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News, Information, and Commentary on US Mint Products

Friday, November 20, 2009

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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At November 20, 2009 at 8:40 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just FYI I had a Jackie Robinson PCGS MS69 which I sold recently for about $3K.

At November 20, 2009 at 8:49 AM , Blogger GoOgLyMoOgLy said...

It's one of those "after the fact" deals...people don't care about the coins now but once they become hard to find, THEN they'll go nuts about it. Then again, if GOLD goes to the moon, that won't matter, now would it :^_^:

At November 20, 2009 at 8:58 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it will take a number of years, but eventually, I think the First Spouse series will pay off, big time.

In the meantime, it is a good way to build up a collection of bullion-based coins as protection against inflation. If coins are acquired in proof and uncirculated, when completed, the series will constitute 39 ounces of .999 fine gold (maybe 40 if another spouse dies before 2016), which will have been bought over a long period of time in which the price of gold will have fluctuated over a wide range, in a kind of dollar cost averaging.

Admittedly, the price of gold could (and hopefully will) go down, in which case the latter coins will become cheaper, while the current low mitages could provide some protection for the value of coins bought now.

But the bottom line is: How wrong can you go, buying 39 ounces of gold?

At November 20, 2009 at 9:23 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info Michael!

At November 20, 2009 at 11:29 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm still loyal to the First Spouse series. However, I don't think I'll be buying the Margaret Taylors just yet. I'll take my chances that the price of gold will come back down some. I'll have about one whole year to make up my mind.

The reason I can wait is because I don't care about the "First Strike" designation. I don't even have the coins graded, but rather just leave them in their Mint issue state. I enjoy them more that way, and I don't want any third-party grader criticizing my coins. In most cases, raw coins sell for as much or more as coins graded "69" or less.

At November 20, 2009 at 3:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone thinks that price of gold will keep going up and up and up...

If that's true, then the BEST time to buy these First Spouse coins is right now. Next week, the US Mint can raise prices if what people wishfully think actually happens....

At November 20, 2009 at 9:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the Jackson Liberty already looks like a great classic.
I agree with another who responded a while back that their will likely be greater interest in the Liberty subset with their old mint designs that only have been brought back out of the mint's archives to be stamped just a very few more times.

At November 21, 2009 at 8:00 AM , Anonymous kbsig106 said...

I plan on doing a 4 coin MS 70 Liberty set and stop. The rest have no "real" significance to me other than the gold value.

At November 21, 2009 at 8:06 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Long term there maybe a big jump because of low mintages. Always buy what you like. Personally I would rather have one 09 buff than 3 spouses. If some extra ordinary event happens involving a spouse that could trigger a to the moon market move. Like for example if Laura Bush and Michelle Obama left their husbands to hook up with Madonna, A-Rod, Dennis Rodman, Patton Oswald, and Britney Spears in a commune then that might trigger a cataclysm in the market.

At November 21, 2009 at 1:56 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I purchased several Martin Van Buren gold liberties as well as several gold Jackson Liberty coins (my personal favorite) and look forward to buying some James Buchanan gold coins. This sub set is likely to be a good choice for classic coin collectors.

But please, don't buy on my account. I rather see them ignored. I like their low low mint numbers.


At November 21, 2009 at 3:44 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

They might just cancel the whole series since no one wants them.

At November 21, 2009 at 4:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

They will not cancel the First Spouse series since these coins are mandated by law.

Of course, Congress can always change the law...

At November 21, 2009 at 9:18 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I had the resources I might have considered collecting the Liberty subset of the spouse series. Can't get everything so I went with the buffalo.

At November 22, 2009 at 4:00 AM , Anonymous American Classic said...

Another subset of the First Spouses are those depicting he wives of Presidents on current US coins.

So that means Mary Lincoln, Jefferson's Liberty, Eleanor Roosovelt, Martha Washington, and Jacqueline Kennedy.

That would make an awesome set for the collector who wants all US Mint collectibles corresponding to the Lincoln penny, Jefferson nickle, Roosovelt dime, Washington quarter, and Kennedy half!

At November 22, 2009 at 8:55 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right. It has been expected that the Mary Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt and Jacqueline Kennedy coins will be popular when they are released. They might also help revive interest in the series as a whole, allowing the coins presently being released to shine after all.

At November 23, 2009 at 6:18 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really like the Liberty subset as they are actually presidential coins and not presidential spouse coins. They have a very nice image of lady liberty from the times the president lived.

As for Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Kennedy, I personally don't want to collect coins with the images of one insane/needy woman and two enablers of philanderers-in-chief. But hey, that's just me.

At November 23, 2009 at 3:51 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey 6:18, maybe theres a demand for another subset that could be called the dysfunctional presidential family subset.

At November 23, 2009 at 7:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally like the coins and have been collecting the whole set in NGC grade 70. Maybe crazy, maybe not. Gold itself will continue to rise so long as the feds keep printing money. When one stops so will the other. As for the 1st spouse coins, maybe it's wishful thinking but I believe once we get up to current day 1st ladies the whole will be much greater than the sum of the part. My recomendation would be to either collect all of them or none of them.

At November 23, 2009 at 10:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Mint has put up the details of the upcoming Margeret Taylor coins. It's funny that they still impose an ordering limit of 10 coins per product option per household. Do they honestly believe a fast sellout will be a problem? The coins are most certain to cost at least $754 and $741 for Proof and Uncirculated, respectively. Plus, the adoring masses haven't exactly been beating down the door to buy the First Spouse coins.

It would kill me to pay that much for the coins, but if I don't buy them right away they might just keep going up!

At November 24, 2009 at 8:27 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just sold a Louisa Adams PCGS MS70 First Strike for $1425 on Ebay

At November 24, 2009 at 9:15 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand why the CCAC would favor the liberty gold obverse over the much prettier Indian gold obverse (one dollar and three dollar gold) of the 1857 time period, for the James Buchanan first spouse gold design. The only reason I can think of is possibly some "PC" nonsense about how the "Indian princess" is not really Native American, but is lady liberty with a Native American headdress. The coronet liberty obverse is not a pretty design in my opinion. It was also too widely used in the coinage of that time period, being used on the half cent, cent, and the higher denomination gold coinage (quarter eagle on up).

At November 25, 2009 at 8:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have sold some gold proof eagles since their price is throught the roof. And.. invested it in some 2008 /2009 first spouses . At the end got more gold for the money and maybe a chance for more future appretiation.

At November 27, 2009 at 6:44 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the coronet liberty, myself. It's a classic.

At November 27, 2009 at 12:17 PM , Anonymous Heathcliff said...

Love and own Jefferson's Liberty but can't get excited about any of the other Liberty designs (especially the seated lib, probably the most boring US coin design), but will be a big buyer of the Coronet design next year. Wanted to like the Jackson design but the mint blew that too; they should have used the $5 capped-bust not the half-dollar design.

At December 10, 2009 at 10:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My feeling is if your going to collect the set do it right, buy graded PCGS or NGC only in a 70 grade, a perfect set. I have the entire set in PCGS Proof 70 and plan to continue buying it as long as I can afford to. I was buying it as NGC but the PCGS is appreciating faster so I changed to that. As for First Strike, I think it is the biggest B.S. desgnation ever, but there seems to be plenty of people willing to pay a huge premium for it so I went with the FIRST STRIKE coins. If this set is anything like the state quarter set a complete set could be worth 4-5 times its cost to build when complete. Taking into consideration the much lower mintage numbers for the spouses their potential will probably be many times greater. Maybe I am hoping big but this set could potentially be the best inbvestment I have ever made. A NGC silver PF70 state quarter set costs over $10,000 today and could have been assembled for about $2000 if bought as they were released. At current prices my spouse set would cost about $30,000 to complete if it quadruples I'll have a $120,000 set. AM I DREAMING???? I don't think so!!

At May 1, 2011 at 3:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if the mintage created will be enough for the Jackie Kennedy First Spouse gold Coin when it is issued. There will probably be many ladies interested in obtaining this coin.


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