Mint News Blog

News, Information, and Commentary on US Mint Products

Monday, May 31, 2010

2011 Army Commemorative Coin Designs

The Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) and Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) recently reviewed candidate designs for the 2011 Army Commemorative Coin Program. The program includes a $5 gold coin, silver dollar, and half dollar. The US Mint provided three to five design candidates for the obverse and reverse of each coin.

Before the weekend, an article on Coin Update reported on the CCAC meeting and provided a look at all of the candidate designs. This post will recap the recommendations of both the CFA and CCAC.

Coin Update article: 2011 United States Army Commemorative Coin Designs.

During their respective meetings, the CFA and CCAC both voiced complaints and issues regarding the quality of the coin design candidates. In several cases, they chose to reject all of the designs provided by the US Mint. This is something that seems to be happening with increasing frequency, despite the US Mint Director's frequent statements about sparking a Neo Renaissance in coin design and achieving a new level of artistic excellence.

For the Army Commemorative $5 gold coin obverse, the CCAC recommended a design showing five soldiers from different periods: the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and today. The CFA had favored a design featuring a full length view of soldiers from the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and World War II.

Three candidate designs were provided for the $5 gold coin reverse. Each one featured the Seal of the United States Army with some differences in the surrounding inscriptions, lettering, or borders. The design shown below was selected by the CCAC. The version recommended by the CFA does not include the inscription "Department of the Army" and the remaining inscriptions are rearranged.

There were five different design candidates for the obverse of the 2011 Army Commemorative Silver Dollar. Four of the five featured a globe in the background. The CCAC selected a design featuring a male and female soldier back to back with the globe in the background. The CFA refused to back any of the provided designs.

For the reverse of the silver dollar, the CFA and CCAC each recommended a different design. The CFA recommended an image of the Great Seal of the United States with the core values of the Army encircling the seal: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, Personal Courage. The CCAC recommended a design featuring three soldiers, one carries a wounded soldier and the other protects them.

For the 2011 Army Commemorative Half Dollar, both the CFA and CCAC rejected all of the provided obverse designs. These designs were representations of the work that the Army does in peace time.

For the reverse design, both recommended a design featuring a Revolutionary War soldier carrying a musket. Thirteen stars appear above and an inscription reads "First in Service to the Nation". The image is reminiscent of the Drummer Boy on the reverse of the 1976 Bicentennial Washington Quarter.

US Mint Pricing Policy

An update is available for last week's post regarding the pricing for the United States Mint's numismatic gold coins. The Mint released a statement explaining why prices were not reduced.

According to the statement, an internal policy with additional criteria is used to determine whether pricing changes will be made. The Wednesday PM London Fix price is used to determine the trend of gold prices in comparison to the calculated average.

This is the first I have heard about this separate internal policy and I do not believe it has been mentioned or published previously. This also seems to be the first time that the internal policy was invoked to override the procedure described in the US Mint's policy provided in the Federal Register.

The full story is on Coin Update: US Mint Responds on Numismatic Gold Coin Pricing Policy


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gold Coin Prices Will Not Be Reduced This Week

Yesterday, prices for the US Mint's available First Spouse Gold Coins should have been reduced in accordance with the pricing policy for numismatic gold and platinum coins. Prices were not adjusted lower and no adjustment will take place this week.

The full story is available on Coin Update News: US Mint Fails to Reduce Numismatic Gold Coin Prices in Opposition to Published Policy

The First Spouse Gold Coins, which are the only gold numismatic products currently available, are priced for an average price of gold in the $1,200 to $1,249.99 range. Since the calculated average for the period came in at $1,190.39, prices should have been reduced by $25 each.

For more than a year, the US Mint has diligently followed their pricing policy and repriced products higher or lower whenever necessary. On one occasion they even made a pricing adjustment when the average price landed exactly on one of the price thresholds.

On other occasions, prices have been adjusted higher or lower even though the price of gold at the time of adjustment had already moved into a different range than the calculated average.

The policy had a single calculation and precise ranges, leaving nothing to interpretation. This created a fair and nonarbitrary system for precious metals prices to guide product prices. It also allowed collectors to make purchasing decisions in anticipation of price changes. This seemed to match the purpose of establishing the new policy. As stated in the press release announcing the policy: "Transparency, agility, and customer service are the catalysts for our new pricing method."

By not following policy, particularly for a price decrease, the US Mint is setting a bad precedent and opening up a range of questions about their motivations.

On a separate matter (maybe), the US Mint has confirmed that both the Letitia Tyler and Julia Tyler coins will go off-sale to coincide with the start of sales for the Jane Pierce coin, still scheduled for June 3, 2010. The end of sales for Julia Tyler has the potential to create the first gold coin of the modern era with a mintage of less than 3,000.

As of the latest US Mint weekly sales report, the Julia Tyler First Spouse Gold Coin had sales of 4,812 proof coins and 2,807 uncirculated coins.

Update: The US Mint has issued a statement explaining additional criteria from an internal policy used for numismatic gold and platinum coin pricing.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hot Springs National Park Quarter Mintage

The United States Mint has published the preliminary production figures for the Hot Springs National Park Quarter, which suggest an extremely low final mintage for the first release of the America the Beautiful Quarters series.

The Philadelphia Mint produced 30,600,000 coins and the Denver Mint has produced 29,000,000 for a combined production of 59,600,000.

It seems that production of the Hot Springs Quarter concluded last month. Through April 2010, the US Mint had produced 77,400,000 quarters. Since this amount includes the total production of 59,600,000 Hot Springs Quarters, then the remaining 17,800,000 coins must be the start of production for the Yellowstone National Park Quarter, set to be released on June 1, 2010.

The mintage level of the Hot Springs Quarter comes in well below the least produced DC & US Territories Quarter. The Northern Mariana Islands Quarter had total circulating coin production of 72,800,000 coins. The mintage level is also ridiculously lower than the production levels for the 50 State Quarters Program, which ranged from a high of 1,594,616,000 for the 2000 Virignia Quarter to a low of 416,600,000 for the Oklahoma Quarter.

The Hot Springs Quarter now represents the lowest mintage for a quarter since 1955. Additionally, the 2010-D Hot Springs Quarter has the lowest mintage for an individual circulation issue since 1958.

While the low mintages are enticing, an important thing to remember is that the coins are readily available to collectors through the US Mint's numismatic bags and rolls. A total of 3,860,420 Hot Springs Quarters have been purchased to date through these offerings, representing more than 6% of the mintage. Also, the US Mint has indicated that they have set aside enough inventory so that the Hot Springs bags and rolls should remain available for a full year after the release date.

The value of circulation strike America the Beautiful Quarters will remain to be seen. Any premiums will likely be restrained as long as the coins continue to be available in bags and rolls from the US Mint.

A more certain impact of the low mintage will be to keep the coins out of the hands of the general public. The 50 State Quarters Program has been lauded for its success in reinvigorating the hobby of coin collecting by allowing anyone to collect the series from pocket change. Significantly fewer America the Beautiful Quarters will be reaching circulation, reducing the level of awareness and making assembling a collection from this channel much more difficult.

View latest National Park Quarter Mintages

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Monday, May 24, 2010

2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Silver Proof Set

The 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Silver Proof Set will go on sale at the United States Mint later this week on May 27, 2010 at 12:00 Noon ET. The clad version of the set was released earlier this month on May 12.

The US Mint has issued an annual proof set containing coins struck in 90% silver since 1992. Starting in 2004, they began issuing a separate set containing each year's quarters.

The 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Silver Proof Set will include the following coins:

2010-S Silver Proof Hot Springs National Park Quarter
2010-S Silver Proof Yellowstone National Park Quarter

2010-S Silver Proof Yosemite National Park Quarter

2010-S Silver Proof Grand Canyon National Park Quarter

2010-S Silver Proof Mount Hood National Park Quarter

The coins are housed in a single plastic lens and packaged in an illustrated cardboard box with certificate of authenticity. The sets are priced at $32.95 each. This represents a $3 increase over the price of last year's DC & US Territories Quarters Silver Proof Set, which cost $29.95 and contained six coins.

The five 2010 silver proof quarters will also be included in the full 14-coin 2010 Silver Proof Set, currently expected to be released in August/September 2010. Many collectors may wait for the release of this set, which will be priced at $56.95, rather than purchasing the separate quarters set.

In other news, the US Mint has just posted the product page for the 2010 Proof Gold Buffalo Coin. You can view the page here.

Based on this page, it seems that the coin will be offered without an established maximum mintage and without household order limits. Pricing for the coins is still to be determined based on the average price of gold for the weekly period before release.

The coins are still scheduled to go on sale June 3, 2010, despite a renewed surge in gold bullion coin sales this month.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Coin Legislation Update

Back in November, I had taken a look at the schedule for upcoming commemorative coins that have been approved for the next few years. Since that time, there have been no additional commemorative coin programs approved, however a few bills have moved forward.

Most recently, a bill proposing silver dollars to celebrate the establishment of Mother's Day was passed in the House on May 5, 2010. Yesterday, a bill seeking $5 gold, $1 silver, and clad half dollars to recognize 5-Star Generals was passed in the House.

Commemorative coin programs are authorized by Congress. The process begins when a bill is introduced in either the House of Representatives or the Senate. In order for the bill to become law, it must be passed in both the House and Senate, and then signed by the President.

Under current law, only two commemorative coin programs may be approved for each year. Two programs have already been approved for 2011. Only one program has been approved for each of the years 2012, 2013, and 2014, leaving one slot open for an additional program.

The table below shows all of the current commemorative coin proposals and approved programs for each year. The coins included in the program and current status are also included. For 2011, only the approved programs have been listed since the schedule for that year has been filled.

2011 Coins Included Status
United States Army $5 gold, $1 silver, half Signed into Law
Medal of Honor $5 gold, $1 silver Signed into Law


United States Infantry $1 silver Signed into Law
Star Spangled Banner $5 gold, $1 silver Passed House
National Future Farmers $5 gold, $1 silver Introduced


Girl Scouts Centennial $1 silver Signed into Law
5-Star Generals $5 gold, $1 silver, half Passed House
Mark Twain $5 gold, $1 silver Introduced
Gettysburg Campaign $5 gold, $1 silver, half Introduced
Ronald Reagan $5 gold, $1 silver Introduced


Civil Rights Act of 1964 $1 silver Signed into Law
Mother's Day Centennial $1 silver Passed House
US Marshals Service $5 gold, $1 silver Introduced


James Monroe $50 gold, $1 silver, half Introduced

Some notes on a few of the programs:

The 5-Stars Generals Commemorative Coin proposal specifies that the designs of the coins shall include the portraits of Generals George C. Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Henry Arnold, and Omar N. Bradley. I think that this would be a very challenging design to implement. A five headed coin?

The Ronald Reagan Commemorative Coin proposal calls for a design of an American Eagle carrying an olive branch, flying above a nest with another eagle and hatchlings. If this sounds familiar, it's because it is the design which currently appears on the American Gold Eagle bullion coins.

The US Marshals Service Program calls for a $5 gold coin containing one ounce of gold. This would be unusual since one ounce gold coins issued by the US Mint typically carry a $50 face value. The legislation also calls for the gold coins to feature a design in high relief with edge lettering.

The James Monroe coin program seeks a one ounce gold coin with a $50 face value. This would be the highest denomination modern commemorative coin. The authorized mintages specified for the program are lower than typical. The $50 gold coins would be limited to 20,000, the $1 silver coins would be limited to 275,000, and the half dollars would be limited to 500,000.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

2010 Quarters Proof Set Sales at 75,558

The first sales figures are available from the US Mint for the recently released 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Proof Set. Between the start of sales on May 13 and the reporting date of May 16, sales of 75,558 sets have been recorded.

This is somewhat of an underwhelming start for the product. This set contains the first proof coins released for the new 12 year series and represents the first availability for four of the five coin designs for this year. Until this set was released, only one design had been released as a circulating coin.

For comparison, the 2010 Presidential Dollar Proof Set had managed to sell 224,426 sets within the first reporting period between February 11 to February 14, 2010. Sales have now risen to 373,835 after roughly three months of availability.

Last year's 2009 District of Columbia & US Territories Quarter Set had debut sales of 78,018 sets between January 5 and January 11, 2009. Sales to date have now reached 609,376.

As the US Mint has continued to move towards breaking up annual coin sets into more and more component sets, maybe collectors are moving in the opposite direction and waiting for the full 2010 Proof Set to become available to acquire the coins. Or maybe the level of enthusiasm for America the Beautiful Quarters is already waning...

You can find this week's full US Mint sales report at Coin Update News.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Franklin Pierce Presidential Dollar Rolls

The US Mint will begin sales of the Franklin Pierce Presidential Dollar Rolls later this week on May 20, 2010 at 12:00 Noon ET. This will represent the second release of the year for the series.

Franklin Pierce was the 14th President of the United States and served from 1853 to 1857. The obverse of the coin features his portrait with inscriptions indicating his name, "In God We Trust", "14th President", and "1853-1857". The obverse was designed by Susan Gamble and sculpted by Charles Vickers. The reverse features the image of the Statue of Liberty designed by Don Everhart used for all coins of the series. The date, mint mark, and "E Pluribus Unum" appear on the edge of the coin.

Similar to other recent Presidential Dollar releases, the US Mint will offer 25-coin rolls from either the Philadelphia or Denver Mint. The coins are wrapped in US Mint branded wrappers which indicate the President, mint of origin, and face value of the contents. The rolls are priced at $35.95 each.

In a post from last week, a reader reported already receiving rolls of Franklin Pierce Dollars from the bank, even though the public release date for the coins is May 20, 2010. There have also been several rolls listed for sale on eBay described as "in hand."

Presidential Dollars are the only series that banks currently have the ability to order from the Federal Reserve in unmixed quantities as new coins are released. A special ordering period extends three weeks before the public release date and two weeks after. Officially, the banks are not authorized to release the coins to the public until the release date, but some are either unaware or disregard this condition.

On May 20, 2010 at 10:00 AM ET, the US Mint will also be hosting a launch ceremony for the Franklin Pierce Presidential Dollar. This will take place on the grounds of Pierce Manse located at 14 Horseshoe Pond Lane, Concord, NH. A coin exchange will be available after the ceremony.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Yellowstone National Park Quarter Launch Ceremony

The US Mint has announced the details of the release ceremony for the second coin of the America the Beautiful Quarters series featuring Yellowstone National Park.
The release ceremony will be held on June 3, 2010 at 10:30 AM Mountain Time, behind the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park. The inn is located adjacent to the Old Faithful Geyser, which is depicted on the reverse design of the quarter.

The ceremony takes place two days after the circulation release date for the Yellowstone Quarter, which is set for June 1, 2010. The US Mint will also begin sales of numismatic bags and rolls of the Yellowstone National Park Quarter on this date.

Similar to prior launch ceremonies, attendees will have the opportunity to exchange currency for rolls of Yellowstone National Park Quarters at face value. The quarters will be from the Denver Mint and carry the "D" mint mark. The coin exchange will have a minimum of one roll and a maximum of ten rolls for each pass through the line. A pictorial postal cancellation designed by Chuck Taylor will also be available.

As a change from prior ceremonies, the US Mint will not be holding a coin collector's forum prior to the launch ceremony.

Coverage of the event should also be available on Coin Update. You can read coverage of the previous Hot Springs National Park Quarter launch ceremony and coin exchange.


Friday, May 14, 2010

New America the Beautiful Quarters Products

The US Mint has just announced three new products for the America the Beautiful Quarters series. The new products will be available for subscription orders starting May 19, but the release dates have not yet been specified.

The new offerings are the following:

America the Beautiful Quarters Three Coin Set - This set includes one uncirculated coin each from the Philadelphia and Denver Mints and one proof coin form the San Francisco Mint. These sets will be created for each quarter and are priced at $13.95 each. It is not specified, but I would anticipate that the uncirculated coins are the satin finish versions found in Mint Sets.

America the Beautiful Quarters Uncirculated Coin Set - This set will include five uncirculated coins each from the Philadelphia and Denver Mints, for a total of ten coins. The sets will be released annually and are priced at $21.95. Once again, I would anticipate this set includes satin finish coins.

America the Beautiful Quarters Circulating Coin Set - The set includes five "circulating-quality" coins each from the Philadelphia and Denver Mints, for a total of ten coins. The sets will be released annually and are priced at $9.95 each.

I was hoping that the US Mint would create some unique collectibles for the new series, but these sets are pretty disappointing. The first two sets contain coins that will be issued in full annual sets, reordered into smaller sets and offered at higher component prices. The third set contains circulation strike coins at a high mark up to face value.

Rather than simply rearranging coins that were offered elsewhere into "new offerings," the US Mint could have offered coins with a unique origin or attribution like the First Day Coin Covers. This product type, which will not be offered for America the Beautiful Quarters, typically contained coins sourced from the first day of production. The quarters were placed in covers that were post marked with the circulation release date from a relevant location.

Or the US Mint could have created products which put the coins into a more unique context, like the now canceled Presidential Dollar Historical Signature Sets. There is surely plenty of historical background, photos, and information for each of the National Parks and sites depicted on the quarters.

Or the Mint could have done something unique working with the National Park Service in conjunction with the launch ceremonies.

Or they could have done something incorporating both the quarters and the 5 oz silver bullion coins...

Hopefully, the Mint has something else up their sleeve besides these three sets.


2011 Native American Dollar Design

Almost two weeks ago I provided a look at the 2010 Platinum Eagle design candidates and mentioned another post coming with more coin design candidates. Plenty of news happened in the interim delaying a look at the leading 2011 Native American Dollar candidate design.

The Native American Dollar series began in 2009, replacing the Sacagawea Dollar series, but using a modified version of the obverse design. The reverse of each coin would feature an annually rotating design celebrating the contributions and accomplishments of Native Americans. The first design featured an agriculture theme with a depiction of the "Three Sisters" method of planting. The second design released in 2010 featured the theme "Government- The Great Tree of Peace" and depicted the Hiawatha Belt, a visual representation of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederacy.

The theme for the 2011 Native American Dollar is "Diplomacy- Treaties with Tribal Nations". The design candidates focus on the treaty between Massasoit (head chief) of the great Wampanoag Nation and the English settlers in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts.

The United States Mint provided a total of six design candidates to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) for review and recommendation. Three of the designs are somewhat literal, in that they depict the treaty encounter, discussion, and signing between the Massasoit and Governor John Carver. Two of the designs are depictions of the Massasoit. One final design is more symbolic and shows the hands of the Massasoit and John Carver exchanging a pipe during the peace pipe ceremony.

Both the CFA and CCAC recommended the design showing the exchange of the peace pipe. The CFA commented that the design was the simplest and "uncluttered in comparison to the other alternatives and legibly conveys the theme of Native American diplomacy." They did recommend study of the "$1" text, commenting that its size and placement "may convey an inappropriately commercial association with the coin's theme of diplomacy."

The CCAC stated, "Members of the Committee who favored the design considered the simplicity of the image of two hands and a peace pipe as the most effective way to depict the design theme."

The other design candidates can be seen here.

For the Native American Dollar series, there are additional consultations on the reverse design candidates with the Committee on Indian Affairs of the Senate, the Congressional Native American Caucus of the House of Representatives, and the National Congress of American Indians. The final design will be selected by the Secretary of the Treasury after weighing the input provided by the various consultations and reviews.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

2010 America the Beautiful Quarter Proof Set

The United States Mint will begin sales of the 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Proof Set today, May 13, 2010 at 12:00 Noon ET.
This set will include the clad proof versions of the first five coins of the new America the Beautiful Quarters series. The following coins are included in each set:

2010-S Hot Springs National Park Quarter
2010-S Yellowstone National Park Quarter
2010-S Yosemite National Park Quarter
2010-S Grand Canyon National Park Quarter
2010-S Mount Hood National Park Quarter

The five coins are sealed in a single plastic lens and placed within an illustrated cardboard box with certificate of authenticity. The sets are priced at $14.95 each.

Last year, the US Mint offered the 2009 District of Columbia & US Territories Quarters Proof Set priced at $14.95, which contained six coins. To date, this set has sold 608,830 units.

The US Mint began offering a separate proof set containing each year's quarters back in 1999 for the start of the 50 State Quarters Program. Back then the US Mint began sales of the full annual proof set and the separate quarters proof set on the same day. Recently, the component proof sets have gone on sale before the full set.

Personally, I usually pass on the separate sets and wait for the release of the full annual proof set, which offers a better value. The full 14-coin 2010 Proof Set is expected to go on sale July 22, 2010 priced at $31.95. This is just $1.05 more than the cost of the previously released 4-coin 2010 Presidential Dollar Proof Set ($15.95) and today's 5-coin 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Proof Set ($14.95).
New Coingrader Capsule: Crossing Over from ANACS to PCGS


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

US Mint Last Opportunity for 2009 Products

Today, the United States Mint announced the upcoming discontinuation of sales for certain 2009 products. A "Last Opportunity" section has been added to the US Mint's online product catalog to showcase these products in their final days.

On June 15, 2010, sales will end for the following products:

2009 Proof Set
2009 Silver Proof Set
2009 Mint Set
2009 "Professional Life" Lincoln Cent Two Roll Set
2009 "Presidency" Lincoln Cent Two Roll Set

The end of sales for the 2009 Proof Set, 2009 Silver Proof Set, and 2009 Mint Set may come as somewhat of a surprise. Generally, unless there is an early sell out, these annual sets have remained on sale until the release date for the current year version of the set. The 2010 Proof Set and Mint Set are currently scheduled to go on sale on July 15 and 22; and the 2010 Silver Proof Set is scheduled to go on sale in August/September.

I believe that the reason behind the "early" end of sales for these sets is the inclusion of the 2009 Lincoln Cents struck in 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc. The use of this special composition was originally authorized by the Presidential $1 Coin Act, which stated: "The Secretary of the Treasury shall issue 1-cent coins in 2009 with the exact metallic content as the 1-cent coin contained in 1909..."

Someone must have realized that the wording "in 2009" would have meant that the US Mint could not "issue" (i.e. sell) any of the annual sets containing the special 2009 Lincoln Cents after December 31, 2009.

A technical amendment was slipped into the Girl Scouts USA Centennial Commemorative Coin Act, which provided "the Secretary of the Treasury may continue to issue numismatic items that contain 1-cent coins minted in 2009 after December 31, 2009, until not later than June 30, 2010." This bill was signed into law on October 29, 2009, allowing the sets to be offered for an additional six months into the new year.

Notably, the 2009 Mint Set originally went on sale October 1, 2009, following a delay related to tarnish issues. With sales ending on June 15, 2010, the set will have only been available for sale for nine and a half months.

On June 30, 2010, sales will end for the following products:

2009 District of Columbia Quarter First Day Coin Cover
2009 Puerto Rico Quarter First Day Coin Cover
2009 Guam Quarter First Day Coin Cover
2009 American Samoa Quarter First Day Coin Cover
2009 U.S. Virgin Islands Quarter First Day Coin Cover
2009 Northern Mariana Islands Quarter First Day Coin Cover

These six First Day Coin Covers will actually represent the last appearance of the product for quarters for the foreseeable future. The US Mint has stated that they will not be offering the covers for the new America the Beautiful Quarters series.

Frequent commenter on this site Lasloo has actually created his own First Day Coin Cover for the Hot Springs National Park Quarter and plans to create additional covers for the remaining America the Beautiful Quarters. I have received a few of these and can attest that they are very well done. I previously wrote an article about the Hot Springs First Day Covers on Coin Update or you can find some of the covers listed for sale on eBay.

As the end of sales draws closer for the products included in the US Mint's Last Opportunity sale, I will revisit some of them with additional thoughts, stats, and comparisons.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Another First Spouse Gold Coin Price Increase Tomorrow?

The price of gold broke above $1,200 per ounce last week and has continued to move higher today. Based on the available London Fix gold prices, it is once again possible that the US Mint will adjust prices higher for available First Spouse Gold Coins.

The last price increase took place a just week ago on May 5, 2010, when the average weekly price of gold came in above $1,150 per ounce. Another price increase will take place if the average of the London Fix prices from the prior Thursday AM to the current Wednesday AM (tomorrow) is $1,200 or greater.

Here are the relevant prices for this weekly period:
Thurs AM - May 6 1,178.00
Thurs PM - May 6 1,185.25
Fri AM - May 7 1,199.60
Fri PM - May 7 1,202.25
Mon AM - May 10 1,188.25
Mon PM - May 10 1,196.50
Tue AM - May 11 1,209.00
Tue PM - May 11 1,222.50
Wed AM - May 12 ?

By my calculation, a London AM Fix price of $1,218.65 or higher for tomorrow morning would trigger a price increase. Price increase are generally put into effect by the US Mint on Wednesday around mid-morning.

An increase would put price levels for First Spouse Gold Coins at the highest levels ever. The uncirculated coins would be priced at $766 each and the proof coins would be priced at $779 each.

The lowest prices for First Spouse Coins this year were in effect from January 27 to February 23, 2010 while the average price of gold was in the $1,050 to $1,099.99 range. The prices were $691 for uncirculated coins and $704 for proof coins.

If higher gold prices persist, this will also impact upcoming gold numismatic products. The US Mint plans to release the 2010 Proof Gold Buffalo on June 3, 2010. If gold remains within the current range, the coins would be priced at $1,510 each. When the 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo was released late last year, the initial price was $1,360.

Also scheduled for release on June 3, 2010 will be the Jane Pierce First Spouse Gold Coins. The previous release of the series featuring Abigail Fillmore was initially priced at $716 and $729 for uncirculated and proof coins, respectively.


US Mint 2010 Product Schedule Updated

The United States Mint has just updated their 2010 Scheduled Product Listing with dates for products to be released through the end of July. The update includes release dates for the 2010 Proof Set and 2010 Uncirculated Mint Set.

The US Mint now has the following upcoming products with exact release dates specified:
05/13/2010 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Proof Set
5/20/2010 Franklin Pierce $1 Coin Rolls
5/27/2010 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Silver Proof Set
6/1/2010 Yellowstone Quarters Bags and Two-Roll Set
6/3/2010 Jane Pierce First Spouse Gold Coins
6/3/2010 Jane Pierce Bronze Medal
6/3/2010 2010 American Buffalo Gold Proof Coin
6/24/2010 Presidential $1 Coin & First Spouse Medal Set - Franklin Pierce
7/1/2010 Franklin Pierce $1 Coin Cover
7/15/2010 2010 Uncirculated Coin Set
7/22/2010 2010 Proof Set
7/26/2010 Yosemite Quarters Bags and Two-Roll Set

Later this week on May 13, the 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Proof Set will be released, followed by the 90% silver version of the set on May 27. Each of these sets will include all five of the quarters for 2010 featuring Hot Springs, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Mount Hood. So far, the only one of these quarters released for circulation has been the Hot Springs Quarter.

The Franklin Pierce Presidential Dollar Rolls will be released on May 20, 2010 to coincide with the previously announced circulation release date. The Presidential Dollar Coin & Medal Set and First Day Coin Cover featuring Franklin Pierce will be released later on June 24, 2010 and July 1, 2010.

Two gold products will be released on June 3, 2010. This will include the 2010 Proof Gold Buffalo, offered in one ounce size only. In the previous year, the coin was not offered for sale until October 29. The second gold product will be the Jane Pierce First Spouse Gold Coin, representing the second release of the year for the series.

The 2010 Uncirculated Mint Set and 2010 Proof Set will be released on July 15, 2010 and July 22, 2010, respectively. These represent two of the US Mint's core annual offerings that tend to have the highest unit sales totals. The 2010 Mint Set includes satin finish versions of coins from the Phiadelphia and Denver Mints. The 2010 Proof Set includes proof versions of coins from the San Francisco Mint.

Products for the two next circulation releases of the American the Beautiful Quarters series have been added to the schedule. Yellowstone Quarter bags and rolls will go on sale June 1, 2010 and Yosemite Quarter bags and rolls will go on sale July 26, 2010. Both of these product release dates correspond to previously announced circulation release dates.

Although exact dates have now been announced for these products, the dates are still subject to change by the United States Mint.


Monday, May 10, 2010

US Mint Catching Up with Gold Offerings

In a short time frame, the United States Mint has caught up with many of their delayed 2010 gold offerings. This is encouraging news for collectors who are hoping that the Mint will issue collectible versions of the 2010 American Gold Eagle.

The collectible offerings had been canceled for 2009 Gold Eagle. By law, the US Mint is required to produce the bullion versions of the coin in quantities sufficient to meet public demand. Since full demand was not being met, the Mint allocated all available 22 karat gold blanks to the bullion coins and did not produce the collector versions, which are not legally mandated.

This year started on a low note, when the US Mint delayed the release of the one ounce 2010 Gold Eagle bullion coins. Usually, bullion coins bearing the following year's date can be ordered by authorized purchasers in December of the prior year for delivery in early January. This year, orders were not accepted until January 19, 2010. Initial demand for Gold and Silver Eagles was heavy and seemed to foretell a repeat of last year.

The first encouraging sign came in March 2010, when the US Mint ended the allocation program for American Gold Eagle bullion coins. This program rationed the number of available gold bullion coins amongst the authorized purchasers. With unrestricted ordering, it was a signal that the US Mint was able to meet full demand for one ounce Gold Eagle bullion coins.

In the following month, the Mint began accepting orders from authorized purchasers for bullion version of the 2010 Gold Buffalo coins on April 29, 2010. This initial offering date was more than five months ahead of the prior year, when coins were not available until October 15.

In recent news, the availability date for the 2010 Proof Gold Buffalo has now been announced as June 3, 2010. This is once again more than five months ahead of the sales start date for last year's coin, which was October 29. Since this is a collector coin, it will be available directly from the US Mint.

Additionally, Numismatic News reported that the Mint has begun striking fractional Gold Eagle bullion coins, although a sales start date is still unknown. Last year, the fractional weight gold bullion coins were not offered until December 3.

With the US Mint is now running several months ahead of last year's release schedule, all gold bullion products released or soon to be released, and gold bullion no longer subject to rationing, it seems more likely that collectible versions of the American Gold Eagle will be issued this year.

If collectible 2010 Gold Eagles are issued, the expected products would include one ounce 2010-W Uncirculated Gold Eagles; and one ounce, one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce, one-tenth ounce 2010-W Proof Gold Eagles and a four proof coin set.


Friday, May 7, 2010

2009 First Spouse Bronze Medal Set Sold Out

The 2009 First Spouse Bronze Medal Set has recently sold out at the United States Mint. This set contained all five of the First Spouse medals issued for last year.

The sets were first offered for sale at the US Mint on December 3, 2009, which means the set had a relatively short offering period of about six months.
Each set contained the 1- 5/16 inch bronze medals for Anna Harrison, Letitia Tyler, Julia Tyler, Sarah Polk, and Margaret Taylor. The designs of the medals are taken from the corresponding First Spouse Gold Coins, but with some inscriptions removed.

An interesting aspect to this set was the pricing. Effective March 18, 2010, the US Mint increased the prices of the individual First Spouse medals from $3.50 to $5.50 each. However, the five medal set remained priced at $15.95, making it seem like a bargain relative to the higher individual prices.

At the time of the price increase (and currently), three of the five First Spouse medals issued during 2009 still remained available for sale individually. These are the medals for Julia Tyler, Sarah Polk, and Margaret Taylor. After the pricing change, collectors could have purchased the full five coin set for less than the cost of the three individual coins.

Compared to other bronze medals produced by the US Mint, the First Spouse medals have been offered for a more limited time period. Some of the humanitarian/cultural medals have remained available for years and some of the Presidential medals seem to be available indefinitely.
Coin Update News: Mother's Day Commemorative Coin Act


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

US Mint Coin Production April 2010: First 2010 Jefferson Nickels

Circulating coin production at the United States Mint rose in the latest month. During April 2010, the US Mint facilities at Philadelphia and Denver produced a combined 451.96 million coins. This represents the highest monthly production total in at least a year.

During the month, production included cents, nickels, dimes, quarters, and Presidential Dollars. Notably, this represented first production of 2010 Jefferson Nickels this year. The denomination has not been minted for circulation since July 2009.

The table below displays the breakdown of production by denomination and Mint for the month and the year to date.
2010 US Mint Coin Production Figures

April 2010 Jan 2010 - Apr 2010
Lincoln Cent - Denver 135.20 M 429.20 M
Lincoln Cent - Phil. 149.60 M 427.63 M
Jefferson Nickel - Denver 0 0
Jefferson Nickel - Phil. 1.68 M 1.68 M
Roosevelt Dime - Denver 40.00 M 40.00 M
Roosevelt Dime - Phil. 54.50 M 73.50 M
Quarters - Denver 16.40 M 35.40 M
Quarters - Phil. 18.60 M 42.00 M
Kennedy Half - Denver 0 1.70 M
Kennedy Half - Phil. 0 1.80 M
Native Am Dollar - Denver 0 14.00 M
Native Am Dollar - Phil. 0 32.06 M
Pres Dollar - Denver 16.94 M 75.32 M
Pres Dollar - Phil. 19.04 M 74.90 M

Total 451.96 M 1,249.19 M

The US Mint produced a total of 284.80 million one cent coins during April. This was down slightly from the production of 294 million cents in the prior month, but continues the relatively steady pattern of production for the denomination. Total production of the 2010 Lincoln Cent across both facilities has now reached 856.83 million.

The first production of 2010 Jefferson Nickels took place this month. It was limited to only 1.68 million coins struck at the Philadelphia Mint.

There were 94.5 million 2010 Roosevelt Dimes produced during the month. This total is broken down as 40.0 million Denver mint coins and 54.5 million Philadelphia Mint coins. Previously for the year, just 19 million dimes had been produced at Philadelphia, so this month's figures have a significant impact. Last month I wrote about the first 2010 Roosevelt Dimes appearing in the channels of circulation. Big prices were being paid, but I cautioned that production of up to 224 million dimes was expected this year.

Across both facilities, 35 million America the Beautiful Quarters were produced. Total production for the year has now reached 77. 4 million. The US Mint has not indicated if production of the Yellowstone National Park Quarter has begun, or if the entire amount represents entirely Hot Springs National Park Quarters.
Coin Update News: 2010 Gold Buffalo Proof Coins on Sale June 3


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Prices Likely to Increase for First Spouse Coins

Prices for the United States Mint's First Spouse Gold Coins are likely to rise tomorrow, based on the latest available gold price data. Under the US Mint's current policy, gold coin prices may be adjusted weekly if the calculated weekly average price of gold moves across pricing threshholds set at $50 increments.

The average price of gold is calculated based on the London Fix gold prices from the prior Thursday AM to the current Wednesday AM. The prices for this period are shown below. Note that Monday was a UK bank holiday.
Thurs AM, Apr 29 1,170.00
Thurs PM, Apr 29 1,166.75
Fri AM, Apr 30 1,175.25
Fri PM, Apr 30 1,179.25
Mon AM, May 3 N/A
Mon PM, May 3 N/A
Tue AM, May 4 1,184.25
Tue PM, May 4 1,185.00
Wed AM, May 5 ?

The average of the above prices comes to $1,176.75. Although one more price remains, it is highly likely that the final average will remain above the $1,150 mark, which will result in higher prices.

The proof versions of the First Spouse Gold Coins would increase from $729 to $754 and the uncirculated versions would increase from $716 to $741. Price changes are usually made around mid-morning on Wednesday.

After the increase, prices will be back to their highest levels ever. Coins were previously priced at these levels from late November to mid-December and then for a one week period in mid-April.

Although the First Spouse Gold Coins are not as popular as some of the US Mint's traditional collector gold coins, the series has developed a following of collectors who are often focused on the extremely low mintages. Some collectors have also taken focus on the "Liberty subset" of the series. This consists of four coins issued for Presidents who served without a spouse, which feature classic coin designs from the era in which each President served. The last coin in the subset will be issued this year for James Buchanan.

The latest sales figures for the available First Spouse Gold Coins are shown below. A full US Mint sales report is available on Coin Update News.

Letitia Tyler Proof
Letitia Tyler Uncirculated 3,164
Julia Tyler Proof
Julia Tyler Uncirculated 2,779
Sarah Polk Proof
Sarah Polk Uncirculated
Margaret Taylor Proof 3,607
Margaret Taylor Uncirculated 2,168
Abigail Fillmore Proof
Abigail Fillmore Uncirculated 2,140

Sales activity from the latest week shows that buyers have been focused on the uncirculated Letitia Tyler coins, uncirculated Margaret Taylor coins, and both versions of the Abigail Fillmore coins.

The Letitia Tyler coins will be the next coins to go off-sale at the US Mint. Generally, the Mint has ended sales of the oldest coin once a newer coin is released. This year the procedure may have to be altered since there were five releases during 2009, rather than the typical four. The next coin in the series featuring Jane Pierce is expected to go on sale in June.

The Margaret Taylor coins may be attracting attention as a possible low mintage point for the series. As of last week, sales levels for the more recently released Abigail Fillmore coins exceeded total sales of the Margaret Taylor coins. A strong week for the Taylor coins has narrowed the gap and put the uncirculated version back ahead.

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Monday, May 3, 2010

2010 Platinum Eagle Reverse Design Candidates

With the next US Mint product release more than a week away, I wanted to take a few posts to share the leading design candidates for a few upcoming coins. The first is the reverse design for collectible version of the 2010 Platinum Eagle.

Last year, a six year design series began for the collectible American Platinum Eagle. The core concepts of American Democracy as stated in the Preamble to the United States Constitution were to be presented on different reverse designs. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. provided narratives for each of the concepts to serve as inspiration for the designs. This year's design will depict the principle "To Establish Justice."

Nine different candidate designs were recently provided by the United States Mint. Six of the designs presented the figure of Justice blindfolded, holding scales, and/or surrounded by other allegorical symbols or people. Two of the designs featured images from the Supreme Court building, figures on the western pediment and the panels depicting the development of law on west front doors. One more design featured the Statue of Liberty's torch.

The Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) and Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) have already had the opportunity to review the design candidates and make recommendations. The final selection will be up to the United States Treasury Secretary.

The CFA recommended the design depicting the torch. Their motivation for selecting the design seemed to be focused to its relation to the obverse design, which will feature an image of the Statue of Liberty. Their letter to the US Mint Director stated that they felt this design was preferable to the allegorical figure of Justice in combination with the figure of Liberty on the obverse. They did recommending moving the words "Justice the Guardian of Liberty" to flank the image.

The CCAC recommended a design depicting a blindfolded Justice holding scales and an olive branch. They did recommend that the inscription should be changed from "Justice, the Guardian of Liberty" to "To Establish Justice". They further recommended that the design should be altered so that Justice holds the scale by a loop above the beam, to be mechanically correct.

The United States Mint plans to offer only one collectible 2010 Platinum Eagle, the one ounce proof version. According to the current scheduled product listing, this coin will be released in August 2010. Last year, the Proof Platinum Eagle was not released until December 3, 2009. The coins sold out of the maximum authorized mintage of 8,000 coins in about a week.

If the bullion versions of the 2010 Platinum Eagle are issued, they would not carry the new reverse design, but would feature the soaring eagle and rising sun design that was used for all 1997 Platinum Eagles and all bullion Platinum Eagles issued to date. Last year, the US Mint did not issue 2009 American Platinum Eagle bullion coins.
Coin Update News: April 2010 US Mint Bullion Sales

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