Mint News Blog

News, Information, and Commentary on US Mint Products

Sunday, January 31, 2010

2010 Presidential Dollars Coin Images

Late last week, the US Mint released coin images for the 2010 Presidential Dollars. The images come just about three weeks before the first coin is released into circulation and two weeks before the first of the year's Presidential Dollar products goes on sale.

The circulation release date for the Millard Fillmore Dollar will be February 18, 2010. This will be followed by the Franklin Pierce Dollar on May 20, 2010, the James Buchanan Dollar on August 19, 2010, and the Abraham Lincoln Dollar on November 18, 2010.

The US Mint will begin sales of the 2010 Presidential Dollar Proof Set on February 11, 2010. This set contains the proof version of each of the four coins and is priced at $15.95.

The newly released images for each coin are shown below.

Millard Fillmore Presidential Dollar

Franklin Pierce Presidential Dollar

James Buchanan Presidential Dollar

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Dollar

These images do show some variation from the previously released line art images, particularly for the Abraham Lincoln Dollar. Below is a side by side viewing. Click the image for a larger version.


Friday, January 29, 2010

2008 United States Mint Annual Uncirculated Dollar Set Sold Out

Yesterday the 2008 Annual Uncirculated Dollar Set sold out at the US Mint.

The set contains the 2008-W Uncirculated Silver Eagle, satin finish 2008-D Sacagawea Dollar, and the five satin finish 2008-P Presidential Dollars. The product was first available for sale on August 7, 2008 and has been priced at $37.95 for the duration.

I have written about this set on a number of occasions, in part because it has been available for so long, but also because it was a reasonably priced, well presented product. My most recent post about the Annual Uncirculated Dollar Set was written at the beginning of January, when I mentioned that a sell out might be a few weeks away.

The last available sales figures indicate that 98,896 of the sets had been sold as of January 25, 2010. This suggests that the total production run may have been 100,000 units.

The sell out of this set means that the 2008-W Silver Eagle is (finally) no longer available directly form the US Mint and a final mintage can be established. The individual product option sold out on January 23, 2009 with final adjusted sales of 436,702. With the estimated 100,000 coins included in the Annual Dollar Set, this makes the final estimated mintage 536,702 coins. This number falls in the middle of the three years that the collectible uncirculated silver eagles have been produced.

The mintages for each of the three years are shown below. In each case, the figure represents the combined sales total across all product options that included the coin. The 2008 figure is an estimate, the other years represent the final adjusted sales totals.

Collectible Uncircualted Silver Eagle Mintages
2006-W Uncirculated Silver Eagle 466,573
2007-W Uncircualted Silver Eagle 621,333
2008-W Uncirculated Silver Eagle 536,702


2010 Kennedy Half Dollar Bags and Rolls

The United States Mint will begin sales of bags and rolls of 2010 Kennedy Half Dollars today January 29, 2010 at 12:00 Noon ET.

The rolls will be offered as a two roll set that contains one 20-coin roll of coins from the Philadelphia Mint and one 20-coin roll of coins from the Denver Mint. The rolls are packaged in special US Mint branded wrappers which indicate the face value, date, and mint mark of the coins. The 2010 Kennedy Half Dollar two roll sets are priced at $32.95 each.

There will be one option available for coins packaged in a mint sewn bag. This bag will include a total of 200 of the 2010 Kennedy Halves, with 100 from each Mint facility. The bags are priced at $130.95 each.

These price levels remain unchanged from the prior year.

Since 2002, the United States Mint has not produced the Kennedy Half Dollar for circulation, but has produced the coin in limited numbers for sale directly to collectors in numismatic bags and rolls. During this period, the highest mintage attained was 3.8 million for the 2005-P Kennedy Half. The lowest mintage occurred for the 2008-P and 2008-D halves with 1.7 million produced for each. For 2009, the US Mint produced 1.9 million halves at each facility.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

2011 America the Beautiful Quarter Design Candidates

While collectors are still awaiting the final design announcements for the 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters, the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) and Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) recently reviewed the 2011 design candidates provided by the US Mint.

Based on the US Mint's design selection process for the American the Beautiful Quarters Program, these candidates were prepared based on source materials provided by a federal liaison to each site. The candidate designs are reviewed by the CCAC, CFA, the Secretary of the Interior, and the chief executive of the host jurisdiction. The United States Mint may make changes to the candidate designs as a result of the review process. The Director of the Mint will make a final recommendation to the Secretary of the Treasury, who has authority to make the final decision.

The images shown below represent the designs recommended by the CCAC. You read a full report on Coin Update News report written by Les Peters who attended the CCAC meeting.

Read the full article on Coin Update News:
2011 America the Beautiful Quarters CCAC Recommendations

Gettysburg National Military Park Quarter - Pennsylvania

Glacier National Park Quarter - Montana

Olympic National Park Quarter - Washington

Vicksburg National Military Park Quarter - Mississippi

Chickisaw National Recreation Area Quarter - Oklahoma

The CFA recommended the same designs for Glacier National Park and Olympic National Park. For Gettysburg National Military Park, they recommended a view of the Soldiers National Monument with some modifications. For Vicksburg Natoinal Military Park, the CFA recommended an arch located at the entrance of the park. The CFA had no clear favorite among the design candidates for Chickisaw National Recreation Area.

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Survey Results: Bold Predictions

This post will conclude the coverage of the Mint News Blog reader survey. This survey was available during the first week of January as a way to wrap up the old year and start thinking about 2010 coins. The survey covered US Mint products, circulating coins, precious metals, and related topics.

With the coverage of the survey concluded, I wanted to once again thank all of the readers who completed the survey and others who read along for the results. These survey results will be revisited in some fashion at the end of the year.

From my perspective, compiling and covering the survey results was a thought provoking and enjoyable experience. It did end up being a much more lengthy process than I had anticipated. Next year, I plan to create a similar survey, but will probably reduce and refocus the questions. If anyone has other suggestions about how to improve next year's survey, please lave a comment.

The final page of the survey asked for a bold prediction about something completely unexpected that would happen during 2010 related to the US Mint or coins. I picked out a representative selection of these bold predictions, which are republished below:

"The design of the Silver Eagle will change."

"The Mint will announce the closing of one of the Mint locations due to the lowered need for circulating coin production."

"The post office will start to sell coins made by the mint in addition to stamps."

"A major change on the obverse on one of current coins. I haven't given up hope that they might put Teddy Roosevelt on the quarter or do something major with the dime."

"Presidential Dollar program canceled after Lincoln issue."

"The Mint will stop offering bullion because it will be unable to keep up with demand"

"A 1964-D Peace Dollar will surface."

"Palladium UHR!"

"I expect the 5 oz silver National Parks coins will sell out immediately . Their prices will follow the same type of curve the 1st wives coins did when first released. By the second year, the release will be a non event."

"Congress will mandate Eagle Proofs be minted for collectors."

"Another transitional variety will be discovered, similar to the 2008 silver eagle with the reverse of 2007, among currently circulating U.S. coinage."

"At least one MS first spouse gold coin will finish its production run with under 3,000 sales."

"Mint will produce 'new' Morgans to take advantage of the beauty and popularity of this coin and its design. "

"The U.S. Mint will not mint any 2010 nickels or dimes for circulation!"

"1933 St. Gaudens Double Eagles will be declared legal to own by a federal judge, and a dozen 'new' examples will surface."

"A metal change for circulating coins."

"2009 silver eagles (burnished and proofs) will be made available as limited edition products in the 2010 year."

"The mint will end direct shipment dollar coin program."

"Silver will make an all time high."

"The new quarters will be hard to find, low mintage, and banks won't order them."
Other posts covering survey results:
Favorite 2009 US Mint Product and Biggest Disappointment
Mint News Blog Readers Reflect on 2009
2010 US Mint Products and Potential Offerings
Collecting America the Beautiful Quarters
Mint News Blog Readers Look Ahead to 2010
2010 Coins and Precious Metals Predictions


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

US Mint Gold Coin Prices Likely to Decrease

Based on the recent London Fix prices for gold, it is likely that prices for the United States Mint's numismatic gold products will decrease tomorrow. This decrease will put prices back to levels last seen in early November 2009.

Under the US Mint's pricing policy for numismatic gold and platinum coins, the prices for products can be adjusted as frequently as once per week in response to changing prices of the metals. The average price is calculated based on London Fix prices from Thursday AM of the prior week to Wednesday AM of the current week. If the average price comes in above or below set increments, prices for coins are adjusted proportionally.

The London Fix Gold Prices for the current period are shown below:
Jan 21 Thurs AM 1,104.00
Jan 21 Thurs PM 1,108.25
Jan 22 Fri AM 1,096.50
Jan 22 Fri PM 1,084.00
Jan 25 Mon AM 1,103.50
Jan 25 Mon PM 1,095.25
Jan 26 Tues AM 1,090.75
Jan 26 Tues PM 1,093.25
Jan 27 Wed AM ?

As long as tomorrow's London AM Fix gold price comes in below $1,124.50, then the calculated average will be under $1,100 prompting a price decrease.

The price of the 2009 Gold Buffalo Proof Coin would decline from $1,410 to $1,360. This is the price that was in effect when the coins were first offered on October 29, 2009. The price had been as high as $1,460 during the period from November 25 to December 15.

The price of the available First Spouse Gold Coins would decline from $729 to $704 for proof coins and from $716 to $691 for uncirculated coins. Prices had been as high as $754 and $741 for proof and uncirculated coins, respectively.
US Mint Annual Report: Bullion Products Revenue $1.7 Billion
Coingrader Capsule: Hyped Holders on Auction Portals Part II


Monday, January 25, 2010

The First 2010 Lincoln Cents

Even though the 2010 Lincoln Cents won't officially be launched until next month, the newly designed coins are already in the hands of some collectors.

The coins have apparently reached circulation channels in Puerto Rico, where some people have received them in change for transactions. Rolls of 2010 Lincoln Cents have also been available for sale on eBay for approximately the last week from a seller based in Puerto Rico. Here are the seller's current eBay auctions.

Some other eBay sellers are offering pre-sales, but the above seller definitely has the rolls already in hand. A Mint News Blog reader Jim L has reported receiving rolls and provided pictures.

I was also able to obtain some closer pictures of the obverse and reverse of the new 2010 Lincoln Cent. (Click image for larger version)

The official launch ceremony for the 2010 Lincoln Cent is scheduled to take place on February 11, 2010 at 9:30 AM in Springfield, Illinois at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. The ceremony will be followed by a coin exchange where attendees will have the opportunity to exchange currency for rolls of the new cents.


Survey Results: 2010 Coins and Precious Metals Predictions

To finish 2009 and start looking ahead to 2010, Mint News Blog readers were provided with a reader survey which asked questions about US Mint products, coins, and precious metals. The survey results are being covered in an ongoing series of posts.

For the next section of the survey, a series of questions asked for predictions about the coming year. This section will be interesting to revisit at the end of the year to see how accurate the predictions were.

Will the US Mint issue a proof version of the 2010 Silver Eagle?

Yes: 64.85%
No: 35.15%

In 2009, the United States Mint had canceled the proof version of the 2009 American Silver Eagle. The announcement was made in October after a year of uncertainty and anticipation. The Mint cited their legal requirement to produce bullion coins to meet public demand and the lack of a legal mandate to produce the collector coins. They further stated that they would work diligently with suppliers to increase precious metals blank supplies to resume production of collector coins in 2010.

Survey respondents were optimistic with 64.85% predicting that the proof version would be issued for 2010, but prospects remain uncertain. Demand for bullion coins shows no signs of slowing down. The US Mint just began sales of the bullion version of the coin to authorized purchasers on January 19, 2010. On the opening day of availability, 2.44 million Silver Eagle bullion coins were sold, exceeding the full monthly total for January 2009 sales.

Will the overall production of circulating coins for 2010 rise or fall from the number produced in 2009?

Fall: 61.41%
Rise: 38.59%

For 2009, United States Mint coin production fell to a 45 year low. Economic conditions caused a slow down in commerce and prompted individuals to cash in old accumulations of coins. These factors limited the need for shipments of new coins to the Federal Reserve Banks.

The US Mint and Federal Reserve Banks have predicted continuing low demand for additional circulating coins in 2010. Survey respondents shared this opinion with 61.41% indicating that production would fall for another year.

Will the number of Silver Eagle bullion coins sold in 2010 rise or fall from the number sold in 2009?

Rise: 50.43%
Fall: 49.57%

Will the number of Gold Eagle bullion coins sold in 2010 rise or fall from the number sold in 2009?

Rise: 53.74%
Fall: 46.26%

The demand for physical precious metals investments took off during the uncertainty of 2008 and continues to drive heavy demand for gold and silver bullion coins. During 2010, the United States Mint sold a record high 28,766,500 one ounce American Silver Eagle bullion coins. They also sold 1,425,000 ounces through their American Gold Eagle bullion offerings.

Survey respondents were somewhat split about the perpetuation of the upwards trend.

Will the price of gold rise or fall during 2010?

Rise: 74.18%
Fall: 25.82%

Guess the price of gold on December 31, 2010.

Price of Gold Guesses
$0 - $500 2
$501 - $800 19
$801 - $1,000 108
$1,001 - $1,250 110
$1,250 - $1,500 243
$1,501 - $1,750 88
$1751 - $2,000 42
$2,001 + 18

Gold enjoyed its ninth consecutive annual gain during 2009 with a gain of 27.63% during the year. Most survey respondents believed that the price of gold would continue to rise in 2010.

The follow up question asked for an exact price for gold to finish the year. The average guess was $1,375.13. This would represent a rise of about 25%. The median guess came in at $1,350. The most frequent guess was $1,500 with 27 respondent choosing that number.
Other posts covering survey results:
Favorite 2009 US Mint Product and Biggest Disappointment
Mint News Blog Readers Reflect on 2009
2010 US Mint Products and Potential Offerings
Collecting America the Beautiful Quarters
Mint News Blog Readers Look Ahead to 2010


Friday, January 22, 2010

2009 United States Mint Annual Report

The United States Mint has released their 2009 Annual Report, which covers the results and performance during the fiscal year from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009.

I will be reviewing the US Mint's performance from a financial perspective with a series of articles on Coin Update News. Read the first article United States Mint 2009 Financial Results. On Mint News Blog, I wanted to highlight certain information provided in the report of particular interest to coin collectors.

Web Integration

Following results from a usability test, the US Mint determined that some website visitors were confused by the general information presented on and the product catalog at

In response, the Mint will begin a Web Site Integration Project, which will integrate and consolidate the information and e-commerce sites. In FY2009, they began the project by drafting content requirements and initiating the design phase. In the coming year they will continue integration and development tasks.

Transition to New Call and Fulfillment Center

The US Mint recapped their change to a new call and order fulfillment center on January 3, 2009 admitting that they "experienced some missteps." The issues mentioned were answer times for calls, overall knowledge of represntatives, and waiting times for order fulfillment. After these issues became apparent, the Mint responded by increasing staffing levels and training for representatives. Warehouse processes were streamlined to increase shipments.

The report mentioned some of the specific problems encountered with fulfilling early orders for the 2009 Ultra High Relief Gold Eagle Coin. Availability of gold planchets, quality issues with the companion books, and incorrect shipping procedures resulted in a suspension of shipments. Uninterrupted shipments resumed in March 2009.

Product Portfolio

In November 2008, the US Mint announced that they were reducing their product offerings by 60%. Some of the discontinued products included the fractional Proof Gold Buffalo Coins, all Uncirculated Gold Buffalo Coins, fractional proof Platinum Eagles, all Uncirculated Platinum Eagles, fractional Uncirculated Gold Eagles, and others.

The discontinuation of these products came following a portfolio assessment performed by the United States Mint. The intention of the assessment was to realign their portfolio to contain only core products with the broadest appeal. The annual report provided more detail on the how this assessment was performed.
"We evaluated each discretionary product based on its contribution to sales volume. All products that consisted of at least one percent of total unit sales were retained for the 2009 product portfolio."
Looking back at the period when products were evaluated, I think that the US Mint's assessment did not give an accurate impression of the popularity of some discontinued products.

During 2008, precious metals prices experienced an extremely volatile year. To complicate matters, the US Mint's collectible gold and platinum products were released at times when the prices of the underlying metals were high. In the ensuing months, precious metals prices would experience an extended decline.

In the case of the platinum products, they were suspended for several months while the US Mint tried to adjust prices. During this time period, publication in the Federal Register was required in the before price changes could be put into effect, a process which could take several weeks. Because the price of platinum kept steadily declining, the US Mint could never get a fix on the price and the products remained under a prolonged suspension.

In the case of gold products, prices were never adjusted during the year. This resulted in prices reflecting excessive premiums compared to the market price of gold. Prices remained with these unusually high premiums for much of the year, impeding sales. Prices were not reduced until after the discontinuation announcement. After that point, the pace of sales increased and products quickly sold out.

I believe that the period examined for the assessment was not reflective of the actual collector demand for these products. The secondary market has shown the huge popularity of the discontinued fractional Gold Buffalo coins, in particular. Other products would have likely contributed more than one percent to sales, if not for the unusual circumstances.

Of course, this became somewhat moot when even the non-discontinued products were canceled due to the Mint's requirement to produce bullion coins to satisfy public demand before collector coins.

Direct Ship Program

During the fiscal year, the US Mint distributed 85.2 million dollar coins through the Direct Ship Program. This consisted of 62.6 million Native American Dollars and 22.6 million Presidential Dollars. This represented 18.6% of total dollar coin shipments for the fiscal year.

This amount represents a substantial number of the dollar coins minted in 2009. For the 2009 Native American Dollar, the US Mint's website shows coin production of 71.26 million coins for the calendar year, meaning that the vast majority of the mintage was distributed through the Direct Ship Program.

Abuses of the Direct Ship Program were recently covered by the mainstream press. A small group frequent fliers had been ordering tens of thousands of coins through the program, with one individual claiming to have bought $800,000 in coins. The US Mint has since implemented some controls to curb these abuses.

With the prior abuses now under control, will the US Mint see a dramatic decline in the number of Direct Ship Dollars sold in the coming year?

Design Capacity and Artistic Excellence

The US Mint listed design capacity as one of their challenges for the coming year and expressed the need to develop new ways to design coins on a timely basis with greater artistic excellence. The report included the following frank assessment of current designs:
"Our designs have tended to focus on literalism, functionality and the limitations of prescribed design elements. Too often, designs lacked a unifying balance or transcendent quality that clearly links them together as part of the body of American coinage."
In response, the US Mint created a white paper defining what artistic excellence means and developed a plan to move towards "better-looking coins." The white paper, provided five criteria by which the US Mint would judge their artistic output: (1) uniquely American, (2) exemplifies the current era of creation, (3) tells a great story, (4) advances the craft, and (5) aesthetically beautiful.

The US Mint asked the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee to evaluate coin designs of fiscal year 2007 and 2008 on these criteria. Later in the year, the CCAC evaluated 2009 designs under the same criteria. The average annual scores were 6.1 for 2007, 5.9 for 2008, and 5.0 for 2009.

In the ongoing coverage of the results of the Mint News Blog survey, many respondents had expressed their disappointment about US coin designs. It is encouraging that the US Mint realizes there is an issue and is trying to address it.

You can view or download a complete copy of the US Mint's 2009 Annual Report here.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Survey Results: Mint News Blog Readers Look Ahead to 2010

This will be the fifth post recapping the results from the Mint News Blog survey. For those keeping track, there will likely be two additional installments following this post, which will conclude coverage of the survey.

In the seventh question, readers were allowed to provide additional thoughts or comments on 2010 US Mint Products or 2010 Coins in an open format. This was a chance for readers to provide more insights into their responses on previous questions or raise other issues.

This time just under 200 readers provided comments. Once again, I will try to distill some of the major themes and then present a selection of reader comments.

The most frequent subject mentioned was Proof Silver Eagles. Dozens of readers expressed their hopes that the US Mint would produce and issue the coins this year. Similarly, numerous readers also mentioned the Uncirculated Silver Eagle and Proof and Uncirculated Gold Eagless. One reader suggested that the US Mint should produce a special 25th Anniversary Silver Eagle Set next year, which would include the 2009 Proof Silver Eagle.

Another frequent topic was America the Beautiful Quarters. While most continued to mention the over saturation of rotating designs, there were several readers looking forward to the series. A small group of respondents also mentioned that they were looking forward to the 5 ounce silver bullion versions of the quarters. Others expressed disappointment that the limited supply of silver would be used for another program of silver coins, rather than collectible Silver Eagles.

Other recurring comments included disappointment about design selections for 2010 coins. The design most frequently mentioned as a disappointment was the 2010 Boy Scouts Silver Dollar.

Below are a selection of the comments provided by readers. I couldn't include everything, but I have tried to make the selection representative of most of the major themes and include some of the more unique comments.

"I hope the mint will not let the collectors down again in 2010 with the non production of the Proof and Uncirculated Silver American Eagles."

"I'm looking forward to the new one cent design and would welcome a new obverse design to [other] circulating coinage. I would like to see a return to images of Lady Liberty that display the beauty and creativity of engravers, rather than seeing more dead people. With the current economic down-turn, we as Americans need images to invoke feelings of patriotism and pride in Our Nation."

"About the quarter series...I am half excited about seeing them, but the other half of me is like how can they do any Park justice on the back of the quarter? They managed to do a decent job with the states, but I believe it will be much more difficult to get the primary scenic idea of a Park across on the back of a quarter. Maybe on the 3 inch medals it would come across with more detail, but Iwonder if it will feel sparse taking such a small portrait and now stretching it onto a bigger surface."

"I would like to see a set of classic or legacy designed US Silver Dollars produced in uncirculated and proof."

"The US Mint needs to be run more like the customer-focused manufacturing business that it should be and less like the customer-be-damned fiefdom that it has become. I had thought that Henrietta Fore made an effort in this direction, but any gains seem to have been lost."

"...Looking ahead to 2011 and beyond, it is very unfortunate that there are no coins planned to commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, although a Battle of Gettysburg coin has been proposed in the House. I would add in conclusion that the U.S. Commemorative coin programs lack imagination and the designs are often very poor. For a nation with as rich a history as the U.S., we honor it very poorly on our coinage."

"Is it possible the Mint is offering too many new items and might kill the 'golden goose' eventually? It happened with the Post Office and it seems the mint is following suit."

"The public should be able to order the Silver Eagle Bullion coins from the mint, instead of having to pay a premium price to authorized dealers and distributors. The Proof Silver Eagle should be covered under the existing law to provide an adequate supply to the public."

"I think the America the Beautiful quarters are overkill, too many series to close together and too soon after the State quarter series. With the Presidential dollars still going and the Lincoln pennies just ending, the mint has us chasing our tails in too many directions."

"It will be interesting to see where the mintages end up with all products in comparison to the 2009 numbers and how the Government is going to address the over production of the dollar coins - will the trend continue downward with the number of coins minted? There are many story lines to watch over the coming months."

"I feel they should continue using copper cents in the 2010 mint and proof sets. The mint should also issue rolls for the shield cents in 2010."

"I want more first day and educational products surrounding the coins. I want first day coin covers for the new quarters. I want things similar to the 'Braille Education' set or the Lincoln Chronicles Set. Products based on coins but providing a broader view of what the coin is about or what it represents.Wouldn't it be cool if the Mint created commemorative versions of all the past types of coins and had each encased in a nice display folder/board/case that had a lot of historical information regarding the coin, the designers, and what was going on in America during the time the coin was being produced and used?"

"They need to bring back the proof silver eagle."

"I want silver eagles!"
Other posts covering survey results:
Favorite 2009 US Mint Product and Biggest Disappointment
Mint News Blog Readers Reflect on 2009
2010 US Mint Products and Potential Offerings
Collecting America the Beautiful Quarters

Today on Coin Update News:
New US Mint Sales Report

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

2010 Native American Dollar Rolls

The United States Mint will begin sales of 2010 Native American Dollar Rolls on January 22, 2009 at 12:00 Noon ET.

The 2010 Native American Dollar design is based on theme "Government - The Great Tree of Peace." The reverse features the Hiawatha Belt, which is a visual record of the creation of the Haudenosaunee, also known as the Iroquois Confederacy. The symbols on the belt and five arrows represent the Onondaga, Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, and Seneca Nations. The obverse features Glenna Goodacre's design of Sacagawea and child.

The US Mint will sell 25-coin rolls from either the Philadelphia or Denver Mint. The coins are wrapped in yellow and black US Mint branded wrappers, which indicate the date, series, face value, and mint mark of the contents. The rolls are priced at $35.95 each.

The US Mint continues to sell the 2010 Native American Dollar Direct Ship Rolls, which went on sale January 4, 2010. These rolls can be ordered in quantities of 250, at face value with no charge for shipping. They are packaged as ten 25-coin rolls in generic red and white wrappers, rather than the US Mint's branded wrappers, and orders cannot be place for coins from a specific mint.

Last year, both numismatic rolls and Direct Ship rolls of 2009 Native American Dollars were available throughout most of the year. Despite the face value priced alternative, collectors still ordered 59,000 Philadelphia rolls and 53,732 Denver rolls from the numismatic offering.
Coingrader Capsule: Hyped Holders on Coin Auction Portals

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Survey Results: Collecting America the Beautiful Quarters

This will be the fourth installment in the ongoing series of posts providing the results of a survey answered by Mint News Blog readers at the end of last year. The sixth question was related to the America the Beautiful Quarters series, which will debut in 2010.

This series will feature 56 different reverse designs issued from 2010 to 2021 at a rate of five per year. The obverse will feature a portrait of George Washington and the reverse will feature a unique design representing a National Park or National Site from each state, territory, and the District of Columbia. The designs will be issued in the order that the sites were federally designated.

Readers were asked how they would collect the America the Beautiful coin series and allowed to select all methods that apply. Based on the US Mint's available subscription products and preliminary product schedule, the coins will be sold in numismatic bags and rolls, and in separate proof and silver proof sets. The coins will also be included in the full annual sets and released into circulation. It is possible that the Mint will add other products to the lineup, but nothing else has been announced so far.

(Note that there will be an offering of America the Beautiful Silver bullion coins, which feature exact duplicates of the quarter designs and contain five ounces of .999 silver. I did not include this option, since I wanted to focus on the circulation issue quarters.)

How will you collect the new America the Beautiful Quarters series?

As included in the full annual US Mint Uncirculated Set, Proof Set, or Silver Proof Set 37.13%
Purchase America the Beautiful Proof or Silver Proof Set 22.75%
I will not collect the series in any form 17.89%
Collect from circulation 13.55%
Purchase US Mint bags and rolls 8.69%

The results of this question indicate a relatively low level of interest in collecting the new quarter series. Most glaringly, 17.89% of respondents indicated that they would not collect the series in any form. I suspect that if coin collectors had been asked a similar question before the start of the State Quarters series, responses would have been much different.

When the 50 State Quarters Program concluded, the United States Mint stated that 147 million Americans had collected coins from the series. This number was high enough to represent nearly one out of every two Americans, or at least one person from every household in the country. If nearly 18% of coin collectors do not intend to collect the upcoming America the Beautiful Quarters series, the level of awareness and interest from the broader public will likely be a fraction of the levels experienced for the State Quarters series.

When America the Beautiful Quarters series was first proposed, there was a vocal segment of the coin collecting public who expressed the opinion that the concept of rotating designs for circulating coins had been overused. The concept does has the potential to be innovative, as seen with the 50 State Quarters Program, or exciting, as seen with the 2009 Lincoln Cent designs. But when it is used over and over, at some point "change" becomes less interesting or even undesirable.

The US Mint has still not released the final designs for the 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters. The latest information indicates that the designs will be unveiled in a special ceremony held in February. The first quarter of the series featuring Hot Springs National Park is tentatively scheduled to be released in April 2010.
Other posts covering survey results:
Favorite 2009 US Mint Product and Biggest Disappointment
Mint News Blog Readers Reflect on 2009
2010 US Mint Products and Potential Offerings


US Mint Product Schedule Update

Late last week, the US Mint updated their 2010 scheduled products listing to indicate release dates for products through April. Previously, release dates had only been available through the end of January.

The 2010 Presidential Dollar Proof Set will be released on February 11, 2010. This is one of the component proof sets that the US Mint releases each year, which contain a portion of the coins that are issued in the full set. Last year the Presidential Dollar Proof Set was released around the same date and priced at $14.95. The 2009 set still remains available for sale.

The Millard Fillmore Presidential Dollar Rolls will be released on February 18, 2010. These rolls contain 25 coins from either the Philadelphia or Denver Mint and in the past have been priced at $35.95 each. Last year the US Mint quickly sold out of the rolls offered for William Henry Harrison and John Tyler after reaching sales of 30,000 rolls for each mint. Curiously, the WHH rolls fetch big premiums on the secondary market, while the John Tyler rolls do not. The number of rolls available was increased for the next two Presidents, which still remain available for sale at the Mint.

The 2010 American Veterans Disabled for Life Silver Dollar will be released on February 25, 2010. About a month later on March 23, 2010, the 2010 Boy Scouts of American Centennial Silver Dollar will be released. These two coins will be the only commemorative coins issued by the US Mint for the year. Both programs include a maximum authorized mintage of 350,000.

The 2010 Abigail Fillmore First Spouse Gold Coin and Medal will be released on March 4, 2010. This will start the year for the 24 karat gold coin series featuring the First Spouses. On the same date, sales of the Anna Harrison Gold Coin will likely end. The uncirculated version of the Anna Harrison coin will be one to watch into the closing days, as it seems poised to mark a fresh mintage low for the series.

Lastly, the Presidential $1 Coin and Medal Set featuring Millard and Abigail Fillmore will be released on March 26, 2010. This set contains an uncirculated (satin finish) Presidential Dollar and First Spouse Bronze Medal for the Presidential couple. Last year these products were priced at $8.95 each.

As the release dates come closer and further information is available, there will be a separate post exploring each of these products.
Today on Coin Update News
2009 Silver Eagles Sold Out, Sales of 2009 Gold Eagles Continue


Friday, January 15, 2010

2001 Sacagawea Dollar Direct Ship Rolls

On January 4, 2010, the United States Mint began selling rolls of 2001 Sacagawea Dollars through their Direct Ship Program. Because the offering was unusual, unexpected, and priced at face value, I ordered a box. I received the coins today and wanted to provide a brief report.*

The Direct Ship Rolls are sold in quantities of 250 coins at face value with no charge for shipping. These are packaged in ten 25-coin rolls placed within a cardboard box. In previous instances when I had ordered Direct Ship rolls, they had been packaged in N.F. String & Son red and white wrappers. These types of wrappers are commonly encountered on rolls of coins obtained from banks.

When I opened the box of Direct Ship Rolls which arrived today, I was surprised to see that the wrappers were the yellow and black style that the US Mint has used for their premium priced numismatic rolls.

When the 2001 Sacagawea Dollar was initially released, the US Mint had sold bags and rolls of the coins for collectors. The 25-coin rolls were available from either the Philadelphia or Denver Mint and priced at $35.50 each. Today, these original rolls can sell for a significant premium on the secondary market. This premium is driven solely by the packaging since 2001 Sacagawea Dollars has a high mintage can be easily found.

At first, I thought that the rolls I received might have been remnants of the US Mint's old inventory. Upon doing some further research, I found that the style of packaging on the Direct Ship rolls differs from the original 2001 Sacagawea Dollar rolls sold by the US Mint.

The original have a small image of the obverse and reverse of the coin on the wrapper and include the mint mark "P" or "D". (See this eBay auction.) The rolls from the Direct Ship program display the US Mint logo and do not indicate the mint mark. It is very odd that the US Mint would use the premium style of packaging for Direct Ship rolls, but at least in this case there is still a way to differentiate the offerings.

The 2001 Sacagawea Dollars that I received all appear to be from the Philadelphia Mint. I have opened one roll so far, and the rolls displaying at least one heads-side have the "P" mint mark. The condition of the coins contained in the rolls was uncirculated, but nearly all of the coins displayed spotty discoloration. See images below with scanner and camera.

*Note that the coins received will be spent into circulation in accordance with the intended purpose of the program.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin Mintage

The final sales figure for the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin is being reported as 115,178 by Numismatic News.

This number is 3,113 higher than the number reported on the last available sales report from December 27, 2009. This indicates that there was a small surge in last minute orders during the final days of availability. In the preceding three one-week periods, the coins had recorded sales of 587, 1,887, and 1,384.

Before the coin went on sale, the unlimited mintage represented somewhat of an uncertainty and a possible draw back. After several weeks of heavy ordering, sales settled into a steady pace amidst a few bumps higher, which coincided with increases in the household ordering limit.

Overall, the pace of sales remained relatively moderate. The initial ordering limit of one per household kept a restraint on sales at a time when excitement about the offering was highest. When limits were raised and eventually lifted, prices were higher and some of the excitement had faded.

In my opinion, for a single year issue of a very unique offering, this mintage at this level is at a reasonable level to support continued premiums.


Survey Results: 2010 US Mint Products and Potential Offerings

The series of posts covering the results of a year end survey for Mint News Blog readers will continue with this post. The fourth and fifth questions were in relation to the US Mint's upcoming products for 2010 and a more general question about products that readers would like to see the US Mint offer in the future.

Of the products listed on the current US Mint 2010 scheduled product listing, what are you looking forward to most?

Other 38.36%
Boy Scouts of America Silver dollar 16.95%
American Veterans Disabled for Life Silver Dollar 13.22%
2010 Proof Platinum Eagle 12.56%
James Buchanan's Liberty $10 Gold 10.92%
Mary Todd Lincoln $10 Gold 8.19%

The reaction to the question was widely mixed. The majority of readers chose "Other" with 38.36% of the vote. This was followed by the Boy Scouts of America Centennial Silver Dollar at 16.95%, with the remaining options dividing the rest of the vote.

For readers who had selected "Other," there was an opportunity to provide a separate written response. Of the responses provided for the "Other" category, 25% simply indicated "none" or "none of the above." This was closely followed by 23% who indicated the Proof or Unicrculated 2010 Silver Eagle. These products currently are not listed on the US Mint's 2010 schedule, as their production will remain contingent on the ability of the Mint to satisfy "full demand" for bullion coins.

More responses from the "Other" category in order of frequency included: America the Beautiful Quarters, 2009 Lincoln Presidential Dollar products, one or more of the US Mint's annual sets, America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins, 2010 Gold Buffalo Proof coins, 2010 Lincoln Cent products, and Proof 2010 Gold Eagles. Again, several of these responses indicate products that are not currently included on the product schedule.

Not including collectible Gold and Silver Eagles, what product would you most like to see the US Mint offer in 2010 or the future?

Limited mintage sets including special strike or mint marked coins 35.44%
Fractional Gold Buffalo coins 26.11%
Rolls and bags of other circulating coins (cents, nickels, dimes) 15.64%
Coins struck in palladium or other new composition 15.49%
Other 7.32%

The most popular response was "limited mintage sets including special strike or mint marked coins" with 35.44% of the vote. Past offerings of this nature have been very popular with collectors and proved to be secondary market winners. In 2006 the US Mint issued 20th Anniversary Sets for the Gold and Silver Eagle, which included reverse proof coins. During the 1990's, there were several sets issued with matte proof versions of circulating coins such as the 1998 Robert F. Kennedy Set with the 1998-S matte proof Kennedy Half.

A very interesting idea for a special set that the US Mint could develop for 2010 was mentioned by a reader "Former Boy Scout" in a comment to a previous post. A set could be developed featuring the Boy Scouts Silver Dollar Commemorative together with a special 2010 Kennedy Half Dollar (with a special finish or W mintmark). The set would be fitting and meaningful since John F. Kennedy was the first U.S. President to be a former Boy Scout.

The next most popular response was Fractional Gold Buffalo coins with 26.11% of the vote. These coins were issued for only one year in 2008 before being discontinued.

Rolls and bags of circulating coins and coins struck in palladium or a new composition received approximately 15% of the vote each.

Some of the responses entered by readers who selected "Other" presented some very interesting ideas for potential products. These included:

- True silver proof set with all silver coins, penny through dollar. (Although the US Mint issues a silver proof set, the majority of coins currently have non-silver compositions.)

- Bimetallic coins. (The only US Mint bi-metallic coin was the 2000-W Library of Congress $10 Coin, which consisted of platinum with an outer ring of gold.)

- Legacy or Prestige Proof Sets. (The US Mint issued Prestige Proof Sets from 1986 to 1997 and American Legacy Collections from 2005 to 2008. These sets included the coins of the annual Proof Set plus one or more commemorative coins.)

- Coins using classic designs. Some mentioned included the Morgan Dollar, Liberty Head Double Eagle, Bust, Seated, and Flowing Hair designs.

- Classic designs re-imagined by skilled contemporary artists.

- More reverse proof coins.
Other posts covering survey results:
Favorite 2009 US Mint Product and Biggest Disappointment
Mint News Blog Readers Reflect on 2009


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2009 Lincoln Cent Mintages

The final mintage figures for all of the 2009 Lincoln Cents are now available. The "Presidency" design has come in with some surprisingly low numbers since apparently no additional coins were produced during the month of December.

When the US Mint had updated their coin production figures to reflect production for November 2009, they had indicated that production of 2009 Lincoln Cents was still ongoing. It appears that this was not correct as the figures remains unchanged. None of the coin production figures for other denominations have changed either, suggesting that no coins were produced for circulation during the month of December.

The mintages for all 2009 Lincoln Cents are shown below:

Philadelphia Denver Total
Birthplace 284,400,000 350,400,000 634,800,000
Formative Years 376,000,000 363,600,000 739,600,000
Professional Life 316,000,000 336,000,000 652,000,000
Presidency 129,600,000 198,000,000 327,600,000
Total 1,106,000,000 1,248,000,000 2,354,000,000

The production numbers for the final design show a sharp drop from previous levels and create a new mintage low. The 2009-P "Presidency" Lincoln Cent had just 129,600,000 coins produced. This number is scant in comparison to the mintages for Lincoln Cents over the past several decades.

Except for this year, every date and mint mark combination for the Lincoln Cent series since 1975 has had a mintage in the billions. The lowest mintage cent with the Memorial reverse was the 1968-S at 258,270,000. To find a mintage lower than the 2009-P "Presidency" Lincoln Cent, you have to go back to the 1955-S Lincoln Cent which had a mintage of 44,610,000.

The mintage of the 2009-P Presidency Cent is sufficiently low to generate some excitement about the coin and probably drive up prices. Also, the coin's status as the recent mintage low is likely to be retained for the foreseeable future. During 2009, the already low production of cents had to be divided amongst four different designs. This is something that will not be repeated in 2010 and beyond when a static design will be used.

The United States Mint continues to sell two roll sets for the 2009 Lincoln Cent "Presidency" design on their website. These are priced at $8.95 for the set with an ordering limit of five per household still in place with no ordering limits. As of the most recent sales report, the Mint has sold 215,709 of the sets.

Rolls of the 2009 Lincoln Cent Presidency design can also be found on eBay. Recently, sealed 50 roll boxes of the Philadelphia Mint coins have sold for around $150 each with boxes of the Denver coins selling for about $75. Here are the current eBay auctions for 50 roll boxes of the Presidency design.
Coin Update News:
Latest US Mint Sales Report

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Survey Results: Mint News Blog Readers Reflect on 2009

This post will continue the series providing the results of a year end survey answered by Mint News Blog readers.

The third question allowed readers to provide their thoughts or comments on 2009 US Mint products or developments in an open format. More than 200 readers took the time to provide comments that filled over 14 single spaced pages. I have read all of the comments and will do my best to distill some of the common themes as well as provide a selection of comments republished here.

The most frequent comments were in relation to the cancellation of the 2009 Proof Gold and Silver Eagles, with most of the emphasis on the Silver Eagle. The loss of this coin was seen as a break with tradition, a blow to the average collector, and many expressed the opinion that the coins could have been produced if the Mint made more of an effort.

Other frequent comments were related to the lack of fractional weight collectible precious metals coins. In past years, gold and platinum collector coins were offered in a range of fractional weights which allowed the US Mint to cover array of pricing points for precious metals products.

There were other recurring comments critiquing the US Mint's quality and selection, their website design and function, and coin design selections.

Below I have published a variety of the comments provided by Mint News Blog readers. I couldn't include everything, but I have tried to cover the array of reactions and topics that were mentioned.

"There were some nice coins this year from the mint. My favorites in no particular order are the Lincoln cents, Lincoln dollars, Platinum Eagle, Proof Buffalo, uncirculated and proof sets. I think the uncirculated sets will be the big winners a few years down the road when people realize that there are less than a million of the bronze uncirculated cents."

"Would have liked all of the Presidential Dollar products from 2007 and 2008 produced in 2009. Specifically the Signature Series and the Individual Proof Series. I have the first 8 in both."

"Only my opinion, but after collecting and buying Mint products every year since the early 1960's, the Mint has deteriorated both in product offerings, service, availability, and pricing. I believe they have lowered their operation for collectors to third rate status, and no one in authority is either watching or seems to care."

"The 2010 penny design is hideous, such a let-down from the 2009 series. The 2010 commemorative dollar designs I've seen are equally lack-luster. Take more inspiration from coins such as the Saint-Gaudens UHR coins, something American coin collectors would be proud to own. Otherwise, what's the point?"

"Just wish there could be a 'popular vote' type of thing on new coin designs, to reflect the collector community's take on alternatives that make it to the final round."

"2009 was bittersweet for modern coin collectors and a year of transition. The U.S. Mint knocked our socks off with stunning renditions of Ultra High Relief and Platinum Eagles, but tarnished collectors with ambivalent communications and uncertain product availability.Within the community of modern coin collectors, a sharp digital divide emerged as those who collect for the sake of collecting clashed with ebayers and a whimsical secondary market. At the end of the year, it's fair to say that the Mint tried to hedge a terrible international economy and soaring metal prices with a limited mix of mandatory and discretionary product lines. Whether or not this strategy worked remains to be seen until the Treasury Department discloses calendar year financials."

"This is the first year that I've ordered products. The web site seemed a little slow at times - but overall a good experience"

"I think the Eagle cancellation was inexcusable. Any other business would have found a way to make it work, and the mint could have too. It is much easier to say 'we cant' rather than we can."

"Canada offers circulating coins for a very small premium over face. I would like to see our Mint offer the same service... Also, the gold & silver bullion coins should be offered direct. This having to find a dealer is a pain, and I often do not get the annual silver Eagle coin because of that."

"Common coins packaged differently was the theme of 2009."

"The mint needs to respond better to the wants of the average coin collector. Thousand dollar coins may make the mint money, but the average collector is the long time tradition for the future. My thoughts are also that the large buyers are getting way more than their share. If the mint wants to sellout to the large coin retailers, than maybe the rest of us collectors should just go directly to eBay. At least they are fast at shipping and my buy is guaranteed."

"Return production of the fractional gold and platinum coins. Dump the dealer distributor network for uncirculated eagle coins and allow direct purchase from the mint. Dump the presidential wife gold series. Reduce mint fees for golden dollar and quarter rolls."

"Designs remain far too literal and 'busy'. Better coin designs use allegorical images."

"Still cannot believe that they killed a 23 year collection for my silver and gold eagles... They need to send several employees on a fact finding trip to the Perth Mint. The Aussies know how to treat their loyal & paying customers properly."

"The Ultra High Relief St. G. is a beauty--and was plainly a labor of love on the part of the Mint and its Director. The 2004, 2006 and 2008 W platinum Eagle reverses were stunning! 2009 isn't up to the standard they set."

"The cancellation of the 2009 Silver Eagle proof and uncirculated version are by far the most disappointing development of 2009 US mint products. This has been a cherished coin for the last few decades. Many collectors have expressed their disappointment with the US Mint regarding these coins. This is the coin that get me started collecting. As the new year approaches I hope that the US Mint has heard the feedback from its supporters and will make a solid effort to make this coin available in 2010 and beyond."

"The Mint does what it does and we react. When the Mint makes mistakes we gain opportunities for unusual coins. I think they create good products and I have no complaints."
Other posts covering survey results:
Favorite 2009 US Mint Product and Biggest Disappointment


Monday, January 11, 2010

Survey Results: Favorite 2009 US Mint Product and Biggest Disappointment

Just before the end of 2009, I created a survey for Mint News Blog readers. The survey allowed readers to share their thoughts and opinions on US Mint products from 2009 and for the coming year. Some of the questions covered broader topics, asked for predictions, or allowed open ended responses. Almost 800 readers completed the survey with many providing detailed responses.

For the next week or so, I will be publishing the results of the survey in multiple parts. These posts will be in addition to the regular ongoing coverage on US Mint product news and information.

What was your favorite US Mint product for 2009?

Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set 43.47%
2009 Ultra High Relief Gold Coin 36.44%
2009 Proof Gold Buffalo 8.46%
Other 8.03%
2009 Proof Platinum Eagle 3.59%

The favorite product of readers was the Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set with 43.47% of the vote. This was followed by the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin which received 36.44% of the vote.

From the readers who selected "other," the top three responses in order were the 2009 Proof Set, one or more of the First Spouse Gold Coins, and the 2009 Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollar.

My personal favorite product was the Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set. The price was set at a bargain level, mostly due to the premiums which had already developed for the 2009 Lincoln Silver Dollar. The set was extremely well put together in terms of packaging and content. The limited production run for a product with obvious broad appeal added an element of excitement to the release. The set was shipped promptly and looked even better in hand, to complete the experience.

What was the biggest disappointment of 2009?

2009 Proof Silver Eagle Cancellation 57.25%
Coin Design Selections 14.78%
Other 9.90%
Decreased Number of Products 9.76%
2009 Proof Gold Eagle Cancellation 8.32%

The biggest disappointment was overwhelmingly the cancellation of the 2009 Proof Silver Eagle. Coming in second was disappointment about the coin designs selected for new or upcoming coins. Nearly 10% of readers selected the other category and provided a combination of choices or different options.

From the readers who selected "other," the top three responses in order were "all of the above" or a combination of the included options, the cancellation of collectible uncirculated (burnished) Gold and/or Silver Eagles, and the unavailability of 2009 dated circulating coins (mostly mentioning nickels and dimes).

Additional disappointments provided by one or more readers included the lack of smaller denomination precious metals coins for collectors, quality control and shipping issues, product prices that were too high, the unlimited mintage for the UHR Double Eagle, and the new finish used for proof coinage.

Personally, I was most disappointed by the cancellation of the 2009 Proof Silver Eagle. When my wife and I had our first son in 2008, I immediately bought him the 2008 Proof Silver Eagle. Among the other coins I would regularly add to my son's collection, I decided that every year I would buy the Proof Silver Eagle for him. When the US Mint broke with their tradition, I was forced to break with mine.

This was a core product of the US Mint that has been offered for more than 20 years. I do not believe that all avenues were explored before the decision was made to cancel Proof Silver Eagle and other products. I think that it will take several years of regularly issuing the Proof Silver Eagle and providing other well executed collector products to win back the goodwill and trust that the US Mint lost this year.