Mint News Blog

News, Information, and Commentary on US Mint Products

Friday, February 26, 2010

NGC Proof Like "PL" 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coins

My recent post on 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin Prices highlighted the fact that huge premiums were being paid for proof like coins which had received NGC's "PL" designation. Many readers wanted to find more information about how to identify proof like coins and how they are differentiated from non-PL coins.

Bob and Rich Leece or Robert B. Leece Numismatist Inc. (, who have probably handled more UHR Double Eagles than anyone, were willing to provide their expertise for an article published on Coin Update.

The following excerpt from the article is their description of the characteristics of Proof Like Ultra High Relief Double Eagles and how they can be distinguished from non Proof Like coins.

A PL coin has a definite Proof Like and Shinny Mirror Surface on ALL of the Obverse and Reverse of the coin. The only difference from the UHR PL coins and other Modern Proof coins is that the UHR PL coins do NOT exhibit the Cameo Contrast that is evident on standard Modern Proof Coins. In our opinion they fit the standards of Proof in all other aspects. Once you have seen a PL and a NON PL UHR side by side it the difference becomes more obvious. A NON Proof Like coin has a satin matte like surface not unlike a standard MS or burnished modern coin.

The problem lies in that there is a wide range of "in between" surfaces. They range from almost PL to very slight faint hints of PL. There are also coins that are PL on the Obverse but not on the reverse. The range can be drastic. From our experience a UHR is much more likely to have a PL Obverse and non-PL reverse. It seems to me that the definitive distinction of a PL coin is a coin that has FULL PL surfaces on Obverse and Reverse including and MOST importantly in between the rays on the reverse of the coin. That is the most likely part of the coin to lack the true PL surface.

The full article contains additional information and images of Proof Like UHR Double Eagles, including an estimate of the proportion of coins qualifying as proof like and how they could have been created.

Read the full article:
Proof Like 2009 Ultra High Relief Double eagles Fetch Big Premiums


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

American Veterans Disabled for Life Silver Dollar Commemorative

Tomorrow February 25, 2010 at 12:00 Noon ET, the United States Mint will begin sales of the 2010 American Veterans Disabled for Life Silver Dollar. This is one of two commemorative coin programs scheduled for 2010, each including the issuance of a silver dollar.

The obverse of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Silver Dollar features the legs and boots of three veterans. A banner across the top reads "They Stood Up for Us". Below the image, "In God We Trust", the date and mint mark, and "Liberty" appear.

The reverse of the coin features a wreath of oak branches with a ribbon wrapped around and a forget-me-not flower at the base. A central inscription reads "Take This Moment to Honor Our Disabled Defenders of Freedom". Additional inscriptions "United States of America", "E Pluribus Unum", and "One Dollar" appear surrounding the wreath.

The US Mint will offer proof and uncirculated versions of the coin, both struck at the West Point Mint. Introductory pricing in effect until March 29, 2010 will be $33.95 for uncirculated coins and $39.95 for proof coins. Regular pricing will be $35.95 and $43.95.

There will be an initial ordering limit of 100 units per option per household in effect for at least the first 30 days of release. The US Mint has not made any indication that a special set will be created for this commemorative coin program. Only the two individual ordering options have been mentioned with a maximum authorized mintage of 350,000 across both options.

The other commemorative program for this year will feature the 2010 Boy Scouts of America Centennial Silver Dollar. This coin is currently scheduled for release on March 23, 2010.
New Coin Grader Capsule: Submitting Coins to PCGS and NGC


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

US Mint Price Increase and Anna Harrison First Spouse Coin Sales

Tomorrow around mid-morning, the prices for the US Mint's numismatic gold coins will likely be raised. Under the US Mint's pricing policy, the prices for numismatic gold and platinum coins may be adjusted once per week in response to changing precious metals prices.

The Mint calculates the average price of gold based on the London Fix prices from Thursday AM of the prior week to Wednesday AM of the current week. The relevant prices so far are indicated below:
Thurs Feb 18 AM 1,105.50
Thurs Feb 18 PM 1,118.00
Fri Feb 19 AM 1,107.00
Fri Feb 19 PM 1,112.75
Mon Feb 22 AM 1,119.75
Mon Feb 22 PM 1,115.25
Tue Feb 23 AM 1,112.00
Tue Feb 23 PM 1,107.00
Wed Feb 24 AM ?

As long as tomorrow's London AM Fix comes in above $1,002.75, then the average price will be within the $1,100 to $1,149.99 price range, prompting an increase. The coming price increase would take place after two price decreases on December 16, 2009 and January 27, 2010.

The price for the 2009 Gold Buffalo Proof Coin would be raised from $1,360 to $1,410. The price for the proof First Spouse Gold Coins would be raised from $704 to $729. The price for the uncirculated First Spouse Coins would be raised from $691 to $716.

For the past few weeks the spot price of gold has increased while the prices for US Mint numismatic gold coins has remained stable. This has led to elevated sales levels for the available gold products.

One particular coin that I wanted to point out is the uncirculated version of the Anna Harrison First Spouse Gold Coin. In the past three weeks, the US Mint has recorded sales 295 coins, bringing total sales from 3,153 to 3,448. In each reporting period, this particular coin had the highest sales out of all available First Spouse Gold Coins. Before the recent surge in demand, the Mint had been selling fewer than 15 coins per week.

The higher interest in this coin can be attributed to several factors. First, along with other gold coins, collectors are placing orders with the rising price of gold and ahead of the impending price increase. Second, sales of the coins are expected to end next month when sales of the next issue of the series begin (or sooner as happened on one occasion). Third, the coin will likely mark a new mintage low for the First Spouse Gold Coin series. The current low mintage (for coins no longer available directly from the US Mint) is held by the Louisa Adams uncirculated coin with last reported sales of 4,223.

I have been closely watching the First Spouse Gold Coin series for a while, since I believe that some of the low mintage coins and the Liberty subset will eventually gain more widespread appreciation. While I am not convinced that the Anna Harrison uncirculated coin will represent the exact low mintage point for the series, it will probably be among the lowest and worthy of some consideration ahead of the price increase.
Today on Coin Update News: Full US Mint Sales Report


Washington DC Coin Exchange

Just a quick post to pass along news of the rescheduled 2010 Lincoln Cent coin exchanges to be held at two Washington DC locations.

The Washington DC exchanges were originally scheduled to take place on February 11, 2010, the same day as the official launch ceremony in Springfield, Illinois, but they were canceled due to weather.

The coin exchanges have been rescheduled for this Thursday, February 25, 2010 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The exchanges will be held at the US Mint sales counter at Union Station and the first floor of the US Mint headquarters at 801 9th Street NW.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Dollar

Today, the 2010 Presidential Dollar Proof Set that I ordered from the US Mint arrived, providing the first view of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Dollar in hand.
I don't typically order the separate Presidential Dollar Proof Set. I usually wait for the full annual proof set to be released, which provides a better value. However, this year I decided to order the set to get an earlier look at the Lincoln Presidential Dollar. I think that many people had the same idea.

As mentioned in the Coin Update weekly sales report, the 2010 Presidential Dollar Proof Set sold 224,426 units in the debut sales period from February 11 to February 14, 2010. This is almost triple the number of 2009 Presidential Dollar Proof Sets that were sold during the opening sales period. Last year's set sold 82,168 units in the period from February 10 to February 16, 2009.

Many people called 2009 "the year of Lincoln", but there will be plenty of Lincoln related coins and products available this year as well.

The next product should be the 2010 Lincoln Cent Two Roll Set, expected to be released during the month of March. The 2010 Presidential Dollar Uncirculated Set will follow in April. This set will contain the satin finish versions of the 2010-P and 2010-D Lincoln Presidential Dollar.

The full annual clad Proof Set, Silver Proof Set, and Uncirculated Mint Sets will be released during the July/August/September period. These sets will debut the 2010-S Proof Lincoln Cent and 2010-P and 2010-D satin finish Lincoln Cents, along with the proof and satin finish versions of the Lincoln Dollar, previously released in the component Presidential Dollar Sets.

The release of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Dollar for circulation is currently scheduled for November 18, 2010. On this date, the US Mint would begin sales of 25-coin rolls of the circulation strike versions of the coins. I also anticipate that the Mint will host a launch ceremony around this date, with a coin exchange available following.

In the month of December, the Mary Todd Lincoln First Spouse Gold Coin and Medal will be released. Other Lincoln products to be released in December will include the 2010 First Spouse Four Medal Set, containing the Mary Todd Lincoln Medal, and the Abraham Lincoln Dollar Coin Cover. Lastly, the Lincoln Presidential Dollar and First Spouse Medal Set is also expected around this time, although the product doesn't currently appear on the schedule.

It will be interesting to see how the US Mint treats the release of some individual Lincoln products. For example, the Presidential Dollar First Day Coin Covers have recently had production limits of 40,000, which would be an easy sell out. Will the Mint raise production for the Lincoln release or perhaps impose a low household limit?
On a final and related note, another coin featuring Abraham Lincoln arrived in my mail box today. It is a 75 pesetas coin issued by Equatorial Guinea in 1970 with a portrait of Lincoln. My Standard Catalog of World Coins says that the coin contains .4818 oz silver and had a mintage of 4,390. The portrait bears a strong similarity to the 2010 Lincoln Presidential Dollar. Both appear to be based on the same photograph that can be found here.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Misdated 2010-D Zachary Taylor Presidential Dollar Error

A new type of error has been discovered for the Presidential Dollar coin series. A Zachary Taylor Dollar was found with the date "2010-D" appearing on the lettered edge, rather than 2009. The Zachary Taylor Dollar was the fourth release of the Presidential Dollar series for the year 2009.

The error coin was first reported by Coin World and has been authenticated by NGC. The NGC holder indicates "2009 D $1 Zachary Taylor with 2010 D Edge Letter Mint Error" and is graded MS 64. This represents the first time that the an edge-lettered US Dollar has been reported with the incorrect date.

Earlier in the Presidential Dollar series other types of errors involving the edge lettering were discovered. The most widespread error occurred when thousands of George Washington Dollars were released without the edge lettering. Changes in Mint procedures made the occurrence of missing edge lettering much less frequent for later coins of the series. Other error types have also included doubled edge lettering and lettered blank planchets.

The misdated Zahary Taylor Dollar error coin was discovered by collector Gary D. Laird. He found the coin in a roll of 2010-D Native American Dollars purchased through the US Mint's Direct Ship Program. Rolls of this year's Native American Dollars were first offered through the program on January 4, 2010.

The latest issue of Coin World reports that the US Mint has recalled 700,000 2010-D Native American Dollars that had been designated for the Direct Ship Program, following the discovery of the error. These coins were at the coin wrapping company.

If you have any 2010-D Native American Dollar Rolls from the US Mint's Direct Ship Program- keep an eye out for this new error type. So far only one misdated Zachary Taylor Dollar error is known to have been discovered.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Millard Fillmore Presidential Dollar Rolls

The United States Mint will begin sales of the Millard Fillmore Presidential Dollar Rolls on February 18, 2010 at 12:00 Noon ET. One week earlier, the 2010 Presidential Dollar Proof Set had gone on sale, which contains the proof version of the coin.

The obverse of each Millard Fillmore Dollar features his portrait along with the inscriptions "Millard Fillmore", "In God We Trust", "13th President", the years of his term "1850-1853". The reverse of the coin features a rendition of the Statue of Liberty with "United States of America" and the denomination "$1". Both the obverse and reverse were designed by Don Everhart.

The US Mint is offering 25-coin rolls from either the Philadelphia or Denver Mint. These rolls are packaged in custom US Mint wrappers that indicate the President, mint mark, and face value of the contents. The rolls are priced at $35.95 each, the same price as last year's Presidential Dollar rolls.

The two previous roll offerings featuring James K. Polk and Zachary Taylor remain available for sale on the US Mint's website. The latest available sales figures indicate the Polk Rolls sold 39,476 (P) and 38,220 (D) while the Taylor Rolls have sold 36,108 (P) and 34,627 (D).

Coin Update News has the full US Mint Sales Report. This represents the first report in two weeks, as figures were not issued last week.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

2010 Commemorative Coin Pricing

The pricing for the United States Mint's 2010 Commemorative Coins was recently revealed in a notification published in the Federal Register. The two programs for this year will include the 2010 American Veterans Disabled for Life Silver Dollar and the 2010 Boy Scouts of America Centennial Silver Dollar.

The uncirculated version of each coin will have an introductory price of $33.95 and a regular price of $35.95. The proof version of each coin will have an introductory price of $39.95 and a regular price of $43.95. Each price level will represent a $2 increase from the levels set for last year's programs.

The notification only included prices for the individual coins. However, this does not preclude the issuance of specially packaged sets. Last year, separate pricing announcements were published prior to the release of the Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set and the Braille Education Set. These sets were first mentioned within the press releases announcing the start of individual coin sales and details were provided at a later date.

The American Veterans Disabled for Life Silver Dollar is scheduled for release on February 25, 2010, with introductory pricing available until March 29, 2010. The Boy Scouts of America Centennial Silver Dollar will be released on March 23, 2010, with introductory pricing in effect until April 22, 2010. Both coins have a maximum authorized mintage of 350,000.

I haven't provided my thoughts on the prospects of each release yet, but I do think the Boy Scouts Silver Dollar will sell out of the entire 350,000 authorized mintage. Despite the fact that many collectors and former Boy Scouts have expressed their opinion that the obverse design could have been better chosen, I think this will be outweighed by the broader appeal of the subject.

I have received an unusually high number of inquiries over the past few months from non-collectors who heard about the coins and wanted to purchase them, but did not know where to find them. (I have been directing these people to the US Mint's website and providing the release date.) As long as the US Mint can get the word out to the broader public, I don't see these coins remaining available for more than two months. I will take a closer look at each coin closer to the release date.


Friday, February 12, 2010

2010 Lincoln Cent Launch Ceremony Held, Two Roll Sets Announced

Yesterday, the launch ceremony for the 2010 Lincoln Cent was held in Springfield, Illinois. The new reverse of the coin features the Union Shield, intended to represent Abraham Lincoln's preservation of the United States as a single and united country.

The launch ceremony was held at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum where approximately 400 people arrived for the initial presentation. There was some anticipation and excitement surround the event, as people had began lining up as early 5:30 AM and came from as far as Texas.

The coin exchange following the ceremony had 20,000 rolls available. This is the same number that had been available for the last three penny ceremonies. A special postage cancellation stamp was prepared for the ceremony and available at the Cook Street Post Office.

These details come from a first hand account of the ceremony from Greg Fleckenstein published on Coin Update News.

Read the full story: 2010 Lincoln Cent Launch Ceremony and Coin Exchange

Separately, the US Mint announced the first product specifically highlighting the 2010 Lincoln Cent. Within their press release recapping the event, they mentioned that 2010 Lincoln Cent Two Roll Sets will be available in the spring. A similar product had been available for each of the 2009 Lincoln Cent designs priced at $8.95 per set. The "Professional Life" and "Presidency" Two Roll Sets still remain available for sale at the US Mint.

2010 Lincoln Cent Rolls that have been stamped and canceled with the special launch ceremony cancellation have already found their way to eBay, where they have sold for prices ranging from $20 to $70 per roll. Some of the higher priced sales include the pamphlet from the launch ceremony. Unmakred single rolls continue to sell for about $12 to $18 per roll. Here are the current eBay auctions.

Prices for the unmarked rolls will no doubt decline as more of the new cents are distributed and eventually when the US Mint's Two Roll Set goes on sale. A similar situation occurred just after the release of the 2009 "Birthplace" Lincoln Cents when regular rolls sold for as much as $50 each.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Prices

More more than one month has passed since sales of the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin concluded at the US Mint. I thought it would be an interesting exercise to examine the recent sales prices for the coins on the secondary market.

In recent weeks, the premiums for many collectible gold coins have experienced a sharp decline. This has come amidst an extended decline in the price of gold, which brought the price from its high of $1,212.50 reached on December 2, 2009 to the recent low of $1,058.00 per ounce reached on February 5, 2010.

I have been generally aware of the price levels of the UHR Double Eagles, but it was very interesting to do a more comprehensive evaluation. I compiled all of the data for completed eBay auctions from January 28 to February 10. I recorded the prices for any listings resulting in a sale and the basic aspects of the coin (raw, PCGS, or NGC grade). I came up with a total of 102 prices, which I think provided a reasonable amount of data for examining trends and averages. I did not take into account any factors such as the duration of the auction, time of day, whether it was an auction or Buy It Now, feedback of the sellers, etc.

First, I tried to examine the data to see if prices were generally rising or falling, but I also wanted to take into account the price of gold. The trend of the UHR price levels could be a bit difficult to pin down, because of the different price levels for various grades and raw coins. To narrow the focus, I picked the biggest group, raw coins, and looked at the average price for the first five days of data when the average price of gold was $1,080.59 and the last five days of data when the average price of gold was $1,062.02.

The average price for the Ultra High Relief Double Eagle in original US Mint packaging for the first five days was $1,520.50. The average price for a similar coin during the last five days examined was $1,549.06. As the price of gold was falling, the prices paid for the UHR Double Eagle held up and even showed gains. I think this is a good indication of the long term staying power and continued premiums for the coin.

One of the most surprising things I saw when running through the data were the prices being paid for coins which have been graded NGC MS 70 PL. NGC uses the "PL" designation for coins which exhibit proof like surfaces.

During the period, eight coins graded NGC MS 70 PL were sold. Some prices from early in the period were $4,100 and $4,150. The most recent three coins sold for around $4,500 each. NGC's online population report indicates that 589 coins have been graded MS 70 PL compared to 4,611 coins graded MS 70 without the designation.

As a final exercise, I calculated the average prices realized for 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagles across various options. The results of these calculations are below.
Original Packaging $1,543.48
PCGS MS69 $1,615.25
PCGS MS70 $2,031.25
PCGS MS70 FS $2,229.60
NGC MS 69 $1,547.00
NGC MS 69 PL $2,412.80
NGC MS 70 $1,836.45
NGC MS 70 PL $4,268.00

I thought it was interesting that the average price paid for a UHR Double Eagle in the original box was $1,543.48. This is just a little bit above the highest price that the US Mint had charged for the coin. The price of $1,539 was briefly in effect when the average price of gold had risen to a range between $1,150 and $1,099.99. The lowest price the US Mint charged for the coin was $1,189, in effect when sales first began on January 19, 2009.

If anyone is interested, the price data gathered from eBay can be found in this spreadsheet.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

2010 Union Shield Lincoln Cent Launch Ceremony

The United States Mint will host the launch ceremony for the newly designed 2010 "Union Shield" Lincoln Cent later this week. The ceremony takes place after some of the coins have already reached the channels of circulation.

Update 2/10/2010 9:30 PM ET: The Springfield, Illinois launch ceremony will take place tomorrow as scheduled. The Washington DC coin exchanges will not take place as the Federal Government is closed tomorrow due to the blizzard.

The new reverse design features a Union Shield with a scroll draped across, bearing the denomination "One Cent". The shield has thirteen vertical stripes and a horizontal bar with the inscription "E Pluribus Unum", representing the original states joined in one compact union in support of the federal government. This design is intended to be emblematic of Lincoln's preservation of the United States as a single and united country.

The launch ceremony will be held on February 11, 2010, 9:30 AM CT at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum located at 212 N. Sixth Street in Springfield, Illinois. The ceremony will be followed by a coin exchange, where attendees will be allowed to exchange currency for rolls of the new coins. The US Mint has announced a minimum of two rolls and a maximum of six rolls for the exchange (subject to change).

On the same date, coin exchanges will also be available at locations in Washington, DC. The exchanges will be available at the US Mint sales counter located at Union Station and the first floor of the US Mint's headquarters at 801 9th Street NW.

I haven't seen as much excitement from collectors about the upcoming ceremony as some of the previous ceremonies for the 2009 Lincoln Cent designs. After the first ceremony in Hodgenville, Kentucky proved to be an incredible boon for attendees who were able to obtain rolls at the coin exchange, the second and third ceremonies had much more buzz and higher attendance. The second ceremony was even called "Numismatic Woodstock" as approximately 3,000 people traveled to Lincoln City, Indiana for the ceremony and exchange.

By the fourth ceremony held in Washington, DC, attendance had declined to just a few hundred people. This may have been partially due to the weather and the fact that the coin exchanges were available at other DC locations, held indoors.

It will be interesting to see how many people attend the upcoming 2010 Lincoln Cent launch ceremony. I think some of the anticipation has been lost due to the fact that 2010 Lincoln Cents have been in the hands of some collectors for nearly one month. As early as January 12, 2010, some examples of the first 2010 Lincoln Cents started appearing in Puerto Rico and quickly found their way to eBay, where collectors throughout the United States could acquire them, albeit at a premium.

The United States Mint is yet to announce any products which specifically highlight the 2010 Lincoln Cent, although it seems likely that something is in the works. For the 2009 Lincoln Cents, the US Mint had offered Two Roll Sets, a separate Lincoln Proof Set, and the Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set.

If any readers do plan to attend the ceremony on February 11 and would like to provide photos or a report of the ceremony, please contact me.
New Coingrader Capsule: NGC Star Designation


Friday, February 5, 2010

2010 Presidential Dollar Proof Set

The US Mint will begin sales of the 2010 Presidential Dollar Proof Set on February 11, 2010 at 12:00 Noon ET. This set will contain proof versions of the Presidential Dollars featuring Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Abraham Lincoln.

The four coin sets will be priced at $15.95 each. This represents a $1 increase from the price charged for the 2009 set. The product page can be found here, although ordering options won't be available until the start of sales.

The release date of the 2010 Presidential Dollar Proof Set comes one week before the launch ceremony and circulation release of first coin featuring Millard Fillmore.

If you plan on purchasing all of the 2010 proof coins issued by the US Mint, it has invariably been a much better bargain to wait for the release of the full annual set. The cost of acquiring the separate Presidential Dollar Proof Set and Quarters Proof Set is usually around the same price as purchasing the full 2010 Proof Set, which will contain 14 proof coins.

On the other hand, the separate sets do provide the opportunity to obtain the some of the coins earlier, as the 2010 Proof Set won't be available until July/August. Additionally, in some cases the separately packaged sets have gained secondary market premiums unrelated to the coins. This has occurred for some of the prior year Presidential Dollar Uncirculated Coin Sets, but not to any significant extent for any of the Presidential Dollar Proof Sets, which are sold in higher numbers.

When sales of this year's Presidential Dollar Proof Set begin, it is likely that the US Mint will end sales of the 2009 set. The set is currently available on the US Mint's website priced at $14.95. As of the last weekly sales report, the US Mint recorded sales of 622,391 units.
Today on Coin Update News: Collecting First Day Coin Covers

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Coin Composition Changes in 2011 Budget

A few comments as well as a thread on Coin Network have brought to my attention a section of President Obama's Proposed 2011 Budget that might have significant implications for circulating coins.

Page 100 of the Terminations, Reductions, and Savings section would provide broad authority to the Department of the Treasury to make changes to circulating coin weights and compositions. The report specifically authorizes changes for five denominations: the cent, nickel, dime, quarter, and half dollar.

The Budget justifies the proposal by citing the significant fluctuations in the prices of copper and zinc, which have contributed to volatile and negative margins on the two denominations, and costs which have exceeded face value by over $100 million in prior years.

The 2011 Budget states that the use of "alternative coinage materials" could save $150 million annually after a period of development and capital adjustments. Specific alternate compositions and weights are not mentioned. The guidance from the Budget is included below:
The Budget enables the Department of the Treasury to explore, analyze, and approve new, less expensive materials for all circulating coins based on factors that will result in the highest quality of coin production at the most cost-effective price. Such factors may include physical, chemical, metallurgical and technical characteristics; material, fabrication, minting, and distribution costs; materials availability and sources of raw materials; durability; effects on sorting, handling, packaging and vending machines; and resistance to counterfeiting.
A few observations--

Even if the composition of the penny is changed to a cheaper material, the cost of producing the denomination will most likely still exceed one cent. Based on the US Mint's 2009 Annual Report, the cost of producing the penny was 1.62 cents. According to the latest data from Coinflation, the metal value of the current 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper composition if 0.0054569 cents. This means that even if the material used to produce the cent was free, production would still cost more than one cent.

In the most recent fiscal year, the production and distribution of the cent and nickel generated a loss of $22 million for the US Mint. The losses from producing the two denominations were more than offset by the seigniorage earned from other circulating coins. In total, the US Mint shipped $777.6 million of circulating coins to the Federal Reserve Banks and earned $427.8 million in seigniorage.

If coin compositions are changed to primarily steel, a potential issue might be the fate of disposing of retired or mutilated coins struck in the new composition. In a very timely blog post, Dave Harper tells about a recent conversion with a blank supplier. The supplier stated that there is no easy way to dispose of coated steel planchets, making them little more than "trash for a landfill." The US Mint has taken numerous occasions to promote their dollar coins as 100% recyclable, so it would be a bit of an embarrassment if a newly introduced composition was 0% recyclable.

At this point, the 2011 Budget is only a proposal, and this section may very well be dropped or changed. It will be interesting to see if one reader's bold prediction comes closer to reality.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

US Mint Coin Production January 2010

The first US Mint coin production figures of the year are available. Continuing the situation from last year, production was limited compared to the levels seen just a few years ago.

The US Mint produced a total of 218.41 million coins across the Philadelphia and Denver facilities. Production took place for just three denominations- cents, half dollars, and dollar coins.

The table below displays the breakdown of coins produced by the Mint during the month of January 2010.

January 2010
Lincoln Cent - Denver 50.00 M
Lincoln Cent - Phil. 65.23 M
Jefferson Nickel - Denver 0
Jefferson Nickel - Phil. 0
Roosevelt Dime - Denver 0
Roosevelt Dime - Phil. 0
Quarters - Denver 0
Quarters - Phil. 0
Kennedy Half - Denver 1.70 M
Kennedy Half - Phil. 1.80 M
Native Am Dollar - Denver 14.00 M
Native Am Dollar - Phil. 11.20 M
Pres Dollar - Denver 36.96 M
Pres Dollar - Phil. 37.52 M

Total 218.41 M

During the month, there were 50 million cents produced at Denver and 65.23 million produced at Philadelphia for a total of 115.23 million. Last year, the US Mint had produced a total of 2.35 billion cents. It's still a bit early to draw comparisons, but if the current pace of production remains constant, the total number of pennies produced might be about 1 billion less than the prior year. However, this won't give the 2010 Lincoln Cent a lower mintage than last year's issues, since 2009 Lincoln Cent production was split across four different designs.

There were no nickels or dimes produced in January 2010. The last time the US Mint produced dimes was April 2009, and the last time they produced nickels was July 2009. Again, it is still very early, but is it possible that there will be no 2010 nickels or dimes struck for circulation? Even if production does take place, it will likely be a repeat of last year when low mintages and limited distribution create instant high premiums any coins that surface.

No quarters have been produced so far this year. The US Mint has not yet announced the final design selections for the 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters. This is expected to take place this month, with the release date for the first quarter expected in April.

The US Mint produced 1.7 million half dollars at the Philadelphia Mint and 1.8 million at the Denver Mint. For all of 2009, the total production was 1.9 million at each facility.

The US Mint produced a total of 25.2 million of the 2010 Native American Dollar across both facilities. Presidential Dollar production totaled 74.48 million across both facilities. The level of dollar coin production was surprising, as it suggests that the US Mint has not yet significantly curtailed production as they have done with other denominations.

For all of 2009, the Mint had produced a total of 423.64 million dollar coins, representing about 12% of total coin production. For January 2010, dollar coins represented a whopping 45.6% of total coin production. This heavy proportion of dollar coins will almost certainly shift within the next 11 months, but it represents another trend to watch in coming coin production figure reports.
Coin Update News: Latest US Mint Sales Report