Mint News Blog

News, Information, and Commentary on US Mint Products

Friday, August 29, 2008

2008 Proof Silver Eagles Not Available

The 2008 Proof Silver Eagles first went on sale at the Mint on January 3, 2008. They were offered for $31.95 with no ordering limit and no production limit. Proof Silver Eagles are a popular product for the US Mint and they are usually available for sale the entire year and minted to demand.

Approximately two weeks ago, the US Mint stopped selling the 2008 Proof American Silver Eagles. The product page for the offering contains the terse message "Product is not available."

The coins are not Sold Out, as a few people have been stating, but they are unavailable for sale. The unavailability is the result of the ongoing shortage of silver blanks needed to produce the 2008 Silver Eagle bullion coins. On June 6, 2008 in the midst of the great Silver Eagle shortage, the Mint released a memo containing the following statement:
"We are not using incoming supplies of silver blanks to produce numismatic versions of these coins (American Eagle Silver Proof and Uncirculated Coins); all incoming inventory is being used solely for silver bullion coins during this reduced supply period."
Based on this and further statements from the Mint 2008 Proof Silver Eagles will go back on sale when and if the demand for bullion Silver Eagles subsides or the Mint is able obtain silver blanks in sufficient quantities to supply demand for all silver products. In this Numismaster article, a Mint spokesman said the following:
"Sales of American Silver Eagle Proof coins will resume at a later date, provided that the Mint can acquire sufficient inventories of silver blanks to meet public demand for all American Eagle Silver Products."
Even though the 2008 Proof Silver Eagles might go back on sale, prices on the secondary market have already gotten a boost. A quick survey of recently completed eBay auctions shows uncertified coins selling for around $45 to $50 each.

Here are the current eBay auctions for uncertified 2008 Proof Silver Eagles.

To date, the US Mint has sold 712,000 of the 2008 Proof Silver Eagles. This is somewhat low compared to the 2007 Proof Silver Eagle's (unconfirmed) total sales of 827,106. But on a historical basis, it is far above most of the Proof Silver Eagle mintages for coins released during the 1990's. The lowest was 1994 with a final mintage of 372,168.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Gold Eagle Bullion Coin Sales Resume

A brief update on the previous post about the 2008 Gold Eagle Suspension.

Sales of the popular bullion coins had been suspended on August 14, 2008. Word of the suspension came from one of the US Mint's authorized bullion dealers. The Mint had informed them that they would no longer be accepting new orders. They did not provide a time frame for when sales might resume.

The US Mint issued a memo to authorized dealers on August 22, 2008 explaining that the suspension was due to "unprecedented demand" and announcing that sales would resume on a rationed basis.
"The unprecedented demand for American Eagle gold one-ounce bullion coins necessitates our allocating these coins among the authorized purchasers on a weekly basis until we are able to meet demand."
Sales of 1 ounce 2008 Gold Eagles resumed as of August 25. According to statements from the Mint, they are equally dividing each week's inventory into two pools. The first pool is allocated equally among all authorized dealers. The second pool is allocated based on past sales performance.

Since the suspension, the price of gold has rebounded from $796.80 per ounce to a current price of $837.10 per ounce.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Andrew Jackson's Liberty First Spouse Gold Coin

The First Spouse Gold Coin for Andrew Jackson's presidency will go on sale at the US Mint tomorrow August 28, 2008 at 12:00 Noon ET. At the same time a Bronze Medal replica version will also go on sale.

Since Jackson did not have a spouse while serving as President, the obverse design features a reproduction of the Capped Bust, Lettered Edge Half Dollar. This coin was minted from 1807 to 1836 and designed by US Mint Engraver John Reich. The reverse of the coin features an image of "Old Hickory" on horseback.

Each gold coin contains one-half ounce of 24 karat gold. The Mint has set a maximum mintage of 40,000 combined for proof and uncirculated coins. There is an initial ordering limit of ten coins per product option per household.

The proof version of the Andrew Jackson's Liberty Gold Coin is offered for $619.95 and the uncirculated version is offered for $599.95. The bronze medals is available for $3.50.

The pricing is in-line with the two prior releases in the First Spouse Coin Series, although the Dolley Madison coins remain on sale for the lower prices of $529.95 and $509.95.

Since the release of the Dolley Madison coin, each subsequent issue has sold less than the one before it. Will history repeat itself once again? Or can the combination of one of the greater better known Presidents with a classic design break the streak?


Friday, August 22, 2008

Andrew Jackson & George Washington Direct Ship Rolls

The US Mint has once again expanded the offerings for Presidential Dollars available under the new Direct Ship Program. Now George Washington and Andrew Jackson Coins are both available on the Mint's website.

Under the program, Presidential Dollars can be purchased at face value with no additional cost for shipping. The purpose of the program is to promote the circulation of the new dollar coins. Coins must be purchased in quantities of $250, with a maximum of $500 per President.

Whether or not the coins purchased under the program actually make it to circulation is up for speculation, but the program is certainly a boon for coin collectors. The program offers an excellent alternative to paying high premiums for coins under the Mint's Bags & Rolls program, or attempting to find rolls at local banks.

Offering George Washington and Andrew Jackson Presidential Dollars is extremely fortunate. This represents the first and the most recent release under the program. These are two issues that coin collectors may be hunting for.

All Presidential Dollars available under the program can be found on the Mint's website here.


2008 Alaska State Quarter Rolls & Bags

2008 Alaska State Quarter Bags and Rolls will go on sale August 25, 2008 at 12:00 Noon ET. This will correspond with the official release of the quarters into circulation.

Alaska is the fourth State Quarter released during 2008, and the 49th release in the overall program.

A Two-Roll Set will be available which includes one roll from the Philadelphia Mint and one roll from the Denver Mint. This offering will be priced at $32.95 per set.

100-Coin Bags and 1,000-Coin Bags will also be available. Separate bags are offered for Philadelphia and Denver Mint coins. The 100-Coin Bags are offered at $32.95 and the 1,000-Coin Bags are offered at $309.95.

The Mint's product pages can be found at the following locations, although ordering options won't be available until the official start of sales.

Two Roll Set
100-Coin Bag Philadelphia
1,000-Coin Bag Philadelphia
100-Coin Bag Denver
1,000-Coin Bag Denver

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Gold Eagle Bullion Sales Suspended by US Mint

Friday news broke that the US Mint had suspended sales of American Gold Eagle bullion coins. Until further notice, they are not accepting new orders from precious metals dealers. The news was first reported on the APMEX Blog and later more broadly circulated through a daily dispatch from GATA.

For clarification, the suspension is related to the American Gold Eagle bullion coins sold by the US Mint to a network of authorized dealers. The bullion coins are sold to the dealers at a set premium above the market price of gold. In turn, the authorized dealers sell the coins to other dealers or individuals.

The so-called "collectible versions" of the American Gold Eagle coins remain on sale at the US Mint's website. This includes the 2008-W Uncirculated Gold Eagle and 2008-W Proof Gold Eagle. These coins are sold at fixed prices which are set when the coins first go on sale. The fixed pricing can be adjusted for changes in precious metals values. However, in recent history the Mint has only adjusted pricing upwards when the price of gold has risen. They have not yet adjusted prices downwards in response to a decline in the price of gold. Currently, the one ounce proof gold coin sells for $1,199.95 and the one ounce uncirculated gold coin sells for $1,119.95. This compares to a spot price of gold of $786.00 per ounce.

Why did the Mint stop selling American Gold Eagle bullion coins?

A similar situation arose earlier this year when the US Mint suspended sales of American Silver Eagle bullion coins. The suspension was brief, but followed by resumed sales on a rationed basis. According to a Wall Street Journal story one dealer who wanted to buy 500,000 coins per week was limited to 100,000. The US Mint responded to criticisms with several statements citing the "exponential" demand for Silver Eagles.

The Silver Eagle shortage began April 2008 following a sharp rise in the price of silver to over $20 per ounce. The current Gold Eagle suspension follows a sharp decline in the price of gold from a recent high of $986 per ounce to the current price of $786 per ounce. So why are Silver Eagles suspended when prices rise and Gold Eagles suspended when prices fall?

GATA, who has long argued that world governments are using the futures markets to artificially suppress the price of gold, said the following:
"The suspension is overwhelming evidence that the futures contract price of gold on the commodities exchanges is substantially below the physical market price and that, indeed, the commodities exchanges are being used as GATA long has maintained -- as part of a massive scheme of manipulation of the precious metals, currency, and bond markets."
If this were true, at some point the physical market for gold bullion would start to diverge from the paper market. Physical gold would start to change hands premiums to the "market prices." Is this happening already? Is US Mint unable to locate refiners willing to sell gold at "market" prices? Has the recent decline in gold prices led to "exponential" demand for Gold Eagles?

As yet, the Mint has not offered a public explanation of the suspension or an estimated time frame for resumption of sales.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

More Presidential Dollars Available under Direct Ship Program

I just noticed today, but apparently on Monday the US Mint started offering additional Presidential Dollars under the new Circulating Presidential Dollar Direct Ship Program.

This program allows customers to purchase Presidential Dollars directly from the US Mint at face value with no charge for shipping. The stated purpose of the program is to encourage "robust national circulation of the $1 Coins." The coins are sold in boxes of $250 and limited to $500 (2 boxes) per President.

The Direct Ship Program debuted in June when quantities of John Quincy Adams Presidential Dollars were offered. While the program was considered a success with over 1.6 million coins sold, there was some uncertainty as to whether the coins would actually make it to circulation. Some of the sales may have been related to individuals ordering the coins to earn rewards on their credit card, with the coins simply turned in at a local bank after receiving. Some of the sales may have also been coin collectors purchasing through the program rather than the Mint's more pricey bags and rolls program.

The Mint is now offering the following additional Presidential Dollars under the program:
  • 2007 John Adams
  • 2007 Thomas Jefferson
  • 2007 James Madison
  • 2008 James Monroe
A few observations on the expanded offerings. First, while all of the coins received for orders of the John Quincy Adams Dollar seem to have been uncirculated, there is no guarantee from the Mint that coins ordered under the program have not been circulated. It is possible that some of the coins from the latest offerings may have been in circulation. We won't know for sure until reports start coming back from initial orders.

Second, as long as the Direct Ship Program continues, sales of Presidential Dollars under the bags and rolls program will likely be under pressure. Under the program, the Mint sells 25-coin rolls for $35.95 and 250-coin bags for $319.95. As long as the coins continue to be uncirculated and as long as you can handle the quantity, there's not much of a reason to pay the larger premiums. Ironically, the latest bags and rolls offering will go on sale tomorrow.

You can find the latest Presidential Dollars available under the Direct Ship Program on the US Mint's website here.


Andrew Jackson Presidential Dollar Bags & Rolls

Tomorrow August 14, 2008 at 12:00 Noon ET, bags and rolls of the Andrew Jackson Presidential Dollar will go on sale at the US Mint. This will coincide with the release of the coin into circulation. Andrew Jackson will be the seventh coin of the Presidential Dollar series.

Coins will be available from the Mint in 25-coin rolls or 250-coin bags. The 25-coin rolls will be available with coins struck from either the Philadelphia or Denver mint and are priced at $35.95 per roll. The 250-coin bags are also available with either Philadelphia or Denver mint coins and are priced at $319.95 per bag.

The Mint's product pages are already available, although ordering options will not be available until sales officially begin.
25-Coin Roll Philadelphia
25-Coin Roll Denver
250-Coin Bag Philadelphia
250-Coin Bag Denver

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

2008 Silver Proof Set - Release Date August 26

The US Mint has recently posted information on the upcoming 2008 US Silver Proof Set. The sets will go on sale August 26, 2008 at 12:00 Noon ET.

Notably, the sets will be offered for the same price as last year, at $44.95 per set. The product page is already available for viewing here, although ordering options are not yet available.

The set contains a total of 14 coins. Each set includes the following:
  • 2008-S Lincoln Cent
  • 2008-S Jefferson Nickel
  • 2008-S Silver Roosevelt Dime
  • 2008-S Silver Oklahoma Quarter
  • 2008-S Silver New Mexico Quarter
  • 2008-S Silver Arizona Quarter
  • 2008-S Silver Alaska Quarter
  • 2008-S Silver Hawaii Quarter
  • 2008-S Silver Kennedy Half Dollar
  • 2008-S Sacagawea Dollar
  • 2008-S James Monroe Dollar
  • 2008-S John Quincy Adams Dollar
  • 2008-S Andrew Jackson Dollar
  • 2008-S Martin Van Buren Dollar
All coins are minted at the San Francisco Mint and carry the "S" mint mark. The half dollar, all of the quarters, and the dime are minted in 90% silver.


Friday, August 8, 2008

Strong Sales for 2008 Fractional Buffalo Gold Coins

2008 Fractional Buffalo Gold Coin sales are off to a strong start. After just over two weeks of sale, for some options the new Buffalo Gold coins have outsold the equivalent American Eagle coins.

The 24 karat gold coins went on sale August 22, 2008. This year marks the first time that the American Gold Buffalo Coins are being offered in fractional denominations.

2008 Fractional Gold Buffaloes are offered in both proof and uncirculated versions. Fractional denominations available include 1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, and 1/10 oz individual coins. A four coin set is also available which contains one of each fractional denomination.

Here's how the sales figures look based on August 6 Mint Stats from Numismaster.

Proof Buffalo Gold
1 ounce 7,615
1/2 ounce 687
1/4 ounce 2,121
1/10 ounce 8,752
4 coin set 4,257

Uncirculated Buffalo Gold
1 ounce 725
1/2 ounce 2,104
1/4 ounce 3,275
1/10 ounce 13,188
4 coin set 2,959

These strong sales figures attest to the popularity of the classic design. Even though the price of gold has been on the decline, collectors are still willing to pick up examples of this new offering.

One question to be determined is how much of these sales have been cannibalized from the American Gold Eagle offerings? Are collector's opting to purchase Gold Buffaloes instead of Gold Eagles? Or are they purchasing both? As the Mint continues to expand its product offerings, some sales of the more traditional products may get squeezed in the process. I think this is a trend to watch in the future.

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Platinum Eagles Disappear from US Mint Website Again

As of yesterday, Platinum Eagle coins are no longer appearing on the US Mint's website. This includes the Uncirculated and Proof versions, as well as the 2007 10th Anniversary Set. In July, a similar disappearance occurred for the Proof coins, only to have them return a few weeks later at bafflingly higher prices.

When the proof coins went back on sale, the price of platinum was around $1,700 per ounce. The price is now just under $1,600 per ounce. Could the Mint finally be suspending platinum products to reduce the prices? While would not an unprecedented move, a price reduction has not been implemented in the past several years.

If prices are lowered, what does this mean for people who purchased Platinum Eagles recently? Will the repricing take place within the Mint's return period so customers can return higher priced coins and re-purchase at the lower prices? Or will the coins go back on sale after the return period ends, closing off this loop hole?

Lowering the prices may also have an impact on collector's future purchases from the Mint. If price reductions are seen as a possibility, collectors will be even less likely to purchase precious metals related products when the metal prices decline. They may opt to wait for a price reduction.

It's also worth mentioning that once again there are rumors that 2008 platinum products simply won't come back. I haven't seen any supporting evidence or confirmation, but who knows? At this point, all of the coins have shockingly low mintages, since they have only been on sale for a brief time and at somewhat ridiculous prices. If sales are really over, we would have some new modern rarities.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

James Monroe Presidential Dollar Coin & First Spouse Medal Set

The latest release for one of the US Mint's more intriguing products is about to go on sale. The Presidential Dollar Coin & First Spouse Medal Set for James Monroe will be released on August 6, 2008 at 12:00 Noon ET.

This set will contain one uncirculated 2008-P James Monroe Presidential Dollar and one Elizabeth Monroe Bronze Medal. Both will come on a custom designed plastic card. The sets will be priced at $7.95 each. The product page can be found here, although ordering options are not yet active.

Why is this product line so intriguing? Back in June, I noticed that some of the 2007 issues were selling for incredible premiums on eBay. In particular, the Thomas Jefferson Set was consistently selling for over $200. This was quite a jump for a product originally priced at $7.95 which contains a medal available for sale separately at $3.50 and an uncirculated coin not difficult to obtain for around face value.

Prices seem to have come down a bit, but the sets are still selling for $20 to $40 each. There have not been any recent auctions for (I suppose) the key Thomas Jefferson Set.

Here are the current eBay listings for the sets.

Here are the completed listings for the sets.

Will this year's Presidential Dollar & First Spouse Medal Sets experience similar price increases after a sell out? In my opinion, the answer is no. The prices for last year's sets probably got the attention of many collectors who will place bigger orders this time around. Also the set is still essentially an easily obtained coin and medal in custom packaging.


Monday, August 4, 2008

2008 Annual Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set

The US Mint will be releasing the 2008 Annual Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set on August 7, 2008 at 12:00 Noon ET.

This set will contain uncirculated versions of six dollar coins produced by the Mint during 2008. The dollars include:
  • 2008-P James Monroe Presidential Dollar
  • 2008-P John Quincy Adams Presidential Dollar
  • 2008-P Andrew Jackson Presidential Dollar
  • 2008-P Martin Van Buren Presidential Dollar
  • 2008-P Sacagawea Dollar
  • 2008-W American Silver Eagle
The sets are offered for $37.95 each. Last year's sets, which are still on sale, were priced at $31.95 each. The price increase of $6 seems to be attributable to the rise in the price of silver. However, it's worth noting that the price difference between the separately sold 2007-W Unc Silver Eagle and the 2008-W Unc Silver Eagle was only $4. See: 2008-W Silver Eagle Release Date and Pricing.

Last year's 2007 Annual Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set proved to be a popular seller. The Mint has sold 88,966 sets according to the latest Mint Stats from Numismaster. I expect that sales of the 2007 set may end once the 2008 set goes on sale. You may just have a few days left to order this set for the relative bargain price.

The Mint has already posted the product page for the 2008 Annual Uncirculated Dollar Set here. Orders will not be accepted until the official start of sales on August 7.

Update: Even though sales of the 2008 Annual Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set have begun, the Mint has kept the 2007 Set available for sale at the initial price of $31.95.

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