Mint News Blog

News, Information, and Commentary on US Mint Products

Monday, November 30, 2009

Margaret Taylor First Spouse Gold Coins

The 2009 Margaret Taylor First Spouse Gold Coins will go on sale at the US Mint on Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 12:00 Noon ET. This will represent the fifth and final release of the year for the 24-karat gold coin series.

The obverse of the coin features a portrait of Margaret Taylor designed by Phebe Hemphill and sculpted by Charles Vickers. Inscriptions indicate the order of the Presidency "12th" and the years of the term "1849-1850". The reverse of the coin depicts the First Lady helping an injured soldier during the Seminole War, as designed by Mary Beth Zeitz and sculpted by Jim Licaretz.

The coins will be available in proof or uncirculated version with a maximum combined mintage of 40,000 across both options. This same maximum level has been set for each release of the series, although no coins have reached the maximum since 2007. An ordering limit of 10 coins per household will be in place for the first week of sales, after which the limit will be extended, adjusted, or removed.

The prices for the Margaret Taylor First Spouse Coin will be determined based on the US Mint's new pricing policy. If the average London Fix price of gold from the prior Thursday through this Wednesday remains within the current range of $1,150 to $1,199.99, then the proof version of the coin will be priced at $754 and the uncirculated version will be priced at $741. This will be the highest initial offering price for a First Spouse Gold Coin to date.

On December 3, 2009, sales of Martin Van Buren's Liberty Gold Coins are scheduled to end. These coins have been available from the US Mint since November 25, 2008 and have sold 7,384 proof coins and 4,266 uncirculated coins as of the last weekly sales report.

In closing, I wanted to provide the results of a survey from a few weeks ago. The survey was included in a post where I went over some of the arguments in favor and against the long term prospects for the series in terms of potential price appreciation. Readers were split almost exactly equally amongst the three options.

How will First Spouse Gold Coins Perform in the Future?

Prices will remain around gold value.
102 votes (33%)

Small premiums will develop for low mintage coins.
103 votes (34%)

Big premiums will develop for low mintage coins.
102 votes (33%)


Friday, November 27, 2009

2010 Native American Dollar Design Released

The United States Mint has announced the reverse design for the upcoming 2010 Native American Dollar. The design is based on the theme "Government - The Great Tree of Peace."
The reverse depicts the Hiawatha Belt, which is a visual record of the creation of the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois Confederacy. The central figure on the belt is the Great White Pine, representing the Onondaga Nation. The four squares represent the Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga and Seneca Nations. A bundle of arrows encircled by the belt symbolizes strength in unity for the Iroquois Confederacy. Inscriptions include "Haudenosaunee", "Great Law of Peace", "United States of America", and the denomination "$1". The reverse was designed by Thomas Cleveland.

The obverse of the coin will feature the familiar portrait of Sacagawea designed by Glenna Goodacre. This design was used on the obverse of the prior Sacagawea Dollar series from 2000 to 2008 and is used (with removal of some of the inscriptions) for the Native American Dollar series.

Earlier in the year, the United States Mint had released five separate design candidates for the 2010 Native American Dollar. Four of the designs featured the "Great Tree of Peace." This is a white pine tree topped by an eagle. A Native American leader buried weapons here to symbolize the peace treaty formed between the five nations. The fifth design, which was ultimately selected, featured the Hiawatha Belt. Both the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) and Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) had favored the Hiawatha Belt design.

The United States Mint will issue the new coins beginning in January 2010 and continuing throughout the year. The Native American Dollar series began in 2009 to recognize the contributions and accomplishments of Native Americans. By law, at least twenty percent of all dollar coins produced by the United States Mint are required to be Native American Dollars.

2009 Proof Platinum Eagle

Separately, I wanted to provide some additional information about the reverse design selected for the 2009 Proof Platinum Eagle, which had generated a great deal of response from readers. The new design features four faces to represent the diversity of the Nation with intertwined hair and clothing symbolizing the principle "To Form a More Perfect Nation."
This design will be the first in a multi year series of designs which represent the core concepts of American democracy by featuring the six principles of the Preamble of the US Constitution. The theme of the current and subsequent reverse designs of the series are inspired by narratives prepared by Chief Justice of the United States, John G. Roberts, Jr., at the request of the United States Mint.

I believe that the narrative "To Form a More Perfect Union" had been provided to the artists who prepared candidate designs and the CFA and CCAC when they reviewed designs, but I have not seen it published publicly. I requested and obtained a copy of the narrative. On my latest article for Coin Update News, you can read the full narrative "To Form a More Perfect Union" which inspired the 2009 Proof Platinum Eagle design.


Northern Mariana Islands Quarter Bags and Rolls

The US Mint will begin sales of the Northern Mariana Islands Quarters bags and rolls on Monday, November 30, 2009 at 12:00 Noon ET. This will represent the final release for the 2009 District of Columbia and United States Territories Quarters Program.

The reverse design of the 2009 Northern Mariana Islands Quarter depicts the natural resources of the islands in the land, air, and sea. Design elements include a Latte stone, coconut trees, wild plants, nature birds, and a sailing vessel. A head lei composed of native plants and flowers borders the bottom. The reverse was designed by Richard Masters and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill.

The US Mint will offer 1000-coin bags from either the Philadelphia or Denver Mint priced at $309.95 each, and 100-coin bags from either mint priced at $32.95 each. A Two Roll Set containing one 40-coin roll from the Philadelphia and one 40-coin roll from the Denver Mint will also be available priced at $32.95.

Sales of this year's quarter bags and rolls started off slow for the first release, but then jumped for the second release. This was probably motivated by the jump in secondary market prices for the sold out District of Columbia Quarter bags and rolls. Sales have trailed off since then, as subsequent releases failed to show similar price appreciation.

The last reported sales figures for all of the 2009 Quarter bags and rolls are shown below. The U.S. Virgin Islands Quarter bags and rolls still remain available for sale at the US Mint.

1000 (P) 1000 (D) 100 (P) 100 (D) 2 Roll Set
D.C. 653 704 8,304 10,394 31,021
Puerto Rico 1,047 953 20,000 17,295 41,669
Guam 1,487 1,334 13,012 12,337 38,231
American Samoa 1,499 1,434 7,325 7,185 33,865
U.S. Virgin Islands 1,206 1,168 7,019 6,856 31,234

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gold and Silver Eagle Bullion Coin Sales Suspended

News is currently circulating that the US Mint has suspended sales of American Gold Eagle and American Silver Eagle bullion coins. The suspension comes amidst an extraordinary rise in the price of gold, which has posted gains for seventeen out of the last eighteen trading days.

The suspension of American Eagle coins was caused by strong demand which depleted the Mint's inventory. The US Mint reportedly continues to strike the coins and expects to resume sales in early December. Fractional American Gold Eagle bullion coins are also expected to be available for sale starting on December 3. These 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, and 1/10 oz gold coins have not been offered so far during 2009.

The Mint previously suspended sales of Gold and Silver Eagles during 2008, only to resume sales under a rationing program, which remained in place until June 2009.

In the month of November, the US Mint has sold 124,000 one ounce Gold Eagle bullion coins. This compares to 115,500 coins sold in the prior month. Earlier in the year the US Mint had sold as many as 147,500 coins in a single month.

The number of one ounce Silver Eagle bullion coins sold so far during November is 2,586,500. This compares to 2,939,000 coins sold in the prior month. The highest monthly sales for the year were achieved in March when 3,132,000 coins were sold.

Total sales to date for US Mint gold and silver bullion coins are shown below. Sales of the Silver Eagle are already at an all time annual high. Gold Eagle and Gold Buffalo coins have recorded higher annual totals in past years.
US Mint Bullion Coin Sales Year to Date
2009 Silver Eagle 25,993,000
2009 Gold Eagle (1 oz) 1,193,500
2009 Gold Buffalo 171,500

New Coins TV Episode: Lincoln Cent Coin Video


2008 Proof Gold Buffalo Updated Mintages

Revised sales figures for the collectible 2008-W Proof Gold Buffalo Coins have been released by the United States Mint. This follows the previous release of revised figures for the 2008 Gold, Platinum, and Silver Eagles and the 2008-W Uncirculated Gold Buffalo coins. The revised numbers are surprising and result in overall mintage increases for all Proof Gold Buffalo coins.

Below is a table presenting the revised sales figures for the collectible 2008 Gold Buffalo coins by product option. A total column is added to compute the total mintage for coins across all product options. I am also reproducing the numbers for the collectible uncirculated Gold Buffalo coins, which were previously released.
2008 Gold Buffalo Per Option Total
1 oz. Uncircualted 3,025 9,074
1/2 oz. Uncirculated 3,237 16,908
1/4 oz. Uncirculated 3,900 9,949
1/10 oz. Uncirculated 11,380 17,429
4 Coin Uncirculated Set 6,049
Double Prosperity Set 7,622

1 oz. Proof 11,060 25,496
1/2 oz. Proof 2,184 16,620
1/4 oz. Proof 1,331 15,767
1/10 oz. Proof 11,080 25,516
4 Coin Proof Set 14,436

The revised figures for the proof coins show a huge drop for sales of the individual 1/4 oz and 1/2 oz coins. These were previously reported as 4,638 (1/2 oz) and 5,972 (1/4 oz). This was offset by an increase in the number of reported sales for the 4 Coin Set, which changed from 7,931 to 14,436. The net result is increased mintages for all of the 2008 Proof Gold Buffalo coins. Find the full comparison on Numismatic News.

After the recent updates, the mintages for the 2008-W Uncirculated Gold Buffalo coins are now well below the mintages for the corresponding proof coins (except the 1/2 oz). Until now the proof versions seem to have brought higher premiums on the secondary market. It will be interesting to see if the revised numbers cause this to change.

The big changes have made some people justifiably skeptical of the new numbers, and sales figures reported by the US Mint in general. I don't have a good explanation for the huge shifts in the numbers, but the unique confluence of events in late 2008 might have created an environment for flawed sales reports or large subsequent adjustments.

For the majority of 2008, collectible gold coins available from the US Mint had been priced at excessive premiums. The coins were released at a time when the price of gold was high and prices were not adjusted after the price of gold moved lower. The collectible platinum coins were also priced at high premiums and were completely unavailable for several weeks at a time while the price of platinum fell precipitously. Starting in 2009, the US Mint began a new pricing policy which made coin prices more responsive to changes in precious metals prices and also eliminated the need to lengthy sales suspensions.

Late in the year, the US Mint announced sweeping product discontinuations which would eliminate nearly all Gold Buffalo offerings, nearly all Platinum Eagle offerings, and all fractional uncirculated Gold Eagle offerings. Just a few days later, the remaining 2008 gold and platinum coin products had their prices slashed to bring premiums into line with precious metals prices.

The combination of the discontinuation announcement and lower prices set off a rapid pace of sales into the end of the year. Products quickly sold out or entered backorder status, with some backorders extending for months. Products previously purchased at higher prices might have been returned or customers may have canceled orders not yet delivered. This chaotic environment may have caused flaws with the sales reporting for this period.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

US Mint Gold Coin Sales Steady Despite Higher Prices

Despite continually rising prices, US Mint gold coin sales have remained surprisingly steady over the past several weeks.

This year, the United States Mint adopted a new pricing policy which allows them to update prices as frequently as once per week. Recently, coin prices have been increased every two weeks or so, as the price of gold has continued to rise. Another price increase will almost certainly take place tomorrow, bringing US Mint gold coins to another set of record high prices.

The latest weekly sales report available on Coin Update News show weekly sales of 1,091 UHR Double Eagles, 3,017 Proof Gold Buffalo coins, and 457 First Spouse Gold Coins. Except for the Gold Buffalo which was recently released, these sales levels are roughly the same or higher than other recent weekly sales levels which occurred when coin prices were lower.

The tables below show the number of coins sold for the past five weekly sales periods for the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle and combined First Spouse Gold Coins. The prices in effect at the end of the weekly period are provided in the last column.
2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Sales
Week Ending Coins Sold Coin Price
Oct 25 562 $1,389
Nov 1 1045 $1,439
Nov 8 1453 $1,439
Nov 15 1098 $1,489
Nov 22 1091 $1,489

First Spouse Gold Coin Sales
Week Ending Coins Sold Coin Prices
Oct 25 213 $679 (proof), $666 (unc)
Nov 1 414 $704 (proof), $691 (unc)
Nov 8 334 $704 (proof), $691 (unc)
Nov 15 412 $729 (proof), $716 (unc)
Nov 22 457 $729 (proof), $716 (unc)

The anticipated increase tomorrow will bring the price of the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle to $1,539. The price of the 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo will rise to $1,460. Prices for First Spouse Gold Coins would rise to $754 and $741. This will actually be the final pricing tier in the US Mint's published grid.

A reader had an interesting question regarding whether the US Mint would publish new pricing grids, possibly recalculating coin premiums. The current tables were computed based on lower general precious metals prices and different sales volumes. I have an inquiry in with the US Mint and will report any response.

New Sections on Coin Update

In closing, I wanted to mention some of the new features added to another coin related website that I maintain called Coin Update. The site has traditionally provided a round up of coin collecting news from various sites across the internet. This ranges from articles on other dedicated coin websites to mainstream media's coverage of coins. The updates are published two or three times per week.

You can subscribe to receive the updates delivered to by email by signing up here or you can visit the site periodically to find the latest updates.

The expanded section of the site at Coin Update News has been providing additional coverage of US coins, world coins, and precious metals by a variety of authors. This is a new section of the site, but the articles are also incorporated into the main Coin Update home page.

For the past few months, the site has been publishing weekly US Mint sales reports, as referenced above. These reports are available every Tuesday with the latest sales figures for current US Mint products. More recent additions to the site include daily commentary on gold prices and a new column on third party coin grading by Michael Bugeja.

You can subscribe to receive all of the Coin Update News articles delivered to your email address by signing up here. Otherwise, you can visit the site daily for the latest news and articles.


Friday, November 20, 2009

2009 Proof Platinum Eagle Design Unveiled

Today, the United States Mint unveiled the reverse design for the upcoming 2009 Proof Platinum Eagle. The Mint had previously announced the upcoming availability of the coin, but the reverse design was not revealed until today.

The new reverse design is intended to represent the the principle "To Form a More Perfect Nation." This is symbolized by four faces with intertwined hair and clothing to represent the diversity of the Nation. The reverse will also include a new American Eagle "privy mark" from an original "coin punch" identified at the Philadelphia Mint. This mark will satisfy the legal requirement that an eagle appear on the reverse of the coin. The reverse was designed by Susan Gamble and engraved by Phebe Hemphill.

This reverse design had been recommended by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. The Commission of Fine Arts had favored a design depicting a small tree with thirteen leaves. Other potential design candidates had included fasces (like on the reverse of the Mercury Dime), plants, trees, and interlocking hands.

This will begin a new six year program of reverse designs of the collectible Platinum Eagle. The new program will commemorate the core concepts of American democracy by featuring the six principles of the Preamble of the United States Constitution. Future designs will feature the following themes: To Establish Justice (2010), To Insure Domestic Tranquility (2011), To Provide for the Common Defense (2012), To Promote the General Welfare (2013), and To Secure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and our Posterity (2014).

The one ounce 2009 Proof Platinum Eagle will be the only platinum coin released by the United States Mint this year. All collectible uncirculated coins and fractional proof coins were previously announced as discontinued. All bullion coins were officially canceled in a sweeping announcement made last month.

The 2009 Proof Platinum Eagle will go on sale December 3, 2009 at 12:00 Noon ET. The projected price of the coin is $1,692.00 based on an average platinum price between $1,350 and $1,449.99. The United States Mint has indicated a maximum production of 8,000 coins and an ordering limit of five coins per household.

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First Spouse Gold Coin Mintages

The First Spouse Gold Coin series began with much excitement in 2007. The first three coins released sold the maximum authorized mintage of 40,000 coins in less than one day. As the series has progressed, collector interest has dwindled resulting in lower sales and relatively low mintages.

There are currently five First Spouse coins available directly from the US Mint. This includes four releases from 2009 and the final 2008 release featuring Martin Van Buren's Liberty. On December 4, sales will begin for the final release of 2009 featuring Margaret Taylor, and sales of the Van Buren's Liberty coin will end. There are seven previous issues of the series that are no longer available for sale.

Sales figures for all released First Spouse Gold Coins are presented below. This data is based on the latest weekly sales report and earlier data. Coins listed in italics still remain available for sale directly from the US Mint.

Uncirculated Proof Total
Martha Washington 20,000 20,000 40,000
Abigail Adams 20,000 20,000 40,000
Jefferson's Liberty 20,000 20,000 40,000
Dolley Madison 12,541 18,355 30,896
Elizabeth Monroe 4,519 7,933 12,452
Louisa Adams 4,223 7,454 11,677
Jackson's Liberty 4,754 7,806 12,560
Van Buren's Liberty 4,229 7,314 11,543
Anna Harrison 3,027 5,843 8,870
Letitia Tyler 2,411 4,399 6,810
Julia Tyler 2,232 3,929 6,161
Sarah Polk 1,985 3,664 5,649

So far, the low for the series (considering coins no longer available at the US Mint) remains as the 2008-W Uncirculated Louisa Adams coin at 4,223. This low will stand until at least 2010 since the Van Buren's Liberty uncirculated coin has just surpassed this level.

Most of the sold out First Spouse Coins can be tracked down relatively easily. Prices are usually in the $600 to $700 range. The highest prices seem to be coming for the Andrew Jackson's Liberty coin, which sells above this range. Top graded NGC and PCGS certified coins also drive an extra premium.

There has been a lot of thoughtful discussion about the future prospects for the First Spouse Gold Coins in terms of potential price appreciation. The main argument in favor of the series is the low mintage of many issues. In the past, coins which have been unpopular or overlooked while offered, became desirable rarities after sales ended and the low final mintage attracted new interest. The most notable example of this is the 1997-W Uncirculated Jackie Robinson $5 Gold Coin with a mintage of 5,174 coins. The value of the coin has risen from the initial $180 to more than $4,000 around $3,000.

Another argument in favor of the series is that it will experience renewed interest when better known First Spouses are honored. New collectors will enter the series, with some eventually deciding to seek out older low mintage issues of the series to issues to build a complete collection. There are actually two releases coming in 2010 which should be popular.

The James Buchanan's Liberty coin will be released in the second half of the year. Since Buchanan never married, the obverse design will feature the image of Liberty from a circulating coin of his era. The CCAC has supported using the design from the Coronet Gold $2.50 Quarter Eagle. This will be the fourth and final coin in the "Liberty" subset of the First Spouse series, and the only one to feature a design from a classic gold coin. Also, the final release of 2010 will be the Mary Todd Lincoln Gold Coin. Coins related to Lincoln have always been popular with collectors and this coin together with the 2010 Lincoln Presidential Dollar should be popular.

Arguments against the series center around the limited popularity and low demand, which might always be the case despite the low mintages. Other gold coins with extremely low mintages, like the Jackie Robinson coin, were part the broader modern commemorative series. The mintage of 5,174 was extremely low when compared to other $5 gold commemorative coins, making it a standout for the entire series. In the case of the First Spouse Gold series, it seems likely that there will be numerous issues with mintages in the 4,000 to 5,000 range or lower. This might dampen some of the appeal of the low mintage coins since none of them will be a singular standout.

As a final consideration, prices of the coins are likely to remain heavily influenced by the price of gold. Each coin contains one-half ounce of gold, which currently represents the majority of the value for each coin. The rising price of gold obviously can work in favor of the series. The first three releases were originally offered at $410.95 and $429.95. Prices of the coins have increased, largely in line with the rise in the price of gold. If the price of gold falls, the opposite scenario would likely occur. The lower mintage coins may be more insulated against a changes in the price of gold, but would likely still be impacted.

Personally, I have been a buyer of the series, starting with the 2008 releases. I purchased most of the 2009 releases when prices were lower. I haven't decided whether I will buy the upcoming Margaret Taylor coin when sales begin, or try to wait for a lower price.

I haven't done a poll for a while, but this seems like a good subject for one. How will First Spouse Gold Coins Perform in the Future?

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Zachary Taylor Presidential Dollar Rolls

The Zachary Taylor Presidential Dollar Rolls will go on sale at the United States Mint on Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 12:00 Noon ET. This will represent the final release of the Presidential Dollar series for 2009.

Zachary Taylor was the 12th President of the United States who served for 16 months from 1849 to 1850. The obverse of the coin displays his portrait and the inscriptions "In God We Trust", "12th President", and "1849-1850". The reverse of the coin features the Statue of Liberty along with inscriptions "United States of America" and "$1". The date, mint mark and "E Pluribus Unum" are included as incuse edge lettering. Both the obverse and reverse of the coin were designed and sculpted by Don Everhart.

The US Mint's roll offering includes 25-coin rolls from either the Philadelphia Mint or the Denver Mint. The rolls are packaged in custom US Mint wrappers which indicate the President, mint of origin, and face value. The rolls are priced at $35.95 plus shipping and handling charges.

Previous 2009 Presidential Dollar Roll offerings have experienced mixed success. The William Henry Harrison Dollar Rolls sold out unexpectedly, after recording sales of 30,000 rolls for each mint. Secondary market prices jumped with the rolls still selling for prices in the $150 to $200 range. The following John Tyler Dollar Rolls also sold 30,000 rolls from each mint, but currently seem to be selling for below issue price.

The James K. Polk Dollar Rolls still remain available for sale at the US Mint. As of the latest weekly sales report, the US Mint has recorded sales of 36,954 of the Philadelphia rolls and 35,928 of the Denver rolls.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Slowing Sales for 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo

The pace of sales for the 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo has showed a constant, steep decline since sales began on October 29, 2009. The latest sales report shows 4,316 coins sold in the latest weekly sales period.

The total number of coins sold to date is now 32,271. This is comprised of 19,468 coins sold during the opening three days, then 8,487 coins sold during the following week, and 4,316 coins sold in the most recent week ending November 15.

It is common for the pace of sales for newly released US Mint products to decline significantly following their initial release. The Ultra High Relief Double Eagle showed an even steeper rate of decline following its release. After selling more than 40,000 coins in the opening 3 days, less than 5,000 coins were sold in the following two weeks. By the sixth week, less than 1,000 coins were sold in a week.

The 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo has been holding up better by comparison. Sales have been supported by the lack of household ordering limits and the general popularity of the Gold Buffalo series. Factors holding down the rate of sales include anticipated higher mintage and the relatively high price of the coin, which was just raised this week to $1,410.

In the long run, some collectors are hoping for a low mintage for the 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo to support future premiums. It does seems likely that the 2009 mintage will fall below the level of the 2007 Proof Gold Buffalo which had 58,998 coins minted. It has already surpassed the low set by the one ounce 2008 Proof Gold Buffalo which was recently adjusted to 25,496 (unconfirmed).

Go to Coin Update News for a complete US Mint sales report for November 15, 2009.


2009 Lincoln Penny Launch in Washington DC

On November 12, 2009 the United States held the launch ceremony for the final 2009 Lincoln Cent. The "Presidency" design was the last of four different reverse designs issued for Lincoln's bicentennial, to represent the different stages of his life.

The launch ceremony was held at the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial Statue at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Weather for the event was cold and rainy, which likely had an impact on the turnout. An estimated 200 people were on hand for the event. Many who might have attended the ceremony may have opted to go to other Washington DC area coin exchange locations which were held indoors.

You can read a full report of the launch ceremony by Les Peters on Coin Update News. The article includes some pictures from the launch ceremony, a few of which are also reproduced at the end of this post.

As with prior 2009 Lincoln Cent launches, rolls of the new design obtained from the launch ceremony and other locations have already been put up for sale on eBay. Stamped and USPS canceled rolls from the ceremony have been selling for around $15 each. Unmarked rolls have sold for less, with some 50 roll boxes sold for $80 ($1.60 per roll). Sales activity is certainly much different than the frenzy following the release of the first design. At the time, some single rolls sold for as much as $50 each.

Here are the current 2009 Lincoln Cent Presidency Rolls on eBay.

Last week's ceremony also might be viewed as the end of the year of Lincoln. This year many of the US Mint's most popular products have been centered around Lincoln's bicentennial. Sales of core annual products have also been impacted by the inclusion of special versions of the 2009 Lincoln Cent.

Earlier this year, the US Mint issued the 2009 Abraham Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollars in proof and uncirculated versions. Throughout the year, four separate Two Roll Sets were issued for each 2009 Lincoln Cent design release. Special 95% copper 2009 Lincoln Cents were produced for inclusion in the 2009 Proof Set, 2009 Silver Proof Set, 2009 Uncirculated Mint Set, and separate 2009 Lincoln Proof Set. Lastly, the Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set was issued in October, sold out in about 30 hours, and went on to rapid secondary market success.

Although the Bicentennial year will have concluded, there are two new Lincoln coins on the horizon for next year. As covered in a prior post, the 2010 Lincoln Cent will be released featuring a brand new reverse design. Additionally, the 2010 Lincoln Presidential Dollar will be released towards the end of the year. The final design for the Presidential Dollar coin featuring Abraham Lincoln has not yet been announced.

Photos from the 2009 Lincoln Cent Presidency design launch ceremony.

Coverage of prior 2009 Lincoln Cent launch ceremonies:
Hodgenville, Kentucky - Birthplace Cent
Lincoln City, Indiana - Formative Years Cent
Springfield, Illinois - Professional Life Cent


Friday, November 13, 2009

Updated 2008 Gold, Platinum, Silver Eagle and Gold Buffalo Mintages

The United States Mint recently released updated mintages for most collectible 2008 precious metals coins. This includes uncirculated and proof versions of the 2008 Gold Eagle, Platinum Eagle, Silver Eagle, and Gold Buffalo coins. In a few cases, the updated numbers have caused a dramtic change in mintage.

The table below presents the final updated sales figures by product. A total column has been added to compute the total mintage for coins included in multiple products options. For the most part, this total is computed by adding the individual sales with the 4 Coin Set sales. The one exception is for the 1/2 oz. Uncirculated Gold Eagle and Gold Buffalo totals, which also include Double Prosperity Set sales figures.

Per Option Total
2008 Silver Eagles

Proof 700,979
Uncirculated 436,702

2008 Gold Eagles

1 oz. Proof 17,720 30,237
1/2 oz. Proof 10,085 22,602
1/4 oz. Proof 6,360 18,877
1/10 oz. Proof 15,599 28,116
4 Coin Proof Set 12,517

1 oz. Uncirculated 9,057 11,908
1/2 oz. Uncirculated 5,209 15,682
1/4 oz. Uncirculated 6,032 8,883
1/10 oz. Uncirculated 9,806 12,657
4 Coin Uncircualted Set 2,851
Double Prosperity Set 7,622

2008 Platinum Eagles

1 oz. Proof 2,508 4,769
1/2 oz. Proof 1,759 4,020
1/4 oz. Proof 1,892 4,153
1/10 oz. Proof 2,877 5,138
4 Coin Proof Set 2,261

1 oz. Uncirculated 1,593 2,876
1/2 oz. Uncirculated 970 2,253
1/4 oz. Uncirculated 1,198 2,481
1/10 oz. Uncirculated 2,423 3,706
4 Coin Uncirculated Set 1,283

2008 Gold Buffalo

1 oz. Uncircualted 3,025 9,074
1/2 oz. Uncirculated 3,237 16,908
1/4 oz. Uncirculated 3,900 9,949
1/10 oz. Uncirculated 11,380 17,429
4 Coin Uncirculated 6,049
Double Prosperity Set 7,622

Mintages for US Mint products tend to see some minor adjustments from the final reported sales figures, but some of the changes for 2008 have been extreme. One of the most extreme changes was for the 2008 Proof $10 Gold Eagle individual coin which saw sales adjusted from 15,229 to 6,360. This coin now becomes the lowest mintage $10 Proof Gold Eagle with a mintage of 18,877 coins.

The stand out number for Gold Eagles still remains the 2008-W Uncircualted $10 Gold Eagle with a new final mintage of 8,883 coins. This remains as the lowest mintage ever for a Gold Eagle.

A dramatic change in the number for 2008-W Uncirculated Platinum Eagle Four Coin Set sales caused total mintages to decline significantly for the individual coins contained in the set. Except for the 1/10 oz, the new mintages for each coin now fall below the levels of the 2006-W Uncirculated Platinum Eagles. The 2008-W Uncircualted $50 Platinum Eagle also becomes the lowest mintage Platinum Eagle ever at just 2,253 coins.

Other changes were less significant, but mostly served to lower the mintages which had been computed based on the last reported sales figures. Numismaster has a side by side comparison with the old numbers here.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

2010 Lincoln Penny Design

Today, the United States Mint revealed the reverse design that will be used for the 2010 Lincoln Cent. Design candidates had been released in May 2009, but the final decision was not known until today. In addition to 2010, the new design is expected to be used for the reverse of the Lincoln Cent for the foreseeable future.

The design features a union shield with a scroll draped across bearing the denomination "One Cent". The shield features thirteen vertical stripes and a horizontal bar with the motto "E Pluribus Unum." This is intended to represent the thirteen original states joined in one compact union. The union shield was used during the Civil War and appears in the halls of the U.S. Capitol Building on frescoes by Constantino Brumidi, the artist at the Capitol during Lincoln's presidency. The reverse was designed by US Mint Artistic Infusion Program Associate Designer Lyndall Bass and sculpted by Joseph Menna.

The announcement was made at today's fourth 2009 Lincoln Cent launch ceremony held in Washington, DC and also by press release. Under Public Law 109-145, the reverse of one cent coins issued after December 31, 2009, shall feature an image "emblematic of President Lincoln's preservation of the United States of America as a single, united country."

The Citizen's Coinage Advisory Committee had favored this design after reviewing design candidates provided by the US Mint. The Commission of Fine Arts had initially favored a design featuring a bundle of thirteen wheat stalks, but switched their recommendation to a 34 star flag after the wheat stalk design was removed from consideration.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

US Mint Numismatic Gold Coin Prices Rising Today

Yesterday evening, I checked the London Fix prices for gold and calculated that unless gold was $1,114.75 or higher, prices would remain unchanged for the US Mint's numismatic gold products. This seemed unlikely since gold was around $1,105 at the time. However, this morning the London AM Fix came in at $1114.75. Accordingly, the prices of US Mint gold products will rise today.

Under the pricing policy adopted by the US Mint earlier this year, the prices for gold and platinum numismatic products may be adjusted as frequently as once per week based on the changing price of gold. The average is calculated for the London Fix prices from the prior Thursday AM to Wednesday AM of the current week. Price changes for gold products occur when the average reaches $50 increments. Current prices are set for the $1050.00 to $1,099.99 increment.

The London AM Fix prices for the current period are shown in the table below. The average comes to exactly $1,100.
Nov 5 Thurs AM 1,088.00
Nov 5 Thurs PM 1,089.00
Nov 6 Fri AM 1,095.00
Nov 6 Fri PM 1,096.75
Nov 9 Mon AM 1,108.50
Nov 9 Mon PM 1,106.75
Nov 10 Tues AM 1,099.75
Nov 10 Tues PM 1,101.50
Nov 11 Wed AM 1,114.75

The price for the Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin will rise from $1,439 to $1,489 per coin. The price for the 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo Coin will rise from $1,360 to $1,410. The prices for First Spouse Gold Coins will rise from $691 and $704 for uncirculated and proof versions to $716.00 and $729.00. The new prices will represent the highest on record for each product.

Price adjustments have usually become effective around 10AM-11AM on Wednesday.

On an interesting related note, the US Mint's published pricing grid has almost run out of price tiers for gold. When the grid was created price tiers were provided for the average price of gold from $500.00 per ounce to $1,199.99 per ounce.

Update: Prices remained unchanged as of this evening. As a few people posted in the comments, perhaps the prices were not updated because today is Veteran's Day. I will post any additional information that becomes available.

Update 2: The US Mint adjusted prices higher around 12:00 Noon ET on Thursday.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

2009 Lincoln Cent Presidency Design Release and Launch Ceremony

On November 12, 2009, the final 2009 Lincoln Cent design will be released by the United States Mint. The release will be marked by an official launch ceremony in Washington DC, the unveiling of the 2010 Lincoln Cent design, and the start of sales for the 2009 Lincoln Cent "Presidency" Two Roll Set.

The 2009 Lincoln Cent "Presidency" design features a view of the half completed United States Capitol dome. This is intended to symbolize a National torn apart by civil war, and the resolve Lincoln showed as he guided the country through the crisis. The reverse was designed by Susan Gamble and sculpted by Joseph Menna.

The official launch ceremony will take place on November 12, 2009 starting at 10:00 AM ET. The event will be held in Washington DC at the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial Statue, below the west front of the US Capitol Building. Similar to prior launch ceremonies, attendees will have the opportunity to exchange currency for rolls of the new coins after the ceremony. The US Mint has indicated that the exchange will be subject to a minimum of two rolls and a maximum of six rolls per person.

Similar to previous 2009 Lincoln Cent releases, coin exchanges will also be available at other US Mint locations in Washington, DC. This includes the US Mint sales counter located at Union Station and the first floor of the US Mint's headquarters at 801 9th Street NW.

Coin World has reported that the US Postal Service has created special postal cancellation for the Washington DC launch. The cancellation will be available at the Postal Museum, located at 2 Massachusetts Ave NE, directly across from Union Station.

The launch ceremony will include the unveiling of the designs to be used for the 2010 Lincoln Cent. The new reverse design is intended to be "emblematic of President Lincoln's preservation of the United States of America as a single and united country." A total of eighteen design candidates were released by the United States Mint earlier this year. The designs featured views of the Capitol building, American flags, shields, eagles, and a bundle of wheat stalks, which was subsequently withdrawn from consideration.

The Commission of Fine Arts and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee reviewed the design candidates. The CFA favored a design featuring an American flag with 34 stars, and the CCAC favored a design featuring a shield. The final decision is up to the United States Treasury Secretary.

On November 12, 2009 at 12:00 Noon ET, the United States Mint will also offer the 2009 Lincoln Cent Two Roll Set for the Presidency design. Each set will contain one 50-coin roll from the Philadelphia Mint and one 50-coin roll from the Denver Mint. The rolls will be packaged in custom designed paper wrappers which denote the year, mint, and face value of the coins.

The rolls are priced at $8.95 each. There is an ordering limit of five sets per household. The US Mint's product page can be found here.

Previous two roll sets have been popular with collectors. The Birthplace Two Roll Set sold out in two weeks after selling 96,000 units. The Formative Years Two Roll Set sold 300,000 units and remained on sale briefly after the release of the third design. The Professional Life Two Roll Set is still currently available for sale from the US Mint and has sold 245,061 units as of the last weekly reporting period.
Today on Coin Update News:
US Mint Sales Report for 11/8/09

New Episode on Coins TV:
Peace Dollar Video


US Mint Coin Production October 2009

The United States Mint has updated coin production figures to reflect coins produced through the end of October 2009. The overall production level rebounded from the prior month when production had dipped to some of the lowest levels of the year.

A total of 353.8 million coins were produced in October. The biggest contributor was the Lincoln Cent, with 266 million of the new Presidency design produced across both mints. The US Mint also produced quarters and Presidential Dollars at both mints. The Philadelphia Mint produced 200,000 Kennedy Half Dollars to bring their total half dollar production in line with the Denver Mint.

The table below presents the coins produced by the US Mint for the month of October and the entire year to date.

2009 US Mint Coin Production Figures

October 2009 Jan 2009 - Oct 2009
Lincoln Cent - Denver 144.4 M 1,194.40 M
Lincoln Cent - Phil. 121.6 M 1,098.00 M
Jefferson Nickel - Denver 0 46.80 M
Jefferson Nickel - Phil. 0 39.84 M
Roosevelt Dime - Denver 0 49.50 M
Roosevelt Dime - Phil. 0 96.50 M
Quarters - Denver 20.40 M 257.80 M
Quarters - Phil. 32.20 M 264.32 M
Kennedy Half - Denver 0 1.90 M
Kennedy Half - Phil. 0.20 M 1.90 M
Native Am Dollar - Denver 0 33.88 M
Native Am Dollar - Phil. 0 37.38 M
Pres Dollar - Denver 24.22 M 177.10 M
Pres Dollar - Phil. 10.78 M 172.62 M

Total 353.80 M 3,471.94 M

A few observations from the numbers. The 2009 Kennedy Half mintage now exceeds from the totals from last year with 1.9 million produced at the Denver and Philadelphia Mints. The 2008 Kennedy Half Dollar had 1.7 million produced at each facility, which stand as the lowest mintage for a circulation strike coin for the entire series.

No additional nickels or dimes were produced this month. Both denominations have been elusive for collectors this year and continue to bring huge premiums above face value for anyone lucky enough to find them. Early in the year the US Mint had announced that production of nickels and dimes was officially done for the year, although the Denver Mint did produce a small number of nickels in June and July.

The following additional table shows the US Mint coin production by design. Several denominations feature rotating obverse or reverse designs. When the US Mint posts production figures for individual designs, these have been the final mintages. There are no new numbers available in the table this month.

2009 US Mint Coin Production by Design

Denver Phil. Total
Birthplace Cent 350.00 M 284.80 M 634.80 M
Formative Years Cent 363.60 M 376.00 M 739.60 M

Harrison Pres Dollar 55.16 M 43.26 M 98.42 M
Tyler Pres Dollar 43.54 M 43.54 M 87.08 M
Polk Pres Dollar 41.72 M 46.62 M 88.34 M

DC Quarter 88.80 M 83.60 M 172.40 M
Puerto Rico Quarter 86.00 M 53.20 M 139.20 M
Guam Quarter 42.60 M 45.00 M 87.60 M
Am Samoa Quarter 39.60 M 42.60 M 82.20 M
US Virgin Islands Quarter 41.00 M 41.00 M 82.00 M


Monday, November 9, 2009

Upcoming Commemorative Coin Programs

Late last week, a bill authorizing a commemorative coin program for the Medal of Honor was signed into law by the President. This follows recent authorization for Girl Scouts Commemorative coins signed on October 29. With the schedule for commemorative coins filling up for the coming years, I wanted to devote a post to outlining future programs that have been authorized.

Proposals for commemorative coin programs begin when a bill is introduced in the House of Representatives or the Senate. The bill must be voted on and passed in the House and Senate, and then signed into law by the President in order to become law.

Under current law, no more than two commemorative coin programs may be authorized for each year. There are currently seven commemorative coin programs authorized for future years. The spaces for 2010 and 2011 are filled, and one program has been authorized so far for each year from 2012 to 2014.

2010 American Veterans Disabled for Life Commemorative Coins

This program will authorize the production of up to 350,000 silver dollar coins "emblematic of our disabled veterans who, having survived the ordeal of war, made enormous personal sacrifices defending the principals of our democracy." The authorizing legislation for the program was signed into law on July 17, 2008.

The design for the silver dollar was unveiled by the United States Mint in August. The obverse displays legs and boots of three disabled veterans with the inscription "They Stood Up for Us." The reverse features a wreath of oak branches with the inscription "Take this moment to honor our disabled defenders of freedom."

2010 Boy Scouts Centennial Commemorative Coins

This program will authorize the production of up to 350,000 silver dollars to mark the centennial of the Boy Scouts of America. The authorizing legislation for the program was signed into law on October 8, 2008.
The final designs for the silver dollar have not yet been announced by the United States Mint, although candidates have been reviewed by the CFA and CCAC. The CFA favored two obverse designs, one depicts three scouts saluting and the other depicts a scout and adviser on a rock ledge. The CCAC favored an obverse design featuring a scout in original 1910 uniform extending a hand to a scout in the modern uniform. The reverse design candidates feature different arrangements of the Boy Scouts logo.

2011 Army Commemorative Coins

This program will authorize $5 gold, $1 silver, and 50 cent clad coins "in recognition and celebration of the establishment of the United States Army in 1775, to honor the American soldier of both today and yesterday, in wartime and in peace, and to commemorate the traditions, history, and heritage of the United States Army and its role in American society, from the Colonial period to today." The bill authorizing the program was signed into law on December 1, 2008.

The $5 gold coins will have a maximum mintage of 100,000 coins, the $1 silver coins will have a maximum of 500,000 coins, and the 50 cent coins will have a maximum of 750,000 coins. Designs will be emblematic of the concepts described above.

2011 Medal of Honor Commemorative Coins

The program will authorize the issuance of $5 gold and $1 silver coins for the Medal of Honor, America's highest award for valor in action against an enemy force. The coins will recognize and celebrate the establishment of the award in 1861, honor its recipients, and promote awareness of what the Medal of Honor represents.

Up to 100,000 $5 gold coins and up to 500,000 $1 silver coins may be produced under the program. According to the legislation, the design for the coins shall contain motifs that represent the three Medal of Honor designs for the Army, Navy, and Air Force, and honor the recipients of today and yesterday.

2012 Infantry Commemorative Coins

This program will issue up to 350,000 $1 silver coins to commemorate the legacy of the United States Army Infantry and the establishment of the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center. The bill was signed into law on October 8, 2008.

The design of the coin "shall be emblematic of the courage, pride, sacrifice, sense of duty, and history of the United States Infantry."

2013 Girl Scouts Commemorative Coins

The bill authorizing a commemorative coin program for the Girl Scouts of the United States of America was recently signed into law on October 29, 2009. Up to 350,000 $1 silver coins may be issued in 2013 to celebrate the centennial of the organization.

The design of the coin will be emblematic of the centennial of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America.

2014 Civil Rights Commemorative Coins

The program will authorize the issuance of $1 silver coins to celebrate the semicentennial of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The bill was signed into law on December 2, 2008.

Up to 350,000 of the silver dollar commemorative coins would be issued with a design emblematic of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its contribution to civil rights in America.