Brief of the Monday morning of September 20, 2021: Transparency and trust

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The rejection by the United States Mint of our request for the identity of the 18 participants in the authorized wholesale purchase program did not surprise the World of coins Staff. We expected Mint officials to reject our Freedom of Information Act request. We will continue to research the identity of the participants, because the collecting public has the right to know.

We have no malicious intent in finding these identities. We believe, like many of our collector readers, that transparency in government is essential. The Mint has long publicized the identity of its wholesale buying partners – those who buy American Eagle, American Buffalo and America the Beautiful bullion coins. Despite the Mint citing trade secrets as a reason for not disclosing the identity of its ABPP partners, we believe the transparency displayed for the Authorized Bullion Buyers Program should be extended to its wholesale buyers of numismatic products.

We also do not object to the concept of the Authorized Wholesale Purchase Program itself. In fact, years ago we argued for something similar, a suggestion that has not been warmly received by some of our collector clients and will likely find new opponents. The Mint should be able to meet the needs of its collector and retail clients, provided the Mint is fair in its distribution and allocations of limited edition coins and sets. We also believe that the Mint should vigorously prosecute individuals and dealers who attempt to circumvent the limits of household and wholesale purchases, and deny them access to Mint products for an appropriate period. Whatever techniques the dealers use – bots, getting employees to buy the maximum number per household only to hand them over to their employer – the Mint should do everything possible to catch the culprits and punish them accordingly.

We do not seek to know the quantity of product purchased by an ABPP participant; we can sympathize with the dealers who don’t want this to become public. However, by participating in a government program, they should be prepared to accept that public disclosure of their ABPP membership comes with benefits.

Interestingly, as Paul Gilkes writes this week, participation in the ABPP program may not be the boon that collectors imagine, at least for some dealers. Paradise Mint Inc. in East Ellijay, Georgia, the only ABPP participant to be publicly identified by the Mint, claims it was in fact harmed by its participation. “I’m not sure what your imagining of the program is, but it provides dealers like me with a FRACTION of inventory that I may have ordered before,” said Kevin Campbell of the company.

“In fact, I get less than 10 percent of the inventory I was able to purchase before the ABPP program released just on their normal reseller program.”

In the absence of any public comment from Mint officials or other program participants, some collectors imagine that all ABPP dealers are making profits while collectors are short. If the Campbell experience is common then some dealers are having problems.

We welcome comments from other Authorized Wholesale Purchase Program participants addressing their experiences and responding to the numerous letters to the editor, guest comments and editorials on the subject. Collectors have expressed their views, and we would love to hear about your experiences in the current mass program versus similar older programs. Open and honest conversation is better than pent-up dissatisfaction from collectors.
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