Mint News Blog

News, Information, and Commentary on US Mint Products

Thursday, July 29, 2010

2010 Platinum Eagle Design Revealed

Although a formal announcement has not yet been made, the designs of the 2010 Proof Platinum Eagle were recently revealed on the United States Mint's website. The design theme is "To Establish Justice" continuing the six year series exploring the core concepts of American democracy.

Earlier this year, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) had reviewed nine candidate designs provided by the United States Mint. Six of the designs had presented an image of blindfolded Justice holding scales with additional allegorical symbols incorporated into some designs. The remaining candidates included a depiction of the Statue of Liberty's torch, the Supreme Court's western pediment, and the west front door.

The CCAC had supported the version of blindfolded Justice that has been chosen, with some recommended changes to the design and inscriptions. It appears that the US Mint did act on their suggestion to add a loop to the scale to make it mechanically correct. The CFA had supported the design featuring the torch of the Statue of Liberty, citing its suitability in combination with the obverse design. By law, the final design decision was made by the Secretary of the Treasury.

Some details about the offering were also revealed. The coins will carry a maximum authorized mintage of 10,000 coins. This represents an increase from last year's level of 8,000 coins, which sold out after about a week. The household ordering limit is set at five, which matches last year's level.

The price of the one ounce platinum coins will be dependent on the average price of platinum in the week leading up to the release. Within the current range of $1,550 to $1,649.99 per ounce, the coins would be priced at $1,892 each. Last year, the coins were priced at $1,792 based on an average platinum value from $1,450 to $1,549.99 per ounce.

The release date for the 2010 Proof Platinum Eagle is currently scheduled for August 12, 2010.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Price Increases Hurting Annual Set Sales?

Sales of the United States Mint's two most popular annual sets, the 2010 Mint Set and the 2010 Proof Set, debuted with lower sales compared to previous years. The increased price for each set may be one of the factors contributing to the decline.

This year's annual sets included price increases of $4 and $2 for the Mint Set and Proof Set, respectively. Both increases took place despite a reduction in the number of coins included in each set.

The 2010 Mint Set went on sale July 15, 2010. In the debut sales period through July 18, the US Mint recorded sales of 200,764 sets. In the most recent sales report covering data through July 25, sales had reached 247,085. This is a far cry from the initial sales for the 2009 Mint Set. The first reported sales figures covering October 1 to October 11, 2009 were 392,007.

Besides pricing considerations, the huge drop may have also been the result of seasonal factors, since the 2009 Mint Set was released in October rather than the slow summer months. Also, the set included the popular 2009 Bicentennial Lincoln Cents struck in 95% copper and was released following a delay, which added some anticipatory demand.

For further comparison, I went back tot he 2008 Mint Set. This year's set shows a drop in sales which is less dramatic, but still apparent. Within the initial sales period covering July 30 to August 3, 2008, the US Mint recorded sales of 234,762 for the 2008 Mint Set. If this is considered a base year, this year's sales are down 14.5%.

Examining the 2010 Proof Set, a drop in sales is also apparent, although different durations for the initial sales periods hinder exact comparisons. The 2010 Proof Set recorded sales of 296,379 during the debut period from July 22 to July 25, 2010.

The prior year 2009 Proof Set sold 437,178 units in the initial sales period covering June 1 to June 7, 2009. The 2008 Proof Set sold 424,402 units in the initial sales period covering June 24 to July 6, 2008.

It's interesting to note that the 2009 annual sets both included pricing increases, which were tolerated by collectors. The key difference was that the increased prices were viewed as necessary due to the inclusion of additional coins and the special composition Lincoln Cents. In situations where price increases are necessary and justified, the US Mint has generally provided collectors with an explanation.

Most recently, the press release for the 2009 Mint Set stated: "The price increase is due to the inclusion of the two additional quarters and the special metallic content - 95 percent copper - of the eight one-cent coins."

This year, no explanations were offered for the price increases to the annual sets. Earlier in the year, I did see an explanation for the bronze medals, which had prices increased by 60% from $3.50 to $5.50. The US Mint simply mentioned higher material costs. While this might be true, it cannot fully justify the extent of the increase.

The 2010 annual sets have actually reverted back to the same contents by denomination and metallic content as the 2008 annual sets, but prices are much higher. The table below shows the number of coins and face value for the past three years annual sets, along with the original US Mint prices.

coins face value issue price
2008 Proof Set 14 $6.91 $26.95
2009 Proof Set 18 $7.19 $29.95
2010 Proof Set 14 $6.91 $31.95

2008 Mint Set 28 $13.82 $22.95
2009 Mint Set 36 $14.38 $27.95
2010 Mint Set 28 $13.82 $31.95

The only explanation for this year's price increases that I can fathom relates to the lack of precious metals numismatic products like the Proof Gold and Silver Eagles. It seems that these products carry higher profit margins that the annual sets, which sell in higher volumes.

In the latest fiscal year, the US Mint cited the shift in demand for higher margin precious metals products to lower margin recurring products as the reason behind the 50% drop in numismatic products net income and seigniorage. As bad as things were last year, they could have been worse. To some extent the damage was offset by sales of the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin. Overall numismatic sales were down 21%, but excluding the UHR, sales would have been down 41%. The UHR's contribution to net income was not broken out.

With this year's schedule (so far) lacking any widely popular higher ticket items and the prospects of Proof Gold and Silver Eagles still uncertain, the US Mint's product mix has shifted even further towards lower priced items with historically low margins. This year's price increases may have been established in large part to bolster margins to make up for the income lost through the lack of precious metals numismatic products. Of course, if sales volumes fall, gains made through higher margins may be lost any way.

If this is what's behind the recent price increases, the saddest part is that effectively all collectors are being asked to pay the price for the lack of Proof Gold and Silver Eagles.
New Coin Grader Capsule: Crossover, Cross-under, or Cross-out?


Monday, July 26, 2010

Yosemite National Park Quarter Bags and Rolls

Today July 26, 2010, the United States Mint began sales of the 2010 Yosemite National Park Quarter bags and rolls. This represents the third release of the America the Beautiful Quarters Program.

The reverse design of the Yosemite Quarter features a view of El Capitan. This vertical rock formation rises 3,00 feet above the Yosemite Valley floor and is the largest monolith of granite in the world. The reverse was designed by Joseph Menna and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill. The obverse of the coin features a restored version of the portrait of George Washington designed by John Flanagan.

The US Mint is offering 100-coin bags of the newly released quarters from either the Philadelphia or Denver Mint. The bags have tags stating the mint of origin, "Yosemite", "CA" and the $25 face value of the contents. Bags are priced at $35.95 each.

A two roll set is also offered, which includes one 40-coin roll from the Philadelphia Mint and one 40-coin roll from the Denver Mint. The coins are packaged in US Mint branded wrappers, which indicate the mint of origin, "Yosemite", "CA", and $10 fave value of the contents. The two roll sets are priced at $32.95.

According to the US Mint, the Yosemite National Park Quarters bags and rolls will remain available for one year from the initial offering date. This prolonged availability period is a change of procedure from the prior State Quarter and DC & US Territories Quarters Programs. Bags and rolls for each design were only available until the next design was released.

Another change for the America the Beautiful Quarters Program is the introduction of the Bulk Purchase Program. This program allows orders to be placed for bulk bags of 200,000 quarters for the $50,000 face value plus a 3% processing fee. So far, the US Mint has reported 19.4 million quarters sold through the program.

When the America the Beautiful Quarters series first began, the potential for low mintages provided an interesting draw for collectors. Preliminary production figures do show mintages for the new series to be a fraction of the levels for the State Quarters Program. However, since the US Mint is providing prolonged availability for each release, the ability to bulk order, and the prospect that production can be restarted, the low mintages are difficult to get excited about.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Results: Best 2010 US Mint Coin Design So Far

A little over a week ago, I created a poll where Mint News Blog readers could vote on what they believe is the best US Mint coin design for the year so far.

A total of 725 votes were cast across the eleven different coins issued during 2010, which featured a new design on at least one side of the coin. Two coins received more than 50% of the total votes, signaling two strong favorites. The third highest number of votes were cast for a medal honoring the Women Airforce Service Pilots. In the end, the 2010 Native American Dollar edged out the 2010 Lincoln Cent by a margin of 21 votes.

The complete results of the poll are listed below:

Votes Percentage
2010 Native American Dollar 196 27.03%
2010 Lincoln Cent 175 24.14%
Women Airforce Service Pilots Medal 103 14.21%
2010 Yellowstone Quarter 86 11.86%
2010 Boy Scouts Silver Dollar 54 7.45%
2010 Disabled Veterans Silver Dollar 35 4.83%
2010 Abigail Fillmore First Spouse Gold 32 4.41%
2010 Hot Springs Quarter 24 3.31%
2010 Jane Pierce First Spouse Gold 10 1.38%
2010 Franklin Pierce Dollar 6 0.83%
2010 Millard Fillmore Dollar 4 0.55%

The 2010 Native American Dollar features the second reverse design for the series honoring the accomplishments and contributions of Native Americans. The theme was "Government - The Great Tree of Peace". The well balanced reverse features a depiction of a Hiawatha Belt encircling a bundle of five arrows. These images are symbolic of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederacy. Five figures on the belt represent the five original nations with the central symbol also a representing the Great White Pine. The bundle of arrows symbolizes the strength in unity of the Iroquois Confederacy.

When candidate designs for the coin were originally presented to the Commission of Fine Arts and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, this design was the strong favorite of both. Other design candidates were varied depictions of a white pine tree topped by an eagle.

The Hiawatha Belt design has been included in the CCAC's recently compiled image reference guide of design excellence.

The 2010 Lincoln Cent features a new reverse design intended to represent Lincoln's preservation of the United States as a single and united country. This concept is represented with a depiction of the Union Shield. The thirteen vertical stripes represent the original thirteen states joined together in support of the federal government, represented by the horizontal bar above. This symbol dates back to the 1780's and was used widely during the Civil War era.

On an overall basis, opinions expressed for this design were more divided. Based on comments received on previous Mint News Blog posts and Coin Review, people seem to either love the design or hate it. Supporters cite the clean and classic depiction of an historical symbol. Dissenters call the design too simple or mention that they would have have preferred a more contemporary or widely recognized symbol.

The CFA and CCAC were also split on this design. The CFA initially supported a design depicting a bundle of wheat stalks, but after this design was removed from consideration, they switched to a modernistic depiction of a 34 star flag. The CCAC supported the depiction of the Union Shield, although there was apparently some dissent within the group. The CCAC Chairman recently stated that he liked the design, while member Donald Scarinci, who is on the newly formed Subcommittee for Coin Design Excellence, said the design makes him "want to vomit." Initially, there were 18 different design candidates for the 2010 Lincoln Cent reverse.

As mentioned, I will likely revisit this topic with another poll to vote on the coin designs released in the second half. This will include the still undecided (or unannounced) design for the 2010 Proof Platinum Eagle, which will depict the principle "To Establish Justice" and the Lincoln Presidential Dollar, among others.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

American Palladium Eagle Bullion Coins Sought

At the July 20 House of Representatives subcommittee meeting on "The State of U.S. Coins and Currency," Michael Clark, President of Diamond State Depository, expressed his industry's belief that the American Eagle Bullion Coin Program should be broadened with the addition of palladium bullion coins.

The US Mint's bullion coin program originally included only gold and silver coins, but was broadened in 1997 with the introduction of the American Platinum Eagle. This might set the precedent for another broadening of the program with the American Palladium Eagle.

Statements provided at the hearing cited potential demand for Palladium Eagle bullion coins from both collectors and investors. The coins were presented as an interesting pricing point for precious metals investors at $450 per ounce, compared to higher priced gold and platinum. The possibility that the new coins would absorb some of the demand for Silver Eagles was also mentioned.

During the question and answer session of the hearing, Rep. Ron Paul observed, "If we get the palladium coin... where are we going to get the planchets?"

The question referred to earlier discussions about the US Mint's current reliance on just three suppliers for precious metals blanks, the apparent bottleneck in the production of bullion gold and silver bullion coins. Platinum bullion coins have not been produced since late 2008, presumably due to the same planchet procurement problem.

Past efforts for U.S. coins struck in palladium have included bills introduced by Rep. Dennis Rehberg and Sen. Max Baccus, both from Montana. These bills have sought the production of Saint Gaudens Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Palladium Coins in numismatic and bullion versions. The bills S. 758 and H.R. 3405 were introduced on April 1, 2009 and July 30, 2009, but have not made any progress.

The United States was the world's fifth largest producer of palladium. The metal is mined in Montana and refined in New Jersey, California, and South Carolina.

The Royal Canadian Mint is the only major world mint to currently produce palladium bullion coins. They initially produced the Palladium Maple Leaf coins from 2005 to 2007, but the program was ended due to low sales. The RCM revived the program in 2009 when they identified greater market demand for a palladium bullion.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

2010 Proof Silver Eagle Update

Update: Latest information on 2010 Proof Silver Eagle

Testimony recently delivered by US Mint Director Edmund Moy to a Senate Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology includes new developments for the 2010 Proof Silver Eagle. The fate of this coin has remained unknown due to the continued high demand for the bullion version of the coin.

Under current law, the United States Mint is legally obligated to produce American Gold Eagle and American Silver Eagle bullion coins in quantities sufficient to meet the public demand. The recent heightened demand for physical bullion coins has left the US Mint unable to keep up. For nearly two years, the US Mint has been sourcing all precious metals blanks to the production of bullion coins, resulting rather than collector coins. This led to the premature end of production for the 2008 Proof Silver Eagle and the cancellation of the 2009 Proof Silver Eagle.

Director Moy provided testimony on July 20, 2010 during a hearing of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology on "The State of U.S. Coins and Currency." In his statement he acknowledged the disappointment of collectors and expressed his encouragement that the Subcommittee was considering an amendment to the law that would allow issuance of collectible versions of the American Silver Eagle even if the full public demand for bullion coins is not met. The US Mint has already provided technical drafting assistance for the change in law. Until this hearing, the possible amendment to the law had been unrevealed.

If such a change is enacted, the Director explained that the US Mint could produce 200,000 coins per month. If production began in September, total production of about 830,000 coins could be accomplished by the end of 2010.

Planned collectible versions of the coin would include the 2010-W Uncirculated Silver Eagle and 2010-W Proof Silver Eagle.

Moy's statement did not include any mention of collectible versions of the 2010 Gold Eagle, but this might suggest that the prospects for these coins is more likely. This year, the US Mint has managed to catch up with gold bullion offerings faster, and even quietly ended their allocation program for the one ounce coins. With the gold bullion coins apparently being minted in quantities sufficient to meet public demand, this should clear the way for production of uncirculated and proof 2010-W Gold Eagles, even without amendment to the law.
Coin Update News: Inefficiencies Cited in US Mint's Bullion Coin Programs


US Mint Numismatic Gold Coin Prices Should Decline

After spending more than two months at the highest levels on record, the prices for US Mint numismatic gold coins should be reduced this week.

The gold numismatic products currently available include the 2010 Proof Gold Buffalo and the First Spouse Gold Coins featuring Sarah Polk, Margaret Taylor, Abigail Fillmore, and Jane Pierce.

Under the US Mint's pricing policy for numismatic gold and platinum coins, the prices of products may be adjusted as frequently as weekly in response to changes in the average price of the metals. Each week, the average of the London Fix prices from the prior Thursday AM to the current Wednesday AM is calculated. If the calculated average falls into a different range compared to the prior week, prices are subject to adjustment--as long as the Wednesday PM Fix price agrees with the current weekly average. The latter criteria was only recently brought to light by this Coin Update News article.

For the latest weekly period, the average London Fix price of gold from Thursday AM, July 15 to Wednesday AM, July 21 is $1,193.42. The Wednesday PM Fix price for July 21 is $1,191.25. Since prices are currently set for the $1,200 to $1,249.99 range, prices should be reduced proportionally by $50 for each ounce of gold content.

The price of the 2010 Proof Gold Buffalo should be reduced from $1,510 to $1,460. These coins originally went on sale June 3, 2010 and have been priced at $1,510 for the entire availability period so far. The most recent sales figures show 22,844 coins sold through July 18, 2010.

The price of the First Spouse Gold Coins should be reduced from $779 to $754 for proof coins and from $766 to $741 for uncirculated coins. The most recently released Jane Pierce First Spouse Gold Coins went on sale June 3, 2010 priced at $779 and $766. This was the highest starting price for any release of the series to date.

Price adjustments have usually taken place by mid-day Wednesday, although the policy states that adjustments should be made on Thursday mornings.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

2010 United States Mint Proof Set

The United States Mint will begin sales of the 2010 Proof Set later this week on July 22, 2010 at 12:00 Noon ET. This closely follows the release of the 2010 Mint Set, which was first offered for sale one week earlier.

The 2010 Proof Set will contain a total of 14 different proof coins, struck at the San Francisco Mint. The following coins are included in each set:

2010-S Proof Lincoln Cent

2010-S Proof Jefferson Nickel

2010-S Proof Roosevelt Dime

5 - 2010-S Proof America the Beautiful Quarters featuring Hot Springs National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and Mount Hood National Forest.

2010-S Proof Kennedy Half Dollar

4 - 2010-S Proof Presidential Dollars featuring Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Abraham Lincoln.

2010-S Proof Native American Dollar

The number of coins in the set is down from the 18 coins included in last year's set. As a result the coins are packaged in three plastic lenses (down from four). Separate lenses contain the Presidential Dollars and America the Beautiful Quarters. The cent, nickel, dime, half dollar, and Native American Dollar are contained in a final lens. The outer cardboard box carries a new design featuring an image of the San Francisco Mint.

The price of the 2010 Proof Set is $31.95. This reflects a price increase of $2 compared to last year's set, despite the lower number of coins included. The 2008 Proof Set, which is the most recent set to contain the same arrangement of denominations, was priced at $26.95.

The release of last year's 2009 Proof Set was met with a high level of enthusiasm due to the inclusion of the four different 2009 Lincoln Cents struck in a special composition of 95% copper. This year's set does include the inaugural year for the America the Beautiful Quarters Program and the 2010 Lincoln Presidential Dollar. However, the excitement surrounding these specific coins is somewhat diffused by the fact that they have already been released in the component 2010 Presidential Dollar Proof Set and 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Proof Set.

It seems likely that sales of the 2010 Proof Set will fall short of the total sales attained for the 2009 Proof Set. The general trend for this year's US Mint product sales has been down, as some collectors have been dismayed by the price increases, coin designs, and the general product line up.

The debut sales figures for the recently released 2010 Mint Set came in at 200,764. This sets a slower pace than the prior year 2009 Mint Set. The full sales report is available on Coin Update News.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Prices for 2009-W Julia Tyler First Spouse Gold Coins

Secondary market prices for 2009-W Julia Tyler First Spouse Gold Coins have moved substantially higher, following the conclusion of US Mint sales on June 2, 2010.

Recently completed auctions show prices for uncertified coins ranging from a low of $960 for an unopened proof coin to a high of $1,595 for an unopened uncirculated coin. For certified examples, prices range from a low of $795 for an example graded PCGS PR68DCAM to a high of $1,727 for an example graded PCGS MS70.

These prices come from a total of 11 completed eBay auctions from the past 15 days. The date, selling price, and basic details of each auction are shown below.

Completed Auction Prices for Julia Tyler $10 Gold Coins
July 3, 2010 $ 960 unopened proof
July 4, 2010 $ 795 PCGS PR68DCAM
July 4, 2010 $ 890 PCGS MS69
July 4, 2010 $ 925 PCGS PR69DCAM
July 7, 2010 $ 1,495 unopened unc
July 9, 2010 $ 1,595 unopened unc
July 10, 2010 $ 999 unc
July 10, 2010 $ 1,727 PCGS MS70
July 11, 2010 $ 999 proof
July 11, 2010 $ 2,326 unopened proof and unc
July 12, 2010 $ 1,600 NGC MS 70

Admittedly, as with many other issues of the First Spouse Gold Coin series, the availability and the market for the Julia Tyler coins is somewhat thin. Prices exhibit a very wide range and only a relatively small number of coins are bought and sold each week. Nonetheless, all prices are higher than the last available US Mint prices, in most cases by a wide margin. Just before the conclusion of sales the proof coins were available form the Mint for $779 and the uncirculated coins were available for $766.

The Julia Tyler First Spouse Gold Coins do have a number of positive aspects contributing to the higher prices.

These coins have the lowest reported sales figures among the First Spouse Gold Coins that are no longer available for sale at the Mint. The last reported sales figures (through May 30, 2010) indicate 4,820 proof coins and 2,861 uncirculated coins sold by the US Mint. These figures represent an extreme low on an historical basis for US Mint issued gold coins. The figures will also remain a low point for the First Spouse series for at least the next few months. The Sarah Polk First Spouse Gold Coin, which is expected to see sales end on September 2, 2010, already has sales figures exceeding the levels of the Julia Tyler coin.

In addition to the low sales levels, the conclusion of sales for the Julia Tyler coins may have been unexpected for some collectors (although not to Mint News Blog readers). When the Jane Pierce coins were released on June 2, 2010, sales of both the Letitia Tyler and Julia Tyler coins were concluded. Typically, the US Mint has ended sales of the longest available coin to coincide with the release of a new coin. In this case, the US Mint ended sales of the longest available two coins. The change was necessary because five coins were issued for the series during 2009 instead of the usual four. It's also worth noting that the Julia Tyler coins were only available for about 10 months, compared to the usual 12 or 13 months for previous issues of the series that did not reach the maximum authorized mintage.

The combination of low mintage, unexpected conclusion of sales, and a nice design may have woken up some collectors to the potential of the Julia Tyler coin. Demand and prices for the coin will bear watching, but for now it looks like adherents of the First Spouse Coin series have a winner on their hands.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What is the best US Mint coin design so far this year?

The topic of U.S. coin design has been in the spotlight recently, following public complaints from some members of the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) and Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC).

Shortly after the criticisms, the US Mint opened its doors to some members of the press to explain their coin design process and allow some of their sculptors to respond. Here's a video segment posted on Wallet Pop and an article from Numismatic News.

A week later, the CCAC voted to form a subcommittee on Coin Design Excellence at their June 28 public meeting. So far the CCAC and subcommittee have adopted a list of 17 characteristics of design excellence and created a visual reference guide. The goal of these efforts will be to help "ignite the renaissance" in coin design. Responses to the subcommittee have ranged from positive to skeptical.

As a change of pace, I thought it would be interesting to have a poll allowing readers to vote for the best US Mint coin or medal design so far this year. By my count, there have been 11 different coins or medals released for circulation or issued with a unique design on at least one side of the coin.

I wanted to make this a "mid-year" poll, so I did not include the second half designs for America the Beautiful Quarters and Presidential Dollars, even though they have technically been issued in the component proof sets. I will likely revisit this topic with a second half or full year design poll at the end of the year.

Images of each coin or medal issued with a new design during the first half of 2010 appear below, followed by the poll.

2010 Lincoln Cent

2010 Hot Springs Quarter

2010 Yellowstone Quarter

2010 Millard Fillmore Dollar

2010 Franklin Pierce Dollar

2010 Native American Dollar

2010 American Veterans Disabled for Life Silver Dollar

2010 Boy Scouts of America Centennial Silver Dollar

2010 Abigail Fillmore First Spouse Gold

2010 Jane Pierce First Spouse Gold

Women Airforce Service Pilots Medal

Coin Update News:
Latest US Mint Sales Report


Monday, July 12, 2010

United States Mint 2010 Uncirculated Coin Set

The United States Mint will begin sales of the 2010 Uncirculated Coin Set later this week on July 15, 2010 at 12:00 Noon ET. This set represents one of the US Mint's core annual offerings.

Each set includes a total of 28 coins, struck at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints with a special satin finish. The following coins are included in each set:

2010 P&D Lincoln Cents - This is the first year of the new Union Shield reverse design, which is expected to remain in use for the foreseeable future.

2010 P&D Jefferson Nickels

2010 P&D Roosevelt Dimes

2010 P&D America the Beautiful Quarters - The first year of the new 12 year program. This year's coins feature Hot Springs National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and Mount Hood National Forest.

2010 P&D Kennedy Half Dollars

2010 P&D Presidential Dollars - Presenting the 13th to 16th Presidents of the United States, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Abraham Lincoln. These coins were previously released in the separate 2010 Presidential Dollar Uncirculated Coin Set.

2010 P&D Native American Dollars - This year's design presents the theme "Government - The Great Tree of Peace" with a depiction of the Hiawatha Belt.

Based on the images included on the US Mint's product page, the 2010 Mint Set will be packaged in folders bearing the same city skyline designs that have been used since 2008. From 1984 to 2007, uniquely designed envelopes or folders had been used for each year of issue.

The 2010 Mint Set is priced at $31.95, which represents an increase of $4 compared to the price of last year's set. This price increase comes despite a reduction in the number of coins included in the set. The 2009 Mint Set included a total of 36 different coins, with the size of the set expanded by the additional quarter design and four different 2009 Lincoln Cent designs. Additionally the cents were struck in a special composition of 95% copper.

The contents of this year's Mint Set are actually comparable to the 2008 Mint Set, which included 28 coins and was priced at $22.95.

On a positive note, the 2010 Mint Set comes several months earlier than last year's offering. Due to unique tarnish issues for the cents, the release of the 2009 Mint Set had been delayed until October 1, 2009.
Today on Coin Update News: Interview with Mint of Poland


Thursday, July 8, 2010

US Mint Coin Production June 2010

The United States Mint recently updated coin production figures through the end of June 2010. The numbers include the first 2010-D Jefferson Nickels and the preliminary production figures for the Yellowstone National Park Quarters.

For the month of June 2010, total circulating coin production reached 918.94 million. This is the highest level in more than a year and also represents the fourth consecutive month to month increase. Compared to January 2010, overall monthly coin production has quadrupled.

The table below shows the breakdown of production by denomination and mint facility. The first number column shows the production for the prior month and the second column shows the year to date production through June 30, 2010.

2010 US Mint Coin Production Figures

June 2010 YTD 2010
Lincoln Cent - Denver 296.00 M 911.60 M
Lincoln Cent - Phil. 289.20 M 939.63 M
Jefferson Nickel - Denver 36.24 M 36.24 M
Jefferson Nickel - Phil. 46.80 M 76.08 M
Roosevelt Dime - Denver 82.00 M 186.50 M
Roosevelt Dime - Phil. 64.50 M 219.50 M
Quarters - Denver 24.60 M 88.40 M
Quarters - Phil. 29.20 M 88.80 M
Kennedy Half - Denver 0 1.70 M
Kennedy Half - Phil. 0 1.80 M
Native Am Dollar - Denver 1.40 M 42.98 M
Native Am Dollar - Phil. 0 32.06 M
Pres Dollar - Denver 24.50 M 99.82 M
Pres Dollar - Phil. 24.50 M 100.24 M

Total 918.94 M 2,825.35 M

The Lincoln Cent had the highest production for any coin during the month with 296 million produced at the Denver Mint and 289.20 million produced at the Philadelphia Mint.

The first 2010-D Jefferson Nickels were produced in June with production of 36.24 million. The Philadelphia Mint also struck an additional 46.8 million nickels. Total year to date production of Jefferson Nickels across both mints is now above the combined total for the prior year.

Production for 2010 Roosevelt Dimes jumped during the month with 146.5 million produced across both facilities. This monthly total is above the combined 146 million dimes minted during all of 2009.

While monthly quarter production continued at a moderate pace, the US Mint posted the preliminary production figures for the Yellowstone National Park Quarter. There were 33.6 million from the Philadelphia Mint and 34.8 million from the Denver Mint for a combined total of 68.4 million pieces. This exceeds the preliminary production figures for the prior Hot Springs Quarter, which were 30.6 million from Philadelphia and 29 million from Denver for a total of 59.6 million.

There were 1.4 million Native American Dollars struck in Denver, and Presidential Dollar production was 24.5 million from each facility.

The rapid scale up in production this year has been surprising. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that the coins are reaching the channels of circulation faster. I have read several reports of 2010 Roosevelt Dimes and 2010 Lincoln Cents appearing in change, although the America the Beautiful Quarters seem more elusive in circulation.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

US Mint Updates Gold and Platinum Numismatic Pricing Grid

The United States Mint recently added another page to their pricing grid for numismatic gold and platinum coins. This follows a recent situation where prices for gold coins were not reduced, even though they apparently should have been. Questions posed to the US Mint had revealed a separate internal policy, which included additional pricing criteria.

The published policy states that potential price changes are determined based primarily on the average London Fix prices from the prior Thursday AM to the current Wednesday AM. The recently revealed additional criteria take into account the Wednesday PM price to "determine the trend" and potentially overrule changes otherwise suggested by the weekly average price.

For the previous instance when the additional criteria came into play, the weekly average price was outside the current price range (suggesting a price decrease), however the Wednesday PM was still within the current range. This resulted in no change to prices.

This and six other possible permutations are now laid out in a table included as the first page of the US Mint's gold and platinum numismatic coin pricing grid.

The grid also now includes a note: "The United States Mint reserves the right to discontinue sale of gold numismatic products in the event that the selling price of United States Mint gold bullion products begin approaching the sale price of gold numismatic products."

Note the use of the word "discontinue" rather than "suspend".
Today on Coin Update News: June 2010 US Mint Bullion Sales


Friday, July 2, 2010

America the Beautiful Quarters Launch Ceremony Dates

The United States Mint has set the launch ceremony dates for this year's remaining America the Beautiful Quarters. Each of the ceremonies will take place one or more days following the circulation release date for the coins.

Launch ceremonies can be popular destinations for collectors since they are typically followed by a coin exchange where attendees can exchange currency for rolls of the newly issued coins at face value.

Collector attendance at launch ceremonies seemed to peak with the 2009 "Formative Years" Lincoln Cent ceremony, which was attended by about 3,000 people. The most recent ceremony for the Yellowstone National Park Quarter attracted about 1,500 attendees, although much of the crowd seemed to be made up of local residents or those already vacationing in the park who happened to hear about the event.

The Yosemite National Park Quarter will be released into circulation on July 26, 2010. The official launch ceremony will be held on Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 11:00 AM PT at the Valley Visitor's Center, Yosemite Valley Loop, Yosemite, California.

The Grand Canyon National Park Quarter has a circulation release date of September 20, 2010. The launch ceremony will take place the following day on Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at 1:00 PM PT on the grounds adjacent to El Tovar Hotel, Grand Canyon, Arizona.

The Mount Hood National Forest Quarter will be the final release of the year on November 15, 2010. The launch ceremony will be held on Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 10:00 AM PT at the World Forest Center, 4033 SW Canyon Road, Portland, Oregon.

America the Beautiful 5 oz Silver Bullion Coins

Many readers have been asking for updates on the status of the America the Beautiful 5 oz Silver Bullion Coins. I responded in the comments to a prior post, but will include the latest information here as well.

According to this Numismatic News article, the coins are scheduled for striking in July, August, and September. Currently the Mint is awaiting their supply of silver blanks, expected to be delivered in July.

The over-sized bullion coins will be distributed through the US Mint's authorized purchaser (AP) network. The authorized purchasers buy the coins in bulk quantities directly from the United States Mint and then resell them to other bullion dealers, coin dealers, and the public. This is the same distribution system used for the bullion versions of Silver Eagles, Gold Eagles, and Gold Buffalo coins.

The the new 5 ounce silver coins are classified as bullion, so they should sell for a fixed mark up to the spot price of silver. However, since this will represent the start of a brand new series and mark the first offering of 5 ounce coins from the US Mint, demand will likely be elevated, possibly driving market premiums higher. Premiums may also increase if the US Mint cannot produce the coins in sufficient numbers to meet demand or rations the available quantities, which is a distinct possibility.

The US Mint has mentioned the potential for a proof or collectible version of the America the Beautiful 5 oz silver coins, although such an offering definitely will not happen in 2010.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Franklin Pierce Presidential Dollar Coin Cover

Today July 1, 2010 at 12:00 Noon ET, the United States Mint will release the Franklin Pierce Presidential Dollar Coin Cover. This will be the second release of the year and the fourteenth release overall for the American Presidency $1 Coin Cover series.

The cover will include two Franklin Pierce Presidential Dollars from the first day of mintage at the Philadelphia and Denver Mint facilities. These will be mounted on a display card within an illustrated envelope. The 44-cent Flag postage stamp is postmarked May 20, 2010, Hillsborough, NH, representing the circulation release date for the coins.

The Franklin Pierce Coin Covers are limited to production of 32,000 and priced at $15.95 each.

While it may partially be the impact of the slower summer months, I have been noticing that the US Mint's subsidiary-type products have been experiencing sharp sales declines.

The most recent example is for the Presidential $1 Coin & First Spouse Medal Sets. The set featuring Franklin and Jane Pierce sold only 1,340 units in the opening sales period. This compares to initial sales of 2,362 for the previous set featuring Millard and Abigail Fillmore. The second previous set featuring Zachary and Margaret Taylor had debuted with sales of 2,702.

The two most recent Presidential $1 Coin Covers had recorded initial sales of 17,833 for the Millard Fillmore cover released on April 2, 2010 and 18,705 for the Zachary Taylor cover released December 30, 2010. It will be interesting to see how much of a decline is experienced for the Franklin Pierce cover. Dropping sales are likely an indication that some US Mint customers are getting bored of the current product line up or dismayed by this year's higher pricing.

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