Mint News Blog

News, Information, and Commentary on US Mint Products

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ultra High Relief Double Eagles- Not Shipping FIFO?


There have been more reports of customers receiving their 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Coins. However, the collectors receiving coins are not necessarily the ones who placed their orders the earliest.

According to the US Mint's email notification sent out earlier this week, orders should be shipping on a "first-come, first-served basis." This means that customers who ordered their coins first, should be receiving their coins first. (i.e. "First in-First out" or FIFO)

Based on reports from Mint News Blog readers, and comments on other coin sites and forums, this is clearly not happening. Some customers who ordered on the second or third day are reporting that they have received their coins. Other customers who ordered within the first hour still have not received their coins. I placed my order at 12:17 PM ET on the first day of sales and have still not received my coin or any notification of shipping.

In an attempt to quantify what is happening. Please take a moment to answer a survey. The survey asks what date you ordered the Ultra High Relief Double Eagle, whether you have received it, and if you have, the date you received it. Results are tracked separately based on order date. You can respond to the survey more than once if you have ordered more than one coin. All responses are kept anonymous. Results will be posted on Mint News Blog next week. Please ask anyone else you know who ordered the UHR to complete the survey.

Survey Closed on 3/4/09: view the results here.

Some US Mint customers are justifiably upset with their experience ordering the Ultra High Relief Double Eagle. Problems have plagued nearly every aspect of the offering. This included initial difficulties obtaining sufficient blanks to manufacture coins, a series of miscommunications to customers on shipping dates, website security issues, shipping security issues, production problems with the companion book, and the latest non-FIFO shipping.

The US Mint began building enthusiasm for the Ultra High Relief Double Eagle as early as March 2008 calling it the recreation of the "nation's most beautiful coin." Later, US Mint Director Edmund Moy made even loftier statements about the coin. He said "One hundred years from now, I hope that people will reflect on this coin and say this was the beginning of the next renaissance of American coinage." He has even called it "arguably one of the best coins ever made in the world throughout all of history."

When you make claims of this nature, make sure you are able to deliver.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

2008 Mint Set Sold Out


Yesterday, the 2008 US Mint Uncirculated Coin Set sold out.

Although the sell out occurred much sooner than is usually the case, many collectors may have been expecting it. Many 2008 US Mint products have sold out early or unexpectedly, even some of the US Mint's "core offerings" like the 2008 Proof Silver Eagle which has been sold out since mid-August 2008, and the 2008 Proof Set which has been sold out since mid-December 2008.

The 2008 Mint Set first went on sale July 30, 2008 priced at $22.95 per set. Each set contains a total of 28 coins, comprised of 14 coins each from the Denver and Philadelphia Mints. The coins feature a special "satin finish" which is different than coins produced for circulation. This finish has been used for US Mint issued Mint Sets since 2005.

According to the latest stats, 745,464 of the sets had been sold as of February 22, 2009. As long as there was not an enormous jump in the past few days, this will mark the lowest mintage for a Mint Set since 1963 when 606,612 Mint Sets were produced.



For comparison to some recently issued low mintage sets, the 2004 Mint Set had a mintage of 842,507 and the 2006 Mint Set had a mintage of 847,361. These number come from the 2009 Red Book. It should be noted that both of these sets briefly went back on sale at the US Mint's Last Chance Sale. Any sets sold during the sale would increase the final mintages.

Late last year, I included the 2008 Mint Set in my list of potential Sleeper Hits. It's still too early to gauge how the 2008 Mint Set will work out. The other coins mentioned included the 2008 Sacagawea Rolls and 2008 Kennedy Half Dollar Rolls. Both of these have sold out and seem to be selling for higher prices now. In a few months, I will revisit the full list and examine the performance.

The last three 2008 dated annual sets which remain on sale at the US Mint are the 2008 Silver Proof Set, the 2008 State Quarters Silver Proof Set, and the 2008 Annual Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set.

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Anna Harrison First Spouse Gold Coins

The next product scheduled to be released by the US Mint is the 2009-W Anna Harrison First Spouse Gold Coin. The coins will go on sale March 5, 2009 at 12:00 Noon ET.

This coin will mark the first release of the First Spouse Gold series for 2009. The obverse of the coin was designed by Donna Weaver and sculpted by Joseph Menna. The reverse of the coin which features Anna Harrison sharing her passion for education, was designed by Thomas Cleveland and sculpted by Charles L. Vickers. Each coin contains one-half ounce of 24 karat gold.



Offerings will include proof and uncirculated versions of the gold coin, as well as bronze medal duplicates. Prices for the gold coins will be determined based on the average price of gold for the week preceding the coin's release. If gold remains in the current range of $900 - $949.99 per ounce, the proof coins will be priced at $629.00 and the uncirculated coins will be priced at $616.00. The bronze medals will be priced at $3.50.



The maximum mintage for the gold coins has been set at 40,000 across both proof and uncirculated versions. An ordering limit of ten coins per option per household will be in effect for the first week of sales.

The First Spouse Gold series in general has experienced a decline in popularity. The first three coins in the series featuring Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, and Thomas Jefferson's Liberty each sold out on the first day of offering. Following the initial enthusiasm, subsequent coins did not sell out and fell into a pattern of diminishing sales figures.

The two most recent issues for Andrew Jackson's Liberty and Martin Van Buren's Liberty seem to have generated an uptick in interest. However, it does not seem likely that this will continue with the latest coin since Anna Harrison was less well known and the rising price of gold continues to push the coin out of reach for some collectors. In actuality, the Anna Harrison First Spouse Coin might be interesting to watch to see if it can set a new mintage low for the series.


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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ultra High Relief Email Notification

The following message is being sent by email to US Mint customers who ordered the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin.

Another version of this message has been posted in the FAQ section of the US Mint's website. The email is silent with regards to the previous series of emails sent to customers which included ever-changing estimated shipping dates. The email is also silent regarding shipping problems and security problems recently exposed on other sites and print publications. The email also states that they are resuming shipping, although they never broadly informed customers that shipping was being halted.

For anyone who has not received it yet, here is the email in its entirety:

Re: Order Number xxxxxxxx

Dear Customer,

The United States Mint is pleased to announce that we will resume shipping of the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin during the week of February 22, 2009. However, because of production problems with the Companion Book, you may receive only the COIN and presentation box at this time. If you are a customer who receives the COIN without the Companion Book, we will ship the Companion Book to you, at no extra charge, when it becomes available.

If you ordered your 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin between January 22, 2009, and February 9, 2009, you are under the 30-day return policy. If you ordered on or after February 10, 2009, you are under the seven-day return policy. The return timeframe for the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold COIN and presentation box will begin on the date you receive it. If you are dissatisfied for any reason with your 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold COIN, you may send it back to the United States Mint within the applicable return period for a full refund or replacement. If you return your COIN for any reason prior to receiving the Companion Book, we will cancel your shipment of the Companion Book. If you receive the Companion Book within the applicable return period, you must return both for a full refund.

If your Companion Book is shipped separately, the exchange timeframe for it also will begin on the date you receive it and under the same return policy – 30 days or seven days – as applicable. We will make no refunds for the Companion Book; we will make exchanges for damages only.

Customers’ orders will be shipped on a first-come, first-served basis. You will be notified by email when your order has shipped. If you do not receive the Companion Book with your COIN, you will receive a second e-mail notification when we ship the Companion Book.If you ordered the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin between January 22 and February 23, 2009, we expect to ship it by April 24, 2009.

If you place your order for the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin on or after February 24 (and up until March 24, 2009), we expect to ship it by May 24, 2009.

Thank you for your interest in United States Mint products.

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2008-W Gold Eagles Sold Out, Gold Prices Adjusted Early


The last of the 2008-W Uncirculated Gold Eagles sold out today. The final coin to go was the 1/2 ounce version, which was priced at $600.00. The sell out came just before a price adjustment for other US Mint gold coins.

Under the new pricing policy, prices were adjusted upwards by $50 for each ounce of gold content. The price for the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle was increased from $1,289 to $1,339. First Spouse Gold Coins had their prices increased from $616 to $641 for uncirculated coins and $629 to $654 for proof coins. The price adjustments were effective around 2:00 PM ET today.

Some people were surprised by the price adjustment for US Mint gold coins, because they were not supposed to happen until tomorrow morning.

The US Mint's January 6, 2009 publication in the Federal Register very plainly states that price adjustments will take place Thursday mornings at 10:00 AM. The quote below is taken directly from their publication (bold added for emphasis):
Specifically, each Wednesday, the United States Mint will apply the average London Fix for platinum and gold (average of the London Fix prices covering the previous Thursday A.M. Fix through the Wednesday A.M. Fix) to the below pricing schedules. Price adjustments as a result of this process, if any, will be effective at 10 a.m. E.S.T. on the immediately following Thursday.
The US Mint supposedly implemented the new pricing policy in order to increase transparency and predictability for their customers. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen when the US Mint chooses to deviate from their own published policies.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

First Spouse Bronze Medals Outperform Gold Coins


First Spouse Bronze Medals have been surprising winners for recent US Mint products. These bronze duplicate medals have actually been outperforming the First Spouse Gold Coins on which they are based.

The bronze medals have been released on the same date as the corresponding gold coin and priced at an affordable $3.50 each. For the past two years, Four Medal Sets have also been offered at $12.95 which contain one of each medal for the year. The US Mint has also offered Presidential Dollar Coin and First Spouse Medal Sets priced at $7.95.

The medals which have sold out at the US Mint are selling for premiums of 200% or more based on recently completed eBay auctions. The 2007 First Spouse Four Medal Sets in original packaging have sold for $40 or more, compared to the original issue price of $12.95. Some of the individual 2007 First Spouse Medals have sold for $10, compared to the original issue price of $3.50. The 2007 Presidential Dollar Coin and Medal Sets have sold for $60 up to $100, compared to the original price of $7.95.



By comparison, the 2007 First Spouse Gold Coins have basically tracked the price of gold. The first two coins featuring Martha Washington and Abigail Adams were originally priced at $429.95 and $410.95 each, for proof and uncirculated versions. The coins now seem to sell for around $520 to $550 each. Since each coin contains one-half ounce of gold, this represents only a small premium above spot gold.

Why are the medals selling for so much?

I can only guess that the medals have gained popularity as a relatively more affordable way to collect the first spouse series. A medal priced around $10 remains relatively more affordable than a gold coin priced over $500. Also, the 2007 medals seem to have been mostly overlooked and under ordered while they were available at the US Mint, which may be creating a limited supply on the secondary market. Current eBay auctions show about twelve 2007 First Spouse Medals compared to over one hundred 2007 First Spouse Gold Coins available.

Lastly, a recently discovered mule error in 2007 First Spouse Four Medal Sets may be bringing attention to the bronze duplicates. The obverse of the Abigail Adams medal was inadvertently paired with the reverse of the Louisa Adams medal. Three examples were reported to Coin World. One example of the error recently sold on eBay for $700. It's possible that some people are paying premiums to buy the Four Medal Sets to check for the error.

The US Mint currently has available all of the 2008 medals, the 2008 Four Medal Set, and the Dollar Coin and Medal Sets for Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren.

Will the 2008 medals perform as well as the 2007's?

In my opinion I think it would be unlikely. Once an unexpected winning product like this becomes known, enough people jump into the market to prevent it from happening again. However, for the average collector ordering one or two of the medals to appreciate the First Spouse series, they are a nice acquisition at only $3.50 each.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

2009 Lincoln Penny Mania


Shortly after the 2009 Lincoln Cent launch, I wrote a post which mentioned the high prices paid for rolls of the new coins on eBay. One week later, the incredible price levels continue.

A quick review of recently completed eBay auctions shows unmarked rolls selling for $30 to $50 each. Single pennies have sold for $2 to $4 each. Rolls with a Lincoln postage stamp and cancellation from the first day of issue at Hogdenville, Kentucky have sold for over $200. Most astoundingly, a single 2009-P Lincoln Cent graded NGC MS66RD and attributed "First Day of Issue" has sold for $400.

View the current eBay auctions.

As I explained previously, the excessive prices being paid for 2009 Lincoln Cents is largely the result of the temporary unavailability of the coins through normal channels. Federal Reserve Banks have been inundated by coins as a result of the slowing economy, which has caused them to suspend orders for new coins. Many seem to have taken thtemporary unavailability as an indication of rarity.

According to circulating production figures from the US Mint for the month of January 2009, 294 million of the new pennies have already been produced. Annualized, this number equates to a total mintage of 3.5 billion. Has there ever been a rare collectible where 3.5 billion of the items exist?

Eventually, 2009 Lincoln Cents will be distributed through the normal channels and the public will be able to obtain them from banks at face value. Whenever this occurs, the new coins will even start to appear in pocket change from daily transactions.

Even before this point, it's possible that the US Mint might start selling rolls of the new cents directly to collectors. They are reportedly making a "concerted effort" to do so, amidst dealing with several other issues. If and when rolls are available from the US Mint, the offering price likely would not exceed $5 per roll.

It's really hard to imagine a situation whereby the coins will retain their current high values after the temporary unavailability comes to an end. Perhaps the rolls marked from the launch ceremony at Hogdenville will hold their value, but for the early buyers of most of the 2009 Lincoln Cents, it probably won't be a happy ending.



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Friday, February 20, 2009

William Henry Harrison Presidential Dollar Rolls Available, Bags Missing


Yesterday, rolls of 2009 William Henry Harrison Presidential Dollars went on sale at the US Mint. Sales began February 19, 2009 at 12:00 Noon ET.

The rolls are available from either the Philadelphia or Denver Mints in custom US Mint wrappers. The 25-coin rolls are priced at $35.95 each.

Since this is one of the US Mint's routine offerings, I almost did not write a post about it. However, I realized something noteworthy this morning. This is the first Presidential Dollar for which the US Mint is not offering 250-coin Bags.

For all previous eight Presidential Dollar releases, the US Mint has offered 25-coin rolls from each mint priced at $35.95, as well as 250-coin bags from each mint priced at $319.95. Sales of the 250-coin bags had been slowing, and it looks like the US Mint may have (at least temporarily) bought it to an end.

US Mint sales stats show that the number of 250-coin bags sold declined steadily since the start of the series. The George Washington Presidential Dollar had sold over 8,000 of the 250-coin bags. This number declined for each subsequent release and then experienced a significant decline with the release of the John Quincy Adams Presidential Dollar when sales fell below 1,000 bags. The most recent bag release for Martin Van Buren has sold 724 units to date.

I believe the reason for the decline is twofold. First, some people are likely losing interest in the series, especially as it moves into the lesser known Presidents. Second, the US Mint's Direct Ship Program, which sells $250 boxes of Presidential Dollars at face value is cutting into sales of the high premium bags. When the program was first announced, I suggested that this was a likely outcome.

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Double Prosperity Set & Two More Gold Eagles Sold Out


Since my post on the 2008-W Uncirculated & Proof Gold Eagles earlier this week, three additional options containing the coins have sold out.

The three recent sell outs are the 8-8-08 Double Prosperity Set, the 2008-W Uncirculated One Ounce Gold Eagle, and the 2008-W Uncirculated One-Quarter Ounce Gold Eagle. The only Gold Eagle which remains available on the US Mint's website is the 2008-W Uncirculated One-Half Ounce coin.

The Double Prosperity Set contains one-half ounce versions of the 2008-W Uncirculated Gold Buffalo and 2008-W Uncirculated Gold Eagle. The sets were overpriced and overlooked for the first several months of their release, but gained some popularity recently. As I explored in a previous post, the Gold Buffalo coin contained in the set sold out as an individual option and has been selling at a premium. If you account for the value of the Gold Buffalo, the additional Gold Eagle was sometimes available for less than its gold content value.

The last reported sales stats for the Double Prosperity Set show a total of 7,751 sets sold.


One of the contributing factors to the recent sells out is undoubtedly the rising price of gold. As of the writing of this post, the price of gold has surged above $990 per ounce. The US Mint's prices are still set at levels based on a gold price within the $900 to $949.99 range. Under the US Mint's new pricing policy, prices are adjusted each Thursday based on the average of the London Fix prices for the preceding week.

By my calculation, we just missed a price increase this week. Even though the price of gold was above $950, the average price fell just below. This near miss creates an interesting opportunity. The current prices for gold products are actually at the same levels that would be in place if gold was $90 lower. Customers may be using this opportunity to buy collectible gold coins for lower premiums relative to the price of gold.

The next potential US Mint repricing for gold products should take place this coming Thursday, February 26. However, with gold moving up by leaps and bounds each day, I think the US Mint might act sooner. The new pricing policy is silent on what happens if gold makes a significant move between the weekly adjustment periods. However, I would venture that the US Mint would implement an early suspension which would remain in place until the prices can be adjusted for Thursday morning.

We'll see how this develops...

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

2009 Lincoln Commemorative Sales Figures


The first sales figures for the 2009 Lincoln Commemorative Coins are now available. While sales are off to a strong start, many were expected bigger numbers.

The following sales figures are published by Numismaster, and report US Mint sales through February 16, 2009. Since the coins went on sale February 12, this means the numbers represent about four days of sales.
2009 Lincoln Commemorative Sales Figures



Uncirculated 61,164
Proof 116,558
Total 177,722

In a previous post, I reviewed the initial results of a survey asking collectors whether they believed the coin would sell out. The majority of respondents believed that a sell out would take place, with the greatest number of votes going towards a sell out within the first week or the first month. While a sell out still seems likely, it might take longer than anticipated.


Since I explored some of the reasons in favor of a sell out in my last post, I will explore some of the factors which may have worked against a quick sell out in this post.

Lack of promotion. While the mainstream press picked up the story about the launch of the new 2009 Lincoln Cent designs, I saw very few mentions of the commemorative coin launched on the same day. It seems like more could have been done to promote the launch of this important commemorative to the general public.

The reverse design. Most collectors seem to like the obverse design, but have seen mixed reactions about the reverse. Some feel that it is an appropriate tribute since Lincoln's words were one of his most valuable tools. Others feel that using text for the main design element is a poor choice, no matter how significant the words.

The economy. Undoubtedly, a portion of the demand for any new US Mint issue is speculative. With the current economic uncertainty, this portion of the overall demand may have pulled back, unwilling to assume the risk. Even average collectors might be rethinking how they allocate funds available for coin purchases.

At any rate, even if the sales figures were a bit slower than expected, on a relative basis they were strong. By comparison, last year's 2008 Bald Eagle Silver Dollar Commemorative did not reach this level of sales for about six weeks. An archived post of Mint News Blog has the combined sales figure at 187,060 for sales from January 15, 2008 to February 28, 2008. The Lincoln Commemorative probably reached this level by the fifth day of sales.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

CoinReview.com Launched - Rate and Review Coins


I would like to announce the launch of a new coin related website Coin Review!

CoinReview.com allows collectors to rate and review their favorite (or least favorite) coins. Collectors provide ratings on a scale of one to five for the criteria of coin design, historical significance, and investment potential. Collectors can also provide written explanations for their ratings or comment on any other aspect of the coin.

The idea for the site came to me after seeing many readers of Mint News Blog or members of Coin Network expressing their opinions on newly released coins. I thought it would be interesting to create one site exclusively dedicated to coin reviews.

Currently the site allows ratings for nearly 100 coins, including all of the 2009 coin releases with images released, all 50 State Quarters, and recent Commemorative coin issues. If the concept proves popular, I will expand the number of coins to include other recent issues as well as some classic coins.

Please take some time to check out the site. You can post your coin review for the highly touted Ultra High Relief Double Eagle. Some people seem to dislike the reverse of the Abraham Lincoln Commemoratve Silver Dollar. What do you think? Or what about the Louis Braille Commemorative, the coin images have just been released by the US Mint.

In the past few months, I have created a few other coin related websites that bring web concepts to coin collecting. You can also check out Coin Network, a social network for coin collectors, and Click Coins, a start page for coin collectors that automatically aggregates coin content from around the internet. I still have a few other ideas planned, so stay tuned!

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

US Mint Track Order Function

Several readers have posted comments wondering why the US Mint's online Track Order function has been unavailable for the past several days. The short answer is that this function is a serious security hole in the US Mint's website.

Mint News Blog readers who are members of Coin Network may already be aware of a situation that developed about a week ago. A Coin Network member named Tom had his Ultra High Relief Double Eagle order canceled by an unknown perpetrator. This action was performed using the US Mint's online Track Order function, which allows orders to be viewed and canceled by providing an order number and last name. His order number had been posted in the forum, and his last name had presumably been hunted down online.

I was honestly shocked and disappointed that something like this was possible, and even more so that someone had done it. I removed all other order numbers which users had posted on my sites and did what I could to rectify the situation.

I considered this to be a serious security flaw with the US Mint's website. Collectors often share their order numbers with others to estimate how many coins the US Mint is selling or to attempt to decipher the US Mint's shipping schedule. The US Mint has never indicated to customers that this number should be kept confidential, and last names increasing easy to discover online. Something more than these two bits of information should be required to cancel an order.

I sent an email to a contact at the US Mint to bring this to their attention. I also touched base with Susan Headley of About.com Coins. She had been aware of this issue for some time and had also reported it to the US Mint. With both of us expressing our concerns, they perhaps realized the seriousness of the issue and took the Track Order feature offline. (You can still call the US Mint by phone for an updated order status.)

Susan Headley describes the situation in detail on About.com Coins. She also discusses a separate US Mint issue related to shipping, which is currently in the spotlight.

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2008-W Proof & Uncirculated Gold Eagle Sales Figures


The last time I looked at the sales figures for the 2008-W Proof and Uncirculated Gold Eagles, the last proof option had just sold out (and then reappeared) and all uncirculated options were still available. Now, all proof options are sold out (again) and two of the uncirculated options have sold out.

The only remaining 2008 American Gold Eagle coins for sale at the US Mint are the 2008-W Uncirculated Gold Eagles in 1 oz, 1/2 oz, and 1/4 oz sizes. The Double Prosperity Set, which contains the 2008-W 1/2 oz. Uncirculated Gold Eagle and Gold Buffalo coins, is also still available.

The sales figures below represent the last reported sales figures. The first column of numbers is the individual sales total. The second is the total sold for each coin, including individual and set sales. The third column presents the last reported 2007 totals for comparison purposes.
2008 Proof Gold Eagle Sales Figures


Individual Total 2007 Total
1 oz. 16,327 29,399 51,810
1/2 oz. 14,792 27,864 44,025
1/4 oz. 15,229 28,301 46,189
1/10 oz. 16,083 29,155 58,553
4 Coin Set 13,072





2008-W Uncirculated Gold Eagle Sales Figures

Individual
Total 2007 Total
1 oz. 8,591 11,588 24,902
1/2 oz. 2,361 12,718* 13,358
1/4 oz. 6,167 9,164 14,615
1/10 oz. 10,379 13,376 24,300
4 Coin Set 2,997

* includes 7,360 for Double Prosperity Set sales



Sales figures have showed some jumps from the last examined levels. However, sales levels are still below the last reported numbers for 2007 dated Gold Eagles for all coins. The disparity is most prominent for the proof coins and the 1 oz. and 1/10 oz. uncirculated coins. The lowest total sales figure is for the 2008-W 1/4 oz. Uncirculated Gold Eagle at only 9,164. This coin is still on sale, but might be the next to sell out.

One of the sold out coins which merits some attention is the 2008 Proof 1/10 oz. Gold Eagle. The sales figures indicate a total of 29,155. This would actually mark the lowest mintage on record for any Proof $5 Gold Eagle since the series began. The current low of 34,977 was for the 1997 Proof $5 Gold Eagle.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

2009 Lincoln Penny Launch at Hodgenville, Kentucky


On February 12, 2009, the US Mint launched the first newly designed Lincoln Penny. A total of four new designs will be released for the 2009 Lincoln Cent.

The first design features a Log Cabin to represent Lincoln's humble beginnings in Kentucky. The Log Cabin appears on the reverse of the coin and was designed by Richard Masters and sculpted by Jim Licaretz. The obverse of the coin remains the classic bust of Lincoln designed by Victor D. Brenner. See my previous post for all of the 2009 Lincoln Cent designs and release dates.

The official launch ceremony for the first design took place in Hogdenville, Kentucky, the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. The ceremony was held at LaRue County High School and conducted by United States Mint Deputy Director Andrew Brunhart and Kentucky Governor Steven L. Beshear. It was estimated that 1,500 people attended the ceremony.

Even though the 2009 Lincoln Cent has been launched, collectors are having a very difficult time getting their hands on the new coins. The economy has caused many people to cash in their coin hoards, creating an overabundance of old coins for the Federal Reserve. As a result, the circulation of newly minted coins is delayed until they can work through the surplus. (Susan Headley has been covering this situation in detail. You can follow the latest developments at coins.about.com)

Due to the temporary unavailability of the coins through normal channels, a hot market has developed rolls of the new 2009 Lincoln Cents. On eBay, rolls of the 2009 Lincoln Cents have been selling for as much as $30 to $40 per roll. Rolls with a post office stamp with the release date and location have sold for over $150!

View the current eBay auctions.

I would caution that these price levels will almost certainly decline once the 2009 Lincoln Cents reach the regular distribution channels. Even before that point, the US Mint may start selling the new coins directly to collectors at much lower prices. Due to the delay circulation, the US Mint is making a "concerted effort" to have the coins available for sale in rolls.

Most of the rolls currently available for sale seem to be coming from the coin exchange at Hodgenville, Kentucky. It was reported that $5,000 worth of the new pennies were exchanged at the ceremony. Initially, attendees were allowed to exchange currency for a maximum of $5 worth of the new pennies, although they were allowed to go through the exchange line more than once. Towards the end of the ceremony, people were allowed to buy $25 boxes of the new pennies.

It has also been reported that the new pennies are available at the US Mint store in Washington, DC or the US Mint Gift Shops at the Denver Mint and Philadelphia Mint. (Philadelphia Mint now sold out according to comment.)

As a final treat, Mike Forader, one of the attendees at the launch ceremony in Hodgenville, Kentucky, was kind enough to provide me with some photos of the event. Below you will see a picture of Andrew Brunhart and Steven Beshear, a man impersonating Abraham Lincoln for the event, the hoard of new pennies available for exchange, and one of the rolls from the official release. Enjoy!







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Friday, February 13, 2009

2010 Quarters

Update: View latest information on America the Beautiful Quarters.

The US Mint recently added a new section to their website with some information about the upcoming quarter series slated to begin in 2010.

H.R. 6184 America's Beautiful national parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008 was signed into law on December 23, 2008. This legislation creates a new series of circulating commemorative quarters with rotating reverse designs. The designs will feature National Parks or National Sites from each of the 50 US States, 5 US Territories, and the District of Columbia.

The US Mint's new section provide some interesting details on the new series. I will summarize some of the new information posted.

- The Act requires that the Secretary of the Treasury select all 56 of the National Parks and Sites that will be featured on the coins within six months of the legislation's enactment. This gives him a deadline of September 19, 2009 to make all of the site selections which will be used for the next 11 years.

- The site selection process begins with the US Mint contacting the chief executive of each jurisdiction to request one preferred and three alternative sites within his or her jurisdiction. The US Mint reviews the recommendations and consults with the Secretary of the Interior. A final candidate list is provided to the Secretary of the Treasury for approval.

- Once the list of sites is approved, the full release schedule will be determined by the order each site was first established as a national site. Release of the new quarters will take place at a rate of five per year.

- The design selection process begins with the US Mint contacting the Federal entity responsible for the national site to request the appointment of a Federal official to serve as liaison. The US Mint will use source materials identified by the liaison to produce three to five candidate designs. These designs will be submitted to the Secretary of the Interior, the chief executive of the host jurisdiction, the CFA, and the CCAC for comment. The US Mint will make a final recommendation to the Secretary of the Treasury.

- Some basic guidelines for the site selection and design criteria are presented. Sites must be reasonably expected to translate into dignified designs of which citizens can be proud. Sites cannot be frivolous or inappropriate. Designs cannot include a head and shoulders portrait or a living person. Designs cannot include an outline or a map of the host jurisdiction. Notably, designs can be based on the same theme as a previously released State Quarter, as long as the design is not the same.

- The US Mint indicates that a portrait of George Washington will remain on the obverse of all of the quarters. The legislation did not provide guidance as to what should appear on the obverse of the coins. About two weeks ago, the CCAC had voted unanimously that consideration should be given to placing Theodore Roosevelt on the obverse. Has the US Mint already decided against this recommendation?

On a final note, the US Mint's new section on the series brought back a question that I have wondered since the series was first proposed: What will the series actually be called? State Quarters were easy enough to name, but the dual nature of the subject matter for the next series leave some room for interpretation.

The US Mint refers to the series as "New 2010 Quarters Program" on the navigation menu, which is likely only temporary. However, their page titles of the new section refer to the program as "National Sites Quarters Program." The URLs also include "NSQuartersProgram."

While the US Mint seems to have chosen the term "Sites," most articles and blogs have chosen the term "Parks." Which name will stick?

National Park Quarters
? National Sites Quarters? Sites and Parks Quarters?

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2009 Presidential Dollar Release Schedule

Earlier this week, the US Mint released details of the official launch ceremony for the first 2009 Presidential Dollar honoring William Henry Harrison. This will appropriately take place on President's Day, February 16, 2009 at President Harrison's birthplace, Berkeley Plantation in Charles City, Virginia. The event will include a ceremonial pour of new William Henry Harrison Presidential Dollars, a coin exchange, a free coin for children attending, and tours of the manor house.

Similar to the 2009 Quarter Release Schedule I posted earlier in the week, I wanted to put a schedule for the 2009 Presidential Dollar releases online. The US Mint recently posted new images of the coins, which will also be included. The previous images available were artist's renderings.

The release dates listed below are the public release dates according to the Federal Reserve Banks. The release date which was listed for the WHH Dollar is a few days after the ceremony described above. So you could really get these on February 16, 2009 if you attend the ceremony.


William Henry Harrison Dollar
Release Date: February 19, 2009
Designer and Sculptor: Joseph Menna


John Tyler Dollar
Release Date: May 21, 2009
Designer and Sculptor: Phebe Hemphill


James K. Polk Dollar
Release Date: August 20, 2009
Designer: Susan Gamble
Sculptor: Charles Vickers


Zachary Taylor Dollar
Release Date: November 19, 2009
Designer and Sculptor: Don Everhart

View all Presidential Dollar Release Dates.


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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Will 2009 Lincoln Commemorative Coins Sell Out?


When I wrote about the 2009 Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollars about two weeks ago, I expressed the opinion that the coins had a good chance of selling out. The results of a recent coin survey indicate that many collectors agree.

I recently posted a survey on Coin Network and Click Coins asking the question: Will the 2009 Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollar Sell Out? At the time of writing this post, 71% of respondents voted for one of the sell out options. This included 15% who believed a sell out would occur on the first day of sales and 24% who predict a sell out within the first week.

There are several good arguments in favor of a sell out. Abraham Lincoln is one of the most well known figures in American history, which should translate into increased interest in the commemorative coin. Interest should be further bolstered by the simultaneous release of the first 2009 Lincoln Cent, which takes place tomorrow.

Furthermore, prices for the commemorative silver dollar are lower than the prior year's prices, which may make the coins seem like a relative bargain. The household ordering limit for the Lincoln Commemorative has been set at 100 coins per version, meaning each collector can order up to 200 coins. Collectible versions of the 2009 Silver Eagle coins are still not available for sale, so some of the pent up demand may carry over to silver commemorative coins.

Lastly, although the maximum authorized mintage of the Lincoln Commemorative is 500,000 coins, the US Mint will have less than this amount available for individual sales. They have announced that 50,000 coins will be reserved for a special special set containing four 2009 Proof Lincoln Cents together with the commemorative silver dollar. It's also possible that the US Mint might hold back more of the authorized mintage if they plan to include the coin in the 2009 American Legacy Collection. In prior years, this expanded proof set has been issued to include proof versions of commemorative silver dollars issued during the year.


If you are interested in the 2009 Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollar and don't want to risk missing out, sales begin tomorrow February 12, 2009 at 12:00 Noon ET.

You can still answer the original survey question below. I will leave voting open until sales of the coin begin tomorrow, so we can see how the predictive powers of the coin survey work out.

Discuss results in the Coin Survey Group


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2009 Quarter Release Schedule

The first quarter from this year's District of Columbia and US Territories Quarters Program had already been released. But what does the schedule look like for the rest of the year?

So far, I have not seen the US Mint publish a release schedule for the entire series on their website. However, I did come across some dates listed on a Federal Reserve site. Since many collectors are looking for this information, I wanted to share it in this post.

Note that the dates are indicated as estimated and subject to change, but at least this will provide a rough road map for anyone awaiting the release of the 2009 Quarters. Since my last post, the US Mint has also released some coin images in place of the artist's reversions release previously.

If the release dates are changed, I will update this page with the latest information.


District of Columbia Quarter
Release Date: January 26, 2009
Designer: Joel Iskowitz, Sculptor: Don Everhart


Puerto Rico Quarter
Release Date: March 30, 2009
Designer and Sculptor: Joseph Menna


Guam Quarter
Release Date: May 26, 2009
Designer: David Westwood
Sculptor: Jim Licaretz


American Samoa Quarter
Release Date: July 27, 2009
Designer: Stephen Clark
Sculptor: Charles Vickers


US Virgin Islands Quarter
Release Date: September 28, 2009
Designer and Sculptor: Joseph Menna


Northern Mariana Islands Quarter
Release Date: November 30, 2009
Designer: Richard Masters
Sculptor: Phebe Hemphill




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Monday, February 9, 2009

The First 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Arrives

A member of Coin Network reports receiving the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin today!

Pictures of the coin were posted on Coin Network today February 9, 2009 at 12:03 PM. This is the earliest report of receiving the 2009 UHR that I have seen.

I have only seen one other report of the coin received in hand. There have been a few reports of credit cards being charged, which would indicate that coins have shipped. Many are continuing to report ever-fluctuating estimated shipping dates.

Some pictures of possibly the first 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold coin received (other than the US Mint and Smithsonian) are posted below. See more photos on the discussion thread.







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US Mint New Return Policy

The US Mint has announced a new return policy, which cuts the eligible return period from 30 days to only 7 calendar days. The new policy will go into effect tomorrow February 10, 2009 at 8:00 AM.

This new return policy was no doubt created in response to the US Mint's recently implemented precious metals pricing policy. Under the new pricing policy, the prices for gold and platinum numismatic products can be adjusted as often as weekly if the price of gold or platinum moves across certain thresholds.

Since the prices for products could be adjusted weekly and the old return policy allowed customers to return products for up to 30 days, this gave customers the opportunity to return products and reorder them if precious metals prices moved against them. Under the new return policy, this opportunity is greatly diminished.

In fact, I think many customers may have trouble complying with the policy when trying to return products for non precious metals inspired reason. Seven calendar days is a very short period of time.

The new policy seems to be an overreaction, which swings the pendulum from an extremely liberal policy to an extremely strict policy. The US Mint could have easily taken a different approach that would have preserved an element of customer service while protecting them from precious metals price exposure.

They could have potentially implemented a separate return policy for gold and platinum products. (The US Mint does have a separate return policy in place for Direct Ship Circulating $1 Coin orders.) They also could have allowed a longer return period for obviously defective products. Under the new policy, if you receive coins with obvious manufacturing defects and don't send them back within 7 days, you are apparently stuck with them.

Do you think 7 calendar days is too short? Discuss on Coin Network.

Here is the exact wording of the return policy from the US Mint's website:

Returns, Replacements, and Exchanges


* If for any reason within 7 days (except for Circulating $1 Coin Direct Ship Rolls) of receiving your product you are dissatisfied with your purchase, return the entire product for refund or replacement. Shipping charges will not be refunded.

* The United States Mint will not accept partial returns nor will it issue partial refunds. For example, if you receive a United States Mint Silver Proof Set™ where one coin is in unacceptable condition, you must return the entire Proof Set, not just the one coin, to receive a refund.

* To return your product, use the reverse side of your packing slip to let us know why you decided to return your item(s) and your desired resolution (replacement, refund, or exchange) for each item. Use the provided return label or address your package to:

FULFILLMENT CENTER
2799 REEVES ROAD
PLAINFIELD IN 46168
USA

* For your protection, we strongly recommend that you return your order by insured mail and save the receipt for your records. The United States Mint is not responsible for lost return shipments.

* All refunds will be credited in United States Dollars.


Note:
The US Mint's policy posted online lists the first line of the return address as "Fulfillment Center" however recent receipts have this listed as "PBGS."

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Are 2009 UHR Double Eagles Shipping Today?


Anyone who has ordered the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin has most likely received one or more backorder emails accompanied by an ever shifting array of expected shipping dates. Is the long, confusing wait finally over?

My last post which provided an update on the 2009 UHR Double Eagles came after a backorder email received from the US Mint indicating an estimated shipping date of 2/18. Many readers responded in the comments with their estimated shipping dates which ranged from 2/17 to 2/20. Most of these were for coins ordered on the first day of sales.

Today, I started seeing reader comments mentioning that their status per the US Mint's online order tracking changed from "backordered" to "in stock and reserved" and the expected shipping date had changed to 02/06/2009, which is today.

I checked the status of my own order and saw the same 2/6 expected shipping date. You can check your own order status on the US Mint's website here.

Are the 2009 Ultra High Relief Gold Double Eagles finally shipping today? We should find out for sure, very soon.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

2009 Lincoln Cent Coin Images and Release Dates

With the release date for the first 2009 Lincoln Cent design quickly approaching, I wanted to write a post with some updated information.

The release date for the first design has been known for many months. It is planned for February 12, 2009, which will be the exact day of the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth. This will also be the first day of release for the 2009 Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollar.

To my knowledge, the US Mint has still not provided an official release schedule for all 2009 Lincoln Cent designs. However, I did find release dates published on a Federal Reserve Bank site, which were noted as potentially subject to change. These dates are included below, along with recently released 2009 Lincoln Cent coin images. For any updates check 2009 Lincoln Cent Release Dates.


2009 Lincoln Cent Reverse Design #1
Birth and Early Childhood in Kentucky
Release Date: February 12, 2009


2009 Lincoln Cent Reverse Design #2
Formative Years in Indiana
Release Date: May 14, 2009


2009 Lincoln Cent Reverse Design #3
Professional Life in Illinois
Release Date: August 13, 2009


2009 Lincoln Cent Reverse Design #4
Presidency in Washington, DC
Release Date: November 12, 2009


Many collectors have been asking whether the US Mint will offer rolls and bags of 2009 Lincoln Cents packaged for collectors. It still appears that bags and rolls will not be offered. Bags and rolls do not appear on the US Mint's product release schedule and there has been no announcement of these products.

The US Mint has announced a 2009 Lincoln Five Coin Set, which will included the four 2009 Proof Lincoln Cents and the 2009 Proof Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollar. These sets will be limited to 50,000. The pricing and release date has not yet been announced.

Another common question about the 2009 Lincoln Cents is related to the 95% copper versions of the coins that will be produced for collectors. So far the only information the US Mint has released has been to indicate that the 95% copper 2009 Lincoln Cents will be included "in the United States Mint's annual product offerings." Presumably this means they will be included in the US Mint's 2009 Proof Sets and Mint Sets.



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Monday, February 2, 2009

Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Update


The highly awaited 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin has now been on sale for about a week and a half. The US Mint was flooded with orders on the first day of sales. Now collectors are left waiting the day when they will have their coins in hand. This post will provide some updated information on shipping, sales figures, and pricing.

Shipping Dates

This morning I received a second back order notification email from the US Mint, listing the expected shipping date as February 17, 2009. Mint News Blog readers and other collectors are reporting similar emails. Last week, the expected shipping date provided in my first back order email was February 6, 2009. When I first placed my order, the expected shipping date provided was January 28, 2009.

Ironically, as each day passes, the day when collectors might actually receive their coins seems to get farther away.



Sales Figures

Since my last update on the Ultra High Relief, some US Mint sales data for the coin has started to surface. Susan Headley of About.com:Coins reported that the US mint sold 28,173 coins in the first day of sales. By January 27, 2009 at 11:59 PM ET, the US Mint had sold 41,664 coins.

Separately, Numismaster reported sales of 40,727 coins as of January 26 at 12:00 Noon. Putting this data together with Susan Headley's numbers, suggests that the pace of sales has declined significantly following the initial rush to place orders. In the day and a half between January 26 at Noon and January 27 at 11:59 PM only 937 coins were sold.

I suspect that the pace of sales dropped off even more following the US Mint's price adjustment on January 29, when the price of the coin was increased by $50.

Another Price Adjustment?

A second pricing adjustment for the 2009 Ultra High Relief might be coming later this week. Under the US Mint's new pricing policy, prices can be adjusted as frequently as once a week if the price of gold moves beyond certain thresholds. In this case, if the average London Fix price of gold from Thursday January 29 to Wednesday, March 4 is above $900, then the price of the coin will be raised by another $50.

Last week, the US Mint suspended sales around mid-day Wednesday and resumed sales Thursday morning at 8:00 AM ET. If you think the price is going to increase again this week, be sure to place your order early Wednesday to avoid the price increase.

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Coin Network Contest #2 Winners


Over the weekend the second Coin Network Free Contest came to a close. As planned, the contest had a total of 55 winners.

The first fifty members who entered the contest will receive one uncircultaed 2009 Native American Dollar. Five randomly selected members will receive one 25-coin roll of 2009 Native American Dollars. All winners have already been contacted through Coin Network. For a list of winners, visit the official contest thread.

In just two weeks, the contest brought many new members to the Coin Network and generated a lot of new activity. The site now has 795 members who have uploaded 1,480 coin photos, participated in 403 discussion topics, formed 51 groups, and written 38 blogs posts.

A sincere thank you to all of the members of Coin Network who continue to make it a great place to discuss and learn about coins and meet other collectors!

In the future, Coin Network will continue to hold periodic free contests for members. Most future contests will not be announced on Mint News Blog, so be sure to visit Coin Network regularly!