A Limited Edition of One

In the world of coins and of watches, one frequently sees the term “limited edition.” It usually means that whatever is being produced is not going to be produced for a long time and the numbers will likely be limited.  This limitation could be defined by a certain number of items made, or it could be determined by a certain period of time during which the item will be made.

Regardless, the limits are there, and this scarcity ploy has worked well for a long time to get people to buy things right away when they otherwise might be inclined to take their time to think about it.

Recently, however, we’ve seen the limits of “limited” editions taken to extremes.  The MB&F company recently created a limited edition “Alien Nation” watch that was limited to just four pieces.  Even at that, all four of them were purchased by a a single collector.  At that point the price, which was $500,000 each, is almost irrelevant.   All the money in the world won’t buy one if the only person who has them isn’t willing to sell.

In the coin world, we’ve now seen this taken to a new extreme.  The Perth Mint recently announced that they are minting a special commemorative set of three coins called the “Australian Trilogy.”  The set will consist of one coin each made from platinum, gold, and rose gold, and each coin will weight one kilogram.

The three coins will also have diamonds from the Rio Tinto mine in Western Australia embedded in them.  The price for the set of three coins will be AUD $1.8 million ($1.4 million U.S.)

That’s a lot of money for a newly minted set of coins.  But here’s what’s even more interesting – the set is limited to one.

That is it.  There will be one set of three coins made, and no more.  Granted, at that price, there likely wouldn’t be a whole lot of people lining up to buy them, but a set of one?

That seems to be taking the whole “limited edition” thing a bit too far, in my opinion.

Such production does draw attention to the people offering it for sale, and as an attention grabbing tool, a limited edition of one certainly works.  But collectors are often turned off by such limited availability.  The wine collecting magazine The Wine Spectator has been getting grief from their readers for years when they review spectacular wines that are produced in minuscule amounts.  After all, who cares how good something might be if you can’t get it?

These coins are certainly lovely.  At one kilogram each, they’re also probably eye-catching, as that’s a pretty good sized coin.  They’re going to be on display at the mint through June, but only if they haven’t sold them first.

After that, they’re gone for ever, and no one will ever be able to see them again.

We’re seeing more and more of this sort of thing in all areas of collecting, and collectors are rightly growing tired of it.  It’s turning a fun hobby into a contest, and that probably isn’t why most people got into collecting in the first place.