Mint News Blog

News, Information, and Commentary on US Mint Products

Friday, October 30, 2009

2009 Lincoln Presidency Cent Launch, Abraham Lincoln Bronze Medal

Some preliminary details for the launch ceremony for the fourth and final 2009 Lincoln Cent design are available via a recent Coin World article.

The ceremony will take place on November 12, 2009 at 10:00 AM ET. It will be held at the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial located at the base of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Further details of ceremony events and attendees have not yet been announced.

The fourth 2009 Lincoln Cent reverse design represents Lincoln's Presidency. A half completed view of the U.S. Capitol building is depicted, as designed by Susan Gamble and sculpted by Joseph Menna.

This year's Lincoln Cent launch ceremonies have been popular destinations for collectors and Lincoln enthusiasts. Based on the unofficial estimates from previous coverage, 1,500 people attended the first ceremony in Hodgenville, Kentucky and 3,000 people attended the second and third ceremonies held in Lincoln City, Indiana and Springfield, Illinois.

Previous ceremonies have been followed by coin exchanges where attendees are allowed to exchange currency for rolls of the new coins at face value. At the prior two ceremonies 20,000 rolls were exchanged. A minimum of two rolls and a maximum of six rolls were allowed for each pass at the exchange line. Details of the Washington D.C. coin exchange have not yet been announced.

On November 12, 2009 at 12:00 PM ET, the US Mint will also begin sales of the 2009 Lincoln Cent Two Roll Set for the Presidency design. Each set contains one 50-coin roll of Philadelphia coins and one 50-coin roll of Denver coins in custom US Mint wrappers. The sets are priced at $8.95 with an ordering limit of 5 sets per household.

Abraham Lincoln Bronze Medal

While browsing the Medals section of the US Mint's online catalog, I came across a current product that I thought might be of interest to readers.

The US Mint currently offers an Abraham Lincoln Bronze Medal as part of its Presidential Medals series. For each Presidential term, a medal is created featuring a portrait of the President on the obverse and inaugural dates, terms of office, presidential symbols and seals, or quotes on the reverse. Presidential medals are currently offered for recent Presidents as well as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
I am not sure how long the Lincoln Medal has been available, but I think the US Mint is missing an opportunity to highlight the product for Lincoln's bicentennial year. The obverse of the medal features Lincoln's portrait in profile. The reverse was designed by George T. Morgan and features an oak and laurel wreath with a spray of pine and cedar, circled by a serpent with its tail in its mouth. The reverse inscriptions read "Inaugurated President of the United States March 4, 1861. Second Term March 4, 1865. Assassinated April 14, 1865."

The 3 inch version of the medal is priced at $38.00. A smaller 1-1/2 inch version is priced at an affordable $3.50. The next time I place an order, I am planning to add one to my cart. You can find the Lincoln Medals at the bottom of this page.
New CoinsTV Episode:
Indian Head Gold Eagles Video

Today on Coin Update:
Coin News Round up for October 29, 2009


Thursday, October 29, 2009

2009 American Buffalo Gold Proof Coin

Today October 29, 2009 at 12:00 Noon ET, the 2009 American Gold Buffalo Proof Coins will go on sale at the United States Mint.
Only one ounce proof coins will be offered, which is a sharp reduction from the number of collectible Gold Buffalo options offered last year. Even this single offering had been in doubt until the US Mint's announcement earlier this month.

Each coin is minted in .9999 fine, 24-karat gold, packaged in a hardwood box with a matte finish and faux leather insert. The coins are priced at $1,360 each. There is no ordering limit or maximum mintage set for the product. These details (except for the price) were revealed last week.

There are a few dueling factors that will play into the initial sales levels for the coins. The pent up demand for this popular coin suggest strong opening sales. This is supported by the continuing brisk pace of sales for the bullion version of the coin that just went on sale October 15, 2009. In the past two weeks, the US Mint has already sold 110,500 coins. Additionally, since there are no ordering limits in place for the 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo, collectors and dealers will have the opportunity to order in quantity.

On the other hand, there are a few factors which may serve to diminish early demand for the coins. The current price of the coins may serve as a deterrent. The US Mint sets prices for numismatic gold products based on the average of the preceding week's London Fix gold prices. For the relevant period, the average is $1,050.28. Even though the current price of gold is $1,035 per ounce, the coins are priced based on the US Mint's $1,050 to $1,099.99 pricing tier. If the average price of gold had been 29 cents lower, the coins would have been priced $50 cheaper. Some collectors may delay purchases to see if the average price of gold allows cheaper purchases in the coming weeks.

A second factor which may diminish the pace of early and overall sales for the coin is the lack of a maximum mintage. As discussed previously, the fact that the US Mint is not placing household limits or a maximum mintage, suggest that they are prepared to supply the coins in whatever quantity the market will bear. The resulting high mintage from this scenario diminishes the longer term prospects for the coins, especially compared to the stand out performance of last year's collectible Gold Buffalo offerings.

Today on Coin Update News:
US Mint Sales Report for 10/25/2009


Friday, October 23, 2009

US Mint News Updates

There are a number of US Mint related news items that I wanted to cover before the weekend. I will do a combined post on the topics which include sold out products, an update to the Braille Education Set offering, Girl Scout coins, and a technical amended for the 2009 Lincoln Cent.

Sold Out Coins

Two products have sold out at the US Mint. The first is the Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set. Although the set had received orders for the maximum 50,000 sets by the second day of sales, ordering options remained open for anyone wanted to be placed on a waiting list. Orders would be fulfilled from the waiting list only in the event of cancellations. The sets officially moved to "sold out" status yesterday. Many readers have also been indicating that they have received their sets.

Earlier in the week, the Martin Van Buren Direct Ship Dollars were sold out. These dollars were available for for purchase in boxes of $250 at face value with no charge for shipping. Martin Van Buren Dollars were added to the Direct Ship Program in September. Coins are offered through this program to encourage circulation of dollar coins. Other Presidents and the Native American Dollars remain available.

Braille Education Set

The US Mint lifted the ordering limit in place for the Braille Education Set. The sets went on sale October 8, 2009 with an initial ordering limit of one set per household. In the first week the set sold 2,719 units. The second week marked faster pace of sales to bring the total to 5,996 units. The set is limited to a maximum production of 25,000.

Girl Scouts Silver Dollars

H.R. 621: The Girl Scouts USA Centennial Commemorative Coin Act has passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate. In order to become law, the bill needs to be signed by the President, which is expected to take place soon.

The bill calls for up to 350,000 silver dollar commemorative coins to be produced and issued during the calendar year beginning January 1, 2013. The design would be emblematic of the centennial of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America. A Boy Scouts commemorative silver dollar was previously approved for release in 2010.

2009 Lincoln Cents

Besides authorizing a new commemorative coin program for 2013, the H.R. 621 also contained an interesting technical amendment related to the 2009 Lincoln Cents:
(a) Continued Issuance of Certain Commemorative Coins Minted in 2009- Notwithstanding sections 303 and 304 of the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 (31 U.S.C. 5112 note), the Secretary of the Treasury may continue to issue numismatic items that contain 1-cent coins minted in 2009 after December 31, 2009, until not later than June 30, 2010.
The issuance of 2009 Lincoln Cents with a composition matching the original 1909 Lincoln Cent was authorized under Public Law 109-145. The law specifically states the coins shall be issued "in 2009."

This authorization has been used to produce 95% copper versions of the 2009 Lincoln Cents for inclusion in 2009 Proof Sets and 2009 Mint Sets. Most years, the US Mint's annual sets are available into the following year. Without this amendment, it seems that the US Mint would have had to cut off sales at year-end, since the Lincoln Cents contained in the sets were only authorized to be issued in 2009. Someone must have realized this and made sure the technical amendment above made it into the bill.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

2009 Gold Buffalo Proof Coins

The US Mint has released information on the upcoming 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo coins. The coins will be available starting on October 29, 2009 at 12:00 Noon ET.

As known previously, only a single one ounce proof version of the coin will be offered. Last year, the US Mint had offered fractional versions of the coin (1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz) and a full line of collectible uncirculated coins (1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz). These products had been announced as discontinued in late 2008.

The one ounce 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo coins are struck in 24 karat gold. The obverse and reverse designs are based on the original 1913 Type I Buffalo Nickel by James Earle Fraser. The coins are minted at the West Point Mint and carry the "W" mint mark.

The price of the coin will be based on the tables available for the United States Mint's numismatic gold products. If the average weekly price of gold remains within the current range of $1,050 to $1,099.99, then the coins will be priced at $1,360.00 each.

The biggest revelation about the offering is that there will be no household ordering limits and no maximum mintage.

Yesterday when examining the bullion coin offering, I had stated that this would be key to the longer term prospects of the 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo. With unrestricted ordering and mintage, presumably for the next two months, the final mintage should easily exceed the low levels of 2008.

Undoubtedly this will be a popular offering, and the coin will be cherished by many collectors, but I don't think there will be a repeat of the incredible price appreciation experienced for last year's coins. The one ounce 2008 Proof Gold Buffalo currently sell for $2,600 or more on the secondary market.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

2009 Gold Buffalo Bullion Coins

Although the proof version of the coin won't be released until October 29, the bullion version of the 2009 Gold Buffalo coin has been available since October 15.

Because this is a bullion coin, it is not offered for sale directly by the United States Mint. Rather the coins are distributed through the US Mint's network of authorized purchasers. The AP's purchase the coins directly and then resell to other dealers and the public.

The most recent information available from the US Mint indicates that 79,500 of the 2009 Gold Buffalo bullion coins have already been sold. Monthly sales have not been at this level since the heavy demand experienced when the coins debuted in 2006. For all of 2008 (amidst a few suspensions), the US Mint had sold 172,000 coins.

The numbers show that there is a very high level of pent up demand for Gold Buffalo coins. Until recently, the coins had been unavailable for nearly a year. The fact that they are finally being offered near the end of the year also seems to have created the impression that they will only be available in limited numbers. If another strong week of sales follows, the mintage of the 2009 Gold Buffalo might end up exceeding some of the prior year mintages.

The strong sales also suggest that the US Mint might not be having the same sourcing problems for 24 karat gold blanks, or they have at least acquired a significant supply. I have not heard any indication that the 2009 Gold Buffalo bullion coins are subject to rationing, so apparently the US Mint is comfortable that they can meet unrestricted demand from the public.

I think that the incredibly strong bullion sales figures have some implications for the 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo.

When the 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo is released (tentatively) on October 29, 2009, there will definitely be a rush to order. As with the bullion coins, the pent up demand and impression of limited availability will have people ordering early and, if possible, heavily.

The key question is: How many proof coins will the US Mint produce? Unless a stated maximum mintage is provided, I think the number could be significant. Rather than risk another public relations black eye, the US Mint might produce the coins in high quantities to ensure that any collector who to purchase the coin has ample opportunity to do so. This is contingent on the supply of blanks, which as mentioned, might not be an issue for 24 karat gold coins.

If the total number of 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo coins greatly exceeds the mintage for the prior year, secondary market potential would be curtailed. While the coin is undeniably beautiful and will be heavily collected, for now I would be wary of anticipating big gains. I mentioned this possibility in this prior post, and the new information on bullion sales lends it some further support.

Once more information is available from the US Mint on the 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo coins, I will have it posted here, along with any reevaluation of the situation.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ultra High Relief Above 100K, Braille Education Set Sales Higher

US Mint sales of the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin have exceeded the closely watched 100,000 mark. The latest weekly sales figures from the United States Mint indicate that 100,704 coins have sold as of October 18, 2009. This represents an increase of 1,936 above the prior week.

Many collectors have eyed the 100,000 mark as a possible stopping point for sales of the UHR Double Eagle. Although there is not a maximum mintage or production limit for the coin, this year the US Mint has unofficially limited production and sales of many products to round numbers.

The only reference to mintage for the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle that I have seen from the Mint is the following statement released back in May 2008: "The mintage of the new coin will be unlimited for one year. Only 2009-dated coins will be minted. The coins will go on sale in early 2009, although sales may continue into 2010 if inventory exists."

Another key figure from this week's sales report is the Louis Braille Education Set. Based on comments from previous posts, many collectors were planning to purchase this set together with the Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set to consolidate shipping charges. The Braille Set was released one week before the Lincoln Set.

The Braille Education Set sales showed an increase of 3,277 for a total of 5,996 sets sold. Notably, the number of sets sold in the second week of sales actually exceeds the number of sets sold in the opening week. This is highly uncommon for US Mint products, which tend to sell the greatest number of units in the first week.

For a full report of US Mint sales figures for the week ended October 18, 2009, check out Coin Update News.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

2009 Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set Recap

With this post, I wanted to provide a recap of the release and sales of the Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set. The reader response to the posts from Thursday and Friday has been incredible over 700 combined comments. You can check out the original posts and comments here and here. If you have some time and haven't been following along already, you can read the comments to get a variety of collector impressions on this latest US Mint product release.

Sales Period

The Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set went on sale October 15, 2009 at 12:00 Noon ET. For the first several hours of sales, the US Mint's website slowed to a crawl, which made placing orders difficult. Some readers were able to get through by phone, but most received an automated message stating that the US Mint was unable to answer. By 5:00 PM ET, the US Mint had sold 29,919 sets.

Sales continued into the following day when orders could be placed more easily. On October 16, 2009 at 6:00 PM ET, the US Mint put up a waiting list notice, which indicated that the maximum number of sets had been sold. Orders would continue to be accepted for placement on a waiting list. In the event of cancellations, orders would be fulfilled from the waiting list on a first come, first serve basis.

At the time of this post, the US Mint is still accepting orders for the waiting list.

Why Did the Sell Out Take So Long?

While a sell out within 30 hours is impressive, many people (myself included) expected a sell out on the opening day of sales. I think one of the primary reasons for the slower than expected sell out is an overall reduction in speculative demand for US Mint products. Undoubtedly, there were people buying the Coin and Chronicles Set in order to resell it at a profit, but the scale of this practice probably wasn't anywhere near the massive levels that took place a few years ago when one day sell outs were more frequent.

The last US Mint product to sell out in a day was the 2007 Thomas Jefferson's Liberty First Spouse Gold Coin. The coins had a maximum authorized mintage of 40,000 and an ordering limit of one per option per household. Each customer could order a maximum of one proof and one uncirculated coin.

Around this time, some dealers were paying sizable "bonuses" for individuals who ordered and shipped the coins to them upon receipt. Check out this article from Susan Headley which describes the practice and some of the premiums paid for First Spouse Gold Coins. By the time the Thomas Jefferson coin was released, there was likely more speculative demand than actual demand for coins. When the secondary market proved much less robust than dealers expected, prices quickly deteriorated. After this ordeal, some dealers may have stepped back from the practice.

The "buy-to-flip" activity may have also died down on the individual level. Even without bonuses from dealers, individuals can still buy products and immediately resell them on eBay. Earlier this year products like the Lincoln Birthplace Two Roll Set (LP1) and William Henry Harrison Rolls (WH2 and WH4) made a big impression after they unexpectedly sold out and began selling for huge premiums on the secondary market.

Speculative activity perked up for the subsequent bags and rolls offerings, but similar gains failed to materialize. The US Mint also threw a curve ball with the second Lincoln Two Roll Set offering (LP2) by nearly tripling production from the prior level. After a year of hit and miss, some speculative buyers may have chosen to sit this one out.

Whatever your opinion on the practice, speculative buying or buying for immediate resale does have a significant impact of the level of US Mint product sales, the pace of sell outs, and secondary market prices. The US Mint uses household order limits to curtail the practice and also (unintentionally) discourages the practice by being unpredictable. No matter what policies are in place, speculative demand will always exist and continue to impact collectors of US Mint products.

Beside the impact of reduced speculative buying, two more factors may have slowed the sell out. First, the US Mint may have lost some customers after the disappointment created by the cancellation of the 2009 Proof Silver Eagle and other products. After the news broke, many customers stated in comments here and elsewhere, that they would not be purchasing anything else from the US Mint. Second, the economy may have played a factor as people are being more careful about what they purchase.

Third Party Grading

Comments in some of the previous posts expressed concern about third party grading services like NGC or PCGS creating some type of special label for the coins in the Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set. As a few readers pointed out, this seems somewhat ridiculous since one of the most appealing aspects of the set is the packaging. To take the coins away from the packaging, and instead put them in a holder with the words "Coin and Chronicles Set" seems kind of silly.

I contacted NGC and PCGS to try to confirm their intentions for the set. NGC quickly responded that coins in the set will not receive any special recognition. If submitted, they will be graded as regular proof coins. PCGS has not responded to my inquiry.

Secondary Market Prices

Secondary market prices for the Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set are now around the $150 level, after dipping to around $125 late Thursday and early Friday. (View current auctions.) The number of pre-sales listed has increased with more than 140 sets currently listed. Once the coins start to be received by collectors, usually an influx of new listings appear. In the past, this influx has served to temporarily depress prices.

I don't have a crystal ball, but I think this set will continue to trade at a decent premium. Even though it does not contain any unique coins, the US Mint has created an appealing and historical set with a limited production. This year, collectors have been more willing to pay a premium for US Mint packaging. In the case of the Coin and Chronicles Set, at least the packaging is something unique and special, instead of a plain white box stamped with a product code.

The set also has some potential for broader appeal beyond coin collectors. While most collectors were aware of the set and had a window of opportunity to order directly from the US Mint, others from outside the coin collecting community were likely not aware of the offering. If demand starts to emerge from other channels, this would further bolster prices.

Lastly, if I am correct that this product had less speculative purchases than other sell outs, this will bode well for the long term prospects of the set. With more coins in the hands of collectors who intend to keep them, there will be less supply on the secondary market. A limited supply combined with steady demand would serve to keep prices high and prevent the boom and bust experienced by the early issues of the First Spouse Gold series.

Next Release

With the Lincoln Coin and Chronicles release over, the next product on the US Mint's release schedule is the 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo. This coin has a tentative release date of October 29, 2009. Ordering information and details of the release are still not available from the US Mint.

On October 15, 2009, the bullion version of the coins actually went on sale. Since these are bullion coins, they cannot be purchased directly from the US Mint. They are sold to the Mint's network of authorized bullion purchasers, who resell the coins to other dealers and the public.

I will have more details on the 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo offering as details become available. I will also track the status of the bullion coins sales and report anything of note.


2009 Lincoln Cent Mintages

The mintages for the first three designs of the 2009 Lincoln Cent have now been confirmed. The mintage figures for the "Professional Life" design had not yet been previously known.

The table below presents the mintages for circulating 2009 Lincoln Cents by design and mint. (These are circulating quality coins and do not include proof or satin finish coins.)

2009 Lincoln Cent Mintages

Philadelphia Denver Total
Birthplace 284,400,000 350,400,000 634,800,000
Formative Years 376,000,000 363,600,000 739,600,000
Professional Life 316,000,000 336,000,000 652,000,000

The US Mint's output for the 2009 Lincoln Cents has been more variable than other denominations. The combined mintages for the 2009 Quarters and 2009 Presidential Dollars had declined with each subsequent design (with the exception of the Polk Dollar). The 2009 Lincoln Cents had the lowest combined mintage first, followed by an increase, and the latest decrease.

The lowest mintage for an individual coin remains as the 2009-P Birthplace Cent at 284,400,000.

The prices for circulation strike 2009 Lincoln Cents have tapered off since the heights reached earlier this year. Coins are even starting to show up in circulation, as reported by some readers and on other sites. Personally, I am still yet to receive one of the new designs in circulation.

The next 2009 Lincoln Cent featuring the Presidency design is scheduled to be released on November 12, 2009. A launch ceremony is expected to take place in Washington, DC, followed by a coin exchange. Details have not yet been revealed by the US Mint, but I think it would be fitting to have the ceremony take place at the Lincoln Memorial. Once confirmed details on the launch ceremony are available, they will be posted on Mint News Blog.

Note: I will have another post on the Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set later today.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set Still on Sale

Surprisingly, the US Mint's Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set is still on sale as of 10:00 AM ET this morning. The sets went on sale yesterday at 12:00 Noon ET, with a first day sell out expected by many.

Thanks to readers, we have a rough idea of the total number of sets ordered. (Check out the 364 comments and counting on yesterday's post!)

The earliest order numbers from yesterday are 33159xxx. I placed an order for some 2009 Mint Sets this morning and had an order number of 33219xxx. This means that roughly 60,000 orders have been placed in the past 22 hours. Assuming that 80% or more of the orders contained one Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set, sales must be very close or have already exceeded the 50,000 production limit.

It's possible that the 50,000 mark has already been passed. For similar situations, the US Mint has accepted orders in excess of the production limit to allow a buffer for order cancellations due to bad credit card information or cancellations for orders placed in excess of the household limit. I would be very surprised if the status of the product status is not changed to Sold Out by the end of today.

Another observation from the comments, many people ordered the Louis Braille Education Set together with the Lincoln Set to combine shipping costs. The low initial sales of the Braille Set may see a big jump next week if this practice was widespread.

Separately, a more obscure product sold out yesterday. This was the Collecting America's Coins: Beginner Basics Set. I believe this product had actually gone on sale back in 2005. It was featured in this year's US Mint Holiday catalog, which likely brought some renewed interest.

The set contains a 2005 Proof Kennedy Half, satin finish 2005 P&D Roosevelt Dimes, circulation strike 2005 P&D Lincoln Cents, and a one cent blank planchet. In addition to the coins, the set also contains some excellent information about the history of US coins, the process of making coins, numismatic tips, and a small glossary. I had purchased one of these sets a while back for my son. (He is still only 18 months old, but one day I think he will enjoy it.)

Update: Dave Harper is reporting that the US Mint had sales of 29,919 sets as of 5 PM ET Thursday. At that time, order numbers were around 33200xxx. A recent order number is 33226xxx, meaning about 26,000 more orders have occurred since.

Update 2: The US Mint has also posted the following message:

Unfortunately, the United States Mint Web site did not perform as expected when the popular 2009 Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set went on sale at noon Eastern Time on October 15. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and frustration many of you may have experienced while attempting to purchase this and other products using our online catalog.

We did not meet the standards of excellence we have set for serving our customers. You deserve a better online shopping experience, and we are committed to resolving these issues quickly and permanently.

Thank you for your patience and continued support.

Update 3: At 6:00 PM ET, the set went onto waiting list status. The following message was posted on the product page:
Waiting List Notice: The number of orders we have taken meets the maximum limit for the United States Mint Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set. You may still place an order for this product, which will go on a waiting list. If a product becomes available due to an order cancellation, we will fulfill orders from the waiting list on a first-in, first-served basis. We cannot provide information about your position on the waiting list.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set on Sale Today

Today, the Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set will go on sale at the US Mint starting at 12:00 Noon ET. Anticipation for the set has been high since it was first announced in April and ordering details were revealed in late September.

To briefly recap, the set will contain one 2009 Proof Lincoln Silver Dollar and four 2009 Proof Lincoln Cents. The commemorative silver dollars had sold out for the individual coin offerings back in March. Only 50,000 of the maximum authorized mintage remains, which have been allocated to the Coin and Chronicles Set. The 2009 Proof Lincoln Cents are struck in a composition of 95% copper, 3% zinc, and 2% tin to match the composition of the original 1909 Lincoln Cent. Also included with the set are a reproduction of a photograph of Abraham Lincoln, a reproduction of the Gettysburg Address in his handwriting, and a certificate of authenticity. The contents are displayed in a leather-like folder with an outer slipcover.

The sets are priced at $55.95 each with an ordering limit of only one set per household. Most are expecting the Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set to sell out by the end of the day.

There are several reasons for the expected popularity. This will be the last opportunity to obtain the Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollar directly from the US Mint. Individually, the coins already sell for more than the price of the set.

This will mark the lowest production Lincoln-related product released by the US Mint this year. Besides the Coin and Chronicles Set, the lowest production product is currently the Lincoln Birthplace Two Roll Sets with production of 96,000 units. These originally sold at $8.95 each and now sell for about $100 on the secondary market.

Lastly, the US Mint seems to have done a nice job with this set. The coins are attractively presented, and historical materials will be interesting to see. The set has the potential for broader appeal beyond coin collectors, which should add to its demand.

While I personally don't like the practice, a number of people have listed pre-sales for the Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set on eBay (view current auctions). Most of the current auctions are priced somewhat excessively, but completed auctions reveal several pre-sales in the $175 to $200 range. Once people start to place confirmed orders, I am sure the pre-sale activity will pick up even more.

You can access the US Mint's product page directly with this link. You will be able to place your orders at 12:00 Noon ET.

(Note: With popular products such as this, some readers will often post their order numbers and time stamp in the comments. This is fine, and an interesting way to gauge the pace of orders- but please X-out the last three or four digits of your order number for security purposes.)


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

2009 Mint Set, Louis Braille Education Set Sales Figures

Sales figures are available for some recently issued US Mint products, most notably the 2009 Mint Set and the Louis Braille Education Set.

The 2009 Mint Set went on sale October 1, 2009. Expectations for the set were high for a variety of reasons, including the 95% copper Lincoln Cents, the expanded scope of the set to 36 coins, and the 2009 nickels and dimes. As of October 11, 2009, the US Mint has sold 392,007 sets.

This positions the set as one of the most swiftly selling Mint Sets in recent years. By comparison, last year's 2008 Mint Set had taken approximately six weeks to reach this level of sales. The 2008 Mint Set eventually sold a total of 745,464 sets.

Even though the popularity of the 2009 Mint Set will cause it to have a higher mintage, I think the longer term prospects remain positive. The inclusion of the unique satin finish 95% copper 2009 Lincoln Cents should keep the sets in steady demand and support prices.

The sales of the Braille Education Set were surprising. Since going on sale October 8, 2009, the US Mint has sold 2,719 units. Before the sets went on sale, I expressed the opinion that they would not be hot sellers (like the upcoming Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set is expected to be), but I didn't expect sales to come in this low. Ironically, these low initial sales figures might draw some new attention to the set. Recently, some collectors have been paying big premiums for low production US Mint products after they are no longer available for sale directly.

Across all options, the US Mint has now sold 192,784 of the Louis Braille Silver Dollars, with a split of 123,899 proof coins and 68,885 uncirculated coins. The maximum authorized mintage across all coins is 400,000. Commemorative coins and related products usually remain on sale until mid-December unless the maximum mintage is met sooner.

For a complete report of US Mint sales figures through October 11, 2009, including the latest numbers on the Ultra High Relief, First Spouse Gold Coins, and others, visit Coin Update News.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

US Mint Gold Coin Prices Likely to Rise

Is it that time again already? Based on the recent London Fix prices for gold, the US Mint will likely need to increase prices for their gold numismatic offerings tomorrow. This will bring prices for coins to their highest levels so far.

This year, the US Mint began using a new pricing policy, which allows them to adjust prices as often as weekly in response to the changing prices of precious metals. Product prices are adjusted if the average London Fix price of gold for a one week period moves across certain thresholds. The prices used to compute the average are shown below.
London AM and PM Fix Gold Prices

AM Fix PM Fix
Fri Oct 8 1,054.75 1,045.00
Fri Oct 9 1,046.75 1,051.50
Mon Oct 12 1,052.00 1,058.75
Tues Oct 13 1,064.50 1,057.50
Wed Sept 23 TBD N/A

Unless something drastic occurs, the average price of gold will fall within the $1,050 to $1,099.99 range resulting in another round of price increases. Price updates have generally taken place around mid-morning on Wednesdays, which will provide collectors with a small window of time to place any orders before prices are raised.

For this tier, the price of the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle will be raised from $1,389 to $1,439 per coin. The lowest price for this coin was $1,189, which was in effect back in January when the coins first went on sale.

The price of the First Spouse Gold Coins will be raised from $679 and $666 to $704 and $691 for proof and uncirculated coins, respectively. The lowest prices for the First Spouse Gold Coins varies, since the five coins currently available were released at different times. Around September, most of the current coins had been available at $616 and $629.

Precious metal prices are moving higher just before the upcoming release of the (non-canceled) collectible gold and platinum coins (tentatively) scheduled to be released in the coming weeks. If the coins been released earlier in the year, collectors would have been able to purchase the coins at much lower prices.


Monday, October 12, 2009

2009 Mint Set Arrives - Tarnish Warning

The first 2009 United States Mint Uncirculated Coin Sets have started to arrive. This year's set went on sale relatively late in the year, beginning on October 1, 2009. The 2009 Mint Set contains a total of 36 different coins from the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. The 2009 Lincoln Cents have a special composition of 95% copper, 3% zinc, and 2% tin. I have received my own sets and have a few observations to share after having them in hand.

The sets came packaged similarly to the prior year, sealed in a brown cardboard box with a barcode and product code on the outside of the box. There are two separate holders inside, which contain coins from the Denver and Philadelphia Mints. The holders have the same width as the prior year, but are greater in height to accommodate an extra row of coins.

The outside design of the holders is the exact same city skyline image used for the 2008 Mint Set. This packaging was pictured on the US Mint's website, but I was hoping that it was just a placeholder image or prototype. The repeat in packaging is a little disappointing. The US Mint has used a different design for the envelope or holder for the annual Mint Sets since 1984. I can identify most 1984-2008 Mint Sets by their package design or image, and always considered this to be a unique reflection of the times.

Inside the cardboard box was a message from the United States Mint about the 2009 Lincoln Cents printed on a small sheet of paper. The message reads the following:

A Message from the United States Mint
about the Lincoln Bicentennial One Cent

Coins Contains in your 2009 United

States Mint Uncircualted Coin Set

Given the metallic composition used for the 2009 uncirculated one-cent coins -- the same used for the original 1909 Lincoln Cents -- the alloy readily tarnishes. The United States Mint has used anti-tarnish treatments to minimize this impact on the appearance of the uncirculated coins. However, the alloy used for the one-cent coins in this year's uncirculated coin set is expected to tarnish more over time than the previous years' plated zinc one-cent coins.
The US Mint had delayed the release of 2009 Mint Set due to the unique tarnish issues created by the 95% copper Lincoln Cents. Even though they apparently resolved the tarnish issues over the short term, they are providing for the possibility that the tarnish issue may still present over a longer time period.

I examined a few 2009 Mint Sets and found the overall quality of the coins to be about the same as last year's except for the Philadelphia Mint Lincoln Cents. Most of these were mark free with pristine surfaces. Even though satin finish coins are specially struck and handled, most tend to pick up at least some light contact marks or abrasions. These better quality 2009-P Lincoln Cents might have just been the luck of the draw and not indicative of the quality of the coins in all sets.

As might be expected, some people are already selling the satin finish 95% copper 2009 Lincoln Cents on eBay. Some have been sold in sets of eight coins, which seem to be selling for $7 to $15 per set. Others are putting together twelve coin sets of the 95% copper 2009 Lincoln Cents, which include the satin finish issues and the proof issues. Someone is also selling satin finish rolls of 50 coins, which would require the break up of 50 2009 Mint Sets to create. Overall, these don't seem to be making as big a stir on the secondary market as when the 2009 Proof Lincoln Cents were first available. View the current eBay auctions here.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Final Thoughts on US Mint Product Cancellations

Earlier this week, the United States Mint announced a slew of product cancellations. Collector favorites such as the Proof Gold and Silver Eagles, and others such as collectible uncirculated Gold and Silver Eagles, and bullion Platinum Eagles will not be produced for 2009. After the announcement, I wrote a series of posts exploring the canceled (and available) products. This final post will provide some overall thoughts and reactions to the situation.
Previous coverage:
2009 Proof and Uncirculated Gold and Silver Eagles Canceled
2009 Platinum Eagles and 2009 Gold Buffalo Coins
More Details on 2009 Gold and Silver Eagles
Other World Mints and Precious Metals Demand

It's true that demand for gold, silver, and other precious metals has been exceptionally high for the past few years. During 2008 world mints struggled to cope with the increased demand, and many had to resort to product suspensions or allocations, similar to the steps taken by the United States Mint. By 2009 most world mints adapted to the elevated demand for their products, and in many cases, are now thriving in the current environment.

The Royal Canadian Mint quadrupled its capacity to produce bullion coins in late 2008. In 2009, they reintroduced two previously canceled bullion products, the Platinum Maple Leaf and the Palladium Maple Leaf, citing demand from distributors. The Platinum Maple Leaf was last offered in 1999 and the Palladium Maple Leaf in 2007. Indications suggest that sales of these reintroduced products have been strong.

The Austrian Mint extended shifts to nights and weekends, and recruited additional workers. They also introduced a new silver bullion coin, the Silver Philharmonic. The efforts of the Austrian Mint paid off. Their Gold Philharmonic captured additional market share and become the best selling gold coin in the world for the final quarter of 2008.

The Perth Mint of Australia invested in additional and improved equipment to streamline production and take advantage of market conditions. For their fiscal year ended June 30, 2009, they reported a record profit of $38 million, compared to $3.7 million profit in the prior year. Sales increased across both bullion and collector coin offerings. Rather than complaining about demand, the Perth Mint cited "favorable market conditions" as the reason for their increased profits. They aim to continue to "take advantage of the renewed interest in precious metals" in the next fiscal year.

The US Mint and Precious Metals Demand

The US Mint reacted to the increased demand for their products by implementing a series of suspensions and/or rationing programs. These eventually touched nearly all of their bullion and collectible precious metal products. As mentioned, other world mints were forced to initially resort to such measures, but managed to adapt and quickly lift suspensions and allocations.

The US Mint's rationing programs extended into 2009, even as they significantly shrunk their line of bullion coins. Until the recent announcements, the US Mint had only offered one ounce Gold Eagle and one ounce Silver Eagle bullion coins. In prior years, they had offered a full line of fractional weight Gold Eagles, a full range of fractional and one ounce Platinum Eagles, a 24 karat Gold Buffalo, and a wide array of precious metals collector coins.

At one point, the US Mint did state that they were seeking additional suppliers of precious metals blanks, which seemed to be the crux of the problem. The US Mint is held to special requirements for the sourcing of metal for its bullion coins, so the process was more complicated than for other mints. To date, I have not heard any news about the US Mint securing additional suppliers.

US Mint's Missed Opportunities

I am not convinced that it was absolutely impossible for the US Mint to produce Proof 2009 Gold and Silver Eagles. As mentioned in a previous post, the US Mint started sourcing all 22 karat gold and silver blanks to the production of bullion coins since at least June 2008. This means that they had well over one year to try to find a resolution to the situation, either by increasing acquisition of blanks from existing suppliers or contracting with new ones. During this time frame, it is worth noting that the US Mint was somehow able to secure at least 100,000 one ounce 24 karat gold blanks for the production of this year's Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin.

The rationing programs put in place during 2008 ended in June 2009. Most took this as a sign that the unprecedented demand had abated and the US Mint was finally able to meet "full demand" without resorting to rationing. Since the rationing programs have not been reinstated, presumably the US Mint has meeting full demand during the past three months. Was the number of precious metals blanks obtained by the Mint exactly equal to the demand for bullion coins? I have to think the US Mint should have had some opportunity to put aside at least a small inventory of blanks for the production of collector coins later in the year.

Even if it was somehow impossible to take any of these steps, I still think there had to be some potential work around or another avenue to pursue. See my separate article on Coin Update News: How the US Mint Could Have Produced 2009 Proof Gold and Silver Eagles.

The US Mint's Announcement

The US Mint must have realized that this week's announcement regarding the cancellation of many popular collector coins would set off a wave of disappointment and complaints. To soften the blow, they cleverly titled their press release "United States Mint to Offer 2009 American Buffalo Proof Gold and American Platinum Proof Coins." Behind the title, the US Mint revealed the slew of canceled coins.

The tone of release was unsympathetic and unapologetic. The cancellations were simply the result of the US Mint's legal obligation to produce bullion coins. The article implied that the US Mint was not at fault, rather it was the result of all those pesky bullion buyers.

Rather trying to sidestep the issue and provide legal justifications, collectors should have been issued an outright apology. I think that breaking with a twenty two year tradition requires that someone take personal responsibility and admit that something went wrong.

Throughout the tumultuous events of the past two years, the US Mint has only issued one public apology. This was in response to an extended website outage in January 2008.

Collecting US Mint Coins in 2009

In recent history, it has never been so difficult or complicated to collect newly issued coins from the US Mint. In the past, the US Mint offered a wide variety of products, the availability core products could be depended on throughout the year, and sell outs happened in weeks or months, if at all.

Today, the product line has been reduced by more than 60%, many core products have been delayed or canceled, and we all know the Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set will sell out on the first day. Readers have mentioned calling in sick from work on the launch date to stay home and battle with the US Mint’s overloaded server. While it seems ridiculous, this has become a practical solution. Is this the new face of coin collecting?

Even collecting newly minted coins from circulation has become a challenge. Just ask anyone who has tried to obtain the 2009 quarters from their bank, or tried to find any 2009 nickels or dimes from any source besides eBay. During the State Quarter era, the new designs would faithfully show up in change within a few months of release. Collectors could obtain uncirculated rolls of each new design from their local banks at face value. Granted there are distribution issues related to circulating coins, but another excuse, even a justified one, doesn't provide much consolation.

I honestly don’t want to have to worry about the US Mint’s supply chain issues, the legal pecking order of their products, or the distribution system for new coins. I want a reasonable assortment of products, which includes expected core offerings and occasional special offerings. If I like one of their coins or products, I want to have the ability to easily purchase it without reorganizing my life to do so. If the US Mint must release eighteen different circulating coin designs each year, I would expect the reasonable opportunity to acquire them at face value or a reasonable premium.

2009 Platinum Eagle, 2009 Gold Buffalo, 2009 Fractional Gold Eagles

To end things on a less dour note, I wanted to give my thoughts on the 2009 precious metals products that will be released in the coming months. This includes two collectible coins and some previously unissued bullion coins.

Many are looking forward to the one ounce 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo and 2009 Proof Platinum Eagle coins as potential big winners. The coins are tentatively scheduled for release on October 29 and December 3, respectively. The 2008 versions of these products now sell for double or more than their last issue prices, but will the same thing happen for the 2009 coins?

It depends. Even though the products are being offered at the tail end of the year and possibly for a short ordering period, the pent up demand for these products will be significant. Collectors will likely buy every coin the US Mint offers, but how many will this be?

If the number minted is low, or at least in line with 2008 levels, then the products will sell out and prices will move up quickly on the secondary market. If the US Mint (somehow) mints these coins in large quantities, the potential is curtailed.

As an example, the US Mint offered the 10th Anniversary Platinum Eagle set at the very end of 2007. Anticipation for the set was high following the sell outs and price appreciation for the prior 20th Anniversary Gold and Silver Eagle Sets. The US Mint produced 30,000 of the Platinum Sets and eventually sold about 20,000 sets. For a collectible Platinum Eagle, this mintage was enormous. The high mintage served to curb the potential for price appreciation after the coins were no longer available at the Mint.

Beyond the collectible products, the US Mint will also be offering one ounce bullion 2009 Gold Buffalo coins and fractional 2009 Gold Eagle coins. These will be available from bullion dealers on October 15 and December 3, respectively. Typically, most bullion coins are purchased by precious metals investors and don't carry a collectible premium. However, if the mintages come in low enough, I think it will be possible.

It's likely that the 2009 Gold Buffalo bullion coin will be heavily ordered, but end up with a comparatively low mintage. The current lowest mintage for a bullion Gold Buffalo is 189,500 coins for 2008 136,503 coins for 2007. Again, it will be a matter of how many the US Mint produces, but the number is almost certain to come in below the 2008 mintage, perhaps significantly. Since the coin will be available from October 15, there will be several weeks of data during the course of sales to examine.

I think that the best bet will be the fractional bullion Gold Eagles. The coins will be overshadowed by the Gold Buffalo and will be available later in the year, probably for just a few weeks. Mintages are bound to come in at historical lows, and draw the interest of collectors. This would set the stage for some higher prices after the coins are no longer available from bullion dealers.

This will conclude my coverage of this week's events for the time being. I will continue to cover any subsequent news and the individual coins as the release dates come closer. I invite any other collectors to share their thoughts and reactions in the comments. You are also invited to submit articles with your reactions for publication on Coin Update News. See the contributors page for more details.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

More Details on 2009 Gold and Silver Eagles

This continues the ongoing coverage of the US Mint's cancellation of the collectible 2009 Gold and Silver Eagles and simultaneous announcement regarding the 2009 Platinum Eagle and 2009 Gold Buffalo coins.

This post will provide more details on this year's 2009 Gold and Silver Eagle offerings and canceled products. Once again, I will stick mostly to the facts and details. Tomorrow's post will provide my overall thoughts and reactions to this week's announcement.

2009 American Silver Eagles

The genesis of the current situation traces back a few years. In late 2007, financial instability and uncertainty led many to rediscover precious metals investing. The United States Mint is responsible for producing the US government's only silver bullion coin, the American Silver Eagle.

The Mint was able to handle the additional demand for silver bullion coins until early 2008, when they were forced to temporarily suspend Silver Eagle bullion coin sales. Sales were resumed about a month later on a rationed basis. This did not seem to have immediate impact on the collector versions of the Silver Eagle.

The impact became apparent a few months later. Statements from the US Mint released in June 2008 indicated that they were not using incoming supplies of silver blanks to produce collector coins (proof and uncirculated), but instead directing all inventory to the production of bullion coins. In August 2008, ordering options for the 2008 Proof Silver Eagle disappeared and were replaced by the message "Product is not available." The coins never went back on sale.

The situation continued into 2009, when the US Mint officially announced that production of the collector versions of the Silver Eagle were suspended until "sufficient inventories of silver blanks could be acquired to meet market demand for all three American Silver Eagle Coin products."

Rationing of the bullion Silver Eagles ended in June 2009, providing some hope that a respite in demand for bullion coins would allow the US Mint to build their inventory of blanks to produce collector coins. After several months of apprehension, hopes were dashed with this week's announcement. The 2009 Proof Silver Eagle and 2009-W Uncirculated Silver Eagle were canceled.

The Proof Silver Eagle has been minted and offered to collectors every year since 1986. Sales for the regular proof coin have ranged from a low of 372,168 in 1994 to a high of more than one million coins in 2006, when the coins were sold individually and as part of a special 20th Anniversary Set. Collectors have expressed the most disappointment in the cancellation of the Proof Silver Eagle.

The Uncirculated Silver Eagle has been minted from 2006 to 2008, when the US Mint's line of collectible uncirculated American Eagle coins was introduced. These coins are struck on specially burnished blanks and carry the "W" mint mark. Sales have ranged from a low of approximately 470,000 coins in 2006 (across all ordering options) to a high of 653,878 coins in 2007. The 2008-W Uncirculated Silver Eagle is still available for sale at the US Mint as part of the 2008 Annual Uncricluated Dollar Coin Set.

As it stands, the only 2009 Silver Eagle offered will be the bullion version of the coin. The US Mint has sold 20,824,500 of the one ounce silver bullion coins to date. This amount already exceeds the previous record sales number recorded last year.

2009 American Gold Eagles

While collectors seem to have been most disappointed by the cancellation of the collectible Silver Eagle products, the collectible 2009 Gold Eagles will be missed as well.

The situation for the American Gold Eagle is similar to that described for the Silver Eagle. Gold Eagle bullion coins were first suspended in August 2008 and then resumed two weeks later on a rationed basis. Later that year, the US Mint announced that they would be restricting bullion production to one ounce coins only.

In early 2009, the US Mint officially announced the suspension of collectible proof and uncirculated Gold Eagles until sufficient inventories of gold blanks could be acquired. The rationing of bullion coins was lifted in June 2009.

This week, the US Mint announced that all 2009 Proof Gold Eagles were canceled. This includes 1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz coins, and a 4 Coin Set. The previously planned collectible one ounce 2008-W Uncircualted Gold Eagle was also canceled. Fractional collectible uncirculated coins had previously been announced as discontinued in the prior year.

As part of this week's announcement, the US Mint did indicate that they would finally offer fractional weight Gold Eagle bullion coins. This comes after more than a year of producing only one ounce bullion. The fractional coins will be available starting on December 3. Since these are bullion coins, they will not be sold directly by the US Mint, but distributed through their network of authorized bullion dealers.

The 2009 Gold Eagle one ounce bullion coin, which has been on sale throughout the year, has sold 982,000 coins to date. This is still less than half of the record sales of 2,055,000 ounces of gold bullion sold by the US Mint in 1999.

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US Mint Product Schedule Updated Through Year End

Following their announcement of the cancellation of the collectible 2009 Gold and Silver Eagles and the planned release of proof 2009 Platinum Eagles and 2009 Gold Buffalo coins, the US Mint also updated their product release schedule through the end of the year.

Previously most of the remaining products for the year were listed with season release dates. Release dates are now posted for the 2009 Lincoln Cent Presidency design, Zachary Taylor Dollar products, Northern Mariana Islands Quarters products, Margaret Taylor First Spouse Gold Coins, and the First Spouse Four Medal Set (which I think should be a "Five Medal Set").

The products and release dates are listed below:

10/15/2009 Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set
10/29/2009 American Buffalo Gold Proof Coin
11/10/2009 U.S. Virgin Islands First Day Coin Cover
11/12/2009 2009 Lincoln Cent Two-Roll Set “Presidency”
11/19/2009 Zachary Taylor Dollar Rolls
11/30/2009 Northern Marianas Islands Bags and Rolls
12/3/2009 American Eagle Platinum Proof Coin
12/3/2009 Margaret Taylor First Spouse Gold Coins
12/3/2009 First Spouse Four-Medal Set
12/17/2009 Presidential $1 Coin & First Spouse Medal Set - Margaret Taylor
12/30/2009 Zachary Taylor Dollar Coin Cover
1/12/2010 Northern Mariana Islands First Day Coin Cover


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

2009 Platinum Eagles and 2009 Gold Buffalo Coins

The news yesterday that the US Mint has canceled collectible 2009 Gold and Silver Eagles certainly generated a lot of responses from the collecting public. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I plan to provide some more details and my own thoughts on the announcements in the coming days.

Today, I wanted to write about the known details for the 2009 Platinum Eagle and 2009 Gold Buffalo coins which will be offered this year. Tomorrow I will follow with more details on the canceled Gold and Silver Eagles. By Friday, I will present some overall thoughts and reactions to the situation and how it has affected collectors. For now I will stick mostly to the facts.

2009 Proof Platinum Eagle

Last year, the US Mint offered a total of fourteen different platinum coin products. This included collectible proof 1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz coins, and 4 Coin Sets; collectible uncirculated 1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz coins and 4 coin sets; and a full range of bullion 1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, and 1/10 oz coins.

This year, there will be only one platinum coin offered: the one ounce 2009 Proof Platinum Eagle. This coin will be offered for sale directly by the United States Mint with a tentative release date of December 3, 2009.

The 2009 Proof Platinum Eagles reverse will feature a new design interpreting the theme "To Form a More Perfect Union." The final design has not yet been announced, but design candidates were reviewed by the CFA and CCAC last year. The CFA recommended a design depicting a small tree with thirteen leaves. The CCAC recommended the design pictured at the top of this post with four faces representing the diversity of America.

Official pricing and ordering information has not yet been announced. Based on the US Mint's published pricing grid for numismatic platinum coins, the one ounce proof coin would cost $1,592 based on an average price of platinum between $1,250 to $1,349.99. It seems likely that the US Mint would place a household ordering limit on these coins (perhaps one per household) due to the demand for the coins and the small window for production.

Last year, the US Mint sold a combined total of 5,030 of the one ounce 2008 Proof Platinum Eagles.

2009 Proof and Bullion Gold Buffalo Coins

Last year, the US Mint offered thirteen different Gold Buffalo coin products. This included collectible proof 1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz coins, and 4 Coin Sets; collectible uncirculated 1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz coins, and 4 coin sets; the American Buffalo Celebration Coin; the Double Prosperity Set; and the one ounce bullion coin.

This year, there will be just two coins offered: the one ounce proof coin and the one ounce bullion coin.

The proof coins will be offered for sale directly by the United States Mint with a tentative release date of October 29, 2009. Ordering and pricing details have not yet been announced. Based on the numismatic gold coin pricing grid, the price for each coin would be $1,310 based on an average gold price of $1,000.00 to $1,049.99. As mentioned for the platinum coin, I also think anticipated high demand will cause the US Mint to impose a low household limit.

Last year the US Mint sold a total of 19,591 of the one ounce 2008 Proof Gold Buffalo Coins. This was down from 58,998 proof coins sold in 2007, and approximately 252,000 proof coins sold in 2006.

The 2009 Gold Buffalo bullion coins will not be offered directly by the United States Mint. As with other bullion coins, they will be distributed through the US Mint's network of authorized bullion dealers. These select dealers can purchase the coins directly from the US Mint for the spot price of gold plus a mark up. The coins are then resold to other bullion dealers, coin dealers, or the public.

Last year, the US Mint sold 189,500 of the one ounce 2008 Gold Buffalo Bullion coins.

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United States Mint Braille Education Set

The United States Mint will offer the Braille Education Set on October 8, 2009 at 12:00 Noon ET.

The set includes one uncirculated 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar, materials related to the Braille system of writing for the blind and visually impaired, and an example of readable Braille. The set comes in a tri-fold binder and is limited to 25,000 units.

The Education Set is offered at $44.95 with an ordering limit of one per household. This ordering limit will be in effect for an initial 30 day period, after which it will be re-evaluated. The uncirculated 2009 Louis Braille Silver Dollar, which is contained in the set, still remains available for sale individually, priced at $33.95 with no ordering limits.

Over the years, the US Mint has offered numerous special sets for commemorative coins, which incorporate objects or materials related to the program. The most successful sets in terms of secondary market performance have been those which include a specially minted coin. Examples of this are the 1998 Robert F. Kennedy Set which included a matte proof Kennedy Half Dollar, or the 1993 Thomas Jefferson and 1997 Botanical Gardens Sets which included matte proof Jefferson Nickels. Other sets can sometimes be difficult to locate, but usually don't carry big premiums.

Since this set does not have any unique coins, its potential is curtailed. However, there has been a recent trend for collectors to pay premiums for specially packaged US Mint collectibles with small production runs. At 25,000 units, this set might fall into this category, but in my opinion this should be more than enough to go around.

This Education Set should serve to revive sales of the Braille commemorative coins, which have been moving slowly in recent months. The table below shows the most recent sales figures for the Louis Braille Commemorative Silver Dollars. There is a maximum mintage of 400,000 coins across all product options.
Louis Braille Commemorative Coin Sales
Proof 123,556
Uncirculated 45,592
Uncirculated (Easy-Open) 20,648

Total 189,796

Over on Coin Update News, we are now reporting weekly US Mint sales figures for their current product offerings. The reports will be posted early each week and cross referenced from Mint News Blog. Check out the full US Mint sales report for 10/4/09.


US Mint Gold Coin Prices to Rise

The US Mint's current pricing policy for numismatic gold coins allows them to adjust prices as frequently as once per week in response to the change price of gold. The recent surge in the price of gold has brought the average price for the preceding week high enough to cause a price change.

Prices changes have usually become effective around mid morning on Wednesday. There should still be a few hours to place final orders before prices are increased.

The price of the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin will be raised from $1,339 to $1,389 per coin.

The price of available First Spouse Gold Coins will be raised from $641 and $654 to $665.75 $666.00 and $679 for uncirculated and proof coins, respectively.

This change will bring the prices of these coins back to their highest levels for the year.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

2009 Proof and Uncirculated Gold and Silver Eagles Canceled

Today at Noon, the United States Mint issued a press release with some shocking and disappointing news. The collectible 2009 Proof and Uncirculated Gold and Silver Eagles will not be offered this year. As partial consolation, the press release also announced plans to offer the 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo, the 2009 Proof Platinum Eagle, and fractional weight Gold Eagle bullion coins.
Additional Coverage on this announcement:
2009 Platinum Eagle and 2009 Gold Buffalo
2009 Gold Eagle and 2009 Silver Eagle
Final Thoughts on US Mint Product Cancellations
As it now stands, the following collector coins are now canceled:
- 2009 Proof Silver Eagle
- 2009-W Uncirculated Silver Eagle
- 2009 Annual Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set
- 2009 Proof $50 Gold Eagle (one ounce)
- 2009 Proof $25 Gold Eagle (one-half ounce)
- 2009 Proof $10 Gold Eagle (one-quarter ounce)
- 2009 Proof $5 Gold Eagle (one-tenth ounce)
- 2009 Proof Gold Eagle 4 Coin Set
This is in addition to many other collector gold and platinum coins that had previously been announced as discontinued.

On the bullion front, the US Mint has canceled all 2009 American Platinum Eagle bullion coins. These coins are typically available in one ounce, one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce, and one-tenth ounce sizes.

The following collector coins will be offered:
- 2009 Proof $50 Gold Buffalo (release date October 29)
- 2009 Proof $100 Platinum Eagle (release date December 3)
The reason cited for the canceled products is a familiar one: "the unprecedented demand for American Eagle Gold and Silver Bullion Coins." This reason has been cited on numerous occasions over the past two years to explain bullion coin rationing, bullion and collector coin suspensions, and bullion and collector coin cancellations.

Under law, the United States Mint is required to produce Gold and Silver Eagle bullion coins in quantities sufficient to meet public demand. Accordingly, the US Mint has been using all 22-karat gold and silver blanks to produce bullion coins, in lieu of collector coins, which they are not legally required to produce.

The status of this year's collectible Gold Eagles, Platinum Eagles, Silver Eagles, and Gold Buffaloes has been a topic of constant discussion and speculation. Way back in January, I had mentioned the possibility that these coins might not be issued in 2009. My reasoning was validated a few months later when the US Mint finally announced that the products were suspended (see posts here and here). In mid-June, there was a brief revival of hope for the collector coins when the US Mint finally ended bullion allocation programs, but apparently this was to no avail.

This is clearly an unhappy resolution to the situation for collectors. I will have further thoughts on this situation in the coming days.

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