Mint News Blog

News, Information, and Commentary on US Mint Products

Thursday, June 30, 2011

2011 Proof American Silver Eagles

The United States Mint will begin sales of the 2011 Proof Silver Eagles today, June 30, 2011 at 12:00 Noon ET. Traditionally, this has been one of the Mint's most popular annual collector offerings.

A collectible proof version of the American Silver Eagle has been offered each year from 1986 to present, with the exception of 2009. The obverse design features Adolph A. Weinman's classic depiction of Liberty from the Walking Liberty Half Dollar. The reverse features a heraldic eagle designed by former Chief Engraver of the United States Mint John Mercanti.

The 2011 Proof Silver Eagles are struck at the West Point Mint and carry the "W" mint mark. Each coin is struck in .999 fine silver and has a weight of one troy ounce.

Pricing for this years offering has been set at $59.95 per coin. This represents an increase of $14 from the price of last year's offering. Reportedly, a silver market price of $37.50 per ounce was basis for this year's pricing. Silver is currently trading around $34.80 per ounce.

An initial ordering limit of 100 coins per household will be in place for the start of sales. The same limit was initially imposed last year, but removed after two weeks of sales.

Even before the actual start of sales, things seem to be going more smoothly for the Proof Silver Eagle offering. Last year, the release date took place very late in the year on November 19. In the week leading up to the release date, the US Mint sent 100,000 incorrect email notifications stating that the product was canceled. Shortly after the start of sales, approximately 2,200 orders were deleted in error.

Let's hope that today's release continues to go smoothly. Here is a link to the US Mint's product page.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

2010-P Grand Canyon Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coin

It's time for another America the Beautiful 5 oz. silver numismatic release. Today, June 29, 2011 at 12:00 Noon ET, the US Mint will begin accepting orders for the Grand Canyon National Park Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coins.

The reverse of the coin, designed and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill, features a view of the granaries above the Nankoweap Delta in Marble Canyon near the Colorado River. The obverse features the 1932 portrait of George Washington by John Flanagan.

Following the format of previous numismatic releases, the coins will include the "P" mint mark and carry a finish created through a vapor blasting technique.

The Grand Canyon Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coins are priced at $279.95 each and have a maximum mintage of 27,000. An ordering limit of one coin per household has been established and will remain in place for at least the first week of sales.

This will represent the fourth numismatic release in the program. The first release featuring Hot Springs saw a flood of orders during the opening hour of sales that took down the US Mint's website. Orders were received to meet the 27,000 mintage following 15 days of availability, after which a waiting list was imposed.

The next release featuring Yellowstone National Park experienced a less turbulent opening, and the US Mint's website remained operational. The pace of sales was around the same level as the prior release, with a sell out achieved after 15 days. This time, there was no waiting list.

The most recent release featuring Yosemite National Park saw opening sales that were somewhat slower than the prior two releases. However, after 14 days of availability, orders had been received to meet the 27,000 maximum and a waiting list was imposed. The coins still remain available for ordering on the US Mint's website on a waiting list basis.

Once again, it's likely that the Grand Canyon design will achieve a sell out of the maximum mintage. If the pattern of the last two releases holds, the coins might be available for about two weeks.

The big question is how will the US Mint handle the future numismatic releases of the series after the last of the 2010-dated coins? Presumably, the low mintage of 27,000 was the result of the limited time frame and/or precious metals blanks available before the close of last year. Given the opportunity, will the US Mint increase the mintage levels, as they did for the bullion versions of the coin? The 2010-dated bullion coins had 33,000 per design, while the 2011-dated versions have had 126,700 per design.

In terms of collector products, the US Mint has a tendency to increase mintage levels for products that quickly sell out. At some point, the increased mintages start to have the opposite effect and actually serve as a detriment to sales. A recent example is the one ounce Proof Platinum Eagle, which had a maximum mintage of 8,000 coins in 2009. This was increased to 10,000 for 2010, and finally 15,000 for the current year. The 2009 and 2010 issues sold out in about a week, while this year's coin has been lingering and selling slowly. Nearly doubling the maximum mintage may be a significant factor in the slower sales.

Personally, I would prefer if the US Mint keeps the same 27,000 maximum mintage for the 2011-dated numismatic ATB 5 oz. Silver Coins. This would maintain a level of enthusiasm and collectibility based to the limited nature, which would help to preserve the collector base for the ongoing series.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

September 11 Medal Sales at 50,998

After just under one week of availability, sales of the 2011 National September 11 Medals have reached 50,998. This seems to be a relatively strong start for a medal, but it remains well below the ambitious maximum authorized mintage of 2,000,000. At this point, sales account for only 2.55% of the maximum.

View the full weekly sales report at

The total sales for the September 11 Medals are made up of 33,046 and 17,952 of the "W" and "P" mint marked versions, respectively. The authorizing legislation had provided that to the extent possible one half of the medals should be struck at West Point and one half at Philadelphia. The US Mint allows customers to order either version without any limits or specific proportions established.

The initial unit sales are below the level of the 2011 Army Silver Dollars released earlier this year. Within a comparable sales period, the coins had sold 67,593 across proof and uncirculated versions. The initial sales figures for the 2011 Medal of Honor Silver Dollars were lower at 35,502, however the initial period only covered two days.

Some factors potentially weighing on the sales: 1.) the fact that it is a medal rather than a coin with a legal tender face value; 2.) the fact that it is not part of any ongoing series or program; 3.) competition from the flood of other silver numismatic products; and 4.) there seems to be very little awareness of the medal in the mass market where the coins could potentially sell in greater numbers.

There was some mainstream and local coverage of the launch event held at the start of sales. (This article includes some images of the actual medal.) However, the number of articles on the official US Mint medal have been fewer in number than the articles which appeared in the media earlier this year about the "bogus" or "fake" 9/11 commemorative coins offered by a private company.

I believe the last time the US Mint offered silver medals was the National Wildlife Refuge System Centennial Medal Series of 2003. The 1.5 inch diameter silver medals featured Theodore Roosevelt on the obverse and four separate reverse designs featuring the Bald Eagle, Elk, Canvasback Duck, and Salmon. The maximum mintages were 35,000 for the Bald Eagle medal and 25,000 for each of the other designs. If memory serves, each of these medals sold out rather quickly, which would have made for total medal sales of 110,000 units across the four designs.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Ulysses S. Grant Presidential $1 Coin Cover

The United States Mint will begin sales of the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Dollar Coin Cover on June 29, 2011 at 12:00 Noon ET. This will be the 18th release in the American Presidency $1 Coin Cover series.

Each cover includes Ulysses S. Grant Dollars sourced from the first day of mintage at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. These two coins are mounted on a display card and placed within an illustrated envelope including a 44-cent postage stamp with a postmark of "May 19, 2011 St. Louis, MO", the official circulation release date of the coins.

The US Mint redesigned these covers starting with the prior release. The portrait of the President was reduced in size to make room for a black bar at the bottom of the envelope, which includes the Treasury Department and US Mint logos. The design used for the first 16 covers featured a larger and more prominent head and shoulders portrait of each President.

Each cover is priced at $19.95 plus applicable shipping and handling. The maximum production limit is established at 22,000 units. Compared to last year's covers, this is a price increase of $4 and production limit decrease of 10,000 units.

The most recently released Andrew Johnson Coin Cover has sold 16,313 units as of the latest available sales report. Previously released covers remain available for sale at the US Mint all the way back to William Henry Harrison, the 9th President.

Coin Update News: Interview with Erik Jansen, Newest Member of CCAC

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Yosemite Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coins on Waiting List

The US Mint has posted a "waiting list" notice for the 2010-P Yosemite National Park Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coin.
This notice signifies that the United States Mint has received orders to meet the maximum mintage limit for the product. Orders are still being accepting, but they will go on a waiting list, which will be fulfilled on a first come, first served basis in the event that any coins become available due to order cancellations.

Sales figures for the third numismatic release had been trending slower than the previous releases, which makes the apparent sell out an unexpected development.

The Yosemite coin went on sale June 9, 2011. Through the first US Mint sales report on June 12, total sales had reached 20,511 units. In the following week, sales of 2,593 units were recorded to bring the total to 23,104 on June 19. If the waiting list notice is correct, then an additional 3,896 have been sold since that date to reach the maximum mintage of 27,000 coins.

In total, the Yosemite National Park Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coins have been available for 14 days before the waiting list notice was posted. This compares to availability of 15 days each for the prior two releases featuring Hot Springs and Yellowstone National Park.

Other News

Yesterday, the US Mint reduced the price of the 2011 Proof Platinum Eagle. Since the start of sales on May 26, 2011, the coins had been priced at $2,092 each. The new price is $1,992 per coin, reflecting an average platinum price within the $1,650 to $1,749.99 range.

Today, the US Mint officially announced the details for the fourth numismatic ATB five ounce silver coin featuring Grand Canyon National Park. Sales will begin on June 29, 2011 at 12:00 Noon ET. The price per coin will remain at $279.95, and the same ordering limit of one coin per household will be imposed.

Details of the 2011 Proof Silver Eagle were also announced. Nothing has changed from the preliminary details provided earlier this month. Sales will begin on June 30, 2011. The coins will be priced at $59.95 each, and an initial ordering limit of 100 coins per household will be in place. There is no maximum mintage limit established.


Julia Grant First Spouse Gold Coins

Later today, June 23, 2011 at 12:00 Noon ET, the United States Mint will begin sales of the 2011 Julia Grant First Spouse Gold Coins. This will continue the one-half ounce 24 karat gold coin series featuring the spouses of the former Presidents.

The obverse design features a portrait of Julia Grant designed by Donna Weaver and sculpted by Michael Gaudioso. The inscriptions include her name, the order of the Presidency "18th", years of the term "1869-1877", the mottoes "In God We Trust", "Liberty", the date, and mint mark.

On the reverse of the coin is a scene of young Julia Dent and her future husband Ulysses S. Grant. The two are pictured during their courtship, riding horseback on her family's plantation, White Haven. The inscriptions include "United States of America", "E Pluribus Unum", the legal tender face value, and the weight and fineness of the gold content. The reverse was designed by Richard Masters and sculpted by Charles L. Vickers.

The maximum mintage level has been established at 15,000 coins, across the available proof and uncirculated versions. This is the same level that was in place for the previous release, as well as three out of the four releases for 2010. There are no household ordering limits imposed.

Initial pricing for the coins will be $929 for the proof version and $916 for the uncirculated version. This is based on an average gold price within the $1,500 to $1,549.99 range and may be adjusted throughout the course of sales as the average gold price moves into different pricing tiers. The previous Eliza Johnson gold coins had the same initial pricing, had a one week decrease, and then moved back to the original pricing.

The period of availability for each release of the First Spouse Gold Coin program has been somewhat erratic throughout the series. It seems that whenever a familiar pattern has settled in, the events or circumstances align to change it.

Back in 2007, the first three issues all managed to sell out of their maximum mintage of 40,000 on the first day of availability. The United States Mint responded by lowering ordering limits to one per household, which would remain in place for the next several releases, even after sales had cooled.

The following issues of the series remained available for approximately one year from the initial release date. The US Mint would end sales sales of one particular issue to coincide with the release of the coin one year ahead in the schedule. The only aberration to this pattern was when the US Mint ended sales of both the Letitia and Julia Tyler coins together to adjust for the extra coin issued for that year.

The next change in the pattern of availability came with the 2010-dated releases. Each issue carried a maximum mintage of 15,000 and there was no reason to believe sales would proceed any differently than in the past. In early 2011, the proof version of the James Buchanan's Liberty coin unexpectedly sold out with sales well under the maximum mintage. It turned out that the US Mint had struck fewer than the maximum mintage based on demand forecasts, and no further coins could be produced since it was already 2011. Similar sell outs occurred for the other 2011 issues, and now the only one that remains available is the proof version of the Mary Todd Lincoln coin.

The shifts in availability have contributed to some attractively low mintages throughout the series. It's probably safe to assume that new Julia Grant First Spouse Gold Coins will be available from the US Mint throughout 2011, but after that I suppose anything could happen.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2010-P Abraham Lincoln Rolls Sold Out

According to the US Mint's website, the 2010 Abraham Lincoln Presidential $1 Coin Rolls from the Philadelphia Mint have sold out. These are the specially packaged numismatic rolls offered by the Mint for each issue of the series. The coins included in the rolls are the same as those issued for circulation.

The Abraham Lincoln Dollar Rolls originally went on sale on November 18, 2010, meaning that they have been available for just over seven months. The 25-coin rolls from Philadelphia have sold 49,300 units according to the latest sales report.

At the time of this post, the Denver Mint rolls remain available for sale, although they have a back order date of July 7. The sales report shows slightly lower sales at 48,770 units.

Numismatic products that feature Abraham Lincoln have always been popular and this product has been no exception. The sales levels are well above of all other Presidential Dollar rolls that are currently offered by the US Mint, several of which have been available for longer periods of time. The longest available rolls are those featuring James K. Polk, which originally went on sale on August 20, 2009.

Of the sold out Presidential Dollar Rolls, the only ones that tend to bring a big premium are those featuring William Henry Harrison. These rolls sold out in less than two months, with final sales of 30,000 from each mint. The continued premium is somewhat perplexing as a few subsequent issues also sold out quickly at the same final sales levels, but do not command a premium.

Coin Update News: Complete US Mint Sales Report

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Monday, June 20, 2011

2011 September 11 National Medals

Today, the United States Mint will begin sales of the 2011 September 11 National Medals. Up to 2 million of the proof quality, one ounce silver medals will be issued.

The designs used for the medal are intended to be "emblematic of the courage, sacrifice, and strength of those individuals who perished in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the bravery of those who risked their lives to save others that day, and the endurance, resilience, and hope of those who survived."

As covered in a previous post, the obverse features Liberty holding the Lamp of Remembrance with two beacons of light in the background, while the reverse features an eagle against a background of flowing water. The inscriptions read "Always Remember" and "2001-2011" on the obverse and "Honor Hope" on the reverse. The obverse and reverse were designed by Donna Weaver and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill (obverse) and Joseph Menna (reverse).

The medals are struck in .999 fine silver with a diameter of 40.6 mm and weight of one troy ounce. Production will take place at West Point and Philadelphia, with separate coins available featuring the "W" or "P" mint mark on the reverse.

The authorizing legislation allows the medals to be struck until December 31, 2012 and does not specify a sales ending date. Separately, the US Mint indicated that they would conclude sales in December 2012.

Introductory pricing is $56.95 for each September 11 National Medal, effective from June 20 to August 18, 2011 at 5:00 PM ET. After this time, the price will be $66.95. Orders placed during the introductory period will receive a document showcasing the artwork for the designs. Medals are not expected to begin shipping until September 1, 2011.

All prices reflect a surcharge of $10 per medal, which will be distributed to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum to support operations and maintenance.

There is a greater than typical incentive to order the medals during the introductory period. The price increase after the end of the stated period reflects an increase of $10 per medal. This year's proof commemorative silver dollars, which also had lower introductory pricing, experienced an increase of $5 per coin after the end of the period.

Pricing in general also seems quite low by US Mint standards. The proof commemorative silver dollars, which only contain 0.7736 ounces of silver content, were initially priced at $54.95. This pricing was established on January 3, when the market price of silver was around $30.60.

The upcoming 2011 Proof Silver Eagle, which contains the same silver content as the September 11 Medal, will be priced at $59.95. If you consider the $10 surcharge added to the medal, the Proof Silver Eagles are priced $13 higher.

The relatively lower pricing for the September 11 National Medal may reflect expectations of higher sales volume due to the potential for broad demand. So far, I have not seen too many mainstream mentions of the medals. If the US Mint can get the word out, this is an issue that many members of the general public may want to purchase.


Friday, June 17, 2011

2011 America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins

While the numismatic versions have dominated collector attention, the United States Mint continues to release the bullion versions of 2011-dated America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Coins. After the first two designs quickly sold out, the third design has lingered, as the four design prepares for release.

Since these are bullion coins, they are distributed through a network of authorized purchasers (APs) and not sold directly to the public. The APs are able to purchase the coins from the Mint in bulk quantities based on the market price of silver plus a mark up of $9.75 per coin. The coins are then resold to other dealers and the public.

The US Mint began accepting orders for the first two designs for this year featuring Gettysburg National Military Park and Glacier National Park on April 25, 2011. The Mint indicated that an initial quantity of 126,700 coins for each design would be made available via allocation.

By the end of April, the APs had ordered 225,400 of the coins across both designs, representing almost 90% of the total quantity available. The US Mint announced a complete sell out of all 253,400 coins on May 16.

The following design featuring Olympic National Park was first available for ordering on May 23, 2011. By the close of the month, APs had ordered 73,400 coins, representing about 58% of the total quantity available. According to the latest available information, no further sales have been recorded for the current month to date.

Next week on June 20, 2011, the US Mint will begin accepting orders from authorized purchasers for the next design featuring Vicksburg National Military Park. Once again, the initial quantity available will be 126,700 coins. It seems possible that the pace of orders may be even slower than the prior release.

The slow down in sales for the five ounce silver bullion coins may be the result of a combination of factors. The significant increase in the quantity available is likely having an impact, as it takes investors and collectors time to absorb the supply. Collectively, all five of the 2010-dated bullion releases had production of 165,000 coins. Sales for the 2011-dated coins have already more than doubled this amount.

The turbulence in the silver market may have provided a boost to earlier sales. When the first two designs of 2011 were released, the price of silver was reaching new highs and physical silver inventories were getting tighter. The popular American Silver Eagles were in short supply as the US Mint continued to ration quantities, driving increased premiums on the secondary market. At the time, the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins presented a great alternative to acquire physical silver.

Two months later, the US Mint managed to increase the number of American Silver Eagles available by adding production at the San Francisco Mint. This seems to be having an impact on the market, as shown by a decline in premiums charged by bullion dealers. With both silver bullion options on more equal footing, some may be turning back to the traditional Silver Eagles.

Seasonality may also be having an impact. Precious metals sales have generally showed a decline in activity during the summer. For the past two years, Silver Eagle sales have shown incremental declines in the summer months, with a rebound in demand starting in October.

What will be the long term level of demand for America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins? The number of coins struck for 2010 was certainly too low at 165,000 coins (825,000 ounces). This year production across all five designs will be 633,500 coins (3,167,500 ounces) if the US Mint continues to make the same quantity available. This would be a little less than one-tenth the number of Silver Eagle bullion coins sold last year.

Update: The US Mint has scheduled the release of the next two numismatic versions of the America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Coins. Grand Canyon National Park will be released on June 29, 2011 and Mount Hood National Forest will be released on July 28, 2011.

Another update: The US Mint just posted a video on ATB Silver Bullion Coin production on YouTube. I will embed below or check it out here.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Flood of US Mint Silver Numismatic Products

The pendulum of US Mint product offerings always seems to swing from way too little, to way too much. This year collectors seem to be facing "way too much," particularly for silver numismatic products.

For many years, there had typically been two to four different silver numismatic products offered by the US Mint. These have included one or two different commemorative silver dollars and the annual Proof Silver Eagle. Starting in 2006, an uncirculated version of the Silver Eagle was added to the mix.

Most recently, for 2009, both of the collectible Silver Eagles were canceled, resulting in just two silver products. For 2010, the proof Silver Eagle returned, making for three silver products. This year, due to some unusual circumstances, there are fifteen different silver numismatic products that have been released or are expected to be released.

To make matters worse, the flood of silver products occurs during a year when the market price of silver has reached 30 year high. So not only are their more products for collectors to buy, the price levels are significantly higher.

For each of these product counts, I am not including annual sets struck in silver or various packaging types or versions of the same coin. The specific silver products for each year are listed below.

2009 Silver Products

Abraham Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollars
Louis Braille Commemorative Silver Dollars

2010 Silver Products

2010 Boy Scouts Commemorative Silver Dollars
2010 American Veterans Disabled for Life Silver Dollars
2010 Proof Silver Eagle

2011 Silver Products

2011 Army Commemorative Silver Dollars
2011 Medal of Honor Commemorative Silver Dollars
2011 September 11 National Medals
2011 Proof Silver Eagle
2011-W Unc Silver Eagle
2010 Hot Springs 5 oz Unc Silver
2010 Yellowstone 5 oz Unc Silver
2010 Yosemite 5 oz Unc Silver
2010 Grand Canyon 5 oz Unc Silver
2010 Mount Hood 5 oz Unc Silver
2011 Gettysburg 5 oz Unc Silver
2011 Glacier 5 oz Unc Silver
2011 Olympic 5 oz Unc Silver
2011 Vicksburg 5 oz Unc Silver
2011 Chickasaw 5 oz Unc Silver

Any way you look at it, this year will represent a historic high in terms of the number of silver numismatic products released, going back many years. In 1995 and 1996, there had been seven silver products released per year, due to an outpouring of commemorative issues. This situation actually led to legislation which limited the number of commemorative programs that could be approved for each year.

To find a higher number of silver numismatic products than 2011, I believe you have to go all the way back to 1936, when early commemorative coin issuance had gotten out of control.

There is a potential "silver lining" in the current situation. In the past, at the end of a cycle there have typically been several products that remain overlooked, under ordered, or otherwise low in mintage. The circumstances and specifics are always different, but these types of products have gone on to relatively swift and enduring high price levels on the secondary market.

In 2008, the US Mint reached the peak of an aggressive expansion in the number of numismatic gold and platinum products. For that year, they had offered proof and uncirculated versions, fractional weight coins, and four coin sets across three different programs. Near the end of the year, the US Mint announced the cancellation of the vast majority of the products types, setting off a rapid sell out of remaining inventories. When the dust settled, there were significant winners in the 2008-W Proof and Uncirculated Gold Buffalo coins, 2008-W Uncirculated $10 Gold Eagle, and to a lesser extent some of the low mintage platinum coins.

I see the potential for another batch of winners occurring at the end of the current cycle.

Stay tuned. It's going to be an interesting year.
Coin Update News: US Mint Sales Report


Monday, June 13, 2011

September 11 National Medals on Sale June 20

Earlier today, the United States Mint announced the sales start date and pricing for the 2011 September 11 National Medal. The final design selections were also provided.

The obverse features Liberty holding the Lamp of Remembrance with two beacons of light in the background. These elements symbolize "not just the immeasurable loss on that fateful day, but also the resiliency and triumph of those who persevered." The inscriptions read ALWAYS REMEMBER and 2001-2011.

The reverse depicts an eagle against a background of flowing water. The eagle symbolizes "the strength of the survivors, families and Nation" while the water is "emblematic of peace, serenity, healing and the continuity of life." The inscriptions below are HONOR and HOPE.

The obverse was designed by Donna Weaver and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill. The reverse was designed by Weaver and sculpted by Joseph Menna.

When the CFA and CCAC reviewed the design candidates provided by the US Mint, both had recommended the selected obverse. The CFA recommended the selected reverse, while the CCAC recommended a version with the same image but a different inscription.

Initially, there were ten obverse design candidates and 16 different reverse design candidates. All of the candidate designs can be viewed here.

The September 11 National Medals will be struck at the Philadelphia and West Point Mint in proof quality. Medals bearing either the "P" or "W" mint mark can be ordered separately. The maximum mintage across both options is 2,000,000.

Each medal contains one troy ounce of .999 fine silver. The diameter of the coins is 1.598 inches (the same as the American Silver Eagle). The edge of the coins is smooth.

The US Mint will begin sales of the September 11 National Medals on June 20, 2011. However, the medals are not expected to begin shipping until September 1, 2011.

Pricing for the medals will be $56.95 during an introductory period from June 20, 2011 through August 18, 2011 at 5:00 PM. Any medals ordered during this period will receive a document showcasing the artwork for the designs, descriptions, and the signature of the Acting Mint Director. After the introductory period, the medals will be priced at $66.95. A sales ending date is not provided, however the authorizing legislation stipulates that no medals may be struck after December 31, 2012.

A surcharge of $10 is included in the purchase price. These surcharges will be distributed to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum to support operations and maintenance.


Olympic National Park Quarter Bags and Rolls

The United States Mint will begin sales of the Olympic National Park Quarter numismatic bags and rolls today June 13, 2011 at 12:00 Noon ET. This coin represents the eighth release of the America the Beautiful Quarters Program.

The reverse design features a Roosevelt elk stepping onto a gravel river bar of the Hoh River with Mount Olympus in the background. This was designed by Susan Gamble and sculpted by Michael Gaudioso. The obverse features a portrait of George Washington by John Flanagan.

Two roll sets will be available containing one 40-coin roll each from the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. The custom wrappers indicate the issue, face value of the contents, and mint mark. The sets containing $20 face value worth of quarters are priced at $39.95.

Separately, 100-coin bags will be available for each separate mint. The canvas bags indicate the face value of the contents and are sewn shut. A tag with the US Mint logo indicates the issue and mint mark. The bags which contain $25 face value in quarters are priced at $49.95 each.

As with previous bags and rolls offered for the America the Beautiful Quarters, the Mint indicates that the products will remain available for one year from the release date. Sales have already ended for bags and rolls of the first two designs featuring Hot Springs and Yellowstone.

An official launch ceremony for the Olympic National Park Quarter has been scheduled to take place tomorrow June 14, 11:00 AM PT at City Pier, Port Angeles Washington. These events have provided an opportunity for attendees to acquire the coins at face value in a coin exchange following the ceremony.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Proof Silver Eagle Preliminary Details

The United States Mint recently published pricing for the 2011 Proof Silver Eagle and provided some other preliminary details to customers who have subscriptions placed for the offering.

Based on information published in the Federal Register, the cost of the 2011 Proof Silver Eagle will be $59.95. According to information provided to subscription customers, there will be an ordering limit of 100 coins per household in place at the start of the offering. Based on the Mint's online product schedule, the coins will be released on June 30, 2011.

The pricing reflects an increase of $14 from the 2010-dated proof coin, which was $45.95. This increase was to be expected, since the market price of silver has risen.

Pricing for the 2010 Proof Eagle was provided on October 4, 2010, when silver was $22.03 per ounce. At the time the coins went on sale November 19, silver had risen to $27.07 per ounce. The premium above metal value at these two respective points in time was $23.92 (108.6%) and $18.88 (69.7%).

The premium for the 2011 Proof Silver Eagle based on today's London Fix silver price of $37.38 is $22.57 (60.4%).

The household ordering limit for this year's offering is the same that was initially in place for last year's offering. The limit for the 2010 proof Silver Eagle was eventually removed after two weeks of sales.

The initial start of sales for the 2011 Proof Silver Eagle is significantly ahead of last year's offering, which was released on November 19 and sold out by December 28 at 860,000 units.

I will have some additional commentary closer to the release date.


US Mint Coin Production May 2011

Circulating coin production at the United States Mint jumped to its highest monthly level in nearly a year. Across all denominations, there were a total of 807.41 million coins produced at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints during May 2011.

The breakdown by denomination shows a heavy concentration in the lower denominations. Cents, nickels, and dimes made up 97.64% of all circulating coinage struck during the month. Small amounts of quarters and Presidential Dollars accounted for the remaining production.

The table below shows the production for each denomination by mint location. The first number column represents the monthly production, while the second column represents year to date production through May 31, 2011.
2011 US Mint Coin Production Figures

May 2011 YTD 2011
Lincoln Cent - Denver 236.14 M 983.74 M
Lincoln Cent - Phil. 204.80 M 911.20 M
Jefferson Nickel - Denver 65.76 M 198.48 M
Jefferson Nickel - Phil. 67.68 M 158.88 M
Roosevelt Dime - Denver 93.00 M 289.50 M
Roosevelt Dime - Phil. 121.00 M 315.50 M
Quarters - Denver 16.80 M 92.20 M
Quarters - Phil. 0 91.60 M
Kennedy Half - Denver 0 1.70 M
Kennedy Half - Phil. 0 1.75 M
Native Am Dollar - Denver 0 18.06 M
Native Am Dollar - Phil. 0 9.66 M
Pres Dollar - Denver 1.11 M 75.04 M
Pres Dollar - Phil. 1.12 M 73.64 M

Total 807.41 M 3,220.95 M

With five months of the year completed, the US Mint is on pace to exceed the production levels of the prior year. For all of 2010, there were 6.37 billion coins struck for circulation.

The production level for the nickel is setting a faster pace than the previous year. The year to date total of 357.36 million compares to last year's annual total of 490.56 million.

The Native American Dollars are on a slower pace. However, the US Mint will be legally required to increase production at some before the close of the year. By law, at least 20% of all dollar coins produced for each year must be Native American Dollars. The current percentage is 15.71%.

Final production figures for the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Dollar were released with the latest data. For coins with rotating designs, the US Mint has generally provided figures following the end of production. (Although production of America the Beautiful Quarters may be restarted at any point during the year of issue.)

There were 76.02 million Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Dollars struck across both facilities. This is slightly greater than the number of coins struck for the previous release featuring Andrew Johnson.

Shown below are all of the production levels by design that have been released by the US Mint so far.

2011 US Mint Coin Production by Design

Denver Phil. Total
Gettysburg Quarter 30.80 M 30.40 M 61.20 M
Glacier Quarter 31.20 M 30.40 M 61.60 M

Andrew Johnson Dollar 37.10 M 35.56 M 72.66 M
Ulysses S. Grant Dollar 37.94 M 38.08 M 76.02 M


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

2010 Yosemite National Park 5 Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coin

Tomorrow, June 9, 2011 at 12:00 Noon ET, the United States Mint will begin sales of the 2010-P Yosemite National Park Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coin. This continues the steady release of the numismatic versions of the America the Beautiful Silver Coins.

The first issue featuring Hot Springs was released on April 28 and reached a sell out (waiting list) on May 13. The next issue featuring Yellowstone National Park was released on May 17 and sold out (without a waiting list) on June 1. The total availability period for each product was 15 days.

The Yosemite coin features a view of the granite rock formation known as El Capitan, which rises more than 3,000 feet above the valley floor. This was designed by Joseph Menna and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill. The obverse of the coin features the restored 1932 portrait of George Washington designed by John Flanagan.

Each coin contains 5 troy ounces of .999 fine silver and has a diameter of 3 inches. This numismatic release carries the "P" mint mark and has a special finish created through a vapor blasting technique applied after striking.

Details of the offering match those of the previous two releases. There is a total mintage of 27,000 units. Pricing will be $279.95, with an ordering limit of one per household imposed.

The US Mint does caution that the pricing is subject to change, but the same price level has been used consistently across a wide range of silver market prices. When the Hot Springs coin went on sale silver was above $48 per ounce, and when Yellowstone was first offered, silver was around $34.

It seems fairly likely that the 2010-dated numismatic America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Coins will continue to sell out. Collectors seem to be motivated by the unique nature of the offering and the limited 27,000 mintage.

Coin Update News: NGC Will Certify 2011 Silver Eagles Struck in San Francisco


Monday, June 6, 2011

2012 United States Infantry Silver Dollar Design Candidates

The Commission of Fine Arts and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee recently reviewed design candidates for the 2012 Infantry Silver Dollars. These coins will be issued next year to commemorate the legacy of the United States Army Infantry and the establishment of the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center.

The program includes silver dollars with a maximum mintage of 350,000 coins, across proof and uncirculated versions. Coins may be issued during the calendar year beginning on January 1, 2012. A surcharge of $10 per coin shall be paid to the National Infantry Foundation for the purpose of establishing an endowment to support the maintenance of the Museum and Soldier Center following its completion.

According to the authorizing legislation, the designs "shall be emblematic of the courage, pride, sacrifice, sense of duty, and history of the United States Infantry." The final designs will be selected by the Secretary of the Treasury following consultation with the National Infantry Foundation, Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), and review by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC).

There were a relatively large number of design candidates provided by the United States Mint, with twelve different alternatives for the obverse and seven different for the reverse. The CFA and CCAC each made different recommendations.

The CFA recommended the designs shown below:

The CCAC recommended this alternate obverse and reverse:

The National Infantry Foundation had expressed preferences for obverse designs #3 (recommended by CFA) and #6 (shown below) and reverse designs #1 (recommended by CCAC), #3 (shown below), and #7 (recommended by CFA).

The various reviews haven't produced much of a consensus. The recent design selections by the Secretary of the Treasury have tended to agree with at least someone's recommendations, so it seems likely that the final designs will be taken from the field of six alternatives above.

All nineteen different design candidates can be seen in this Coin Update News article. At a later date, the site will have more in depth coverage of the CCAC's discussions.

Other Upcoming Commemorative Coins and Medals

The other commemorative coin program authorized for 2012 will mark the bicentennial of the writing of the Star -Spangled Banner with silver dollars and $5 gold coins. Candidate designs for this program have not yet been released.

The programs for 2013 will commemorate the centennial of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America and the United States Army 5-Star Generals.

So far, one program has been authorized for 2014. This will mark the semi centennial of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Before any of these releases, there will be commemorative silver medals issued for the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001. The CFA and CCAC were in near agreement about the designs for the medals, although the final selection has not yet been officially announced. The medals are expected to be available ahead of the anniversary date.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Favorite Coins from World Mints: Part Two

As a break from the regular coverage of US Mint products and coins, I wanted to devote a post to showcasing some of my personal favorite coins from other world mints. I wrote a similar post about a year ago, that can be found here.

While the majority of my collection consists of US coins, I have occasionally acquired certain world coins that I have particularly liked. All of the coins included here were purchased within the past year or so.

In putting together this post, I realized that many of the coins were delivering something that was lacking in current US coin designs and offerings. So the resulting post became not only a showcase of excellent world mint coins, but also a commentary on what can be improved on US coins.

2011 Britannia Silver Bullion Coins

The Royal British Mint has issued one ounce Silver Britannia coins from 1997 to present. Mintages are limited, even for the bullion version, and each year features a new depiction of Britannia. On the 2011 issue, she is seated with a trident and shield, with the image of a billowing union flag overlaid. The use of the two elements results in a modern impression of the classic arrangement.

I would like to see some new interpretations of Liberty on US coins. In recent years, coin designs have used the Statue of Liberty to represent Liberty (Platinum Eagle obverse, Presidential Dollar reverse), which is sort of like turning an allegorical concept into a literal one. Other recent appearances of Liberty have been copies of old designs (First Spouse Gold Liberty Subset, American Gold Eagle, American Silver Eagle, the upcoming American Palladium Eagle). Finally, some recent designs have featured female figures that some collectors mistake for Liberty, but these are not Liberty (Medal of Honor Gold Coin reverse is Minerva, 2011 Proof Platinum Eagle reverse is a harvest goddess).

I cannot even recall the last time a genuinely new rendition of Liberty has appeared on a US coin.

2010 Kangaroo at Sunset Silver Coin

This one ounce silver proof coin is struck by the Royal Australian Mint with a mintage of 5,000 pieces. The design is simple and dominated by empty space, but it makes a great impression on the viewer. Every time I have shown this coin to a non collector, there has been a pause of a second or two to interpret the design, followed by a "wow" expression.

Too many recent US coins have taken a literal approach to design and have not taken any risks or explored innovative compositions. As a result, not too many recent US Mint releases will elicit a "wow" response. One might be the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle, which of course was a reproduction of a design from 100 years ago.

When I have showed some people the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins, their response has been, "Is this a real coin?"

2010 Konsta Jylha and Folk Music Silver Coin

This €10 silver coin was produced by the Mint of Finland for the 100th anniversary of a famous Finnish folk musician and composer. The style of the coin and particularly the obverse portrait were chosen to convey an impression of the historical figure. The designer stated, "Konsta Jylhä was a rather modest person. For this reason I wanted my work to breathe a certain kind of simple modesty, I didn’t want the coin to have too many details." The reverse of the coin shows the openings at the top of a violin.

Too many portraits appearing on US coins are very close reproductions of period portraits or photographs. The CCAC has referred to this as a "trace and bake" approach. To some extent, it should be expected that a likeness on a coin would closely resemble a photographic representation, but an expression as art should convey or allude to something deeper.

Do the images above look familiar? With very little variation, these portraits were used for recent First Spouse Gold Coins.

One-Tenth Ounce Silver Koala and One Half Gram Gold Kangaroo

As the price of gold and silver has risen, some world mints have responded by making smaller sized coins. Above are the 1/10 oz 2011 Silver Koala and 1/2 gram (0.016 troy ounce) 2010 Mini Roo, both from the Perth Mint in Australia. Obviously the premiums are much higher than if purchasing higher weight coins, but that is a recognized and expected factor. The motivations of someone purchasing a one half gram coin as opposed to a one ounce coin are clearly different anyway. These tiny offerings serve to preserve a low pricing point, despite rising precious metals prices.

The US Mint has taken the opposite approach and eliminated smaller weight offerings as precious metals prices have risen. At the end of 2008, the US Mint discontinued fractional weight numismatic products for the Gold Buffalo, Platinum Eagle, and Gold Eagle.

Perpetuating this opposite approach, the US Mint has actually released higher weight coins with the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins, containing 5 troy ounces of silver each.

2010 125 Years of Bulgarian Unification

When writing about world coins, I always like to include a Bulgarian coin, since my wife is Bulgarian and my children are half Bulgarian. This 10 leva coin was issued to commemorate 125 years of unification. The 92.5% silver coin includes a selective gold plating over the stamp of the Bulgarian Secret Central Revolutionary Committee pictured on the reverse. While some colorized or enhanced world coins look garish, this selective gold plating appropriately highlights a portion of the design in an effective manner.

The US Mint has never produced coins with colorization or selective gold plating, and has only produced a single bimetallic coin (2000-W Library of Congress $10 Commemorative). While it would not be appropriate or necessary for every coin, it would be nice to see something different once in a while.

Paul Revere ANA Convention Bronze and Silver Medals

Not a coin and not from a world mint, but something I wanted to include in the post. This is the official medal issued for the ANA 119th Anniversary Convention in Boston designed by Jamie Franki (designer of the new Jefferson Nickel obverse). The obverse of the medal depicts Paul Revere on his midnight ride. The reverse of the coin with a rising sun and pine tree was based on a 2-shilling note that had been engraved by Paul Revere. As part of the design process, Franki dressed in period authentic clothing and spent an afternoon riding a horse. Only 150 two-medal sets were produced.

As soon as I saw the design for this coin, I immediately tried to order one. A week later, the ANA returned my check with a notice that the medals had already sold out. This, of course, made me want the medal more. I started running weekly searches on eBay, waiting for a set to show up at auction. If this didn't work, I planned to run some classified ads within hobby periodicals. After nearly a year, the two medal set finally showed up at auction and I was able to buy it for exactly the original issue price, even though I would have paid more.

Besides having an excellent design, these medals were intentionally limited to a very low number and proved difficult to acquire.

Every once in a while, the US Mint should create extremely limited product offerings. In recent years, the US Mint seems to have gone to lengths to avoid this situation. When the 2009 Proof Gold and Silver Eagles were canceled, the Mint Director had stated that they could have produced a limited number of coins, but it wouldn't be enough for every collector who wanted one. So instead of allowing some collectors to get the coins, the offering was canceled so everyone would get nothing.

More recently, there have been some limited products through the 2010 America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Coins, but these seem to have been created unintentionally, due to circumstances of production.

It hasn't always been this way. Back in 1997, the US Mint offered the Botanic Gardens Coinage and Currency Set with a limited production of 25,000 units. The set included the 1997-P matte proof Jefferson Nickel, only available within the set. Around the same time, the US Mint reduced the mintages of Proof Gold Eagles, specifically to help preserve secondary market values.

The Mint Director was quoted in a press release, "We're lowering the Proof Eagle mintages in response to our customers' interest in secondary market prices of our products. We recognize that our customers expect that our products retain a significant portion of their purchase price in the after-market. We believe lowering mintages will help us achieve that goal. This is part of a new philosophy we're pursuing in 1997 as an extension of our tradition of offering limited edition products -- such as the recent Botanic Garden Coinage & Currency Set. We believe that these lower mintage limits will make our products consistently more appealing to the collector. You can expect to see future issues structured in a similar way -- to raise the value of all our products, for all collectors."

In contrast, this year the US Mint raised the mintages of the 2011 Proof Platinum Eagle and 2011 Proof Gold Eagles.

Granted, the creation of intentionally limited products is something that can get out of hand. However, occasionally creating something special and making it available in a fair manner could be a welcome development. It would reward faithful US Mint customers and create some excitement, which would carry over to other offerings.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Uncirculated Mary Todd Lincoln First Spouse Coin Sold Out

Late yesterday, the uncirculated version of the Mary Todd Lincoln First Spouse Gold Coin sold out at the US Mint. This continues the string of early sell outs experienced for the 2010 releases of the 24 karat gold coin series.

On February 8, the proof version of the James Buchanan's Liberty Coin unexpectedly sold out. This occurred after just a little more than five months of availability and at a sales level much lower than the maximum stated mintage. With the exception of the first three releases of the series, which sold out immediately at the full maximum authorized mintage, First Spouse Gold Coins had generally remained available for approximately one year.

The reason for the early sell out was because the US Mint had underestimated demand for the coins and did not produce enough to last for the expected duration of the product offering. Since the year 2010 had already closed, no further coins could be struck.

Similar early sell outs occurred for other 2010 releases. In March, the proof Jane Pierce, uncirculated Jane Pierce, and uncirculated Abigail Fillmore coins sold out. In April, the uncirculated James Buchanan's Liberty coin sold out.

In May, sales ended for the proof Abigail Fillmore coin, to coincide with the release of the Eliza Johnson coins. This was one instance where the coin did remain available for the full expected duration of the offering.

The Mary Todd Lincoln First Spouse Gold Coins originally went on sale December 2, 2010. In anticipation of higher demand for the issue, the US Mint had set the maximum mintage at 20,000 coins across the proof and uncirculated versions. This compared to a level of 15,000 set for the other 2010 releases.

The sell out of the uncirculated version occurs after just six months of availability. The latest available US Mint report shows sales of 3,760 coins, which seems very low for a coin that was expected to be one of the more popular issues of the series.

Included below are the last reported sales figures for each of the 2010 First Spouse Gold Coins. The only one that still remains available at the US Mint is the proof version of the Mary Todd Lincoln coin.

Abigail Fillmore Proof 6,143
Abigail Fillmore Uncirculated 3,489
Jane Pierce Proof 4,843
Jane Pierce Uncirculated 3,333
Buchanan's Liberty Proof 7,304
Buchanan's Liberty Uncirculated 5,348
Mary Todd Lincoln Proof 6,236
Mary Todd Lincoln Uncirculated 3,760


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

2010-P Yellowstone Five Ounce Coins Sold Out

The US Mint has now sold out of the 2010-P Yellowstone National Park Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coins. The product was removed from availability on their website earlier today.

A "waiting list" notice was not posted on the product page, as had been the case for the previous Hot Springs release. Rather, the product was directly marked as "sold out" and removed from the relevant sections of the product catalog.

The sales history is as follows:

May 17: sales begin at 12:00 Noon ET. By the end of the day, sales reach 18,143
May 22: sales reach 24,626
May 29: updated figures not provided in sales report
June 1: product "sold out" of the maximum 27,000 mintage

It took 15 days for the Yellowstone coin to reach a sell out. This was exactly the same number of days that it took for the Hot Springs coin to move to a "waiting list".

The US Mint has added a release date of June 9, 2011 for the next America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coin featuring Yosemite National Park. Will the steady release of coins start to take a toll on collectors? Presumably, a total of ten numismatic five ounce silver coins will be released this year for a combined issue price of at least $2,799.50.

Another update to the US Mint's scheduled product listing has delayed the release of the Julia Grant First Spouse Gold Coins. Previously the release date was listed as June 2, 2011, but it has now been changed to June 23, 2011.