumably smaller than the anticipated demand, they accept ballots from customers and conduct a drawing to determine who can order the coin.

I recently received the latest Royal Australian Mint catalog, which includes the 2012 Wheat Sheaf $10 Gold Proof Coin. This coin features a design of three wheat sheafs with a ribbon encircling the steam of each stalk. The design was used for the pre-decimal Australian threepence and revived this year to highlight Australia’s important industry of wheat production.

Earlier this year, aluminum bronze and silver proof versions of the coin were made available. See coverage on Coin Update. The silver proof version with “C” mint mark (shown above) is limited to 12,500. Each coin is struck in 99.9% silver with a weight of 11.66 grams. These coins can be ordered on the Royal Australian Mint’s website or by mail.

The 1/10 ounce gold coin is struck in 99.99% purity and has a limited mintage of 2,500. The only way to order this coin is by completing a ballot and having it selected from the drawing. Each ballot form must be completed with payment information and is identified with a customer number.

The terms of the ballot include:

  • Only one ballot form per customer number per envelope is accepted.
  • Ballots must be received by April 23, 2012.
  • The ballots are drawn by the Royal Australian Mint CEO on April 24, 2012 with the drawing scrutinized by an independent security guard.
  • Each valid ballot form selected entitles a customer to purchase one 2012 Wheat Sheaf $10 Gold Proof Coin.
  • Out of the total mintage there will be 2,498 coins available, with two coins reserved for the National Coin Collection.
  • Additional ballots are drawn in the event of coins becoming available.
  • All unsuccessful ballots are securely destroyed.

The release of the proof gold version is the first time I have seen a world mint use balloting to allocate low mintage coins. From a marketing standpoint, I think it adds an element of excitement. Customers with successful ballots may feel like they have won something, when actually they are buying something. Also collectors who might not have necessarily ordered the coin outright, may fill out the ballot to see if they will “win.”

On the other hand, dedicated collectors of a series or completists may not enjoy the balloting process since there is a chance they won’t be able to purchase the coin.

What do readers think- Is balloting a good way to allocate low mintage coins? Does it discourage the most loyal customers? Is it just a marketing technique?

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Comments

  1. says

    I can see it from both ways. It’s true that it is a good way to build excitement.

    However, from another standpoint, it’s bad for dedicated coin collectors. By doing this, most “serious” collectors who are focusing on this series.

    How would US collectors feel if the US Mint only minted 5,000 2012 silver eagle proofs and they were all disbursed via a lottery? Most dedicated silver eagle collectors would not win and would be stuck paying premiums of hundreds of dollars on the secondary market. The huge majority of the coins would go straight into the arms of the dealers.

    So if it were up to me, I would use lotteries only for unique, one-time offerings or promotional offerings. For example, on the promotional end of things, perhaps Perth could raffle off one hundred sets of the complete Dragons of .Legend series when that finishes. Or the one-time offering idea could have been applied to the Fiji mother-of-pearl Titanic commemorative.

    In general, though, I greatly dislike the lottery concept, because I think it would probably create massive price inflation in the secondary markets as collectors are forced to go to secondary dealers to buy coins they previously could purchase from the US or other world Mints directly. I hope the US Mint doesn’t start applying it to their products. I would much rather see distribution handled the way Perth does it now, with staggered availability times and a carefully organized queue system.

  2. says

    Sorry, didn’t complete my second paragraph. It should read:

    *However, from another standpoint, it’s bad for dedicated coin collectors. By doing this, most “serious” collectors who are focusing on this series may miss out on acquiring this coin unless they are willing to pay high premiums for it on the secondary markets

  3. admin says

    The Royal Australian Mint has another interesting tradition where they allow visitors to strike the very first 100 collector coins of the year. They have people lining up overnight trying to be the first one.

    http://www.ramint.gov.au/media/press-releases/2012/20120101.cfm

    This program and the ballot seem to generate excitement from collectors in Australia, but I think you are right that if they were implemented in the United States it would generate more animosity than excitement.

    Maybe its a cultural difference, or a difference in the way people approach collecting in Australia vs. the United States.

  4. Nate says

    Michael, this isn’t the first lottery as the RAM has done a lottery system for the Gold Kangaroo at Sunset the last few years.

    I think a lottery is a poor distribution mechanism but a great marketing mechanism.

    Household limits and lottery systems build up hype and anticipation for low mintage releases, which actually draws more speculators into the game. People see the limits and ‘by lottery only’ advertising, so they think ‘Wow, this must be one special coin with lots of demand’. Whether it’s going to be popular or not in its own right, attaching these sorts of monikers builds hype and pumps up interest (it could be debated if this is the intent or not).

    These are artificial scarcity mechanisms. In fact, we see the same principal at play when Perth does a slow release, ‘selling out’ of an item in an hour. People get all pumped up about the early sellout and start paying crazy prices on eBay only for that item to reappear for sale on the mint website a day later or to pop up at various distributors for a few weeks after the ‘sellout’. Another example being the 2010 ATB bullion set. As soon as those sets were difficult to come by, customers came in droves trying to get their hands on one just to flip it. Prices have come way down since the frenzy has passed.

    I second CO’s hope for the US Mint not to use a lottery system. I was impressed with Perth’s queue-based ordering system during the 2012 dragon high relief release. Give us a release time, set the household limit and let us buy on a first-come first-served basis. Those who are paying attention to release dates and are on the ball should benefit. The only benefit I see to a lottery system is for collector’s who do not have access to the ordering system at the time of release due to other obligations (like being at work). I’m not sure how to give them the same opportunity except to have opening release times during non-business hours, like midnight local time.

  5. admin says

    “Michael, this isn’t the first lottery as the RAM has done a lottery system for the Gold Kangaroo at Sunset the last few years.”

    Yes, I figured they had done this in previous years. It’s just the first one I’ve seen since I started watching world mint offerings more closely.

    Thanks for your comments.

  6. Nate says

    The RAM Kangaroo at Sunset (mintage of 1000) is the only lottery I’ve heard of before this one. When I found out that those were issued by lottery my impression was that it’s a huge deterrent to collecting the series. Issuing by lottery the customer feels like they have no control over getting the coin – it’s all by chance. At least when you’re sitting on the computer angrily hammering away at your keyboard you feel like you’re involved.

  7. Shutter says

    How would US collectors feel if the US Mint only minted 5,000 2012 silver eagle proofs and they were all disbursed via a lottery?

    I hate lotteries on principle. However, before we all go crazy, let’s look at some numbers. Australia is a small country with population of less than 23 million. Mintage of 2,500 means one coin for every 9,100 people. US has a population of 313 Million. Equivalent mintage would mean over 34,000. That’s roughly all of 2011 gold proof 1oz eagle (not counting 4 coin sets) and a bit more than all of 2011 proof Buffaloes or either of 2011 commemorative golds. Oh and even if you win the lottery, that’s $360AUD for 1/10 oz coin.

  8. Samuel says

    next month perthmint will release “Kookaburra 2012 1oz Silver Proof High Relief Coin”. seems it determined to keep releasing the HR ones.

  9. says

    Yes, I noticed that too Samuel. I’ll be snapping that up along with #2 in the DoL series. I’m a little disappointed the five ounce proof Lunar dragon is not yet available next month, though. Perhaps in June.

    Bullion Baron also mentioned a 2012 HR kangaroo would be coming as well.

    I remain hopeful we might also get a 2012 high relief koala.

    Shutter,

    I do understand your point about my specific example, though I think my greater point stands – a majority of collectors would be unlikely to win the coin through a lottery unless the Mint really produced enough to meet demand (at which point the question becomes, why use a lottery at all?).

    I would not mind lotteries being used for promotional purposes. “You could win the first 100 silver eagles struck for 2013!” or something, but not as a main method to sell the coins.

  10. Frankie says

    Different topic – if anyone fancies one of the Canadian bumblebee coins – Talisman has them for $139.95 plus delivery. They won’t last long!

  11. Rolling Thunder says

    Thanks Frankie – looked on Talisman this morning, but did not see them – but just bagged a “bee”!

    On Canadian coin topic – Canada Post has a Titanic Collector Coins & Stamps set available that among other things contains the “sold out” Canada 50 cent Titanic coin – cost for set is ~$140.

    Info on site says limited to 10,000 sets – I can not imagine that RCM dedicated 10,000 of the stated 15,000 mintage of the 50 cent Titanic coin to Canada Post to produce these sets!

    So i think this means total mintage of 25,000 Canada 50 cent Titanic coins – is RCM following Perth dragons tactics – hope US Mint never resorts to this kind of “trickery”

    Anyway here is link for Titanic Collector Set from Canada Post
    http://www.canadapost.ca/shop/collecting/commemorative-stamps/titanic/em-titanic-em-collector-set-stamp-and-coin/p-243940.jsf?execution=e1s1

  12. Rolling Thunder says

    Frankie – that’s interesting – will be entertaining to watch where prices go on this set & the individual 50 cent coin.

  13. pl.mark says

    Not so much off topic, but the RAM has a program called “Collection by Selection” where you can see all of next year’s coins in November of the previous year. If you choose to buy and pay for these coins in advance and reach a certain price point, you then have the privilege of buying a coin which would not be available to regular collectors. If you reach the price point in order to get the special coin and then send back anything which would reduce your purchase to below the price point, you will not receive a refund unless you also return the special coin. For example, it would be similar to the US Mint saying that if you were to buy all of a given year’s first spouse coins in both proof and uncirculated versions that you would then be able to purchase a proof silver eagle produced in Denver.

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