Mint News Blog

News, Information, and Commentary on US Mint Products

Thursday, September 30, 2010

2011 Medal of Honor Gold and Silver Coin Designs

The United States Mint has announced the final design selections for the 2011 Medal of Honor Commemorative Coins. The program was authorized to recognize and celebrate the establishment of the Medal of Honor and its recipients with the issuance of $5 gold coins and silver dollars.

The Secretary of the Treasury had the final authority to select designs for the program, following consultation with the Boards of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), and review by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC).

Mint News Blog previously provided a look a the leading candidate designs following the reviews and comments of the CFA and CCAC. Interestingly, the final design selections are in full agreement with the recommendations of the CCAC. The CFA had favored alternate designs for the reverse of the $5 gold coin and the obverse of the silver dollar, and declined to provide a recommendation for the reverse of the silver dollar.

The obverse of the 2011 Medal of Honor $5 Gold Coin, designed and sculpted by Joseph Menna, features a depiction of the original Medal of Honor, authorized by Congress as the highest personal decoration of the Navy. Inscriptions include "Liberty", "In God We Trust", "Medal of Honor", and the dates "1861" and "2010".

The reverse of the gold coin includes the full figure Minerva, who is included within the central image of the original Medal of Honor. She holds a shield and the union flag with a cannon and munitions behind her. The inscriptions read "United States of America", "E Pluribus Unum" and the face value "$5". The reverse was designed by Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by Michael Gaudioso.

The 2011 Medal of Honor Silver Dollar obverse, designed and sculpted by Jim Licaretz, features a depiction of the three modern Medals of Honor for the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Inscriptions include "Liberty", "In God We Trust", "Medal of Honor", and "1861-2011".

The reverse of the silver dollar features a scene of an Army infantry soldier carrying a wounded soldier to safety under enemy fire. The image is intended to represent the courage, selfless sacrifice, and patriotism of the Medal of Honor recipients. Inscriptions read "United States of America", "E Pluribus Unum", and "One Dollar".

Coin Legislation Update

In the past two days there has been progress for a number of bills related to coins. I have covered each of the bills in more depth on Coin Update, but I will summarize here.

H.R. 1177 was passed in the Senate. This bill will authorize the 2013 commemorative coin program honoring the U.S. Army's 5-Star Generals. With the President's signature, the bill will become law.

H.R. 6166 was passed in the House. This bill would authorize one ounce American Palladium Eagle bullion and collector coins featuring designs by Adolph A. Weinman. To become law, the bill must also pass in the Senate and then receive the President's signature.

H.R. 6162 also passed in the House. This bill directs the Secretary of the Treasury to perform research and development related to the metallic compositions of circulating coins for the purpose of making recommendations to Congress. Other portions of the bill seek to amend existing law to facilitate the production of Proof Gold and Silver Eagles, as well as change the specifications for America the Beautiful silver bullion coins.


James Buchanan $1 Coin Cover

Today September 30, 2010 at 12:00 Noon ET, the US Mint will release the James Buchanan Presidential Dollar Coin Cover. This will represent the fifteenth release for the American Presidency $1 Coin Cover series.

The cover incorporates two 2010 James Buchanan Presidential Dollars from the first day of mintage at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. The coins are mounted on an illustrated display card with a 44-cent postage stamp. The postmark on the cover is "August 19, 2010, Lancaster, PA", which coincides with the official circulation release date of the coins.

The covers are priced at $15.95 each plus shipping and handling. A product limit has been established at 32,000 covers.

The Presidential Dollar First Day Coin Covers have experienced a gradual decline in orders as the series moved forward. The first release featuring George Washington had sold out of the entire 50,000 maximum production. As sales have declined, the production limit was adjusted lower for subsequent issues.

Previous releases from William Harrison (9th) to Franklin Pierce (14th) remain available for sale on the US Mint's website.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Legislation Allows Proof Silver Eagles, Changes America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins

Legislation was recently introduced which finally seeks to address the legal hurdle for the production of Proof Silver Eagles and technical stumbling blocks for the 5 oz. America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins.

The bill known as H.R. 6162 Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act of 2010 was introduced by Rep. Melvin Watt on September 22, 2010. The bill primarily addresses the issue of the composition of circulating U.S. coins by authorizing the Secretary of the Treasury to conduct research and development necessary to make recommendations to Congress related to coin composition. You can read more details on this aspect of the bill on Coin Update News.

The portion of the bill which would allow the production of collectible American Gold and Silver Eagles seeks to adjust the language of current law. Rather than the US Mint being required to produce the coins in "quantities sufficient to meet public demand", they would be required to produce the coins in "qualities and quantities that the Secretary determines are sufficient to meet public demand'.

Presumably this would mean that in times when public demand for bullion coins exceeds precious metals blank supplies, the Secretary of the Treasury could determine the proper quantities of bullion coins, collectible uncirculated coins, and proof coins that should be produced. Under the US Mint's interpretation of the current law, they allocate all precious metals blanks to the production of bullion coins at times when bullion demand exceeds precious metals blank supply.

The introduction of the bill seems a bit late. At the House subcommittee meeting in July when such legislative changes were discussed, Director Moy mentioned that a change in law would need to be enacted "soon" and provided a production time line for 2010 Proof Silver Eagles beginning in September. Subsequent to the hearing, the Silver Eagle bullion coin rationing program was ended, suggesting some slack in the blank supply that could possibly be used to strike proof coins. Meanwhile, the release of 2010 Proof Gold Eagles has already been confirmed with a release date of October 7, 2010. Nonetheless, if the bill is enacted, the changes in law would ensure continuity for collectors in future years.

The portion of the bill dealing with the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins would change the design requirement from "exact duplicates" to "likenesses" of the quarter dollar designs. The required diameter would be changed from "3.0 inches" to a diameter "determined by the Secretary that is no less than 2.5 inches and no greater than 3.0 inches". Finally, the requirement for incuse edge lettering indicating the weight and fineness of the coin would be removed.

The changes allowed by the bill may already be irrelevant. Although the US Mint did encounter numerous problems with the over sized bullion coins earlier this year, they must have managed to overcome the issues. According to a story from Numismatic News, production of the coins is already underway. If the coins are currently being produced they would have to comply with the existing law.
Coin Update News: Latest US Mint Sales Report Available


Monday, September 27, 2010

2010 American Gold Buffalo Bullion Coins Sold Out

Just when things seem to be improving with the US Mint's bullion situation, it always seems that another sell out, suspension, or depletion takes place. According to a statement released to authorized purchasers today, the 2010 Gold Buffalo bullion coins have sold out. Additional inventory of 2010-dated coins will not be made available.

The latest figures indicate that 209,000 of the one ounce coins have been sold since the start of sales on April 29, 2010. This number may not reflect the final total, but it is the number currently provided on the Mint's website.

The US Mint had managed to bring their bullion offerings closer to a state of normalcy this year, which led to progress with collector offerings. The Gold Buffalo and fractional Gold Eagles had been released earlier in the year, and rationing was lifted first for Gold Eagles, then for Silver Eagles. Until now, the only bullion product still disrupted was the Platinum Eagle, which has not been offered in bullion format since late 2008.

With the 2010 Gold Buffalo sold out, the US Mint is now missing two products from their bullion line up. Collectors are also still awaiting the release of the 2010 America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins.

The sell out of the bullion version of the Gold Buffalo does seem to make the availability of the 2010 Proof Gold Buffalo more uncertain. However, there's no telling how many of the proof coins the US Mint has left and how long they might last. In 2009, the US Mint sold out of the bullion version of the Gold Buffalo on December 4, 2009, but it took until March 29, 2010 for the proof version to sell out. Last reported sales for the 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo were 49,388.

In recent weeks, the pace of sales for the 2010 Prof Gold Buffalo has showed a marked increase. Over the past four weeks, sales of 5,426 coins were recorded. As of September 19, total sales had reached 31,896.


Friday, September 24, 2010

American Palladium Eagle Proposed

Legislation was recently introduced seeking the production of American Palladium Eagle bullion and collector coins. This comes two months after testimony was delivered at a House subcommittee meeting, which cited the desire among collectors and investors for such an offering.

The bill H.R. 6166 American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act of 2010 was introduced on September 22 by Rep. Dennis Rehberg of Montana, where most domestic palladium mining takes place.

In 2008 and 2009, bills had been introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate seeking palladium bullion coins carrying Augustus Saint Gaudens' design for the 1907 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle. One of the 2008 bills was passed in the House, but none of the others managed to move forward.

As was the case with previous bills, the current bill includes some unusual and oddly specific requirements for the palladium coins. On the other hand, it also manages to address some of the current issues which complicate other US Mint bullion coins programs.

The bill H.R. 6166 includes the following requirements for the proposed American Palladium Eagles:

- A study to analyze the market for palladium bullion investments must be performed by a reputable independent third party to ensure adequate demand for the offering.

- Bullion for the Palladium Eagles must be acquired from natural deposits in the United States, within one year after the month in which the ore was mined. If no palladium is available from this source or it is not economically feasible, other available sources may be used.

- The coins would carry a face value of $25 and contain one ounce of .9995 fine palladium. Size and thickness are to be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury.

- The obverse of the coins would feature a high relief likeness of Adolph A. Weinman's Mercury Dime. The reverse would bear a high relief version of the 1907 American Institute of Architects Medal, also designed by Weinman. (Here is the only image of the medal that I could find.)

- Coins may be produced in both uncirculated and proof versions. (I believe uncirculated refers to "collectible uncirculated" versions as opposed to bullion versions.) If these coins are issued, to the greatest extent possible, the surface treatment of each year's proof and uncirculated coin should differ in some material way from that of the preceding year.

- Any United States Mint facility other than the West Point Mint can be used to strike coins minted in versions other than proof. If proof versions are struck, the proof coins shall only be produced at the West Point Mint.

Palladium is currently trading at $559 per ounce, representing a gain of 37.66% for the year to date. During 2009, palladium recorded a gain of 114.75%. The all time high price was reached in $1,090 per ounce was reached in January 2001.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

James Buchanan Presidential $1 Coin and First Spouse Medal Set

On September 23, 2010, the US Mint will release the Presidential Dollar Coin and First Spouse Medal Set featuring James Buchanan.

The set will include one uncirculated 2010 James Buchanan Presidential Dollar and one Buchanan's Liberty Bronze Medal. The coin and medal are mounted on a plastic card illustrated with a portrait of James Buchanan on the front and issuance information on the back. The set is priced at $11.95 plus shipping and handling.

This particular set may see more collector interest than typical for the product type due to the inclusion of the Buchanan's Liberty medal. A reproduction of Christian Gobrecht's classic design for the Liberty Quarter Eagle is featured on the obverse.

The previously released Presidential $1 Coin and First Medal Set featuring Franklin and Jane Pierce debuted with sales of only 1,340 sets, although sales have since reached 5,139.

Buchanan's Liberty Gold Coin Sales

Sales figures for the James Buchanan's Liberty First Spouse Gold Coin have been closely watched by collectors. The coins had the strongest debut sales for the series since February 2008 and, due to a lower maximum mintage, have the reasonable likelihood for an eventual sell out.

The figures from the latest weekly period indicate sales of 607 proof coins and 562 uncirculated coins for a combined total of 1,169. Sales to date have now reached 8,568, representing 57.12% of the maximum mintage.

The Buchanan's Liberty Gold Coins now have a higher sales total than any of the other three currently available First Spouse Gold Coins, which have been available for sale for three to nine months longer.

In subsequent weeks, there may be a drop off in the pace of sales for the Buchanan's Liberty coins. Sales for US Mint products are typically the strongest in the opening weeks and the most recent week may reflect purchases accelerated to avoid the pricing increase. With 6,432 coins of the maximum mintage remaining available, a sell out may still be three to six months out.
Coin Update News: Full US Mint Sales Report


Friday, September 17, 2010

Grand Canyon National Park Quarter Bags and Rolls

The United States Mint will begin sales of the Grand Canyon National Park Quarter bags and rolls next week on Monday, September 20, 2010 at 12:00 Noon ET. This will represent the fourth release of the America the Beautiful Quarters Program, which began this year.

The Grand Canyon Quarter reverse design features a canyon level view of the granaries above the Nankoweap Delta in Marble Canyon near the Colorado River. These granaries were used for storing food and seeds circa A.D. 500. Inscriptions surrounding the image include "Grand Canyon", "Arizona", "E Pluribus Unum" and the date "2010". The reverse was designed and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill.

The obverse of the coin features a portrait of George Washington designed by John Flanagan as it appeared on the 1932 Washington Quarter. Inscriptions include "United States of America", "In God We Trust", "Liberty", and "Quarter Dollar".

The US Mint will offer 100-coin bags of Grand Canyon National Park Quarters from either the Philadelphia or Denver Mint priced at $35.95. Tags are attached to each bag which indicate the mint of origin, name of the park, and state abbreviation.

Two roll sets will also be available, which include one 40-coin roll each from the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. The rolls are packaged in special wrappers which indicate the face value of the contents, mint mark, name of the park, and state abbreviation. The sets are priced at $32.95 each.

Both the bags and rolls are intended to be available for one year from the initial release date. The bags and rolls for the previously released quarters featuring Hot Springs National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Yosemite National Park all remain available for sale.

A launch ceremony for the Grand Canyon National Park Quarter will be held by the US Mint on September 21, 2010 at 1:30 PM MST. The ceremony will take place at the South Rim of the park, between Hopi House and Verkamp's Visitor Center. Attendees will have the opportunity to exchange currency for rolls of the new quarters at face value.

The evening before the ceremony on September 20 at 5:00 PM, United States Mint Director Edmund Moy will host a coin forum at the Grand Canyon Railway Depot at the base of El Tovar Hill.

2010 Proof Gold Eagles Update

In other news, the US Mint has confirmed the availability of 2010 Proof Gold Eagles. Details from my previous post regarding product options and limits were confirmed.

The 4 Coin Sets will be limited to 39,000 units. Individual options will be limited to 25,000 one ounce coins, 15,000 one half ounce coins, 16,000 one quarter ounce coins, and 27,000 one tenth ounce coins.

Newly available information includes the exact release date of October 7, 2010 at 12:00 Noon ET. Additionally, the US Mint has indicated that there will be no household ordering limits in place for the products.

At this time the US Mint has not made a final decision about whether the 2010-W Uncirculated Gold Eagle will be offered. This collectible uncirculated version of the coin is struck on specially burnished blanks and contains the "W" mint mark. Although the fractional versions of this offering were discontinued at the end of 2008, the US Mint had still planned to offer the one ounce size coin in future years. For 2009, the collectible uncricualted coin was canceled along with the proof version.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gold Price at All Time High

Today the price of gold has risen to a new all time high above $1,270 per ounce. This will have the likely implication of a price increase for the United States Mint's numismatic gold products. This currently includes four First Spouse Gold Coins in proof and uncirculated versions and the 2010 Proof Gold Buffalo.

The US Mint may adjust prices for numismatic gold and platinum products on a weekly basis in response to changes in the price of the metals. Changes are determined based primarily on the average London Fix prices from the prior Thursday AM to the current Wednesday AM. If the average falls into a different range than currently in use then products prices are adjusted accordingly. Ranges are established at $50 increments for gold products and $100 increments for platinum products. As an additional criteria, the Wednesday PM London Fix price must agree directionally with the change.

The London Fix prices for the relevant period are shown below:
Sep 9 AM 1,253.50
Sep 9 PM 1,255.00
Sep 10 AM 1,248.75
Sep 10 PM 1,246.50
Sep 13 AM 1,243.00
Sep 13 PM 1,243.75
Sep 14 AM 1,253.25
Sep 14 PM 1,265.50
Sep 15 AM ?

As long as the Wednesday London AM Fix price for gold is $1,240.75 or above, and the London PM Fix price is above $1,250, then product prices should be increased. Pricing adjustments have typically taken place around mid to late morning on Wednesday.

The prices for First Spouse Gold Coins would be adjusted from $779 to $804 for proof coins and from $766 to $791 for uncirculated coins. The 2010 Gold Buffalo proof coin would see its price increased from $1,510 to $1,560. Each of these prices will represent the highest ever charged by the US Mint for these products.

A focus for collectors ahead of the price increase may be the recently released James Buchanan's Liberty First Spouse Gold Coin. This coin features Christian Gobrecht's design for the Liberty Head Quarter Eagle and has been selling at a brisk pace. As of the latest US Mint sales report, a total of 7,399 coins have been sold, representing almost 50% of the maximum authorized mintage.
Coin Update News: Complete US Mint Sales Report


Monday, September 13, 2010

2011 Annual Products Will Be Available in January 2011

The US Mint has just announced that next year's core annual products will be available for sale in January 2011. These products will include the 2011 Uncirculated Mint Set, 2011 Proof Set, and 2011 Silver Proof Set.

Typically, the US Mint's full annual coin sets have gone on sale much later in the year. For the current year, the 2010 Mint Set went on sale July 15, the 2010 Proof Set on July 22, and the 2010 Silver Proof Set on August 26.

A quote included in the release states that the products will be available for sale earlier in the year in response to customer demand. Specifically, the desire to have the current year products available for collections and gift-giving occasions throughout the year is mentioned.

The press release does not indicate whether sales of the 2010 dated sets will end once sales of the corresponding 2011 dated sets begins. On past occasions and for some other products, sales of the prior year versions have ended as sales of the current year versions have begun. However, there have been plenty of exceptions to the general pattern.

Most recently, sales of the 2009 Mint Set, 2009 Proof Set, and 2009 Silver Proof Set were all concluded together on June 15, 2010, well before the current year versions went on sale. The reason was that the sets contained Lincoln Cents struck in a composition of 95% copper that were only authorized to be sold for a specified period. Meanwhile, sales for the 2009 DC & US Territories Proof Set and Silver Proof Set have continued to the present day.

If sales of 2010 annual sets are concluded in January to coincide with the offering of the new 2011 sets, this could set up extremely low mintages for the 2010 sets. However, I think it is more likely that sales of the 2010 annual sets will continue into the following year alongside the 2011 sets. I will see if I can get some confirmation of how this will be handled.
Coin Update News: Silver Eagle Rationing Ends


Thursday, September 9, 2010

US Mint Coin Production August 2010

The United States Mint has provided updated circulating coin production figures through the end of August 2010. The latest update also includes the preliminary mintage figures for the Grand Canyon National Park Quarter.

During August 2010, the US Mint produced 743.78 million coins across the Philadelphia and Denver facilities. Coins produced included cents, nickels, dimes, quarters, and dollars.

The past month's production is a slight drop from July 2010 when 772.08 million coins were produced. After starting the year at very low levels, coin production recorded four consecutive monthly increases to reach production of more than 900 million coins in June 2010. In the two months since, numbers have receded from the high.

The table below presents a breakdown of circulating coin production by denomination and mint facility. The first column represents production for the month of August 2010, while the second column shows the total annual production through August 30, 2010.

2010 US Mint Coin Production Figures

August 2010 YTD 2010
Lincoln Cent - Denver 181.60 M 1,306.00 M
Lincoln Cent - Phil. 269.20 M 1,451.63 M
Jefferson Nickel - Denver 25.20 M 97.68 M
Jefferson Nickel - Phil. 28.08 M 147.84 M
Roosevelt Dime - Denver 61.00 M 323.00 M
Roosevelt Dime - Phil. 78.00 M 402.00 M
Quarters - Denver 23.20 M 133.20 M
Quarters - Phil. 34.80 M 134.20 M
Kennedy Half - Denver 0 1.70 M
Kennedy Half - Phil. 0 1.80 M
Native Am Dollar - Denver 0 42.98 M
Native Am Dollar - Phil. 0 32.06 M
Pres Dollar - Denver 13.02 M 124.88 M
Pres Dollar - Phil. 29.68 M 142.24 M

Total 743.78 M 4,341.21 M

The Lincoln Cent accounted for more than 60% of the total coins struck during the month. There were 450.8 million coins produced across the Philadelphia and Denver facilities. The year to date total now exceeds the total production of 2009 Lincoln Cents, which was 2,354 million across all four Bicentennial designs.

The relatively robust production of nickels and dimes continued this month. There were 53.28 million nickels and 139 million dimes produced. Year to date totals now vastly exceed the low mintages recorded for the 2009 Jefferson Nickel and 2009 Roosevelt Dime.

Rounding out production were 58 million America the Beautiful Quarters and 42.7 million Presidential Dollars. Production did not take place for the Kennedy Half Dollar and Native American Dollar.

In addition to the figures by denomination, preliminary production figures were provided for the Grand Canyon Quarter. The numbers were 34.6 million from the Philadelphia Mint and 34.8 million from the Denver Mint for a combined total of 69.4 million. This coin is scheduled for circulation release on September 20, 2010.

In the past, once production of a new design had begun, production would be closed for the prior design. This year, the US Mint has indicated that they may restart production of earlier designs if demand exists from their bulk purchase program. So far, none of the preliminary figures from the earlier designs have been adjusted upwards.

The table below shows the preliminary production figures by design for the 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters and 2010 Presidential Dollars.

2010 US Mint Coin Production by Design

Denver Phil. Total
Hot Springs Quarter 29.00 M 30.60 M 59.60 M
Yellowstone Quarter 34.80 M 33.60 M 68.40 M
Yosemite Quarter 34.80 M 35.20 M 70.00 M
Grand Canyon Quarter 34.60 M 34.80 M 69.40 M

Fillmore Dollar 36.96 M 37.52 M 74.48 M
Pierce Dollar 38.36 M 38.22 M 76.58 M
Buchanan Dollar 36.54 M 36.82 M 73.36 M

Coin Update News: US Mint Bullion Coin Sales Report


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Buchanan's Liberty Gold Coin Sales Open at 6,127

In the first few days of availability, the United States Mint has recorded sales of 3,641 proof and 2,486 uncirculated James Buchanan's Liberty First Spouse Gold Coins. The combined sales of 6,127 represent slightly more than 40% of the 15,000 coin maximum mintage established for the offering.

This opening sales figures for the Buchanan's Liberty coin are more than double the initial sales for the previous release featuring Jane Pierce, which debuted with combined sales of 2,434. The current release actually marks the strongest opening for the series since the Elizabeth Monroe coin released back in February 2008.

Despite the impressive opening, a quick sell out is probably not in the making. Sales for newly released US Mint products do tend to slow dramatically after the opening days, with the effect seemingly magnified this year. The US Mint offers each issue of the First Spouse Gold Coin series until orders have been received to fulfill the maximum mintage or for approximately one year, whichever occurs first. A sell out for the Buchanan's Liberty coin several months from now does seem to be a possibility.

The first three releases of the "Liberty subset" recorded total sales of 40,000 (Jackson's Liberty), 12,560 (Jackson's Liberty), and 11,849 (Van Buren's Liberty). Each of these issues had carried a maximum authorized mintage of 40,000 coins.

Besides the strong opening numbers for the James Buchanan's Liberty Gold Coins, the other offerings of the series saw a boost in the latest week. Across the proof and uncirculated versions of the Sarah Polk, Margaret Taylor, Abigail Fillmore, and Jane Pierce coins, the US Mint recorded sales of 957 coins. Weekly sales for the series typically fall into the 300-500 coin range.

Has the latest release drawn some collector interest back to the broader series? The following release featuring Mary Todd Lincoln might provide another boost or at least keep interest levels high.

View the full weekly US Mint sales report on Coin Update News.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

2010 Proof Gold Eagles

An article from CoinWorld has broken the story that the United States Mint will be offering 2010 Proof American Gold Eagles. The popular collector coins will be available in mid-October, across the standard range of options.

As collectors are well aware, the 2009 Proof and Uncirculated Gold Eagles were canceled as a result of demand for bullion coins. By law, the US Mint must produce American Eagle gold and silver bullion coins in quantities sufficient to meet public demand. For an extended period, the US Mint fell short of meeting full demand and accordingly sourced all incoming blank supplies to the production of bullion coins. Collector versions of the Gold and Silver Eagle, which are not legally mandated, were not produced.

As explored in a previous post, throughout the current year, the US Mint had shown that they were catching up with demand for gold bullion coins. The US Mint ended the allocation program in effect for one ounce Gold Eagles in March. The following month, 2010 Gold Buffalo bullion coins were offered, followed by the proof versions of the coin. Fractional Gold Eagle bullion coins were also available by mid year. As the US Mint is now presumably satisfying full public demand for American Gold Eagle bullion coins across options, they are clear to produce collector versions of the coin.

According to the CoinWorld article, maximum mintages have been set at 64,000 one ounce coins, 54,000 one-half ounce coins, 55,000 one-quarter ounce coins, and 66,000 one-tenth ounce coins. This takes into account the separate maximums established for individual coins and 39,000 of each coin allocated to 4 Coin Sets.

Although the maximum mintages seem high, they are basically in line with the maximum limits established for the 2008 Proof Gold Eagles. However, for that year, final sales fell far short of the maximum levels established. The table below shows the combined maximum mintage for each of the 2008 Proof Gold Eagles, along with the final audited mintages.
2008 Proof Gold Eagles

Max. Mintage Final Mintage
1 ounce 60,000 30,237
1/2 ounce 50,000 22,602
1/4 ounce 51,000 18,877
1/10 ounce 65,000 28,116

It has not yet been confirmed whether household ordering limits will be imposed for the 2010 Proof Gold Eagles. Pricing will be determined based on the average London Fix price of gold during the week leading up to the release. Once these details are available, they will be explored in a future post.

The CoinWorld article also mentions that the 2010 Proof Silver Eagles are "still in limbo". While demand for gold bullion has abated, demand for silver bullion is still running at high levels. For the year to date, the US Mint has sold 23,600,500 of the one ounce silver bullion coins. If the current pace of sales continues, the annual total for 2010 will mark a fresh all time high.

Recently, it was revealed that the US Mint was hoping for legislative action to allow them to produce 2010 Proof Silver Eagles for collectors. Within testimony delivered during a House subcommittee meeting, Director Moy discussed a potential change in law that would allow production of Proof Silver Eagles even if full demand for bullion coins remained unmet. He mentioned specific mintage levels if production could begin in September. To date, I have not seen any progress on the legislative front and silver bullion demand remains stubbornly high.

In my opinion, without quick legislative action or a dramatic decline in silver bullion demand, the 2010 Proof and Uncirculated Silver Eagles still seem unlikely.


Friday, September 3, 2010

CCAC Recommends Two Designs Out of 55 Candidates

The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) recently sent a strong message to the United Stats Mint about the quality of coin design candidates. During their most recent meeting, they recommended only one obverse and one reverse design out of the total 55 candidates provided by the Mint.

The meeting was held on July 27, 2010 in Philadelphia. The committee reviewed 21 different design candidates for the 2012 Presidential Dollar obverses and 34 different design candidates for the 2011 First Spouse Gold Coin and Bronze medal obverses and reverses.

The same design candidates had been previously reviewed by the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) who were not nearly as critical. The CFA issued recommendations for seven different obverse designs and three different reverse designs, while withholding recommendations for only one obverse and one reverse.

The CFA's recommendations and comments were covered in two articles previously published on Coin Update. (See the articles for the 2012 Presidential Dollars and the 2011 First Spouse Gold Coins.)

The CCAC's single recommendation for an obverse and reverse design were shared by the CFA. These were the obverse design #2 and the reverse design #5 for the Lucretia Garfield First Spouse Gold Coin.

The main reason the CCAC recommended so few designs was a change in procedures adopted at the beginning of the meeting. In order to receive a recommendation, a particular candidate must receive at least half of the eligible votes. Each member of the ten member committee can award 0, 1, 2, or 3 points per design. Therefore, in order to receive a recommendation, a candidate must earn at least 15 points.

The recommended obverse and reverse for the Lucretia Garfield coins had earned 16 and 17 points each.

Based on the recently published minutes of the CCAC meeting, recurring issues with the obverse designs seemed to be the fact that the portraits were copies of work done by other artists and not truly original. Another recurring issue was glaring historical inaccuracies such as the inclusion of a sewing machine on one reverse design years before it was invented.

Five US Mint artists were in attendance at the meeting, including John Mercanti, Don Everhart, Joseph Menna, Phebe Hemphill, and Renata Gordon. The CCAC Chairman requested that art staff be present at all future meetings in order to maintain an ongoing dialogue. In the past, CCAC members have gone out of their way to state that they believe the problem is with the US Mint's procedures rather than the skill of the artists.

Earlier this year the CCAC formed a subcommittee on design excellence, tasked with producing a "visual definition of design excellence" and developing recommendations for addressing design quality for future proposals. The final report of the CCAC Subcommittee's will be sent to the Secretary of the Treasury.