Mint News Blog

News, Information, and Commentary on US Mint Products

Friday, June 27, 2008

2008 Arizona First Day Cover on Sale June 30

The 2008 Arizona Official First Day Coin Cover will go on sale at the US Mint on Monday June 30, 2008 at 12:00 Noon ET. The product page is already available on the Mint's website here.

The cover will include two 2008 Arizona State Quarters, one each from the Philadelphia and Denver Mints, along with a 42 cent Flags 24/7 postage stamp. The cover will have a postmark of June 2, 2008 from Grand Canyon, AZ. This marks the first day Arizona Quarters were released into circulation.

The covers are priced at $14.95 and production is limited to 35,000.

This marks the 48th State in the State Quarter First Day Coin Cover Series.

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Circulating Presidential Dollar Direct Ship Rolls Arrive

Earlier this month, the US Mint began the Circulating Presidential Dollars Direct Ship Program. Under this program, individuals and businesses can order up to $500 in Presidential Dollars directly from the US Mint at face value with no charge for shipping.

The intention of the program is to remove barriers and improve circulation of the dollar coins. Most notably this program bypasses the Federal Reserve Bank distribution system and competes with the US Mint's own offerings of Presidential Dollar bags and rolls.

There were a few lingering questions about the program. The US Mint made no indication that the coins would be uncirculated, instead referring to the coins as "non-numismatic circulation grade." Also, the Mint does not allow you to choose coins from a specific Mint.

Late last week, I received my order of Direct Ship Presidential Dollars and wanted to write a brief post about what I received.

The coins came in boxes of $250 value coins. Each box contained 10 rolls. The wrappers were from N.F. String & Son and were marked "John Quincy Adams." There was no indication of the mint on the coin wrappers.

So far I have opened two rolls and all coins were Brilliant Uncirculated coins from the Philadelphia Mint. The quality of the coins was comparable to BU Rolls I had purchased on eBay for a premium above face value for some of the other presidents.

After seeing the coins shipped from this program, I think it will definitely cut into US Mint sales of bags and rolls. They currently sell 25-coin rolls for $35.95 and 250-coin bags for $319.95. Orders are also subject to a $4.95 shipping and handling charge. The only advantage of ordering these more expensive bags and rolls seems to be that you can choose your mint mark and coins are in different packaging.

Another notable aspect of this program has come to light over the past few weeks. Many people have taken note of the Mint's new program and are using it to earn points or cash back on their credit cards. This strategy has turned up on various blogs and forums around the internet. The idea is to order the maximum amount from the US Mint using a cash back credit card and then simply deposit all of the rolls at a local bank.

While this is clearly not the intention of the program, I guess it is unavoidable. At least the Mint has limited orders to $500 to cut down on this kind of activity.


Monday, June 23, 2008

2007 US Proof Set - Last Chance!

If you have been planning to order the 2007 US Proof Set from the US Mint, your time is running out!

Sales of the 2007 US Proof Sets will end once this year's set goes on sale tomorrow June 24, 2008 at 12:00 Noon ET. (See the previous post on the 2008 US Proof Set.)

The 2007 US Proof Set includes 14 coins:
The sets are priced at $26.95 each. The US Mint's product page can be found here.

According to the latest stats from Numismaster, the US Mint has sold 1,712,941 of the 2007 Proof Sets as of June 18.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Presidential Dollar Coin & First Spouse Medal Set XP1 Worth $200?

One of the Presidential Dollar related products issued by the US Mint last year is making quite a stir on the secondary market, but I am not sure why.

It's the Thomas Jefferson Presidential $1 Coin and First Spouse Medal Set, US Mint Product Code XP1. The sets have been consistently selling for over $200 on eBay only a few months after selling out at the Mint for $7.95 per set.

Here are the current listings for the set.

Here are the completed listings for the set.

This set was issued along with three other sets, for each the other three 2007 Presidential Dollars. Each set contains an uncirculated Presidential Dollar and a bronze medal for that President's Spouse. The sets went on sale at the Mint on December 3, 2007 and were priced at $7.95 per set.

Here are the final sales figures for the sets provided by Numismaster:

2007 Washington $1 and Spouse Medal Set 16,736
2007 Adams $1 and Spouse Medal Set 15,496
2007 Jefferson $1 and Spouse Medal Set 15,853
2007 Madison $1 and Spouse Medal Set 15,690

Why are the Thomas Jefferson Sets selling for so much?

I have not been able to find an explanation for the huge premiums being paid. The Thomas Jefferson set sold roughly the same number of sets as the other three Presidents, which sell for a more reasonable $10-$20 each on eBay.

The sets appear to contain coins which can be easily (and much more cheaply) acquired elsewhere. The uncirculated Presidential Dollars can be obtained from many sources for close to face value. The First Spouse bronze medals can still be purchased individually from the US Mint for $3.50 each.

Is this premium being paid basically just for the packaging of a unique set surrounding common coins? If so, why only the Thomas Jefferson Sets? Is there something else unique or special about the set that I am missing?


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Louisa Adams First Spouse Gold - Initial Sales Figures

The latest coin in the First Spouse Gold Series honoring Louisa Adams went on sale May 29, 2008. After two weeks of statistics reported, the initial sales figures are tracking even lower than the previous coin in the series.

The Louisa Adams First Spouse coin has sold 2,986 proof coins and 1,696 uncirculated coins as of June 12, 2008. This makes the total across both ordering options 4,682 coins or 11.7% of the maximum authorized mintage of 40,000 coins.

For comparison purposes, the previous release of the series for Elizabeth Monroe sold 7,768 coins (or 19.4% of maximum) in roughly the first two weeks of release (sales figures from February 28, 2008 to March 13, 2008).

Figures come from Numismaster Mint Stats.

Another decline in sales was widely expected as the First Spouse Gold series continues to lose steam. Reasons for the decline have been discussed in other posts, but to summarize:
  • the tendency for the popularity of a series to decline over time
  • the relatively high price premiums above the gold content value
  • the one coin per household ordering limit
  • the under performance of earlier coins on the secondary market
One potential bright side the declining sales is that if some issues of the series have low enough final mintages, they could potentially rise in value on the secondary market due to their rarity. The key question is how long can the US Mint continue to sell each issue before officially ending sales? I have seen the question discussed, but can't seem to find an official answer.

Does anyone know or have any insights?

Labels: ,

Monday, June 16, 2008

2008 US Proof Set - Release June 24

The US Mint has just posted information on the release of the upcoming 2008 US Proof Set. The sets will be released on June 24, 2008 at 12:00 Noon ET and will have the same price as last year's Proof Set.

The release date has been known since the Mint updated its release schedule in May, but the product details including pricing information were only recently made available. This traditional product offering from the Mint is always eagerly awaited by collectors. Proof Sets are popular as holiday gifts, especially birth year gifts. -- Note to self :)

The 2008 Proof Set will contain 14 coins minted at San Francisco and carrying the "S" mint mark. The following coins will be included:
The sets are priced at $26.95. This is the same price as last year's 2007 Proof Set. The Mint's product page can be found here. Ordering options won't be available until the official start of sales on June 24.

The 2008-S Proof State Quarters and Presidential Dollars have already been available for sale at the Mint in separate sets. The 2008 State Quarters Proof Set contains all five proof quarters for $13.95. The 2008 Presidential Dollar Proof Set contains all four proof Presidential Dollars for $14.95. By purchasing the full 2008 Proof Set, you get five more proof coins at a lower price.

Other upcoming annual sets from the Mint include the 2008 US Mint Set to be released on an unspecified date in July and the 2008 US Silver Proof Set to be released August 28, 2008. Further details for these offerings will be posted as soon as available.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Circulating Presidential Dollars Direct Ship Program

Yesterday the US Mint announced a new program to ship circulating Presidential Dollars directly to any interested retail establishments, financial institutions, and individuals. The best part of the program is that the coins can be ordered for face value with no extra charges for shipping and handling.

The intention of the program is to remove barriers and improve circulation of the new dollar coins as mandated by the Presidential Dollar Coin Act of 2005. Currently Presidential Dollars are distributed by the Federal Reserve Banks in bulk quantities to depository institutions. This bulk distribution may prevent some retailers and smaller banks from obtaining coins.

The circulating Presidential Dollar Coins will be offered in 25-coin rolls packaged 10-rolls per box, for a total of 250 coins. The offering price is equal to the face value at $250.00. Coins are not separated by mint mark. The Mint also refers to the coins as "circulation-grade" so it is possible that coins received may be circulated.

Customers can order a maximum of two boxes (face value $500) per issuance period. The US Mint will pay shipping and handling fees for orders using standard shipping methods. All sales are final, so there are no returns on this product.

This program looks like it will be a boon for collectors looking to get their hands on quantities of Presidential Dollars. Obtaining them from banks can sometimes be challenging, especially if you are looking for specific, newly released Presidents.

I think that this program will actually cannibalize some of the sales of the Mint's offerings of uncirculated Presidential Dollar bags and rolls. The 25-coin rolls are sold for $35.95 each and the 250-coin bags are sold at $319.95. Any orders for bags or rolls also have a $4.95 per order shipping and handling fee.

The differences for the Circulating Direct Ship Program are that you cannot specify what mint mark coins you would like to receive and there is no guarantee that the coins received have never been circulated. The trade off will probably be compelling for at least some collectors.

The Mint is currently offering John Quincy Adams Presidential Dollars. The product page and ordering information can be found on the Mint's website here.
John Quincy Adams Dollar Bags and Rolls


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

John Qunicy Adams Coin Cover

The American Presidency Coin Cover Series continues with the John Qunicy Adams Cover, scheduled to be released June 12 ,2008 at 12:00 Noon ET.

The cover includes two 2008 John Quincy Adams Presidential Dollar coins, one from the Philadelphia Mint and one from the Denver Mint. These come on a custom display card featuring a portrait of the former president and one of the four 42 cent 24/7 stamps. The postmark on the stamp will be May 15, 2008, Quincy, MA.

The overall production for the cover is limited to 50,000 units. The Mint has placed an initial limit of 10 units per household. The price for each cover has been set at $14.95.

The product page for this new offering can be found here, although ordering won't be available until the official start of sales.

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

Labels: ,

Monday, June 9, 2008

2008 Silver Eagle Shortage Saga Continues

For much of 2008, there has been an ongoing shortage of 2008 Silver Eagles. Demand for the coins has been intense, leading the Mint to briefly suspend distribution and ultimately ration the quantities supplied to authorized dealers. This post will take you through the major developments of the past few weeks...

A little over two weeks ago, the problem went mainstream when the Wall Street Journal covered the story:
The government rationed food during World War II and gasoline in the 1970s. Now, it's imposing quotas on another precious commodity: 2008 dollar coins known as silver eagles.
Following the exposure generated by the article, Michael DiRenzo, the Executive Director of the Silver Institute, wrote a letter to US Mint Director Edmund Moy, urging him to stabilize the program and requesting a meeting. From the letter:

Reports that the U.S. Mint is limiting the amount of coins its authorized buyers are allowed to purchase concerns the Institute, primarily because at the end of the supply chain awaits a customer, who is being inconvenienced and possibly shut out of the purchase of these coins.

We strongly believe there are immediate remedies at your disposal to increase the production and delivery of blanks to the Mint for production that would provide the coins in sufficient supply to the authorized dealers and ultimately to the customers. We further believe the Mint should be looking at methods to streamline the current process and offer safeguards through planning and a concerted shift in current strategy for the second half of 2008, and beyond.

The US Mint responded to the letter with a brief statement explaining the "exponential" demand for the coins along with indication that the Mint would attempt to increase its silver acquisition efforts to meet demand. From the statement:
By law, the United States Mint's American Eagle silver bullion coins must meet exacting specifications and must be composed of newly mined silver acquired from domestic sources. The United States Mint will continue to make every effort to increase its acquisition of silver bullion blanks that meet these specifications and requirements to address continuing high demand in the silver bullion coin market.
During the same week, US Citizen Bix Weir wrote an open letter to US Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson and US Mint Director Edmund Moy. The letter claimed that the US Mint's rationing of Silver Eagle coins was illegal and demanded that the rationing end immediately. The letter cited US law law which stipulates that Silver Eagles must be minted and issued in "quantities sufficient to meet public demand." From the letter:
The law is clear that the silver coins must be supplied to the US public in "quantities sufficient to meet public demand" EVEN IF it means the US Mint drives up the price of silver bullion on the open market in order to obtain the silver needed to produce the US Silver Eagles. That rise in price should, theoretically, decrease the current voracious demand for US Silver Eagles and allow for the true price discovery of silver bullion. That's how our freely traded markets are supposed to function in order to determine the “fair market value” of any asset.
So far, I have not seen any response from Hank Paulson, Edmund Moy, or the US Mint regarding this letter or its claims.

At the end of last week, the US Mint sent a memorandum to authorized purchasers of American Silver Eagles. The Mint is expecting that their next incoming shipment of silver blanks will be less than half the amount shipped the previous week. From the letter:
The quantities [silver blank vendors] will ship to us during the week of June 9 are expected to be less than half the quantities they shipped to us during the week of June 2. Our vendors, however, expect to be able to make incremental increases in supplies each week thereafter. In the mean time, the significant reduction in the number of blanks they supply to us will, of course, directly affect the quantity of coins we can make available for allocation to our Authorized Purchasers.
This latest development does not seem particularly encouraging. It appears that despite the Mint's efforts to increase acquisition of silver for the program, the supply available to them is decreasing. Will these problems persist and if so, what will be the result?

I think we will definitely see further outcry from individuals and interested organizations along with some additional mainstream news reporting. There might be more scrutiny over the Mint's silver acquisition process which seems to be at the root of the problem. Investors and coin collectors looking to invest in silver may re-visit old methods such as junk silver or silver bars. Alternately, other government issued silver bullion coins such as the Canadian Silver Maple Leaf may start to see an increase in popularity.

Any other thoughts? Comments are welcome below:


Friday, June 6, 2008 - New Coin Directory Launch

Are you looking for new or interesting Coin Websites?

I would like to announce the launch of a brand new coin directory called Coin Websites!

Coin Websites DirectoryThe directory structure has been built with an internet savvy coin collector in mind and includes categories such as Coin Blogs and Coin Forums. There are also sections for Coin Grading, Price Guides, Precious Metals, and nearly 40 more. The categories are all as specific as possible to help you find what you're looking for quickly.

Anyone is now able to submit sites to the directory for free. Submit your personal website or any other site that you think provides valuable information for coin collectors. Note that all submissions will be reviewed before being added to the directory in order to keep the links relevant and uncluttered.

I have populated the directory with nearly 200 links to quality coin websites. If you have a site which is already listed and you would like to update the description or other information, you can use the contact form to request changes.

Please check out the directory and let me know what you think.

Have a great weekend!


Presidential Dollar Historical Signature Set - Thomas Jefferson

The US Mint will release the Thomas Jefferson Presidential $1 Coin Historical Signature Set on June 10, 2008 at 12:00 Noon ET.

The Historical Signature Set series includes the proof version of the Presidential Dollar Coin, a special Presidential intaglio print, along with the official Presidential signature. These are all housed within come housed in a textured leather like folder along with a certificate of authenticity. The sets are priced at $19.95.

The US Mint product page for the offering can be found here, although ordering options will not be available until the official start of sales.

This set is the third release of this new offering for the third President of the United States. The previous releases honored George Washington and John Adams. As of June 5, 2008, the Washington Set has sold 10,928 units and the Adams Set has sold 3,892 units.
Presidential Dollar Historical Signature Set- George Washington
Presidential Dollar Historical Signature Set- John Adams


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

First Spouse Gold Coin Pricing

Last week the US Mint released the latest coin in the First Spouse Gold Series honoring Louisa Adams. The release unfortunately coincided with a pull back in the price of gold, once again making the coins seem drastically over-priced.

The coins are priced at $619.95 and $599.95 for the proof and uncirculated versions, respectively. This equates to a premium above the value of the gold content of $178 for the Proof version and $158 for the Unc version. In percentage terms the premiums are 40.2% and 35.7%. Based on early reports and sales figures for previous the Elizabeth Monroe coins which had identical prices, these premiums are more than the market is willing to bear.

Another way to look at the situation is by examining the premiums that the secondary market is currently assigning to the first three coins of the series which are no longer available from the Mint. The Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, and Thomas Jefferson's Liberty coins are currently selling for approximately $500 and $480 for Proof and Unc versions, respectively. This equates to very reasonable premiums of $58 (13.1%) and $38 (8.6%).

(The approximate prices quoted are based on a rough average of the past few days completed eBay auctions for uncertified First Spouse Gold Coins. Here is a link to the current auctions.)

I think that the main problem is that the Mint cannot keep up with rapidly changing precious metals prices. The current system of pricing coins upon release results in constantly varying premiums over the precious metal value of the coins. These varying premiums in turn impact the ultimate sales and popularity of each series. Last year, this resulted in coins which were constantly unavailable due to product suspensions. This year, it has resulted in products with excessive premiums over the precious metals value.

Over the past few years, the Mint has moved towards offering more products with a close precious metals tie. At the same time precious metals prices have become more volatile. I am not sure if there is legislation behind the Mint's pricing process or if it purely up to the Mint, but it's definitely time for someone to reconsider the process.