Mint News Blog

News, Information, and Commentary on US Mint Products

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

2010 Boy Scouts Centennial Silver Dollar Sales Debut at 214,673

The latest US Mint sales report has just been posted over at Coin Update News. The report includes the opening sales figures for the 2010 Boy Scouts of America Centennial Silver Dollar. As expected, the opening numbers were strong, but there is still some way to go before a sell out.

Through March 29, 2010, the US Mint reported combined sales of 214,673. This total is made up of 144,732 proof coins and 69,941 uncirculated coins. The maximum authorized mintage for the commemorative coin program is set at 350,000 across all ordering options.

To put the opening numbers in perspective, the 2010 American Veterans Disabled for Life Silver Dollar, which went on sale February 28, 2010, recorded opening sales of 98,358. Total sales to date are now 179,052.

From last year's programs, the 2009 Abraham Lincoln Silver Dollar had debut sales figures of 177,722. The 450,000 coins allocated for individual sales had sold out after just over one month. The 2009 Louis Braille Silver Dollar recorded debut sales of 70,274 and eventually sold 167,526 coins across all options.

Using these recent commemorative coin issues as a guideline, it seems fair to say that the Boy Scouts Silver Dollar will sell out within a month at the most. Perhaps sooner, as I think the pace of sales will remain more buoyant as compared to other commemorative coin issues.

Check out the full sales report at Coin Update News.


2009 Proof Gold Buffalo Sold Out

Yesterday, two things occurred that I would like to report. First, the 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo Coin sold out at the US Mint. Second, my wife and I welcomed our second child!

First the coin related news...

The 2009 Gold Buffalo One Ounce Proof Coin went on sale October 29, 2009, priced at $1,360 each. Later pricing adjustments would bring the offering price as high as $1,460 with the last available price $1,410.

In the first three days of availability, the US Mint reported sales of 19,468 coins. By mid-November, sales had reached 32,271. The pace of sales slowed into the new year, with recent sales around 500 coins per week.

The last reported sales figures for the 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo coin were 49,388. In the past, I had suggested that the US Mint may have produced an even 50,000 coins by the end of 2009 and sales would continue until this entire production run was sold out. It looks like this prediction was close to the mark.

There had been indication of a sell out earlier last week when some readers reported that the US Mint's product page had changed to sold out status. However, the "sold out" was removed, the coins went back on sale and remained available for several more days.

The mintages for the one ounce Proof American Gold Buffalo Coins now stack up as follows:
One Ounce Proof Gold Buffalo Coin Mintages
2006 246,267
2007 58,998
2008 18,863
2009 (last reported sales) 49,388

The US Mint has also now indicated that a 2010 Proof Gold Buffalo one ounce coin will be offered in the future. The release date is not yet known. The pricing would likely follow the US Mint's existing pricing grid for numismatic products.

In personal news, yesterday morning my wife gave birth to our second son, Robert Alexander Zielinski. Even though he was born a few weeks earlier than expected, he weighed in at 8 pounds and 7 ounces. Both Mom and Baby are doing well. Big brother Jason (just turned 2 years old) was very intrigued and kept asking to "see baby."


Friday, March 26, 2010

Presidential Dollar Coin & First Spouse Medal Set - Millard & Abigail Fillmore

Today March 26, 2010, the United States Mint began sales of the Millard and Abigail Fillmore Presidential $1 Coin and First Spouse Medal Set.

This is the first release of the year for the product type, which includes an uncirculated Presidential Dollar and First Spouse Bronze Medal. The sets are priced at $11.95, up from last year's price of $8.95. The sets had been priced at just $7.95 each from 2007 to 2008.

The Millard Fillmore Dollar and Abigail Fillmore Medal are mounted on a durable plastic card. The front is illustrated with an image of the President and First Spouse and the back contains issuance information. These have been nicely presented, compact products to represent each Presidential couple, but the increased prices might have some collectors reconsidering whether it is still worth the price.

Sets from the prior year featuring John & Julia Tyler, James K. & Sarah Polk, and Zachary & Margaret Taylor remain available for sale at the Mint. These sets still remain priced at $8.95 each. The last available sales figures for the sets are 9,037 (Tyler), 8,549 (Polk), and 6,549 (Taylor).

Today, also marked the start of sales for the Women Airforce Service Pilots Bronze Medals. The 3 inch medals are priced at $42.00 and the 1-1/2 inch medals are priced at $6.00. Since I really like the design of this medal, I will be picking up one of the smaller sized ones.
New Coingrader Capsule: PCGS Secure Plus Grading


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

2010 America the Beautiful Quarters

The United States Mint has unveiled the final design selections for the 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters. The unveiling comes after somewhat of a slow start for the new quarter series, which will present 56 different national parks and national sites from across America.

Candidate designs had first been available around September 2009, when the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) had performed their reviews and issued recommendations. For each location, the United States Mint generated three to four different candidate designs for each quarter.

In all cases, the final designs selected by the Secretary of the Treasury had been recommended by either the CFA, CCAC, or both. The final designs for each 2010 America the Beautiful Quarter are presented below.

Hot Springs National Park Quarter

The Hot Springs Quarter presents a view of the facade of the building headquarters with a fountain in the foreground of the design. The CFA had recommended this design, but suggested that the small National Park Service sign shown beside the door be removed. The CCAC had recommended a different design, which had presented a view of the same fountain from a different viewpoint without the building.

Yellowstone National Park Quarter

The Yellowstone Quarter features the famous Old Faithful geyser with bison in the foreground and background. This was the design recommended by the CCAC. The CFA had rejected all presented candidate designs for poor quality, suggesting that additional source material should be considered.

Yosemite National Park Quarter

The Yosemite Quarter depicts a view of El Capitan, a prominent granite cliff that rises over 3,000 feet above the valley floor. The CCAC had recommended this design, commenting on the simplicity and ruggedness of the image. The CFA had favored a view of the half dome rock formation, but suggested the design should be further developed.

Grand Canyon National Park Quarter

The Grand Canyon Quarter shows a canyon level view of the granaries above the Nankoweap Delta. Both the CFA and CCAC had recommended this design, although the CFA had recommended some modifications to the design as presented. It appears that none of the suggested modifications were done to the original.

Mount Hood National Forest Quarter

The Mount Hood Quarter features a view of Mount Hood with Lost Lake in the foreground. Both the CFA and CCAC had recommended this design. Both had lauded the design for its composition, simplicity, and the artistry of its imagery.

Besides revealing the final designs, the US Mint also provided more information on the numismatic products to be offered and the first launch ceremony.

Numismatic products will include the 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Proof Set priced at $14.95 and the 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Silver Proof Set priced at $32.95. Each quarter will be sold in 100-coin bags from either the Philadelphia or Denver Mint priced at $35.95 or a two roll set priced at $32.95. The five quarters will also be included in the full 2010 Proof Set, 2010 Mint Set, and 2010 Silver Proof Set.

Notably missing from the product line up are the 1,000-coin bags from each mint and the First Day Coin Covers. I think that both of these products will be missed.

With newly released coins becoming more difficult to acquire through circulation channels, the 1,000-coin bags presented a useful opportunity to obtain the coins in bulk, albeit at a premium. Last year, 1,000-coin bags were available for each release, priced at $309.95 each.

The First Day Coin Covers would have been well suited to the subject matter of the series. Last year's DC & US Territories Coin Covers had featured beautiful photographs from each location covering the full size of the envelope. The use of colorful photographs was an improvement from the format of the previous 50 State Quarters Coin Covers, which had used a relatively plain common design for all releases. The US Mint could have continued the use of photographs quite nicely for the America the Beautiful Quarters.

The Hot Springs National Park Quarter will be released into circulation on April 19, 2010. On the same date, the US Mint will begin sales of the 100-coin bags and two roll sets containing the quarter. The launch ceremony will take place one day following on April 20, 2010.

The remaining 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters will be released in June (Yellowstone), July (Yosemite), September (Grand Canyon), and November (Mount Hood). The exact dates for each release and launch ceremony have not yet been provided.

On a final note, the US Mint has created a website specifically for the new quarter series. I think this was a great idea, as information on specific programs can sometimes be difficult to track down on the Mint's main website. This new site will hopefully help the US Mint to promote and generate more awareness of the new program.

Today's ceremonies and press releases had made mention of the fact that 147 million people collected the 50 State Quarters (almost one out of every two people in America). There will no doubt be some drop off in the number who collect the America the Beautiful Quarters. Time will tell just how much.


Opening Sales Figures for Abigail Fillmore Gold Coins

The latest weekly US Mint sales report published on Coin Update News provides the opening sales figures for the recently released Abigail Fillmore First Spouse Gold Coins. So far, the reduced maximum mintage has failed to inspire materially stronger sales.

From the initial release date on March 18, 2010 through the sales reporting date of March 21, 2010, the US Mint sold 1,824 proof coins and 1,057 uncirculated coins. This makes for a total of 2,881 coins and accounts for 19% of the overall 15,000 maximum mintage. Previous releases of the series had maximum mintages set at 40,000.

I was surprised that the reduced maximum mintage had so little impact on the opening sales figures. When I wrote prior to the release of the Abigail Fillmore coins, I offered the opinion that sales would be stronger than the previous release. This turned out to be true, but not by a material amount.

The opening sales figures for the Margaret Taylor First Spouse Coins were 1,791 proof coins and 1,048 uncirculated coins for a combined total of 2,839. Looking back further, opening sales for the Sarah Polk First Spouse Coins were 1,684 proof coins and 921 uncirculated coins, for a combined 2,605.

At this point, it seems like the First Spouse Gold Coin series has stabilized, with low but steady demand across recent releases. Later in the year, this may change when the James Buchanan's Liberty and Mary Todd Lincoln coins are released. Whether the popularity of these two issues has an impact on the broader series remains to be seen.

Updated figures were not provided by the US Mint for the Anna Harrison First Spouse Gold Coins. Sales for this offering recently concluded on March 18, 2010. The last reported figures covered sales through March 14, 2010 and showed sales of 3,537 uncirculated coins and 6,250 proof coins. For now, these will remain the last available sales figures.

Check out the full US Mint Sales Report.

America the Beautiful Quarters Unveiling Ceremony

On a separate note, today March 24, 2010 at 12:00 Noon ET, the United States Mint will be unveiling the reverse designs for the first five America the Beautiful Quarters.

The event is apparently only open to members of the media, however, there will be a webcast available online at . I have been told that this new site will go live about 15 minutes before the start of the ceremony.

I will be back with another post later today to showcase the released designs. For now, you can take a look at the 2010 America the Beautiful Design proposals.


Monday, March 22, 2010

2010 Boy Scouts Silver Dollar Coins

The 2010 Boy Scouts of America Centennial Silver Dollar will go on sale at the United States Mint tomorrow, March 23, 2010 at 12:00 Noon ET.

The Boy Scouts Silver Dollar obverse features an image of a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and female Venturer saluting with an inscription "Continuing the Journey". The reverse features the universal emblem of the Boy Scouts of America.

The design has not been without controversy. Some have questioned the portrayal of a girl on a coin for the Boy Scouts. The female depicted is a member of the Venturing program, which allows both male and female members, aged 14 to 21. The Girl Scouts of America will actually get their own commemorative silver dollar in 2013.

The authorizing legislation had called for a design "emblematic of 100 years of the largest youth organization in the United States, the Boy Scouts of America." The final design was selected by the Secretary of the Treasury after consultation with Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), the Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America, and review by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC). View some of the unselected candidate designs in this post.

The 2010 Boy Scouts Silver Dollars will be minted in proof and uncirculated versions at the Philadelphia Mint. The maximum mintage across both versions is 350,000, as specified by the authorizing legislation.

For the start of sales, the proof version of the coin will be priced at $39.95 and the uncirculated version will be priced at $33.95. These prices represent introductory pricing, which will be in effect until April 21, 2010, 5:00 PM ET. After this time, regular pricing of $43.95 for proof coins and $35.95 for uncirculated coins will go into effect.

The US Mint has imposed an ordering limit of 100 coins per version, per household.

As mentioned previously, I think that the coins will achieve a sell out of the maximum authorized mintage of 350,000 due to the broader appeal of the subject. In addition to demand from coin collectors, this program will have demand from past and current members or those associated with the organization. According to Wikipedia, there are currently four million youth members of the Boy Scouts of America. Since the organization's founding, more than 110 million Americans have been members.

I am not sure this will be a one-day sell out. Last year's popular Abraham Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollar took more than one month to sell out. Even the 2001 American Buffalo Silver Dollar took about two weeks to sell out. Although many non-coin collectors will be interested in buying the Boy Scouts Silver Dollars, I am not sure they will have the sense of immediacy to purchase coins on the opening day of sales. That said, I will still be placing my order on the first day, just in case.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Still More Price Increases for US Mint Products

The United States Mint has just provided notice for another batch of price increases for upcoming products. In previous posts, I had covered the price increases for this year's commemorative coins, nearly all of the annual sets, and the America the Beautiful Quarter 100-coin bags.

The products impacted by the latest round of increases are the US Mint's bronze medals and some Presidential Dollar related products. The new prices for each product are shown below, followed by last year's price for comparison.

2010 Price Last Year Price
First Spouse Bronze Medals 5.50 3.50
First Spouse Bronze Medal Annual Set 15.95 15.95
Presidential Dollar Coin & First Spouse Medal Set 11.95 8.95
Presidential Dollar Coin Cover 15.95 14.95
Presidential Dollar Uncirculated Set 18.95 15.95
3 inch Bronze Medals 42.00 38.00
1-5/16 inch Bronze Medals 5.50 3.50
1-1/2 inch Bronze Medals 6.00 3.75

In the case of the First Spouse Bronze Medals, the price increase applies not only to the recently released Abigail Fillmore medal, but also to the remaining available medals from last year. The prices for the Julia Tyler, Sarah Polk, and Margaret Taylor medals were increased to $5.50 some time yesterday.

The price increases implemented this year have been for core offerings, like the annual Mint Set and Proof Set, and some of the US Mint's lowest priced offerings, like the bronze medals and Presidential Dollar Coin & First Spouse Medal Set. As a percentage, the increases have ranged from 6.69% (Presidential Dollar Covers) to 60.00% (1-1/2 inch Bronze Medals).

Under the new pricing, I expect that many collectors will be reevaluating which products they continue to collect and the number of each item that the purchase.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

First Spouse Coins Update

I wanted to take another post to discuss some developments related to the First Spouse Gold Coin series.

Abigail Fillmore First Spouse Gold Coins

As written previously, the Abigail Fillmore First Spouse Gold Coins will go on sale tomorrow. There will be a maximum mintage of 15,000 coins across both proof and uncirculated versions, with no household ordering limits. Both of these represent changes in procedure from prior releases of the series, which had maximum mintages set at 40,000 and ordering limits imposed for at least the first month of availability.

Since the price of gold has remained within the same average range, the proof coins will be priced at $729 and the uncirculated coins will be priced at $716. The US Mint now provided the product pages here and here. Ordering options won't be available until the official start of sales on March 18, 2010 at 12:00 Noon ET.

I do not think an opening day or even opening month sell out will occur, but I do think that opening sales will be stronger than the previous release. By lowering the maximum mintage, collectors of the series will be less inclined to delay purchases, and collectors who purchased coins earlier in the series may give the coins a second look.

Perhaps more importantly, the idea of a sell out has put back on the table. This is something that would not have even been considered or debated under the old 40,000 maximum mintage. For at least some people, this will change the perception of the offering.

Anna Harrison First Spouse Gold Coins

If past US Mint procedures hold, tomorrow may also mark the end of sales for the Anna Harrison First Spouse Gold Coins, which originally went on sale March 5, 2009. The US Mint has stated that coins of the series will remain available for sale for approximately one year or until the maximum mintage has been sold, whichever occurs first. In practice, they have ended sales of the oldest coin when a new coin is released.

The last reported sales for the Anna Harrison First Spouse Coins show combined sales of 9,787, made up of 3,537 uncirculated coins and 6,250 proofs. In the latest weekly sales period only 15 coins were sold. Sales had been running at a pace of about 100 coins per week before the recent numismatic gold coin price increase.

While I think there are likely to be future issues with even smaller mintages, the Anna Harrison uncirculated coin will establish a fresh low amongst the coins no longer available for sale. The current low is held by the Louisa Adams uncirculated coin with last reported sales of 4,223.

2010 First Spouse Gold Coin Mintages

As a final update and a new development, more information about the newly established maximum mintages for the series has been revealed. The 15,000 maximum mintage will apply for the Abigail Fillmore, Jane Pierce, and James Buchanan's Liberty coins. A higher maximum mintage of 20,000 will apply for the Mary Todd Lincoln First Spouse Coin. Maximum mintage levels will be determined each year for future releases.

See the full article on Coin Update: US Mint Cuts First Spouse Gold Coin Maximum Mintages


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

US Mint Product Schedule Update, Another Price Increase

A few days ago the United States Mint updated their product release schedule to include specific release dates for several products to be released in March and April. Yesterday, I wrote about the Abigail Fillmore First Spouse Gold Coins, today I wanted to mention the other products.

The US Mint now has the following upcoming products with exact release dates specified:
3/18/2010 Abigail Fillmore First Spouse Gold Coins
3/18/2010 Abigail Fillmore Bronze Medal
3/23/2010 2010 Boy Scouts of America Centennial Silver Dollar
3/26/2010 Presidential Dollar Coin & First Spouse Medal Set - Fillmore
3/26/2010 Women Airforce Service Pilots Bronze Medal
4/2/2010 Millard Fillmore Dollar Coin Cover
4/13/2010 2010 Presidential Dollar Uncirculated Set (P&D)
4/19/2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Bags and Two-Roll Set - Hot Springs (AR)

Following the release of the Abigail Fillmore coins and medal, the next product will be the 2010 Boy Scouts Silver Dollar. The release date had previously been known as March 23, 2010 and the pricing had been separately published. I will have a full post on the coins next week, leading into the release.

On March 26, 2010, the Presidential Dollar Coin and First Spouse Medal Set featuring Millard and Abigail Fillmore will be released. This will be the first product released for the year, which contains a satin finish coin. Until recently, there had been a persistent rumor that the finish would no longer be used. Pricing for the product has not yet been announced, but based on the $2 increase for the individual Abigail Fillmore medal, I think the set price may also creep higher.

The Millard Fillmore Dollar Coin Cover will be released on April 2, followed by the 2010 Presidential Dollar Uncirculated Set on April 13. The latter will likely prove to be a popular seller, since it will mark the first appearance of the 2010-P & D Satin Finish Abraham Lincoln Presidential Dollars.

On April 19, 2010 the first of the America the Beautiful Quarters will debut with the Hot Springs Quarter products. The US Mint recently published notice of this product and pricing in the Federal Register. The notice mentions the Two Roll Set will be priced at $32.95, representing the same price for the comparable two roll set from last year. However, the 100-coin bags from the Philadelphia and Denver Mints will be priced at $35.95 per bag, representing a price increase of $3 from last year's similar product. The larger sized 1,000-coin bags were not mentioned in the notice.

One upcoming product which has still not been listed on the 2010 scheduled products listing is the 2010 Lincoln Cent Two Roll Set. On the day of the official launch ceremony for the new design, the US Mint had mentioned plans for the set. Subsequent reports suggested that the set would be released in the month of March.
Coin Update News:
US Mint Sales: 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo Close to Sell Out?


Monday, March 15, 2010

Abigail Fillmore First Spouse Gold Coins

The United States Mint will begin sales of the 2010 Abigail Fillmore First Spouse Gold Coins later this week on March 18, 2010 at 12:00 Noon ET. This will be the first release of the series for the year. Recently revealed product information suggests that this release may present an important shift for the series.

The Abigail Fillmore coin features the First Lady's portrait on the obverse designed by Phebe Hemphill. The reverse, designed by Susan Gamble, features an image of her shelving books at in the White House Library that she established. Abigail Fillmore was the First Lady during the Presidency of her husband Millard Fillmore.

As with the prior releases of the series, proof and uncirculated versions will be available, with both versions struck at the West Point Mint. Each coin will contain one-half ounce of 24 karat gold. If the average price of gold remains within the $1,100 to $1,149.99 range, then the proof version will be priced at $729 and the uncirculated version will be priced at $716.

In an unexpected shift, the US Mint has announced that the maximum authorized mintage will be set at 15,000 across both the proof and uncircualted product options. The split between proof and uncirculated coins will be determined based on demand. There will be no household ordering limits imposed.

In the past, the US Mint has set the maximum authorized mintage at 40,000 coins across both options. Furthermore, they have usually begun sales with an ordering limit of ten coins per option per household in place.

By setting a maximum mintage only slightly above the sales level for the past few issues and removing the initial household limits, the US Mint is providing a much more tantalizing product.

This might be just the boost that the series needs to bring attention to the extremely low mintage of some of the prior issues. The current mintage low among the coins no longer available for sale is the Louisa Adams First Spouse Coin with combined final sales of 11,677 (4,223 uncirculated and 7,454 proof).

An interesting question is also raised by the newly set maximum authorized mintage- will the US Mint use this for all coins of the series going forward? The Mary Todd Lincoln First Spouse Gold Coin slated for release in December was already expected to be popular. If the maximum mintage is set at 15,000, this would contribute to a quick sell out and likely swift secondary market appreciation.

Separately, the US Mint will begin sales of the Abigail Fillmore Bronze Medals on the same date. The medals will be priced at $5.50 each. This is an increase of $2 from the price of last year's individual medals.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Deconstructing 2008-W Gold Buffalo Coins

The 2008-W Proof and Uncircualted Gold Buffalo Coins have been one of the most successful US Mint products in years, when considering the secondary market price appreciation. The coins have been a frequent topic of comments and I have been meaning to write about them for some time. I decided that I would come up with a deconstruction of some of the factors leading to the phenomenal success of the coins.

Before examining these factors, I wanted to start with a review of some of the sales prices for 2008-W Gold Buffalo coins from recently completed eBay auctions. A 4 coin proof set graded PR70DCAM First Strike recently sold for an incredible $16,999.00. Some 4 coin proof sets graded NGC PF 70 Ultra Cameo have sold for around $8,000 - $9,000, and some of the 4 coin uncirculated sets grading NGC MS 70 have sold for $6,000 - $7,000 per set. These sales prices compare to original US Mint prices of $1,959.95 for the uncirculated set and $2,219.95 for the proof set.

Individual coins and raw coins have also sold for dizzying amounts. A 2008-W $5 Gold Buffalo graded PCGS MS70 just closed at $875.00 and a raw 2008-W Proof $10 Gold Buffalo sold for $1,500. Here are all of the current eBay auctions for 2008-W Gold Buffalo Coins.

Personally, I have been somewhat in awe of the prices for these coins and have no idea whether prices have peaked or whether they have more room to grow. As mentioned, what I wanted to do with this post is examine some of the factors which contributed to the enormous success of the coins.

First, the design for the American Gold Buffalo is based on James Earle Fraser's extremely popular Buffalo Nickel design. Coins which feature classic designs tend to create higher demand, as it expands the number of collectors interested in the coins. When the US Mint first introduced the Gold Buffalo in 2006, the one ounce proof version sold 246,267 coins, demonstrating the potentially large collector base.

Second, seven out of the eight 2008-W Gold Buffalo coins currently represent one-time only issues. In January 2008, the US Mint announced that they would offer collectible proof and uncirculated Gold Buffalo coins in one ounce, one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce, and one-tenth ounce sizes. For the prior two years, the US Mint had offered only the one ounce version for collectors. In November 2008, the US Mint abruptly announced the discontinuation of all of the newly introduced Gold Buffalo options. This made all four of the 2008-W Uncirculated Gold Buffalo Coins and the 2008-W Proof Gold Buffalo one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce, and one-tenth ounce coins one year only issues.

Third, the pricing and economic conditions surrounding the US Mint's offering period for the coins resulted in extremely low sales, which translated to unusually low mintages. The US Mint released the 2008-W Proof and Uncirculated Gold Buffalo Coins on July 22, 2008. This was the exact day when gold reached a temporary peak of $961.50 per ounce. Gold subsequently entered a period of extended decline that would bring the price as low as $712 per ounce. The US Mint did not adjust coin prices until November, resulting in high premiums above gold value for nearly the entire offering period. These high premiums likely turned off some potential buyers. The state of the economy may have also held some potential buyers at bay, as the second half of 2008 was a period of extreme economic and financial uncertainty.

Fourth, the coins sold out before the close of the year. In rapid succession, the US Mint announced the discontinuation of most of the collectible Gold Buffalo products and then adjusted prices based on the lower value of gold. At that point, sales assumed a rapid pace which did not diminish until all options were sold out in early December 2008. In general, products which are deemed to sell out early, tend command instant premiums which sometimes expand over time. By contrast, products which linger in the US Mint's product catalog or go off sale at a pre-announced cut off date, tend to appreciate slower or not at all. (There are some exceptions to this, but it has seemed to play out this way in recent years.)

Fifth and final, collector money has to go somewhere. The United States Mint canceled many of their most popular collectible precious metals products last year and offered relatively little to fill the void. I think that at least a portion of the money that would have been spent on 2009 Proof and Uncirculated Gold and Silver Eagles is chasing prior year precious metals products, such as the 2008-W Gold Buffalo coins.

I think that the incredible price appreciation of these coins is the result of perfect storm of circumstances that likely will not be repeated for some time. We can certainly watch for some of these factors in future offerings and try to catch the next blockbuster early.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Women Airforce Service Pilots Bronze Medals

Yesterday, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of World War II were honored with the Congressional Gold Medal. The United States Mint will produce and offer for sale 3 inch and 1.5 inch bronze reproductions, as they have done for prior Congressional Gold Medals.

The WASP was composed of the first women to fly American military aircraft. During World War II, they flew domestic supply and other non-combat flights. The medals were awarded to surviving members and representatives of deceased members to honor their pioneering military service that led to reform in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The obverse of the medal features the portrait of a WASP member with three others and an AT-6 in the background. The reverse features three aircraft flown by WASP members, the AT-6, B-26, and P-51. The obverse was designed by Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill, and the reverse was designed and sculpted by Don Everhart.

The US Mint's bronze reproductions of the medal will go on sale March 26, 2010. The 3 inch medal is priced at $42.00 and the 1.5 inch medal is priced at $6.00. These price levels are higher than other recently issued bronze medals based on Congressional Medals of Honor. Prior price levels were $38.00 and $3.75.

Does the price increase for this product signal a similar increase for the First Spouse Bronze Medals? Yesterday, I posted on the price increases for the 2010 annual sets.

Recently released individual First Spouse bronze medals have been priced at $3.50, the Presidential $1 Coin and First Spouse Bronze Medal Sets have been priced at $8.95, and last year's five medal set was priced at $15.95. These products have been popular with collectors as an inexpensive alternative to the gold coins, and in some cases have outperformed the gold coins on the secondary market.

For now, we'll have to wait and see how the 2010 First Spouse Bronze Medals are priced.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Price Increases for 2010 US Mint Annual Sets

The US Mint recently revealed the pricing for the 2010 annual coin sets, to be released throughout the rest of the year. This includes the two separate America the Beautiful Quarter Proof Sets, the 2010 Mint Set, 2010 Proof Set, and 2010 Silver Proof Set. Price increases will take place nearly across the board.

The prices for each product are shown below, followed by last year's price for comparison.

2010 Price Last Year Price
2010 Quarter Proof Set $ 14.95 $ 14.95
2010 Quarter Silver Proof Set $ 32.95 $ 29.95
2010 Uncirculated Mint Set $ 31.95 $ 27.95
2010 Proof Set $ 31.95 $ 29.95
2010 Silver Proof Set $ 56.95 $ 52.95

The US Mint has already released the 2010 Presidential Dollar Proof Set, which was priced at $15.95. This was a $1 increase from the prior year price of $14.95.

Most times when a price increase takes place for the US Mint's annual sets, there is usually some contributing factor that could be used to justify the increases. In recent years, price increases have occurred in years when the number of coins contained in the set has increased or to account for higher precious metals prices.

In this case, the number of coins contained in each of the sets mentioned above is decreasing from the prior year. The quarters proof sets will contain 5 coins, instead of 6. The full proof sets will contain 14 coins, instead of 18. The mint sets will contain 28 coins, instead of 36.

The price of silver is higher now than last year, but this would only impact the two sets containing 90% silver coins. The 2010 Proof Set and 2010 Mint Set, which will have price increases of $4 and $2, do not contain silver coins.

After learning about the price increases planned for 2010, I remembered a passage regarding numismatic pricing from the US Mint's Annual Report. This passage appears below. (Read my full summary of 2009 US Mint Numismatic Results.)
Gross cost made up a greater portion of numismatic sales revenue, reducing the net margin to 9.3% in FY 209 from 14.8% in FY 2008... The reduced margin means that the United States Mint offered numismatic products to customers at lower sales prices than sufficient to achieve the standard 15% margin. Prices were set for products assuming a sales revenue distribution comparable to prior fiscal years. However, product unavailability and weakened demand challenged pricing assumptions. Sales volumes shifted in favor of lower margin recurring products and against higher margin precious metals products. Also, fewer products available for sale requires the products that did contribute to the FY 2009 numismatic results to bear more allocated costs and assume more numismatic administrative expenses.
In line with the comments above, I believe that the price increases for the coming 2010 Annual Sets are an attempt to bring margins back into line with the targeted 15%.

Despite the fact that materials cost may be going down and collectors will receive less product, prices will be going up due to the implications of the US Mint's reduced product line and lack of precious metals numismatic products.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

2010 Off to Slow Start, America the Beautiful Update

The US Mint is off to a very slow start for 2010 numismatic product releases. The lack of collector products is due to delays surrounding the release of the new America the Beautiful Quarters, the next First Spouse Gold Coin, and of course collectible Gold and Silver Eagles.

To date, the US Mint has had only five product release dates, which included nine different individual products. (For product dates, I counted each day that new 2010-dated products were released. The number of different individual products includes all of the available packaging or ordering options, such as separate P and D rolls or separate proof and uncirculated versions.)

Using the same method of counting, by this date in 2009 the US Mint had nine product release dates, which included 19 different individual products. By this date in 2008, there were twelve product release dates, which included 35 different products.

Delayed products contributing to the slow start include the Abigail Fillmore First Spouse Gold Coin, which previously had a tentative release date set for March 4, 2010. In late February, the US Mint stated that the release would be pushed forward to an unspecified date in March. The release of America the Beautiful Quarters has been delayed with no updated information until recently. (See America the Beautiful Update below) There has been no new information on collectible Gold and Silver Eagles for 2010. As mentioned in previous posts, the release of these collector coins will remain contingent on the ability of the US Mint to fulfill "full public demand" for the bullion coins.

Last year the US Mint had waited until the last few months of the year to announce the cancellation or release of several long delayed products. They had also released some of the final 2009-dated products in early 2010. This year, it feels like they are falling even further behind.

America the Beautiful Coins Update

Per an article in the latest issue of Coin World, the designs for the five 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters will finally be unveiled on March 24, 2010. The US Mint will hold a special ceremony at the Newseum located in Washington, DC.

The first America the Beautiful Quarter featuring Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is expected to be released during April. (By comparison the first State Quarter had been released on January 4, 1999.)

The candidate designs for the 2010 quarters have been available since September 2009 when the CCAC and CFA performed their reviews and issued recommendations. The candidate designs for 2011 were also subsequently released in January for the CFA and CCAC's review.

Things have been moving forward with the required 5 ounce America the Beautiful Silver Bullion coins. According to an article in Numismatic News, a new coin press was installed at the Philadelphia Mint on March 1 to strike the over-sized coins. The same article mentioned that the new bullion coins are not expected to be released in late summer or early autumn.

The silver bullion coins will be sold through the US Mint's network of authorized purchasers, who also distribute American Eagle and American Buffalo bullion coins.

The US Mint subsequently stated that each release of the bullion coin series would carry a maximum mintage. There is no requirement to strike the America the Beautiful Silver coins to demand, as exists for the American Silver Eagle bullion coins.
Today on Coin Update News: The latest US Mint Sales Report


Friday, March 5, 2010

2009 Silver Eagle Final Mintage

The US Mint recently provided the final mintage for the 2009 American Silver Eagle bullion coin. Figures had previously been available for the number of coins sold during the year. This amount differs from the mintage, since annual sales totals usually include coins minted across multiple years.

The final 2009 Silver Eagle mintage came in at 30,459,000.

This figure represents a new record high, surpassing the previous record of 20,583,000 for 2008 Silver Eagles. The lowest mintage for a Silver Eagle bullion coin occurred for the 1996 Silver Eagle at 3,603,386 coins. Mintage figures for all years are included below.

American Silver Eagle Bullion Coin Mintages
1986 5,393,005
1987 11,442,335
1988 5,004,646
1989 5,203,327
1990 5,840,210
1991 7,191,066
1992 5,540,068
1993 6,763,762
1994 4,227,319
1995 4,672,051
1996 3,603,386
1997 4,295,004
1998 4,847,549
1999 7,408,640
2000 9,239,132
2001 9,001,711
2002 10,539,026
2003 8,495,008
2004 8,882,754
2005 8,891,025
2006 10,676,522
2007 9,028,036
2008 20,583,000
2009 30,459,000

So far during 2010, the US Mint has sold 6,067,500 Silver Eagle bullion coins. This includes the final inventory of 367,500 coins dated 2009, with the remainder representing 2010 coins.

The final mintage for one ounce 2009 Gold Eagle bullion coins has not yet been finalized. In fact, the US Mint is still continuing to sell the remaining inventory of 2009 coins. When the 2010-dated coins first went on sale, the US Mint had 51,000 of the prior year coins still within inventory.

Since most people prefer the newly dated coins, the Mint has been requiring authorized purchasers to buy one 2009-dated coin for every three 2010-dated coins ordered. There should be around 5,000 of the one ounce 2009 Gold Eagles left to go.

The final mintages for the fractional 2009 Gold Eagles were previously available, as these coins sold out in December. The mintages are 110,000 for the one-half ounce, 110,000 for the one-quarter ounce, and 270,000 for the one-tenth ounce.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

American Veterans Disabled for Life Commemorative Sales at 98,358

The first sales figures are available for the 2010 American Veterans Disabled for Life Silver Dollars. The coins recently went on sale February 25, 2010 with introductory pricing in effect.

Through February 28, 2010, the US Mint has recorded sales of 66,209 proof coins and 32,149 uncirculated coins. This makes for a combined total of 98,358. The maximum authorized mintage for the coins is set at 350,000 across all options, meaning that sales have reached 28.10% of the total after just a few days of sales.

With the strong opening sales, is a sell out possible?

Last year, the Louis Braille Silver Dollars had recorded opening sales of 40,844. After two weeks, sales had reached 70,274. The last reported sales in mid-December was 217,874 across all product options.

The more popular Abraham Lincoln Silver Dollar had achieved opening sales of 177,722 across both proof and uncirculated versions. Within about five weeks, sales had risen to the 450,000 level required for a sell out of the individual options. Out of the maximum authorized mintage of 500,000 coins, 50,000 were reserved for the Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set released later in the year.

So far, the American Veterans Disabled for Life Commemorative falls directly in the middle of last year's two programs in terms of velocity of sales. At this early point, I am inclined to think that the coins will eventually sell out of the 350,000 maximum authorized mintage, but the sell out won't occur until much later in the year.

Go to Coin Update News to view the full US Mint sales report for weekly sales through February 28, 2010.

Separately, I wanted to take a moment to mention a new feature on Coin Update News, gold and silver market commentary by Patrick A. Heller. His commentaries will appear usually twice per week, with new articles published on Tuesdays and Thursday or Friday. Pat Heller owns Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Michigan and writes the newsletter "Liberty's Outlook." He is also the gold market commentator for Numismatic News.

The latest article was published yesterday: Largest Private Refinery Discovers Gold-Plated Tungsten Bar

Go to the page Gold and Silver Commentary to find past articles and new articles as they are published.

Regular features on also include weekly US Mint sales reports, monthly US Mint bullion sales reports, Michael Bugeja's Coingrader Capsule, and the periodic news roundup.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

US Mint Coin Production February 2010

The United States Mint has just released their coin production figures for the month of February 2010. The latest update includes production of the first 2010 Roosevelt Dimes and the final mintage for the 2010 Millard Fillmore Dollar.

During February 2010, the US Mint produced a total of 194.4 million coins. This compares to 218.41 million coins produced in the prior month. Coin production had averaged 295 million coins per month across all of 2009.

Production at the Philadelphia Mint was confined to cents, dimes, and Native American Dollars. The Denver Mint only produced cents. The table below displays the breakdown of production, and the year to date totals.
2010 US Mint Coin Production Figures

February 2010 Jan 2009 - Feb 2009
Lincoln Cent - Denver 78.80 M 128.80 M
Lincoln Cent - Phil. 84.00 M 149.23 M
Jefferson Nickel - Denver 0 0
Jefferson Nickel - Phil. 0 0
Roosevelt Dime - Denver 0 0
Roosevelt Dime - Phil. 19.00 M 19.00 M
Quarters - Denver 0 0
Quarters - Phil. 0 0
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. 12.60 M 23.80 M
Pres Dollar - Denver 0 36.96 M
Pres Dollar - Phil. 0 37.52 M

Total 194.40 M 412.81 M

The US Mint has now also listed final production figures for the 2010 Millard Fillmore Presidential Dollars. Although there were no Presidential Dollars produced in the past month, the figures had not yet been added to the section where the US Mint lists finalized production numbers by coin design. The final numbers for Millard Fillmore are 36.96 million Philadelphia Mint coins and 37.52 million Denver Mint coins, for a combined total of 74.48 million.

This represents a new low for overall circulation mintage of a Presidential Dollar. Previously, the Zachary Taylor Dollar held the circulation mintage low at 78.26 million. The 2009-D Zachary Taylor Dollar still holds the mintage low for an individual circulation issue at 36.68 million.

The US Mint produced the first 2010 Roosevelt Dimes during February. The last time the US Mint had produced dimes in April 2009. A few weeks ago, CoinWorld had reported that the Federal Reserve ordered 224 million dimes from the Mint. Last year, total production of 2009 Roosevelt Dimes was a combined 146 million.

There have still not been any 2010 Jefferson Nickels produced. The same CoinWorld story mentioned that the Federal Reserve did not order any nickels.

Production of 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters has also not commenced and the US Mint is yet to reveal the final designs for the coins. The Mint had previously indicated that the designs would be unveiled at a special ceremony held in February, but the month has already come and gone.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Presidential Dollar Products No Longer Available

Sales recently ended for a few of the US Mint's Presidential Dollar products. This includes last year's annual Proof Set and the bags and rolls for the James Monroe Dollars.

The 2009 Presidential Dollar Proof Set is no longer available. This set first went on sale February 10, 2009 priced at $14.95 each. The set contains the four different Presidential Dollars for that year featuring William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk, and Zachary Taylor.

The set has sold 627,925 units as of the last available weekly sales report. This is lower than the final reported sales for the 2008 set, which came in at 860,172.

I had actually expected sales of this set to end on February 11, 2010 when sales of the 2010 Presidential Dollar Proof Set began. Recently, it had been the US Mint's practice to end sales for the previous year's annual set offerings once the current year version went on sale. Does this signify that the practice will no loner be used?

Another group of products which recently moved to "sold out" status are the 2008 James Monroe Dollar 25-coin rolls and 250-coin bags from the Philadelphia or Denver Mints. These products went on sale way back on February 14, 2008 as the fifth release of the Presidential Dollar series.

The last reported sales for these products were 50,652 of the 25-coin (P) rolls, 49,399 of the 25-coin (D) rolls, 1,053 of the 250-coin (P) bags, and 565 of the 250-coin (D) bags.

An interesting aside related to the James Monroe Dollars- shortly before the circulation release and start of bags and rolls sales, tens of thousands of the dollar coins had been struck on copper-nickel clad planchets intended for quarters were discovered. The errors were found during the coin wrapping process by a private contractor of the US Mint. According to US Mint statements, all of the errors were collected and returned to the US Mint. To date, there have been no reports of any of the Monroe Dollars struck on quarter planchets ever surfacing.