Mint News Blog

News, Information, and Commentary on US Mint Products

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

2008-W Uncirculated and Proof Gold Eagle Sales

As we come closer to the end of the year, it's a good time to review sales figures for some of the US Mint's product offerings. Unpopular or neglected products with low sales have the potential to become potential high value key dates once sales officially end.

Today's post will take a look at the most recent sales figures for 2008-W Uncirculated and Proof Gold Eagles. The sales figures are for the collectible versions of the coins offered direclty by the US Mint and not the bullion versions.

The figures below are based on September 24 Mint Stats from Numismaster. The product column refers to sales of each ordering option. The combined column refers to the total sales for each coin by adding individual sales to the set sales.

2008 Proof Gold Eagle Sales

Product Combined
1 ounce 10,338 17,781
1/2 ounce 2,343 9,786
1/4 ounce 3,780 11,223
1/10 ounce 7,328 14,771
4 coin set 7,443 n/a

2008-W Uncirculated Gold Eagle Sales

Product Combined
1 ounce 2,294 3,607
1/2 ounce 900 2,213
1/4 ounce 1,187 2,500
1/10 ounce 4,718 6,031
4 coin set 1,313 n/a

Both Proof and Uncirculated Gold Eagles are showing incredible declines compared to last year's estimated final mintages. This is likely due to two factors. First, the coins have been been on sale this year at extremely high premiums above precious metals value. This is because the coins were priced when the market price of gold was high, and not repriced after gold fell. Second, this year the Mint began offering Uncirculated and Proof Fractional Buffalo Gold Coins. Some collectors may be choosing to buy Buffaloes instead of Eagles.

The coin with the lowest sales total is the 1/2 ounce 2008-W Uncirculated Gold Eagle with combined sales of only 2,213. This is far below last year's estimated mintage of 13,358. Besides the Platinum Eagles mentioned previously, this is the coin with the lowest sales figures of 2008 US Mint product offerings.

Is this coin a good investment as a potential future key date? Maybe.

At this point, there are still too many factors in play and too much time for the coins to remain on sale. If the price of gold regains its old high, this would likely spur additional sales bringing the total mintage higher. On the other hand, if the price of gold declines and the US Mint finally relents and lowers prices, this could also spur additional sales. The price of gold has been extremely volatile lately, making either scenario a possibility.

There is also plenty of time left for additional sales. The US Mint usually keeps these coins available for sale until next year's coins are released. We may have as much as six more months until the end of sales.

For now, I am keeping the 1/2 ounce 2008-W Gold Eagle, all 2008-W Platinum Eagles, and a few others (that I will reveal soon) on my radar.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

American Buffalo Gold Bullion Sales Suspended

As of September 25, 2008, the United States Mint has suspended sales of American Buffalo one ounce gold bullion coins. The reason for the suspension is that demand has exceeded supply, depleting inventories.

The suspension applies to the bullion coins sold by the US Mint to a network of authorized bullion dealers. The collectible versions of the American Buffalo coin remain for sale on the US Mint's website.

This marks the third suspension of a major US Mint bullion product. Early in the year, 2008 Silver Eagle bullion coins were briefly suspended. Sales resumed, but on a rationed basis leading to the ongoing 2008 Silver Eagle shortage. In August, 2008 Gold Eagles were suspended. Once again sales resumed, but on a rationed basis.

The following memorandum was released by the Mint regarding the latest suspension:
September 25, 2008


SUBJECT: American Buffalo 24-Karat Gold One-Ounce Bullion Coins

Demand has exceeded supply for American Buffalo 24-Karat Gold One-Ounce Bullion Coins, and our inventories have been depleted. We are, therefore, temporarily suspending sales of these coins.

We are working diligently to build up our inventory and hope to resume sales shortly. We will keep you updated as information becomes available.

The United States Mint currently has inventory of the following bullion coins: American Eagle Gold fractional coins (1/2 oz., 1/4 oz., 1/10 oz.) and American Eagle Platinum (all denominations). Allocations will continue for the American Eagle 22-Karat Gold One- Ounce and American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

2008 Alaska First Day Cover on sale September 30

The 2008 Alaska First Day Coin Cover goes on sale at the United States Mint on Tuesday, September 30, 2008 at 12:00 Noon ET.

The cover will include two 2008 Alaska State Quarters, one from the Philadelphia Mint and one Denver Mint. The postage stamp will be a 42 cent Flags 24/7 stamp. The post mark for the cover will be August 25, 2008, Denali Park, Alaska. This is the first day Alaska Quarters were released to the public.

The covers are priced at $14.95 and production is limited to 35,000. The Mint's product page is already posted here.

This marks the 49th State in the State Quarter First Day Coin Cover Series.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

2009 Lincoln Cent Designs Unveiled

Today the United States Mint unveiled the reverse designs for the much anticipated 2009 Lincoln Cents.

The year 2009 will mark the 100th Anniversary of the Lincoln Cent and the 200th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth.

The four rotating reverse designs will be released approximately every 3 months during 2009. The first design will enter circulation on February 12, 2009. The four designs represent the four major stages of Lincoln's life.
  • Birth in Kentucky (1809-1816)
  • Formative Years in Indiana (1816-1830)
  • Professional Life in Illinois (1830-1861)
  • Presidency in Washington, D.C. (1861-1865)
The obverse of the coin will continue to bear the likeness of President Lincoln designed by Victor D. Brenner. This design has been used uninterrupted since 1909. The reverse design of the coin was modified in 1959 to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Lincoln's birth.

The four newly unveiled reverse designs appear below:

2009 Lincoln Cent Reverse #1
Birth and Early Childhood in Kentucky

2009 Lincoln Cent Reverse #2
Formative Years in Indiana

2009 Lincoln Cent Reverse #3
Professional Life in Illinois

2009 Lincoln Cent Reverse #4
Presidency in DC

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First Spouse Gold Coin Mintages

The once popular First Spouse Gold Coin series may be seeing an upswing with its latest offering for Andrew Jackson's Liberty Coin.

Followers of the series will remember that the first three releases for Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, and Thomas Jefferson's Liberty sold out in less than one day. Popularity seemed to fizzle with the next release for Dolley Madison. The next two releases showed a declining sales trend. The latest coin may finally break the trend.

Andrew Jackson's Liberty has sold a combined 5,924 coins since the release on August 28. The prior release for Louisa Adams has sold a combined 7,177. This coin was released on May 29. While Jackson's coin is still about 1,200 behind, it seems likely that sales will eventually surpass Louisa Adams.

The Andrew Jackson coin may be driving more sales since the obverse is based on the classic Capped Bust Lettered Edge Half Dollar design. This design was used because President Jackson served without a spouse. Under the authorizing legislation for the program, in this situation the coin will bear the Liberty image used on circulating coinage from the President's term. The last release of the series to fall into this situation was Thomas Jefferson's Liberty which used the design from the Draped Bust Half Cent.

The table below shows the full sales/mintage figures for all releases of the First Spouse Gold Coin Series through September 17.

Unc Proof Combined
Martha Washington 20,000 20,000 40,000
Abigail Adams 20,000 20,000 40,000
T. Jefferson's Liberty 20,000 20,000 40,000
Dolley Madison 12,038 18,040 30,078
Elizabeth Monroe 4,186 7,217 11,403
Louisa Adams 2,623 4,554 7,177
A. Jackson's Liberty 2,213 3,711 5,924

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Presidential Dollar Mintages

The US Mint has recently updated the production figures for the Presidential Dollar series. Figures are now available for all seven coins released, including the most recent Andrew Jackson Dollars.

The figures are worth examining since the numbers for Andrew Jackson have surprised some people. The first six releases of the series had shown a string of continuous declines for each subsequent release. Naysayers of the Mint's dollar efforts have often pointed to the declining mintages as support for the claim that dollar coins are not popular and will not circulate.

While the recent uptick does not refute these claims, it's at least somewhat encouraging. In recent months, the US Mint has engaged in several new tactics to attempt to increase circulation of the dollar coin. This has included a PR campaign promoting the dollar usage in four cities and the Direct Ship Program. Are these efforts starting to have an impact? Or is the slight increase just a temporary blip?

It will be interesting to keep on eye on these figures for the coming releases to determine if this is indeed a change in trend.

Presidential Dollar Mintages

Denver Philadelphia Combined
George Washington 163,680,000 176,680,000 340,360,000
John Adams 112,140,000 112,420,000 224,560,000
Thomas Jefferson 102,810,000 100,800,000 203,610,000
James Madison 87,780,000 84,560,000 172,340,000
James Monroe 60,230,000 64,260,000 124,490,000
John Quincy Adams 57,720,000 57,540,000 115,260,000
Andrew Jackson 61,070,000 61,180,000 122,250,000

The production figures above include "circulating" coins produced by the US Mint, including coins sold through the bags and rolls program. This does not include coins produced for Mint issued Proof Sets and Mint Sets.

View all Presidential Dollar Mintages.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Will 2008 Platinum Eagles Return?

Update: 2008-W Platinum Eagles are back on sale.

This post will take a look at the time line of 2008 Platinum Eagle sales and provide some possible answers to the question everyone wants to know: Will 2008 Platinum Eagles Return?

You can also see my previous post on the most recent 2008 Platinum Eagle sales figures.

2008 Proof Platinum Eagles went on sale May 5, 2008. Ordering options included the 1 ounce coin; 1/2 ounce, 1/4 ounce, and 1/10 ounce fractional coins; and a 4 coin set. On May 17, sales of the 4 coin set was suspended. On July 1, the individual ordering options were suspended. For the brief period between July 24 and August 7, all ordering options went back on sale at bafflingly higher prices. In total, coins were available for sale for a combined time period of 70 days.

2008-W Uncirculated Platinum Eagles went on sale July 1, 2008. Ordering options included the 1 ounce coin; 1/2 ounce, 1/4 ounce, and 1/10 ounce fractional coins; and a 4 coin set. All ordering options were suspended on August 7. In total, coins were available for sale for a period of 38 days.

The most recent suspensions came amidst a sharp and continuing decline in the price of platinum. The price of platinum has now declined nearly 50% from its all time high price of $2,290 reached earlier this year. The spot price of platinum as of the writing of this post is $1,191.

Will the 2008 Platinum Eagles ever go back on sale at the Mint?

I have not been able to attain any definite answer, but here are several possibilities (rumors) that have been floating around the internet. I can't vouch for any of these. I've listed the possible answers in descending order of probability:
  • The Mint is in the process of re-pricing the 2008 Platinum Eagles in line with the current market price of platinum. Since the Mint must go through a process of determining, approving, and publishing prices in a Federal Register, it takes a certain amount of time for coins to go on sale at the newly established prices.
  • The Mint is waiting for platinum prices to stabilize. Since there is a lag between the time the Mint determines prices and coins go on sale, the continuing steep decline in platinum has made accurate pricing impossible. The Mint needs some period of stability so their prices will reflect the market price of platinum.
  • The Mint cannot take a loss on the 2008 Platinum Eagles. This may be either legally or by choice. The platinum the Mint used to produce the coins was purchased at a much higher price than the current market price. They are waiting for previously high prices to return before putting the coins back on sale.
  • The Mint is done with 2008 Platinum Eagles. They are either fed up with the price movements of platinum or phasing out the products. The Mint may or may not sell the remaining inventory from the last production run before the end of the year.
Does anyone out there have any definite answers or any more theories? Please feel free to post them in the comments.


2008-W Proof & Uncirculated Platinum Eagle Sales Figures

With the ongoing suspension of all 2008 Platinum Eagles, now is an interesting time to take a look at the most recent sales figures.

2008 Platinum Eagles have not sold very well this year, due to a combination of factors:
  • The price of platinum has been extremely volatile this year. For the first few months of 2008, the price went straight up, reaching an all time high of $2,290 per ounce. This was followed by a few months of choppy thrashing. In recent months, the price of platinum has been in constant decline to today's level of $1,191. This kind of volatility has probably made most coin collectors skittish about buying a coin with much of its current value tied to the price of platinum.
  • Platinum Eagle sales at the US Mint have either been suspended or priced at extremely high premiums. I will write a second post with a time line showing the brief time periods when the coins actually were on sale. Since the cumulative period of time when coins were on sale was so brief, collectors have not really had the opportunity to purchase them.
The most recent sales figures for 2008 Proof Platinum Eagles and 2008-W Uncirculated Platinum Eagles are presented in the following tables. The figures come from the latest Mint Stats report from Numismaster. The first sales total column shows the amount sold for each ordering option. The second sales total column represents the combined total (individual option plus 4 coin set).

2008 Proof Platinum Eagles

Product Combined
1 ounce 1,222 1,981
1/2 ounce 482 1,241
1/4 ounce 628 1,387
1/10 ounce 1,255 2,014
4 Coin Set 759 N/A

2008-W Uncirculated Platinum Eagles

Product Combined
1 ounce 146 599
1/2 ounce 126 579
1/4 ounce 198 651
1/10 ounce 712 1,165
4 Coin Set 453 N/A

If you haven't already guessed, these numbers are extremely low. They are far below the estimated mintages for last year's coins. For comparison, you can check out my post on the 2007 Proof Platinum Eagles mintages, and 2007-W Uncirculated Platinum Eagles mintages.

Do the low sales figures for the 2008 Platinum Eagles represent an opportunity? It's hard to tell. It will depend on when, if, and at what price the Mint starts selling the coins again; the future market price of platinum; and collector's perception/reaction to the final mintage numbers.

If you are fishing for some 2008 Platinum Eagles now, you can find a handful for sale on eBay, but the coins are priced at a big premium. Here are the 2008 Proof Platinum Eagles and the 2008-W Uncirculated Platinum Eagles currently listed for sale.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Andrew Jackson Coin Cover

The American Presidency $1 Coin Cover Series continues with the Andrew Jackson Coin Cover, scheduled to be released September 11, 2008 at 12:00 Noon ET.

The cover includes two 2008 Andrew Jackson Presidential Dollars from the first day of production. One will be from the Philadelphia Mint and one will be from the Denver Mint. The coins come on a custom display card with one 42 cent Flags 24/7 Stamp. The postmark will be August 14, 2008 from Nashville, TN. This is the first day Andrew Jackson Presidential Dollars were released to the public.

Overall production is limited to 50,000 units. The price for each cover is $14.95.

The product page for the offering can be found here. Note that ordering options won't be available until the official start of sales.

The previously released covers for James Madison, James Monroe, and John Quincy Adams are still available for sale at the Mint. The earlier presidents have sold out.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Direct Ship Presidential Dollars Quick Sell Outs

On June 11, 2008, the US Mint began the Presidential Dollar Direct Ship Program. Under the program interested retail establishments, banks, and individuals could order quantities of Presidential Dollars directly from the Mint at face value with no charges for shipping and handling. The purpose of the program was to remove barriers and improve circulation of dollar coins.

The program proved popular, selling out of the first offering of John Quincy Adams Dollars by June 30, 2008. Reports indicated that the Mint sold $1.6 million Presidential Dollars through the program's initial offering.

On August 11, 2008, the Mint expanded the program by offering John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe Dollars. On August 22, the Mint also started offering George Washington and Andrew Jackson Dollars.

As of the writing of this post, six out of the seven of the Presidential Dollars offered under the program are no longer available for sale. Only Andrew Jackson Dollars remain available for sale under the program.

The program is literally a no-lose proposition since you are buying dollars for dollars with no premium. Collectors have the benefit of obtaining rolls of BU Presidential Dollars for no premium. (Reports and experience so far have shown that coins shipped are uncirculated even though the Mint makes no guarantee that coins have not been circulated.)

Whether or not this program is having any meaningful effect at increasing circulation of dollar coins is up for speculation, but it is certainly a boon for collectors who in the past have paid premiums for BU rolls of Presidential Dollars under the Bags and Rolls Program.

This page shows any Presidential Dollars currently available under the Direct Ship Program.

Update: As of this morning (Sept 9), John Q. Adams Dollars are also for sale under the Direct Ship Program.


Friday, September 5, 2008

2008-W Uncirculated & Proof Gold Eagle Sales Figures

It been a while since I have taken a look at sales figures for the 2008-W Uncirculated and Proof Gold Eagles offered by the US Mint. Sales to date have been incredibly low this year as the result of two main factors.

The first factor is the high premium above the spot price of gold that the Mint is currently charging for the coins. As of the writing of this post, the premiums for the proof coins range from 48% for the 1 ounce coin to 85% for the 1/10 ounce coin. The Mint initially set pricing for the coins when gold was at a much higher level. They have not adjusted prices lower to reflect the decline in gold. It's very hard for collectors to justify paying this kind of premium and has definitely impacted sales.

The second factor is the new offering of Fractional Gold Buffalo Coins. This year fractional versions of the popular 24 karat gold coins were offered for the first time. Even though the Buffalo coins were released later in the year, for several denominations they have out-sold their American Eagle counterparts. Some money that would have been spent on Gold Eagles has been spent on Gold Buffaloes.

Here are the most recent sales figures for the 2008-W Uncirculated and Proof Gold Eagles based on the latest Mint Stats from Numismaster:

2008-W Uncirculated Gold Eagles

Product Combined
1 ounce 2,110 3,381
1/2 ounce 824 2,095
1/4 ounce 1,028 2,299
1/10 ounce 4,419 5,690
4 coin set 1,271 2,542

This year's sales are running far below last year's figures. This post shows the last indication of the 2007-W Uncirculated Gold Eagle mintage based on the final Mint sales report. As an example comparison, the 1/2 ounce uncirculated coin had combined total sales of 13,358 for 2007 compared to 2,095 sales to date for 2008.

2008 Proof Gold Eagles

Product Combined
1 ounce 9,934 17,153
1/2 ounce 2,226 9,445
1/4 ounce 3,534 10,753
1/10 ounce 6,843 14,062
4 coin set 7,219 14,438

Again, sales are far behind last years. This post shows the 2007 Proof Gold Eagle mintage based on the final Mint sales report. As an example comparison, the 1/2 ounce proof coin had combined total sales of 45,398 for 2007 compared to 9,445 sales to date in 2008.

Will the 2008 mintages turn out to be so low that the coins become scarce key dates? Early indications suggest the possibility, but its only September and there will be many more months of sales. The situation could change if the Mint lowers prices for the products or if the price of gold increases significantly. As we come closer to the end of the year, these are definitely some products worth watching.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

John Quincy Adams Presidential Dollar & First Spouse Medal Set

Today September 3, 2008 at 12:00 Noon ET, the US Mint will begin offering the Presidential Dollar Coin & First Spouse Medal Set for John Quincy Adams. This will be the latest offering for this oddly popular product.

Each set contains an uncirculated John Quincy Adams Presidential Dollar and a Louisa Adams First Spouse Medal. Both are held in a custom plastic card. Each set is priced at $7.95 each.

The US Mint's product page can be found here, although ordering options won't be available until later today.

Last year's sold out Presidential Dollar Coin & First Spouse Medal Sets continue to sell for large premiums on the secondary market. This is despite the fact that the coin and medal contained in the sets can be obtained individually for just a few dollars.

I previously wrote a post about the high prices being paid for the Thomas Jefferson Set. Recently, the George Washington Set seems to have joined the Jefferson Set in premium price status. In the past month, the Washington Set has sold in two separate auctions for $87 and $177 dollars.

Here is a look at the current eBay auctions and completed eBay auctions for last year's sets.

In my opinion the 2008 sets most likely will not experience the same price appreciation as the 2007 sets. However, at the end of the day the Coin & Medal sets are nicely designed and affordable. It might make sense to add some to your collection.


Andrew Jackson Presidential Dollar Individual Proof Coin

On August 28, 2008, the Mint began offering an individual Andrew Jackson Dollar proof coin. This continues the Mint's offerings of individual proof versions of each coin in the Presidential Dollar coin series.

The proof coins are placed on special individual "pocket sized" cards. Each is offered at $5.95 each. For the first 30 days of release, there is a limit of five coins per household. The Mint's product page can be found here.

The Andrew Jackson Proof Coin is also available in the 2008 Proof Set, 2008 Silver Proof Set, and the 2008 Presidential Dollar Proof Set.

While it almost certainly works out better to order the sets to obtain each coin more cheaply, the Mint continues to sell decent quantities of the individual versions. The last release for John Quincy Adams has sold 8,052 units.