Mint News Blog

News, Information, and Commentary on US Mint Products

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mint News Blog 2010 Survey

As a way to wrap up this year and lead into 2010, I have put together the Mint News Blog 2010 Survey. This survey includes questions about United States Mint numismatic products for 2009 and the upcoming year, as well as questions of general interest to coin collectors. The idea for the survey comes from a Mint News Blog reader. (Thanks John)

Most of the questions are multiple choice, but there are several optional questions which allow for lengthier written responses. The collective results for the multiple choice questions will be published in one or more future Mint News Blog posts. Excerpts from some of the written responses may also be published.

The sections of the survey include 2009 US Mint Products, 2010 US Mint Products, 2010 Predictions, and some optional questions about Mint News Blog. The survey will remain open until January 8, 2010.

You can access the survey here.

As the last post of 2009, I also wanted to wish everyone Happy New Year!


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sales End Tomorrow for US Mint Last Opportunity Products

Sales will officially end on December 31, 2009 at 3:00 PM ET for products included in the US Mint online catalog's Last Opportunity section. The products include 2007 Presidential Dollar bags and rolls, 2008 First Spouse Bronze Medals, and the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin.

The Presidential Dollar products include 250-coin bags and 25-coin rolls for Thomas Jefferson and James Madison from either the Philadelphia or Denver Mint. These products were originally released back on August 16 and November 15, 2007 and have been available for sale since. The sales totals to date are listed below. The 25-coin rolls have sold in far greater numbers than recent releases. The US Mint stopped offering the 250-coin bags after 2008.

Thomas Jefferson Presidential $1 Coins
250-coin bag (P) 1,172
250-coin bag (D) 932
25-coin roll (P) 69,816
25-coin roll (D) 65,515
James Madison Presidential $1 Coins
250-coin bag (P) 785
250-coin bag (D) 692
25-coin roll (P) 57,642
25-coin roll (D) 55,900
The First Spouse Bronze Medals available include Elizabeth Monroe, Louisa Adams, Andrew Jackson's Liberty, and Martin Van Buren's Liberty. These medals were all issued during 2008 on the release date of the corresponding gold coins. The medals were also included in a 2008 Four Medal Set and the four separate 2008 Presidential Dollar and First Spouse Medal Sets. No sales figures are available for the individual medals.

The 2009 Ultra High Relief Gold Coin has attracted the most attention of the current Last Opportunity products. The US Mint had announced on December 10, 2009 that the coin would only be available until the end of the year. When the announcement was made, I had put together a UHR Double Eagle time line. The most recent reported sales figure for the coin came in at 112,065.
Today on Coin Update News: The latest US Mint Sales Report


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Zachary Taylor Presidential Dollar Coin Cover

The United States Mint will release the 2009 Zachary Taylor $1 Coin Cover tomorrow December 30, 2009 at 12:00 Noon ET. This will represent the final release of the year for the American Presidency $1 Coin Cover series.

The cover will include two Zachary Taylor Presidential Dollars from the first day of production at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. The coins are mounted on an illustrated display card with a 44-cent Flag postage stamp. The postmark will be November 19, 2009, Louisville, KY to mark the circulation release date for the coins.

The covers are priced at $14.95 each with a production limit of 40,000. The US Mint product page can be found here.

Sales of the Presidential Dollar Coin Covers have shown a general decline since the first releases of 2007. That year, the US Mint sold a high of 50,000 for the George Washington cover and a low of 44,466 for the James Madison cover. For 2008, the high was 36,138 for the James Madison cover and the low was 25,476 for the Martin Van Buren cover.

All of the previously released 2009 Presidential Dollar coin covers are still available for sale at the US Mint. The last reported sales figures are 26,983 for William Henry Harrison, 23,679 for John Tyler, and 21,492 for James K. Polk.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Recent US Mint Product Updates

In the past week or so, there have been changes to the status of several US Mint products. This includes some which have sold out and others which have returned from previous "sold out" status. This post will provide a recap of these products.

2009 Lincoln Cent Proof Set

As briefly mentioned at the end of a post last week, the 2009 Lincoln Cent Proof Set (LN2) sold out around December 21, 2009. This product contains the four different 2009 Lincoln Cents, in proof version. These coins are struck in a special composition of 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc that was used for the first Lincoln Cents issued in 1909.

The sets were announced by the United States Mint in August, after the full 2009 Proof Set containing the cents had already gone on sale. By that time, countless proof sets had already been broken up in order to sell the four 2009 Lincoln Proof Sets separately.

The new offering included the single lens containing the four 2009 Lincoln Cents in a newly designed box. The sets were offered for sale at $7.95 with an ordering limit of 5 sets per household that remained in place for the duration of the offering.

The last reported sales for the set was 201,107. Following the sell out, the prices of the US Mint packaged set have risen to around $15-$16 each. Here are the current eBay auctions.

2009 Kennedy Half Two Roll Set

The 2009 Kennedy Half Dollar Two Roll Sets sold out on December 24, 2009. This product, along with the 200-coin bags, went on sale January 22, 2009.

Starting in 2002, the US Mint no longer produced Kennedy Half Dollars for release into circulation. They did continue to produce a limited mintage of the coins for sale directly to collectors in numismatic bags and rolls, priced at a premium above the face value. The mintages of Kennedy Halves has remained low since this date.

Early in 2009, the US Mint had produced 1.7 million coins at each the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. When supplies started to dwindle, they produced an additional 200,000 coins per facility in September and October. The final mintage of 1.9 million coins each comes in above the mintage low set last year when 1.7 million coins were produced at each facility.

At the time of this post, the 200-coin bags still remain available for sale on the US Mint's website priced at $130.95.

Direct Ship Rolls

In another swift change to the US Mint's Direct Ship Program, the previously available 2009 Native American Dollars have been removed from sale and placed in the "Sold Out" section.

Direct Ship rolls previously listed in the "Sold Out" section have become available once again. The available coins include the Presidential Dollars for George Washington (2007), John Adams (2007), Thomas Jefferson (2007), James Madison (2007), Andrew Jackson (2008), and Martin Van Buren (2008). Each option is limited to a maximum order quantity of two $250 boxes.

Despite reports published in the mainstream press which indicated that the US Mint would record charges as cash advances, some Mint News Blog readers have reported that recent orders have come across as regular purchases. The US Mint does retain the messages about agreeing to comply with the intended purpose of the program. Perhaps this has been enough to curtail abuses of the program.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

2009 Fractional Gold Eagle Mintages

Sales of the briefly offered 2009 fractional Gold Eagle bullion coins have now concluded. The mintages for the 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, and 1/10 oz 2009 Gold Eagles have ended up on the high end, as measured by the total reported sales figures for each denomination.

Typically, the fractional weight Gold Eagles are available throughout the year. This year the situation was different, following a late 2008 announcement that the US Mint would focus production on one ounce Gold Eagles only and delay offering fractional weight versions until later in 2009. The first batch of fractional Gold Eagles was finally offered to authorized purchasers on December 3, 2009 with a second and final allocation available beginning on December 14, 2009.

After the December 3 debut, the US Mint had already recorded sales of 56,000 of the 1/2 ounce coins, 58,000 of the 1/4 ounce coins, and 260,000 of the 1/10 ounce coins. These numbers were already high enough to place each coin above the respective mintage lows for each bullion denomination.

The second batch of coins offered for sale have pushed the totals for the 1/2 and 1/4 ounce coins much higher, but only added slightly to the total for the 1/10 ounce coins. The final sales figures for the 2009 fractional Gold Eagles are shown below.
2009 Fractional Gold Eagle Sales
2009 1/2 oz. Gold Eagle 110,000
2009 1/4 oz. Gold Eagle 110,000
2009 1/10 oz. Gold Eagle 270,000

The total sales for the 1/2 oz coin actually place it as the fifth highest mintage for a 1/2 oz Gold Eagle bullion coin. The 1/4 oz. Gold Eagle ranks as the sixth highest for its denomination. Only the 1/10 oz coin ends up with a mintage which is below average.

For further comparison, in 2008, the US Mint had sold 50,000 1/2 oz coins, 58,000 1/4 oz coins, and 270,000 1/10 oz coins.

The rapid pace of sales for long suspended products that the US Mint briefly offered near the end of the year has been interesting to witness. Before I attributed this to pent up demand, but is the US Mint inadvertently creating greater demand by delaying products and then offering them for very limited time periods? This year's "flash offerings" of Gold Buffalo coins, fractional Gold Eagle bullion coins, and Platinum Eagle coins all generated greater sales than previous years when the products were available throughout the year.

On a final note, I wanted to say Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to Mint News Blog readers! Thank you all for your readership and comments throughout the year.
Today on Coin Update News: 2010 Silver Eagle Availability


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2010 First Spouse Gold Coins

The United States Mint has released the final design selections for the 2010 First Spouse Gold Coins. Next year's coins will feature Abigail Fillmore, Jane Pierce, James Buchanan's Liberty, and Mary Todd Lincoln. The latter two coins are expected to draw broader collector interest.

The 2010 Abigail Fillmore First Spouse Gold Coin will feature her portrait on the obverse and a scene of her shelving books in the White House Library on the reverse. The obverse was designed and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill. The reverse was designed by Susan Gamble and sculpted by Joseph Menna. Other potential reverse designs had included a scene of Abigail Fillmore with famous White House guests such as Charles Dickens.

The 2010 Jane Pierce First Spouse Gold Coin features the First Lady's portrait on the obverse paired with a scene of her watching a Senate debate from the visitor's gallery. The obverse and reverse were designed by Donna Weaver. The obverse was sculpted by Don Everhart and the reverse was sculpted by Charles Vickers. Other potential reverse designs for the Jane Pierce coin had included a scene during a thunderstorm where the Pierces met in college and a scene of her reading a book on White House grounds.

The 2010 James Buchanan's Liberty Gold Coin will feature a reproduction of the Liberty Gold Quarter Eagle obverse, originally designed by Christian Gobrecht. This $2.50 gold coin had been produced from 1840 to 1907. The reverse design of the coin will feature an image of a young James Buchanan working as a bookkeeper in the family store. The reverse was designed by David Westwood and sculpted by Joseph Menna. Other potential reverse designs included an image of James Buchanan serving as the US minister to Russia, and Buchanan and his niece who served as the White House hostess.

The Buchanan's Liberty Gold Coin will represent the fourth and final issue in the "Liberty" subset of the First Spouse Gold Coin series. Many collectors have chosen to collect these coins, which reproduced classic US coin designs, in lieu of the entire series. The three other coins of the Liberty subset are Thomas Jefferson's Liberty (Draped Bust Half Cent), Andrew Jackson's Liberty (Capped Bust Lettered Edge Half Dollar), Martin Van Buren's Liberty (Liberty Seated Dime).

The 2010 Mary Todd Lincoln First Spouse Gold Coin will feature the First Lady's portrait on the obverse. The reverse depicts a scene of her visiting wounded Union soldiers, bringing flowers and books. The obverse was designed and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill. The reverse was designed by Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill. Other potential reverse designs included an image of Mary Todd Lincoln and her husband greeting White House visitors and an image of her bandaging a wounded soldier, which was questioned for historical accuracy by a CCAC member.

The Mary Todd Lincoln coin is expected to draw increased interest since she is one of the better known First Ladies and the wife of President Abraham Lincoln. During 2010, the new design of the Lincoln Cent will debut and the 2010 Abraham Lincoln Presidential Dollar will be issued, creating a nice lead up to the release of the Mary Todd Lincoln coin in December 2010.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2009 Proof & Mint Sets

Before the end of the year, I wanted to take a post to review the status of the US Mint's core annual proof and mint set offerings. By core annual sets, I am referring to the 2009 Proof Set, 2009 Silver Proof Set, and 2009 Uncirculated Mint Set.

In past years, sometimes one of the US Mint's annual sets has sold out before the end of the year, catching collectors by surprise. Last year, the US Mint sold out of the 2008 Proof Set in mid-December. The unexpected nature of the sell out and a relatively low mintage combined to drive secondary market prices higher. This 2008 Proof Set still sells for more than double the original issue price.

The most recent sales for this year's core mint and proof set offerings are shown below, along with the date that sales began for each product. (You can view the full weekly sales report posted today on Coin Update News.)
Product Sales Start Sales to Date
2009 Proof Set June 1, 2009 1,392,782
2009 Silver Proof Set July 17, 2009 628,289
2009 Mint Set October 1, 2009 657,322

For comparison here are the sales start dates, end dates, and final sales figures for the 2008 offerings.

Product Sales Start Sales End Total Sales
2008 Proof Set June 24, 2008 Dec 14, 2008 1,405,674
2008 Silver Proof Set Aug 26, 2008 July 17, 2009 774,874
2008 Mint Set July 30, 2008 Feb 25, 2009 745,464

Interestingly, the sales figures for the 2009 sets are still below the levels reached last year. Personally, I was expecting the 2009 annual sets to have higher mintages due to the inclusion of the 95% copper Lincoln Cents. The introduction of separate Lincoln products may have dampened the effect. If an early sell out occurs for any of the 2009 sets, there would be a strong case for higher prices. Personally, I prefer the regular clad version 2009 Proof Set and 2009 Mint Set.

At the time of writing this post, one of the single denomination proof sets has already sold out. The 2009 Lincoln Cent Proof Set, which contains the four 95% copper Proof 2009 Lincoln Cents, sold out today. The set originally went on sale August 26, 2009 priced at $7.95. The most recent sales report indicates that the US Mint sold 201,107 of the sets.


Monday, December 21, 2009

2010 Presidential Dollar Release Schedule

Public release dates have been established for the 2010 Presidential Dollars. The four coins to be released next year will feature the former Presidents Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Abraham Lincoln.

The release dates were recently posted on the Federal Reserve Banks website, along with information for depository institutions on how to order unmixed quantities of each release. The United States Mint's website still does not include release dates for the coins.

2010 Millard Fillmore Dollar
Release Date: February 18, 2010

2010 Franklin Pierce Dollar
Release Date: May 20, 2010

2010 James Buchanan Dollar
Release Date: August 19, 2010

2010 Abraham Lincoln Dollar
Release Date: November 18, 2010

Release dates for America the Beautiful Quarters are still "To Be Determined". Based on the US Mint's preliminary product release schedule posted last week, it seems like the 2010 quarters will come at later dates compared to the 2009 quarters. The Hot Springs Quarter bags and rolls are shown with an availability date of April 2010. (The quarter bags and rolls offerings usually coincide with the circulation release dates.) Last year the District of Columbia Quarter was released on January 26, 2009.

The 2010 Presidential Dollar release dates fall on roughly the same days that were used during 2009. Last year the first coin featuring William Henry Harrison was released on February 19, 2009.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Preliminary 2010 US Mint Product Schedule

The US Mint recently released a preliminary schedule for the release of 2010 products. At this point, exact dates have been set for two 2010-dated products. The remaining products have release dates listed by month.

The preliminary schedule includes most of the same core products that were offered last year with the new 2010-dated coins. This includes quarter bags and rolls for the new America the Beautiful Quarter series, dollar rolls, coin covers, the Presidential Dollar and First Spouse Medal sets, and the usual annual sets. Also included are the 2010 First Spouse Gold coins and bronze medals.

The 2010 Proof Platinum Eagle is listed on the schedule with a release date of August. The US Mint has shown that they are more committed to the collectible Platinum Eagle offering than other collectible precious metals coins. The proof Platinum Eagle is in the midst of a six year "Foundations of American Democracy" reverse design series.

The collectible 2010 Gold and Silver Eagles and proof Gold Buffalo coins are not listed in the schedule. The US Mint has links to information on the availability of the coins, but these just lead to the product pages with the previously released information on the 2009 coins.

Availability Date Product Description
1/22/2010 2010 Native American $1 Coin Rolls
1/29/2010 2010 Kennedy Half-Dollar Bag and Two-Roll Set
February 2010 Presidential $1 Coin Proof Set
February Millard Fillmore $1 Coin Rolls
February 2010 American Veterans Disabled for Life Silver Dollars
March Abigail Fillmore First Spouse Gold Coins
March Abigail Fillmore Bronze Medal
March 2010 Boy Scouts of America Centennial Silver Dollars
March/April Presidential $1 Coin & First Spouse Medal Set - Millard Fillmore
April Millard Fillmore $1 Coin Cover
April 2010 Presidential $1 Coin Uncirculated Set
April Hot Springs America the Beautiful Quarters Bags and Two-Roll Set
May 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Proof Set
May Franklin Pierce $1 Coin Rolls
May/June 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Silver Proof Set
June Yellowstone America the Beautiful Quarters Bags and Two-Roll Set
June Jane Pierce First Spouse Gold Coins
June Jane Pierce Bronze Medal 1 5/16"
June Presidential $1 Coin & First Spouse Medal Set - Franklin Pierce
July Franklin Pierce $1 Coin Cover
July 2010 United States Mint Uncirculated Coin Set
July/August 2010 United States Mint Proof Set
July/August Yosemite America the Beautiful Quarters Bags and Two-Roll Set
August 2010 American Eagle Platinum Proof Coin
August James Buchanan $1 Coin Rolls
August/Sept 2010 United States Mint Silver Proof Set
September Buchanan's Liberty First Spouse Gold Coins
September Buchanan’s Liberty Bronze Medal 1 5/16"
September Grand Canyon America the Beautiful Quarters Bags and Two-Roll Set
September Presidential $1 Coin & First Spouse Medal Set - James Buchanan
Sept/October James Buchanan $1 Coin Cover
November Mount Hood America the Beautiful Quarters Bags and Two-Roll Set
November Abraham Lincoln $1 Coin Rolls
December Mary Todd Lincoln First Spouse Gold Coins
December Mary Todd Lincoln Bronze Medal 1 5/16"
December First Spouse Bronze Medals: Four-Medal Set
December Presidential $1 Coin & First Spouse Medal Set - Abraham Lincoln
December Abraham Lincoln $1 Coin Cover


Thursday, December 17, 2009

2010 Boy Scouts of America Centennial Commemorative Coin Designs

Today the United States Mint has unveiled the designs for the upcoming 2010 Boy Scouts Silver Dollar Commemorative Coin. The coins will be issued to mark the centennial of the founding of the Boy Scouts of America.

The obverse of the coin depicts a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and female Venturer saluting. Inscriptions include "Continuing the Journey", the centennial dates "1910" and "2010", "In God We Trust", and "Liberty". The obverse was designed by Donna Weaver and engraved by Charles Vickers.

The reverse design features the universal emblem of the Boy Scouts of America. Inscriptions include "United States of America", "Boy Scouts of America", "Be Prepared", "E Pluribus Unum", and "One Dollar". The reverse was engraved by Jim Licaretz.

Other design candidates for the obverse had included an image of a scout and advisor on a rock ledge, and a scout in original 1910 uniform extending a hand to a scout in the modern uniform. The Commission of Fine Arts had supported the selected design as well as the scout and advisor design. The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee had favored the design depicting the scout in original uniform helping the scout in modern uniform. The final design selection was made by US Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner. You can see pictures of the alternate designs in this post covering upcoming commemorative coins.

The commemorative coin program was authorized under by H.R. 5872 Boy Scouts of America Centennial Commemorative Coin Act, which became Public Law 110-363. The program provides for the production of up to 350,000 $1 silver coins in proof and uncirculated versions. General requirements on the design were provided, "The design of the coins minted under this Act shall be emblematic of the 100 years of the largest youth organization in United States, the Boy Scouts of America."

The release date for the coins has not yet been announced, although the authorizing legislation states that the coins may be issued on or after February 8, 2010 until the end of the year. The other commemorative coin program for 2010 will be the American Veterans Disabled for Life Silver Dollar.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

US Mint Gold Coin Price Decrease

Following the recent decline in the spot price of gold, the prices for United States Mint numismatic gold products will be decreased today. This price decrease follows four consecutive price increases that brought prices of coins to their current levels.

Under the pricing policy adopted this year, the US Mint calculates the average weekly price of gold based on London Fix prices from the prior Thursday AM to the current Wednesday AM. If the average calculated price moves across thresholds at established $50 increments, then a price increase or decrease takes place. The price changes have generally become effective by mid-day on Wednesday.

The table below presents the London Fix prices for the applicable period. The average calculated price is $1,125.89.
London Fix Gold Prices
Thurs 1,125.75 1,128.50
Fri 1,140.00 1,124.00
Mon 1,120.00 1,123.75
Tues 1,115.00 1,122.00
Wed 1,134.00 N/A

The Ultra High Relief Gold Coin price will decrease from $1,539 to $1,489. The prices for First Spouse Gold Coins will decrease from $754 (proof) and $741 (uncirculated) to $729 and $716.

The 2009 Proof Platinum Eagle would have had a $100 price decrease, if it had not already sold out late last week. Sales of the coin had reached the maximum authorized mintage of 8,000 by Friday. The US Mint continued to accept orders for placement on a waiting list until Monday of this week.
New Coin Grader Capsule: 1952 Superbird Washington Quarter Loses NGC Attribution


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

US Mint Direct Ship Program

The United States Mint has made changes to their Direct Ship Program following several high profile stories about individuals using the program to earn frequent flier miles and other rewards on their credit cards.

Because the US Mint sold the coins at face value with no charge for shipping and handling, some individuals had ordered tens of thousands of dollars worth of coins to rack up rewards. Upon receipt, the coins were immediately deposited at the bank, resulting in zero net cost.

As of yesterday, Presidential Dollars previously available under the program have been removed and added to the "Sold Out" section of the US Mint's website. The option for 2009 Native American Dollars, which was previously "Sold Out" has become available once again. A 20-box household limit has been placed on the Direct Ship Native American Dollars.

The US Mint has added language to the Direct Ship product page which explains the intended purpose of the program and specifically states: "The immediate bank deposit of $1 Coins ordered through this Program does not result in their introduction into circulation and, therefore, does not comply with the intended purpose of the Program."

A message in bold red has been added to the main and individual pages: "By clicking Add to Cart I agree that I understand, and will comply with, the intended purpose of the Program."

As a final method of preventing abuses of the program, the US Mint has also changed the way that purchases through the program are recognized by credit card processors. According to this article from the LA Times, the purchases are now recorded as cash advances, which typically do not earn rewards.
Today on Coin Update News: Latest US Mint Sales Report


Margaret & Zachary Taylor Presidential Dollar Coin and Medal Set

The Presidential $1 Coin and First Spouse Medal Set featuring Zachary and Margaret Taylor will go on sale at the US Mint on December 17, 2009 at 12:00 Noon ET.

Each set will include one uncirculated (satin finish) Zachary Taylor Presidential Dollar coin and one Marget Taylor bronze medal. These will be held on a plastic card illustrated with portraits of the President and First Spouse on the front and issuance information on the back. The sets will be priced at $8.95 each. The US Mint product page can be found here.

Two previously released Presidential Dollar and First Spouse Medal Sets remain available for sale at the time of this post, the John and Julia Tyler Set and the James and Sarah Polk Set. These sets had recorded sales of 8,258 and 7,471 units, as December 13, 2009.

The Zachary & Marget Taylor Coin and Medal Set will represent one of the final 2009 product offerings from the US Mint as the year draws to a close. Only two more 2009-dated products are scheduled to be released. The Mint will release the Zachary Taylor Presidential Dollar Coin Cover on December 30, 2009 and the Northern Mariana Islands Quarter First Day Cover on January 12, 2010.


Monday, December 14, 2009

The Return of Gold and Silver Eagle Rationing

In a return to the situation experienced during most of 2008 and the first half of 2009, the limited number of gold and silver bullion coins available from the US Mint are subject to rationing.

US Mint bullion coins are not sold directly to the public. These coins are distributed through a network of authorized purchasers, who resell the coins to other bullion dealers and the public. During times when demand for the bullion coins has exceeded the amount the US Mint was able to supply, the Mint has rationed coins at the authorized purchaser level through an "allocation program."

On November 25, 2009, the US Mint had announced the suspension of sales for one ounce American Gold Eagle and American Silver Eagle bullion coins. Sales of the Silver Eagles resumed on December 7, 2009, but sales were subject to rationing. Sales of the one ounce Gold Eagles will resume tomorrow December 15, also subject to allocation.

Separately, the US Mint offered fractional weight 2009 Gold Eagle bullion coins on December 3, 2009. On the first day of sales, the entire inventory of one-tenth ounce coins was depleted and the inventory of one-quarter and one-half ounce coins was reduced limited status. The remaining inventory of one-quarter and one-half ounce coins was rationed. Today, the US Mint will sell another batch of fractional Gold Eagles to its authorized purchasers. All available coins will be subject to the rationing process.

The US Mint used the allocation program for the first time during 2008. The one ounce Silver Eagle bullion coins had been subject to rationing from April 21, 2008 to June 15, 2009. The one ounce Gold Eagle bullion coins had been rationed from August 15, 2008 to June 15, 2009. Fractional weight gold bullion coins completely unavailable for most of this time. The long standing allocation programs had negative impacts for both precious metals investors and coin collectors.

On the precious metals side, higher premiums above the spot price of the metals developed due to the limited availability of coins. During the height of the 2008 Silver Eagle shortage, premiums for one ounce Silver Eagle bullion coins had risen as high as $4.50 above the spot price of silver. Before the era of shortages, normal premiums were around $1.75. Gold Eagle bullion coin premiums were similarly elevated. Higher premiums erode the gains experienced when the price of precious metals rises, since investors need to recoup the extra costs.

For coin collectors, the allocation programs resulted in the lengthy delay and eventual cancellation of many collectible gold and silver coins. For 2008, the US Mint was forced to cancel all collectible 2009 Silver Eagle and Gold Eagle offerings and delay the launch of the collectible Proof Gold Buffalo coin until October 29.

In the press release announcing the canceled coins, the US Mint stated:
All available 22-karat gold and silver bullion blanks are being allocated to the American Eagle Gold and American Eagle Silver Bullion Coin Programs, as mandated by Public Law 99-185 and Public Law 99-61, respectively. Both laws direct the agency to produce these coins in quantities sufficient to meet public demand. The proof and uncirculated versions of the American Eagle Gold and Silver Proof Coins are not mandated by law.
These statements were provided before the US Mint was forced to revive their allocation programs. With the programs now in place, the US Mint is now apparently even further away from meeting public demand, calling into question the status of collectible gold and silver coins for 2010 and beyond.
More Information:
2010 Silver Eagles
2010 Gold Eagles


Friday, December 11, 2009

2009 Proof Platinum Eagle on Waiting List Status

By yesterday afternoon, the United States Mint had received enough orders for the 2009 Proof Platinum Eagle to meet the maximum mintage limit of 8,000 coins. The products still remain available for ordering on a waiting list basis.

Customers who place orders now will go onto a waiting list. If coins become available due to order cancellations, then orders will be fulfilled from the waiting list on a first-in, first-served basis.

The 2009 Proof Platinum Eagle first went on sale December 3, 2009. By December 6, the US Mint had received orders for 7,207 coins, suggesting a sell out was close at hand.

The coins were priced at $1,792 based on an average platinum value from $1,450 to $1,549.99 per ounce. Platinum has since taken a turn lower and is currently trading around $1,415 per ounce.

The sell out has yet to spark any immediate secondary market appreciation for the coins. At the time of writing this post, there were ten 2009 Proof Platinum Eagles listed on eBay with opening bids from $2,085 to $3,000. None of the auctions had attracted a bid. View the current eBay auctions here.

I believe that the 2009 Proof Platinum Eagle represents the fastest sell out ever for a US Mint platinum coin. Typically, the coins offered much earlier in the year and remain available for several months, sometimes into the following calendar year. As I have mentioned another post, a big contributor to the quick sell out is the lack of other options available to collectors this year.

During 2008, the US Mint had offered a ten separate collectible Gold Eagles products, ten collectible Platinum Eagles products, three products including collectible Silver Eagles, and twelve products including Gold Buffalo coins. A combination of product discontinuations and cancellations whittled these product lines down to just two options for this year: the one ounce 2009 Proof Platinum Eagle and the one ounce 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo. The Proof Gold Buffalo still remains available for sale, and has recorded sales of 40,233 coins as of the last weekly reporting period.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

UHR Double Eagle Sales Ending December 31, 2009

Today, the US Mint announced that orders for the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin will only be accepted until December 31, 2009 at 3:00 PM ET. This leaves collectors with 21 days left to order the coins directly from the Mint.

As of December 6, 2009, the US Mint had sold a total of 108,207 Ultra High Relief Double Eagles, including the sales of 1,131 in the most recent week. Assuming the pace of sales doesn't pick up too much in the coming weeks, the final mintage for the coin should fall below 120,000. For a one year issue of a hugely popular coin, this mintage is relatively low. When the 2006 Proof Gold Buffalo was released, the US Mint had sold nearly than 250,000 coins.

Since the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin has been one of the biggest stories this year, I wanted to provide a recap on the history of the coin from the initial announcement through the projected end of sales.

March 13, 2008
US Mint Director Edmund Moy announced plans to recreate Augustus Saint Gaudens' Ultra High Relief $20 Gold Coin. The announcement came at a meeting of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. Director Moy remarked, "Recreating thousands of Augustus Saint-Gaudens' ultra-high relief Double Eagles will be a defining moment in American coinage."

July 30, 2008
The United States Mint unveiled the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin at the ANA World's Fair of Money in Baltimore, Maryland. A four phase exhibit at the US Mint booth showcased the development of the coin from gold bars, to plaster casts, to feasibility and test strikes, to the finished one ounce 24 karat gold coin. A similar online exhibit is now available on the US Mint's website.

November 24, 2008
The first production strike of the UHR Double Eagle took pace at the West Point Mint. The first coin produced was transferred to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. The second coin was retained for the United States Mint's heritage assets. Director Moy remarked, "One hundred years from now, I believe the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin will be remembered as the birth of the greatest American century in coin-making history."

January 22, 2009
Sales of the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle began at 12:00 Noon ET. The initial offering price for the coin was $1,189 with an ordering limit of one per household. The product page contained a disclaimer that delivery could potentially take six to nine months based on gold blank availability. In the first day of sales, the US Mint sold 28,173 coins. Within five days, more than 40,000 coins had been sold.

February 9, 2009
The first 2009 UHR Double Eagle was received by a collector. The delivery and images of the coin were posted on Coin Network. The few collectors who received their coins early turned out to be the lucky ones.

February 25, 2009
After a few of the coins had shipped, the remainder were delayed for several weeks due to problems with the Companion Book. The US Mint sent emails to customers who ordered the coins to announce that shipping would resume, and some companion books would be shipped shipped separately. The delays and initial lack of information from the Mint upset some collectors. When more coins started to ship, there were also indications that coins were not shipping in First In-First Out order as the US Mint claimed.

March 2009
After a strong opening, the pace of sales for the UHR Double Eagle experienced a steep decline. By March, the US Mint had reached sales of 50,000 coins, but the pace of sales had declined to about 1,000 coins per week. Weekly sales would range from about 500 to 1,000 coins per week until later in the summer.

July 27, 2009
The United States Mint finally raised the ordering limit for the Ultra High Relief Double Eagle to ten coins per household. By this time, year to date sales had reached nearly 70,000. The coins had also undergone a few price increases which brought the price to $1,289.

August 5-9, 2009
The United States Mint booth was a big attraction at the World's Fair of Money in Baltimore, Maryland. Attendees were allowed to purchase the UHR Double Eagles under the increased order limit. Many dealers used the opportunity to build an inventory of the coins by offering bounties for anyone who purchased coins at the US Mint's booth and immediately resold them. Coin Update News had an interview with one of the dealers. The increased activity helped push sales above 80,000.

August 31, 2009
The United States Mint raised the order limit to 25 coins per household.

September 21, 2009
The US Mint removed the ordering limit completely. By this time, the sales total had reached 92,346 and the coins were priced at $1,339 each.

October 18, 2009
Sales of the Ultra High Relief Double Eagle exceeded 100,000 coins.

November 25, 2009
The rising price of gold pushed US Mint prices higher for all gold coin products. The price of the UHR Double Eagle was increased to $1,539. This represented the highest price to date and was $350 above the initial offering price.

December 31, 2009
The final day of sales for the UHR Double Eagle at the US Mint. Orders may be placed through 3:00 PM ET on this date.


Louis Braille Silver Dollar Sales End Tomorrow

United States Mint sales of 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar products will end tomorrow, December 11, 2009 at 5:00 PM ET. Products current available include the individual proof, individual uncirculated in standard or easy open capsule, and the Braille Education Set.

The Louis Braille Silver Dollar first went on sale March 26, 2009. The offering came admidst some of the excitement surrounding this year's Abraham Lincoln Silver Dollar, which sold out of the individual options around the same time. More recently, the Braille Education Set went on sale October 8, 2009, providing a boost to sales.

As of the last weekly sales report, a total of 217,874 Louis Braille Silver Dollars have been sold across all options. This represents 54.5% of the maximum authorized mintage of 400,000. The breakdown by product option appears below.
Louis Braille Commemorative Silver Dollar Sales
Proof 135,235
Uncirculated 48,863
Uncirculated Easy Open 23,078
Braille Education Set 10,698
Total 217,874

The mintage totals are probably high end to keep any short term premiums from developing after the end of sales. That is, unless collectors start paying a premium for the lower production Braille Education Set. This year's Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set, which was limited to 50,000 units, continues to demand a significant premium over the cost of the coins contained in the set.

One interesting observation about the sales figures for the Louis Braille coin is the split between uncirculated and proof mintage. The proof coins, which were only available individually, sold 135,235 coins so far. The uncirculated coins, available individually in two different options or in the special set, sold a total of 82,639. Typically, the proof version of commemorative coin releases outsells the uncirculated version by more than a two to one margin.

On a final note, after the end of sales for the Louis Braille coins, the United States Mint will be left with just one silver dollar coin available for sale on its website. This will be the 2008-W Uncircualted Silver Eagle, which is included in the 2008 Annual Uncirculated Dollar Set. This product originally went on sale August 7, 2008 and has sold 91,116 sets to date.
New Episode: American Gold Eagle Video


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Native American Dollar Rolls Sold Out

The United States Mint has sold out of the individual 2009 Native American Dollar Rolls. The Denver rolls sold out yesterday, followed by the Philadelphia rolls today.

The rolls first went on sale on the US Mint's website on January 15, 2009, priced at $35.95 for the 25-coin rolls. As of the last weekly sales report, the US Mint sold 59,000 of the Philadelphia rolls and 53,732 of the Denver rolls.

For much of the year, the premium priced individual rolls have been on sale along side the Native American Dollar rolls offered through the US Mint's Direct Ship Program. This program allows individuals or businesses to order $250 boxes of coins at face value with no charges for shipping and insurance. The Direct Ship Boxes for the Native American Dollar finally went off sale in late October.

On the topic of the US Mint's Direct Ship Program, I have wanted to mention an article published this week in the Wall Street Journal. It describes how enthusiasts of frequent-flier mileage programs have used the US Mint's program to rack up huge amounts of rewards with zero net cost.

The article provides accounts of a few people who purchased $10,000 or $15,000 worth of coins and immediately cashed them in at the bank. They paid their credit card bill with the proceeds and earned rewards in the process. One man claimed to have purchased $800,000 in coins through the program.

The US Mint has since added this statement to the Direct Ship Dollar pages:
The purchase of $1 coins under the Circulating $1 Coin Direct Ship Program is a cash equivalent or cash-like transaction. Ordinarily, such purchases are not eligible for credit card rewards, cash-back, cash rebate, and similar programs. Check with your card issuer for its terms and conditions.
The article also states that the US Mint sold a total of $130 million in coins through the program since it began in June 2008. This is frankly an astonishing number and represents a sizable proportion of the overall production. The total dollar coin production for the year to date is $423 million. How much of this production was prompted by the huge demand for dollar coins coming from the Direct Ship Program?
Coin Update News Articles:
2009 Presidential Dollar Mintages
2009 DC & US Territories Quarters Mintages


2010 Presidential Dollar Designs Released

The United States Mint has released the designs that will be used for the upcoming 2010 Presidential Dollars. Next year's coins will honor former Presidents Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Abraham Lincoln.

The obverse of each coin will feature a portrait of the President with inscriptions of the President's name, order of the Presidency, years served, and the motto "In God We Trust". The reverse of each coin will feature the rendition of the Statue of Liberty designed and sculpted by Don Everhart. Reverse inscriptions include "United States of America" and "$1". The date, mint mark, and motto "E Pluribus Unum" will appear on the edge of the coin with thirteen stars.

The highlight of next year's releases will be the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Dollar. Together with the newly designed 2010 Lincoln Cent, it will provide a nice capstone to the coins issued for Lincoln's Bicentennial. This year, the US Mint issued the 2009 Lincoln Cent with four different reverse designs and the 2009 Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollar.

The US Mint line art images for each of next year's Presidential Dollars appear below, with the designers and engravers for each coin.

Millard Fillmore Dollar
Designer and Engraver: Don Everhart

Franklin Pierce Dollar
Designer: Susan Gamble
Engraver: Charles Vickers

James Buchanan Dollar
Desiger and Engraver: Phebe Hemphill

Abraham Lincoln Dollar
Designer and Engraver: Don Everhart

On a related note, I have recently updated with pages for the upcoming 2010 coin releases. The site allows collectors to rate coins on the basis of coin design, historical significance, and investment potential. Collectors can also provide more detailed written reviews on these or other relevant factors. Visit Coin Review to check out some of the reviews already posted for the 2010 Lincoln Cent and 2010 Disabled Veterans Commemorative Silver Dollar.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

2009 American Platinum Eagle Proof Coin Sales at 7,207

The initial sales figures for the 2009 Proof Platinum Eagle have come in at 7,207 coins sold through December 6. Since the maximum authorized mintage is 8,000, the opening sales figures suggest that the coins are on the verge of selling out.

The 2009 Proof Platinum Eagle went on sale December 3, 2009 with an ordering limit of five coins per household. Each coin contains one ounce of .9995 platinum. The reverse design features an interpretation of the theme "To Form a More Perfect Union" and will begin a six-year series representing the core concepts of American democracy.

Prospects for the coin seemed mixed leading up to the release. There was a vocal majority of collectors who disliked the choice of reverse design. The maximum authorized mintage was set well above the mintage of last year's one ounce proof Platinum Eagle, limiting the possibility of a new key date. And finally, the continued rise in the price of platinum pushed the coin's initial price to a lofty $1,792 per coin.

On the other hand, the 2009 Proof Platinum Eagle represents the only platinum coin to be produced by the US Mint this year, as well as the only collectible American Eagle coin offered. Additionally, collectors have been literally starved for options this year, forcing them to reconsider coins they might not have purchased under different circumstances.

In a post leading up to the release, I mentioned that I was leaning towards a sell out, but not an immediate one. It looks like the sell out will happen, probably within the next few days.

Sales figures are also available for the Margaret Taylor First Spouse Gold Coin and 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo. View the complete US Mint sales report on Coin Update News.


Monday, December 7, 2009

US Mint Coin Production November 2009

The US Mint has updated coin production figures to reflect circulating coins produced through November 2009. The updated figures include final mintages for the Zachary Taylor Presidential Dollar and the Northern Mariana Islands Quarter.

Only 76.06 million coins were produced during the month of November 2009. This is far below last month's total 353.8 million coins and the lowest monthly production since I started watching the numbers. Production at the Philadelphia Mint facility took place for cents and Presidential Dollars. Production at the Denver Mint facility took place for the cents and quarters.

The table below presents the coins produced by the US Mint for the month of November and the entire year to date.
2009 US Mint Coin Production Figures

November 2009 Jan 2009 - Nov 2009
Lincoln Cent - Denver 53.60 M 1,248.00 M
Lincoln Cent - Phil. 8.00 M 1,106.00 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 11.80 M 269.60 M
Quarters - Phil. 0 264.32 M
Kennedy Half - Denver 0 1.90 M
Kennedy Half - Phil. 0 1.90 M
Native Am Dollar - Denver 0 33.88 M
Native Am Dollar - Phil. 0 37.38 M
Pres Dollar - Denver 0 177.10 M
Pres Dollar - Phil. 2.66 M 175.28 M

Total 76.06 M 3,548.00 M

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. Newly posted figures include the Zachary Taylor Dollar and Northern Mariana Islands Quarter.

2009 US Mint Coin Production by Design

Denver Phil. Total
Birthplace Cent 350.40 M 284.40 M 634.80 M
Formative Years Cent 363.60 M 376.00 M 739.60 M
Professional Life Cent 336.00 M 316.00 M 652.00 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
Taylor Pres Dollar 36.68 M 41.58 M 78.26 M

352.10 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
N Mariana Islands Quarter 37.60 M 35.20 M 72.80 M

636.20 M

Prior to this months figures, it had seemed that US Mint coin production was leveling off after posting declines for almost all subsequent design releases. The US Virgin Islands Quarter had shown only a 0.2 million decline from the overall production of the prior design. The James K. Polk Dollar actually marked a small uptick in overall production from the previous release in the series.

The latest update shows the Northern Mariana Islands with an overall mintage of 72.80 million, nearly 10 million below the prior release. This is divided as 37.6 million Denver Mint coins and 35.2 million Philadelphia Mint coins. For the series, these figures represent the lowest overall mintage and lowest mintage for each respective mint facility. The 2009-P Northern Mariana Islands Quarter also has the lowest mintage for a circulation strike quarter since 1960.

The Zachary Taylor Dollar came in with an overall mintage of 78.26 million, more than 10 million below the previous release. Production was divided as 36.68 million Denver Mint coins and 41.58 Philadelphia Mint coins. For the series, these figures represent the lowest overall mintage, lowest mintage for each respective mint facility, and lowest mintage for a single issue.

It has not yet been confirmed whether production of the 2009 Lincoln Cent Presidency design has officially ended. If it has already ended or will end without significant additional production, the mintage would set a new low for 2009 Lincoln Cents.

The lowest mintage is currently held by the 2009-P Birthplace Cent at 284.40 million. By backing the final mintages of the first three designs from the year to date production totals, possible mintages for the Presidency Cent come in at 198.00 million Denver Mint coins and 129.60 million Philadelphia Mint coins. These figures would be far enough below the existing low to cause some excitement. I will have more information posted once I can confirm the status.