Mint News Blog

News, Information, and Commentary on US Mint Products

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

2011 Proof Platinum Eagle Sales at 6,786

The initial sales figures for the 2011 Proof American Platinum Eagle are now available. Through May 29, 2011, the US Mint has recorded sales of 6,786 coins.

This represents a slower start than each of the past two years. The 2009 Proof Platinum Eagle began with sales of 7,207 in the first three days. The 2010 Proof Platinum Eagle began with sales of 8,268 in the first three days. These two issues sold out of their maximum mintages of 8,000 and 10,000 respectively, after only seven days.

The 2011 issue has a much higher maximum mintage of 15,000 units. The initial sales account for 45.24% of this amount. A sell out could still happen, but it would likely develop over the course of months, rather than days or weeks.

In a previous post
, I examined some of the factors working against the 2011 Proof Platinum Eagle such as the higher mintage, higher price, and current outpouring of expensive products from the US Mint.

The slower initial sales may also be the result in a shift in collector buying patterns. In past years, huge sales have tended to occur in the first few days, followed by an extreme drop off, and eventually the establishment of a somewhat stable base weekly sales level. This year, the sales drop off seems to be less extreme, for gold and platinum products in particular. Collectors may be more confident that the offerings will not immediately sell out and are willing to place orders days or weeks into the offering. Orders may also be delayed in the hopes of price decreases.

As a case in point, the 2011-W Uncirculated Gold Eagle had initial sales of just 1,098 coins. The following week sales fell to 237 coins. Pricing for the product was decreased, impacting the following two weekly sales periods, which had sales of 490 and 435.

View the full weekly sales report on Coin Update News.


Friday, May 27, 2011

San Francisco 2011 Silver Eagles

In response to the continuing high demand for silver bullion coins, the United States Mint recently began production of the American Silver Eagle bullion coins at the San Francisco Mint. In a press release issued yesterday, they indicated that they would begin taking orders for the coins struck at the San Francisco facility effective May 31, 2011.

As some background, the US Mint produced Silver Eagle bullion coins at the San Francisco Mint from 1986 to 1998. For the years 1999 and 2000, the bullion coin were produced at both the Philadelphia and West Point Mint. From 2001 until just recently, production has taken place exclusively at the West Point Mint. For the entire duration, the bullion coins have not carried a mint mark.

The Proof Silver Eagles have also been struck at various facilities, but have always carried the proper identifying mint mark. From 1986 to 1992, proof coins were minted at San Francisco with the "S" mint mark. From 1993 to 2000, proof coins were minted at Philadelphia with the "P" mint mark. (This is with the exception of the specially issued 1995-W Proof Silver Eagle.) From 2001 to present, proof coins were minted at the West Point Mint with the "W" mint mark. (The reverse proof issued in 2006 was minted at Philadelphia with the "P" mint mark).

The positive aspect of the expanded Silver Eagle bullion coin production is that there should be more bullion coins available to meet public demand. Since the 2011-dated Silver Eagles were first made available to authorized purchasers on January 3, orders have been subject to an allocation program. The available supplies have been rationed amongst authorized purchasers, limiting the number of bullion coins that could be ordered.

At a House Subcommittee hearing held in April, Terrence Hanlon, the President of Dillon Gage Metals Division, had estimated that the US Mint losses about a third of potential bullion sales because they cannot meet demand. This is likely one of the drivers of the high premiums for Silver Eagle bullion coins, which have been as high as $5 per coin over spot, even when purchasing in large quantity. Purchases in smaller quantities result in even higher premiums.

In this light, increasing production is certainly a positive step.

A possible unintended consequence of the increased production might be the creation of 2011 San Francisco Silver Eagles. In the US Mint's press release, they indicated that coins would be produced using the same manufacturing process and packaging used at West Point and no mint marks would be used. This would result in no visible difference between the coins from each facility.

As discussed in this Coin Update article, in the past sealed Silver Eagle Monster Boxes have carried stickers and plastic strapping denoting the production facility. If these identifying packaging elements continue to be used, sealed boxes could attributed to one facility or the other. Even if these packaging elements are modified, identification through other means may be possible.

An earlier article from CoinWorld mentioned the possibility of authorized purchasers picking up coins directly from the San Francisco Mint. Shipping documentation might also provide substantiation for the origin of the coins. The authorized purchasers or coin dealers could then send the sealed monster boxes off to third party grading companies, which could encapsulate individual coins, noting their origin.

The coins could then be marketed as something special and sold at a premium, even though it is not really justified. If the expected production of "up to several hundred thousand coins" per week takes place, the resulting mintage would be into the millions, possibly surpassing some of the lower mintage years for the bullion series. And, of course, outside of the box or holder, these coins will be no different than the tens of millions of coins struck at the West Point Mint.

Hopefully, this is something that the US Mint has considered and will take steps necessary to avoid the situation.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

2011 Proof Platinum Eagle

Tomorrow, May 26, 2011 at 12:00 Noon ET, the US Mint will begin sales of the 2011 Proof American Platinum Eagle. This coin is the third in the design series presenting the core concepts of American democracy as expressed in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.

The reverse design for the coin was unveiled last week. It represents the concept "To Insure Domestic Tranquility" with an image of the harvest goddess emerging from a field of wheat. She holds a stalk of wheat in one hand and extends the other to a landing dove. The obverse features an image of the Statue of Liberty, designed by John Mercanti and used for each issue of the broader series.

The maximum mintage for the coin will be 15,000, with an ordering limit of five coins per household. The price of the offering will be $2,092.00 based on a platinum market price within the $1,750 to $1,849.99 range.

Can the 2011 Proof Platinum Eagle achieve a quick sell out similar to the past two issues of the series?

There are a few factors working against the offering this year. Foremost is the increased maximum mintage. At 15,000 coins, the mintage level is nearly double the number of coins minted for the initial coin in the design series. If the entire mintage manages to sell, the 2011 Proof Platinum Eagle would rank as the third highest mintage for a one ounce Proof Platinum Eagle, across all years of the series since 1997. Personally, I would rather purchase coins at the low end of the mintage spectrum, unless I have already made the decision to collect the entire series.

Second, the price is several hundred dollars higher than previous years and the coin is competing with numerous high priced offerings and the steady release of numismatic America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Coins. When the 2009 Proof Platinum Eagle was released, the popular Proof Gold and Silver Eagles had been canceled. This may have resulted in some collectors purchasing the platinum offering since it was the only proof American Eagle available for that year. This year, with a proliferation of choices, collectors may opt for other offerings.

On the other hand, there are some factors working in favor of the offering. Since late 2008, the United States Mint has not offered any American Platinum Eagle bullion coins. Initially, the reason cited for the temporary suspension was to focus production capacity of gold and silver bullion coins. However, production was never restarted and the US Mint is under no legal obligation to produce platinum bullion coins. With a lack of fresh US Mint platinum bullion coins available, precious metals investors need to turn to offerings of other world mints, prior year Platinum Eagles (which one precious metals dealer has priced at $200 above spot), or the 2011 Proof Platinum Eagle.

Another factor working in the favor of this offering is the design, which has been very favorably received by collectors. This is in contrast to the 2009 design, which was criticized by many collectors. The extent to which this might help sales may be minimal, since the price is so high.

Last, although I do not have any direct insight into the level of demand from this channel, others have written that administrators of Individual Retirement Accounts purchase quantities of the Proof Platinum Eagles each year. With increased interest in precious metals investing, this could be a factor driving continued sales, especially given the fact that there are no bullion Platinum Eagles available.

Below, I have summarized information on the 2009 and 2010 Proof Platinum Eagle offerings, including the maximum mintage, sales start date, original price, and sell out date. This might be useful for anyone comparing this year's release to prior years.

2009 Proof Platinum Eagle

The US Mint announced a maximum authorized mintage of 8,000 coins and ordering limit of five per household. Sales began on December 3, 2009 with a price of $1,792 per coin, based on a platinum market price in the $1,450 to $1,549.99 range.

The first available sales figures through December 6, showed 7,207 of the coins sold. On December 10, the US Mint began accepting orders for a waiting list, signaling that orders had been received to meet the maximum mintage.

2010 Proof Platinum Eagle

The maximum authorized mintage for the offering was increased to 10,000 coins and the ordering limit of five per household remained unchanged. Sales began earlier in the year on August 12, 2010. The price for each coin was $1,892 based on a platinum market price in the $1,550 to $1,649.99 range.

Through August 15, the US Mint had sold 8,268, representing a faster pace of sales than the previous year, but still short of the maximum mintage. A pricing adjustment took place on August 18, reducing the cost of the coin to $1,792. The following day on August 19, the US Mint began accepting orders for a waiting list, signaling that orders had been received for the 10,000 maximum mintage.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

2011 Proof Gold Buffalo Sales at 5,782

The initial sales figures are now available for the 2011 Proof American Gold Buffalo. Through May 22, 2011, sales of the one ounce 24 karat gold coins have reached 5,782.

This amount represents less than half the debut sales that were achieved for the 2010 Proof Gold Buffalo and less than a third of the debut sales for the 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo.

The latest figures for the Yellowstone Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coins are also available. Through May 22, sales had reached 24,626. This leaves only 2,374 coins remaining from the 27,000 mintage. The full weekly numismatic sales report can be viewed at Coin Update.

Essentially all of the US Mint's numismatic gold products have been experiencing much slower sales as compared to previous years. In other Mint News Blog posts or the weekly sales reports on, I have discussed the slower sales for the gold commemorative coins, 2011 Proof Gold Eagles, and Eliza Johnson First Spouse Gold Coins.

Some collectors may be resisting the escalating pricing points, driven by the increased market price of gold. Others may have shifted attention and collecting dollars towards the America the Beautiful 5 Ounce Silver Coins. To some extent this may also be a reversion to the mean following the odd situation of the past few years, which included: 1.) low sales for 2008 precious metals products leading to high secondary market prices; 2.) cancellations or lengthy delays for 2009 products; and 3.) enthusiasm and pent up demand driving heavy sales for 2010 products.

I put together a summary of the 2009-2011 Proof Gold Buffalo data, including the sales start date, initial pricing, debut sales, sales end date, last price, and final mintage (or sales).

2009 Proof Gold Buffalo
Sales Start Date October 29, 2009
Initial Price $ 1,360.00
Debut Sales 19,468
Sales End Date March 29, 2010
Last Price $ 1,410.00
Final Mintage 49,306

2010 Proof Gold Buffalo

Sales Start Date June 3, 2010
Initial Price $ 1,510.00
Debut Sales 12,778
Sales End Date May 10, 2011
Last Price $ 1,810.00
Final Sales 49,374

2011 Proof Gold Buffalo
Sales Start Date May 19, 2011
Initial Price $ 1,760.00
Debut Sales 5,782
Sales End Date ?
Last Price ?
Final Sales ?

Numismatic Gold Coin Price Increase Possible

Based on recent gold prices, it seems that a price increase for numismatic gold coins may occur tomorrow. This would reverse the pricing decrease which took place on Wednesday of last week, bringing prices back to their highest levels.

The average London Fix Price of gold since last Thursday AM is already well into the $1,500 to $1,549.99 price range. At this point, the most likely factor that may prevent a price increase is the Wednesday PM London fix price. If this price is below $1,500, no price changes would take place. Under a secondary aspect of the US Mint's pricing policy, the Wednesday PM price must agree directionally with any change based on the average price calculated based on the prior Thursday AM to the current Wednesday AM.

Recently gold was trading at $1,524.60. In the past, the US Mint has implemented price increases at any point between mid-morning to slightly after 12:00 Noon ET.


Friday, May 20, 2011

2011 Platinum Eagles, ATB Five Ounce Silver Update

2011 Proof Platinum Eagle Designs

The United States Mint has provided details of the upcoming 2011 Proof Platinum Eagle, including the selected reverse design and mintage limit.

The reverse design features the image of a harvest goddess to represent the theme "To Insure Domestic Tranquility". She emerges from a field of wheat, while holding a stalk of wheat in her left hand and extending her right hand to a landing dove. This was designed by Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill.

Out of the nine design candidates originally presented, this one seemed to gain the most praise from collectors. It was also the design selected by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, after their review. The Commission of Fine Arts had selected a design showing three hands grasping a laurel wreath. (You can view the nine original design candidates here.)

The maximum mintage for this year's coin will be 15,000 units, which is a big increase from the previous years of the design series, which presents the core concepts of American democracy. The 2009 issue had a mintage of 8,000, while the 2010 issue had a mintage of 10,000. Both managed to sell out within approximately one week of offering.

If the price of platinum remains within the $1,750 to $1,849.99 range, then the one ounce coins would be priced at $2,092.00. The scheduled start of sales is May 26, 2011.

I will have another post on the 2011 Proof Platinum Eagle ahead of the release date.

America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Coins

Before the weekend, I wanted to summarize some of the latest information on the America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Coins. Some of the information was previously reported on Coin Update, but has not been presented within a Mint News Blog article.

The next bullion release of the series featuring Olympic National Park will go on sale to authorized purchasers starting on May 23, 2011. The previous 2011-dated bullion releases featuring Gettysburg National Military Park and Glacier National Park had gone on sale April 25. These two issues have now sold out of their initial quantities of 126,700 each.

The Olympic Five Ounce Silver Bullion coins will be available in an initial quantity of 126,700. As with other bullion releases this year, the US Mint's authorized purchasers will be able to purchase them based on the market price of silver plus a markup of $9.75 per coin. After the APs receive the coins, they generally resell them to other bullion dealers, coin dealers, and in some cases directly to the public.

The Hot Springs Five Ounce Uncirculated Silver Coins officially sold out at the US Mint. This represented the first numismatic release for the series. The coins went on sale April 28 and moved to waiting list status on May 13. The waiting list was closed yesterday May 19. It took approximately two week for the US Mint to receive orders to cover the 27,000 mintage, and another week to close the waiting list.

Meanwhile, the Yellowstone Five Ounce Uncirculated Silver Coins, which went on sale May 17, had reached sales of 18,143 by the end of the first day of sales. This was a slightly slower pace than the prior release. The coins currently remain available for sale at the US Mint. I will have updated sales figures early next week.

Finally, some readers have reported that the US Mint's phone representatives provided a release date of June 7, 2011 for the next numismatic release featuring Yosemite National Park. I have not been able to confirm this date yet, but phone representatives had previously provided an accurate release date for the Yellowstone coin, before the US Mint's official announcement.

Update: The US Mint has listed the release date of the Yosemite National Park Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coin as June 9, 2011.
Coin Update News Article:
Does the US Mint Deserve the Criticism It Receives?

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

2011 Proof American Gold Buffalo Coins

The 2011 Proof Gold Buffalo Coins will go on sale at the US Mint today, May 19, 2011 at 12:00 Noon ET. This release comes less than two weeks after the sell out of the 2010-dated version, making for only a small gap in availability for the popular 24 karat gold proof coins.

After a few years or cancellations, delays, and general uncertainty, the US Mint has managed to catch up with their numismatic gold offerings and get things on a normalized schedule. By contrast, the 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo had not been released until October 29. The 2010 coin showed improvement with a release date of June 3.
The American Gold Buffalo features James Earle Fraser's design for the 1913 Type I Buffalo Nickel. The profile of a Native American believed to be based on three real life chiefs appears on the obverse. The reverse features an American Bison or Buffalo on a raised mound. This is believed to have been modeled after Black Diamond of the New York Zoological Gardens.

The classic design was resurrected for use on the 24 karat gold bullion program introduced in 2006. For each year, the US Mint has also made available collectible proof version of the coin. For 2008, the offerings were expanded to include uncirculated coins and fractional coins, but the extra versions were ultimately discontinued.

It's interesting to note that Public Law 109-145, which authorized the American Gold Buffalo specifies that Fraser's obverse and reverse designs for the Buffalo Nickel must be used only for the initial year of release. After the initial one year period, the Secretary of the Treasury has the option of changing the obverse or reverse design. So far this option has not been utilized.

The 2011 Proof Gold Buffalo Coins each contain one troy ounce of .9999 fine (24 karat) gold. The coins are presented in a hardwood box with matte finish and faux leather insert. There has been no maximum mintage level established and there are no household ordering limits in effect.

Each coin is priced at $1,760.00 for the start of sales. These coins are covered under the US Mint's flexible pricing policy for certain gold and platinum numismatic coins. As such, the price may be adjusted as frequently as weekly in response to changes in precious metals prices.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Dollar Rolls

The United States Mint will begin sales of the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Dollar Rolls on May 19, 2011 at 12:00 Noon ET. This will represent the 18th release of the Presidential $1 Coin Program.
The obverse of the coin features a portrait of the former President, along with inscriptions indicating the order of the Presidency, years of the term, and the motto "In God We Trust". The reverse features an image of the Statue of Liberty that has been used in common for each release of the series. Both the obverse and reverse were designed by Don Everhart.

The US Mint will offer 25-coin rolls from either the Philadelphia or Denver mint facility. The wrappers will display the name of the President, mint mark, and the face value. Each roll is priced at $39.95 plus applicable shipping and handling.

May 19 will also mark the official circulation release date for the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Dollars. As with previous issues of the series, the Federal Reserve Banks provided financial institutions with a special order period, during which unmixed quantities of the new design may be ordered. Until June 2, financial institutions can order $1,000 boxes or $2,000 bags of the coins for distribution to their customers. If you can find a bank that routinely orders the new Presidential Dollars, you can obtain rolls of the Ulysses S. Grant Dollars for face value.

Also on May 19, the US Mint will hold a launch ceremony for the new coins at the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site at 7400 Grant Road in St. Louis, Missouri. The ceremony will begin at 2:00 PM CT and will be open to the public. Following the ceremony, there will be a coin exchange with rolls available at face value.

One final note. Tomorrow might mark the end of sales for the Franklin Pierce Presidential Dollar Rolls. In February when sales of the Andrew Johnson Presidential Dollar Rolls began, the US Mint ended sales of the Millard Fillmore rolls. During the course of the program, the sales start and end dates for numismatic rolls have varied. Some rolls have remained available for years, others for months, and some for about a year until the corresponding issue of the following year was released. The US Mint may be adopting the latter policy once again.
Coin Update News:
Initial Sales for Yellowstone Five Ounce Uncirculated Coins


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Numismatic Gold Coin Price Decrease Possible

Amidst the recent decline in precious metals, the prices of US Mint numismatic gold coins have stubbornly remained at the same levels. This may finally change tomorrow, provided that London Fix prices remain under $1,500.

Since April 28, gold coins covered under the pricing policy have been priced based on the $1,500 to $1,549.99 tier. The US Mint calculates the weekly average gold price based on the London Fix prices from the prior Thursday AM to the current Wednesday AM. If the price falls into a different tier and the Wednesday PM price agrees directionally, then a pricing change will take place.

Prices for the current period are as follows:
May 12 AM 1488.25
May 12 PM 1489.5
May 13 AM 1511
May 13 PM 1505.75
May 16 AM 1495
May 16 PM 1500.75
May 17 AM 1495.5
May 17 PM 1478.5
May 18 AM ?

By my calculations, a price decrease would take place provided that the May 18 London AM fix price is less than $1,535.75 and the London PM fix price is less than $1,500.00. The price of gold is currently around $1,487.00 per ounce, but prices have been volatile recently.

If a pricing adjustment takes place, it would impact the available First Spouse Gold Coins, 2011 Proof Gold Eagles, and 2011-W Uncirculated Gold Eagle. Price changes have generally been made effective around late morning or mid-day on Wednesday.

In addition to reducing the prices for existing products, this week's average will also serve to establish the price for the upcoming 2011 Proof Gold Buffalo, to be released on Thursday.

For the past two weeks, there has been a noticeable slow down in the pace of US Mint numismatic gold coin sales. It's possible that some collectors have been delaying purchases in hopes of a pricing decrease.

As of May 15, the recently released Eliza Johnson First Spouse Gold Coin has sold 2,689 coins across proof and uncirculated options, while the 2011-W Uncirculated Gold Eagle has sold a mere 1,335. Proof Gold Eagle sales have also dropped to very low levels.

Coin Update: Full Weekly US Mint Sales Report


Monday, May 16, 2011

2010 Yellowstone National Park 5 Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coin

The United States Mint will begin sales of the 2010 Yellowstone National Park Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coin on May 17, 2011 at 12:00 Noon ET. This will be the second design released for the numismatic versions of the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins.

The Yellowstone coin features the Old Faithful geyser erupting with American Bison pictured in the foreground and background. This was designed and sculpted by Don Everhart. The obverse of the coin features a portrait of George Washington designed by John Flanagan.

Each coin is struck in 5 troy ounces of .999 fine silver, with a diameter of 3 inches and thickness of 0.165 inch. The numismatic versions of the coin carry the "P" mint mark on the obverse and have a special finish created by vapor blasting the surfaces after striking.

Details of the offering are similar to the previous Hot Springs coin. There is a mintage of 27,000 and the coins are priced at $279.95 each. The US Mint will impose an ordering limit of one per household. The limit will be in place for at least the first week of sales, after which it can be extended, adjusted, or removed.

Beyond the basic details, the circumstances of the upcoming release will be decidedly different. Due to the decline in the price of silver, the percentage premium above metal content has increased. Just before the release of the Hot Springs coin, the premium was a little less than 20%. Based on the recent silver price of $34.18 per ounce, the premium is now more than 63%. This higher premium might be enough to give some collectors second thoughts.

There's likely to be less speculative buying activity for the upcoming release. For the Hot Springs coins, a quick sell out was widely expected, driving a fast pace for initial sales. As the quick sell out failed to take place and the price of silver dropped, some speculative orders may have been canceled. These types of buyers probably won't come back for the next offering, although it's worth noting that the the Hot Springs coins continue to trade for a healthy premium on the secondary market.

Finally, I have yet to see any offers from coin dealers willing to immediately purchase the upcoming Yellowstone Five Ounce Uncirculated Silver Coins from collectors. For the last release, there was an offer of $330 per coin plus shipping from one established modern coin dealer for the first 400 commitments, and another offer of $360 per coin plus shipping from a separate dealer for an unspecified number. Besides prompting a few hundred collectors to purchase coins to immediately resell them, these offers also set a tone for the market and inspire some additional speculation.

On the bright side, I don't think there will be any need to rush to place orders within the opening minutes and contend with the US Mint's slow or crashing website. The coins will likely be available from the US Mint for at least a few days, if not more. Personally, I plan to place my order tomorrow, in the mid-afternoon.

With this release, the picture may start to emerge as to how much genuine collector demand exists for the series.
Coin Update:
Olympic National Park 5 Ounce Silver Bullion Coin Release


Friday, May 13, 2011

Waiting List for 2010-P Hot Springs Five Ounce Unc Coins

The United States Mint has now posted a "waiting list notice" for the 2010-P Hot Springs National Park Five Ounce Uncirculated Coins.

The notice indicates that orders have been taken to meet the maximum 27,000 mintage. Any additional orders placed will go on a waiting list. If any coins become available due to cancellations, orders will be fulfilled from the waiting list on a first come, first served basis.

It has taken much longer than most people expected for the first numismatic version of the America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Coins to reach a sell out. The start of sales corresponded almost exactly with the price of silver reaching a peak near $50 per ounce, before a sharp decline took the price to a low of about $32 per ounce. Silver is currently trading around $35 per ounce, and rapid price swings continue to take place.

The decline in silver and subsequent volatility may have resulted in order cancellations from collectors having second thoughts about their purchase or speculators seeing increased risk in the product. It was likely the case that order cancellations were offsetting newly placed orders, keeping the sell out at bay.

The reported sales figures during the period of availability were as follows:

April 28: Opening day of sales. By 9:00 PM, sales exceeded 19,000.
May 2: Sales reach approximately 25,000.
May 3: Sales reach 26,133.
May 8: Sales reach 26,866.
May 13: Product put on waiting list status, as presumably sales hit 27,000.

Many collectors have already started receiving their coins from the US Mint, and one modern coin dealer has already began selling examples graded by NGC. Some have received the top grade of SP70, which so far has not been awarded to any bullion version of the coin. The numismatic versions are vapor blasted after the coins have been struck. This process involves using water vapor and ceramic media mix to create a "uniform, protective finish" on the coins. The procedure would seem to eliminate the possibility of any PL or DMPL surfaces that can be found on some bullion versions, but seems to result in higher numerical grades.

Secondary market prices on eBay seem to be around $350 to $390 for uncertified coins. This represents a premium above the US Mint issue price of $279.95. This is also higher than recent prices realized for the bullion version of the coin that are raw or graded below MS69.

The next numismatic version featuring Yellowstone National Park is scheduled to go on sale next week on Tuesday, May 17.
New Coingrader Capsule:
My First CAC Submission


Thursday, May 12, 2011

US Mint Coin Production April 2011

Circulating coin production at the United States Mint reached its highest monthly level since January. Across all denominations, there were 640.17 million coins produced at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints.

This is up from 485.50 million circulating coins produced in the previous month, and also up from the 451.96 coins produced in the year ago period.

Total production for the year to date has now risen to more than 2.4 billion. During all of 2010, the US Mint had struck 6.37 billion coins.

The table below shows a breakdown of production by coin and mint facility for April, along with the year to date totals.

2011 US Mint Coin Production Figures

April 2011 YTD 2011
Lincoln Cent - Denver 212.40 M 747.60 M
Lincoln Cent - Phil. 169.20 M 706.40 M
Jefferson Nickel - Denver 32.40 M 132.72 M
Jefferson Nickel - Phil. 37.68 M 91.20 M
Roosevelt Dime - Denver 47.50 M 196.50 M
Roosevelt Dime - Phil. 68.50 M 194.50 M
Quarters - Denver 13.80 M 75.40 M
Quarters - Phil. 30.4 M 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 18.49 M 73.93 M
Pres Dollar - Phil. 9.80 M 72.52 M

Total 640.17 M 2413.54 M

As was the case for each month of the year so far, the Lincoln Cent accounted for the largest proportion of production. The US Mint struck 381.6 million cents across both facilities, accounting for almost 60% of all coin production. For the year to date, more than 1.45 billion cents have been produced.

Production of nickels and dimes saw an increase in the latest month. There were just over 70 million nickels and exactly 116 million dimes produced. For these two denominations, this is the highest monthly production since January. The year to date production figures for each denomination are now already more than double the full annual production for 2009. For that year, final mintages were at the lowest levels in decades.

There were 44.2 million quarters produced for the month. This seems to represent the initial production for the Olympic National Park Quarter, due to be released on June 13, 2011.

There were 28.29 million Presidential Dollars struck, representing the continued production of the Ulysses S. Grant Dollar, set to be released on May 19, 2011.

The following table shows the production levels by design for the America the Beautiful Quarters and Presidential Dollars. For the quarters, the data is preliminary since production may be restarted for any design during the year of issue. No new figures have been added since last month's update.

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


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

2010 Proof Gold Buffalo Sold Out

The 2010 Proof Gold Buffalo coins have now sold out at the US Mint. The sell out comes just a few days before the 2011-dated version is scheduled to go on sale.

Sales of the one ounce proof coin began on June 3, 2010. At the time, the coins were priced at $1,510 each, based on an average gold price in the $1,200 to $1,249.99 range. There were no ordering limits or stated maximum mintage for the coins.

After opening with sales of 12,778, the 2010 Proof Gold Buffalo remained a relatively steady seller during the ensuing months. The last reported sales through May 1, 2011 were 49,236. When last available, the coins were priced at $1,810 each, reflecting an average gold price in the $1,500 to $1,549.99 range.

It seems that the final mintage will land not too far from the level for the 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo. The US Mint has now released the final audited mintage for this issue as 49,306. The final mintages for all Proof Gold Buffalo coins are shown below.
Proof Gold Buffalo Final Mintages

1 oz 1/2 oz 1/4 oz 1/10 oz
2006 246,267

2007 58,998

2008 18,863 12,169 13,125 18,884
2009 49,306

The 2011 Proof Gold Buffalo is scheduled to go on sale May 19, 2011.

2010-P Yellowstone National Park Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coin

Yesterday, the US Mint announced the release date for the next numismatic America the Beautiful 5 Ounce Silver Coin. The coin featuring Yellowstone National Park will go on sale May 17, 2011 at 12:00 Noon ET.

Matching the terms of the previous release, the coins will be priced at $279.95, with a mintage of 27,000, and ordering limit or one per household.

Meanwhile, the Hot Springs Five Ounce Uncirculated Coins still remain available for sale on the US Mint's website. Despite strong opening sales, the anticipated quick sell out did not occur, likely impacted by the dramatic fall in silver prices that coincided with the release.

I am currently awaiting information for the latest US Mint sales report that should indicate exactly how many coins remain available for sale.

Update: The latest US Mint sales report indicates sales of 49,411 for the 2010 Proof Gold Buffalo and 26,866 for the 2010-P Hot Springs Five Ounce Uncirculated Silver Coin.

View the Full report on Coin Update.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Andrew and Eliza Johnson Presidential $1 Coin & First Spouse Medal Set

On May 10, 2011 at 12:00 Noon ET, the United States Mint will release the Presidential $1 Coin & First Spouse Medal Set featuring Andrew and Eliza Johnson.

The uncirculated 2011 Andrew Johnson Presidential Dollar and Eliza Johnson First Spouse Medal are mounted on a durable plastic card. The front of the card includes portraits of the President and his wife, while the back contains issuance information.

The packaging has been slightly redesigned starting with this release. The lower portion of the card displays a black bar with the new US Mint logo. Previously, this space included a ribbon of red, white, and blue. The rest of the design appears to be unchanged.

Each set is priced at $14.95. The price for this product line has now been increased on three separate occasions. For 2007 and 2008, the sets had cost $7.95 each. This was increased to $8.95 each for the 2009 sets. Another increase brought the price to $11.95 for the 2010 sets. The new pricing level of $14.95 for the 2011 releases, nearly doubles the original price level.

The previously released Presidential $1 Coin & First Spouse Medal Sets featuring Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Abraham Lincoln still remain available for sale on the US Mint's website. These are currently priced at $11.95.

First Spouse Bronze Medals

Last week, on May 5, 2011, the US Mint began sales of the Eliza Johnson Bronze Medal. The start of sales coincided with the release of the one-half ounce gold coins.

The bronze medals have a diameter of 1-5/16 inches and feature the same design as the gold coins, but with some inscriptions removed. The medals are struck to demand, although for previous First Spouse bronze medals, the US Mint has eventually concluded production and sales.

The Eliza Johnson Bronze Medal is priced at $7.95. This is up from the $5.50 price for the 2010 medals, and original $3.50 price for the 2007 to 2009 medals.

The 2011 First Spouse Bronze Medal Set, including all four of this year's medals will be released on December 1, 2011 and priced at $19.95.

Previously issued First Spouse Medals featuring Sarah Polk, Margaret Taylor, Abigail Fillmore, Jane Pierce, James Buchanan's Liberty, and Mary Todd Lincoln remain available for sale on the Mint's website priced at $5.50 each. The 2010 First Spouse Bronze Medal Set also remains available priced at $15.95.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Silver Proof Set Sales Resume, Prices Unchanged

Following the 30% decline in the price of silver experienced over the past few days, the United States Mint has resumed sales of the previously suspended 2010 & 2011 Silver Proof Sets and ATB Quarter Silver Proof Sets. The prices are the same as those in place before the suspension.

The rapid rise and decline in the price of silver has made these products troublesome for the US Mint. The sets have been interrupted by sales suspensions and price increases, as the market value of 90% silver coins has fluctuated with the market price of silver.

The full annual Silver Proof Sets each contain 1.33823 troy ounces of silver plus $5.06 in face value of non-silver coins. The ATB Quarter Silver Proof Sets each contain 0.90420 troy ounces of silver.

The US Mint does not have an easy mechanism to adjust prices for these products. In order to raise or lower prices, the information must be published in the Federal Register to become effective. This process seems to take at least several weeks.

A separate policy exists to cover most numismatic gold and platinum coins. Prices are adjusted as frequently as weekly based on the average prices of the metals. This avoids lengthy suspensions and keeps the prices in line with the market value of the precious metals content. This policy was adopted in early 2009, after the turbulent markets in the previous year caused lengthy suspensions and numerous repricings, similar to what is now happening with the silver products.

Included below is a summary of the pricing and sales actions for the four currently available Silver Proof Sets, along with the price of silver as a reference point.

2010 Silver Proof Set

March 5, 2010: Price of $56.95 published in Federal Register. Silver is $17.25 per ounce.
August 24, 2010: Sales begin. Silver is $17.88 per ounce.
March 18, 2011: Price increased to $64.95. Silver is $35.15 per ounce.
April 8, 2011: Sales suspended. Silver is $40.22 per ounce.
May 5, 2011: Sales resume. Price remains at $64.95. Silver is around $35 per ounce.

2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Silver Proof Set
March 5, 2010: Price of $32.95 published in Federal Register. Silver is $17.25 per ounce.
May 27, 2010: Sales begin. Silver is $18.36 per ounce.
February 27, 2011: Sales suspended. Silver is $32.54 per ounce.
March 18, 2011: Sales resume. Price increased to $39.95. Silver is $35.15 per ounce.
April 8, 2011: Sales suspended. Silver is $40.22 per ounce.
May 5, 2011: Sales resume. Price remains at $39.95. Silver is around $35 per ounce.

2011 Silver Proof Set
January 4, 2011: Price of $67.95 published in Federal Register. Silver is $30.67 per ounce.
January 25, 2011: Sales begin. Silver is $26.70 per ounce.
April 19, 2011: Sales suspended. Silver is $43.22 per ounce.
May 5, 2011: Sales resume. Price remains at $67.95. Silver is around $35 per ounce.

2011 America the Beautiful Quarters Silver Proof Set
January 4, 2011: Price of $39.95 published in Federal Register. Silver is $30.67 per ounce.
March 18, 2011: Price of $41.95 published in Federal Register. Silver is $35.15 per ounce.
April 1, 2011: Sales begin. Silver is $37.63 per ounce.
April 19, 2011: Sales suspended. Silver is $43.22 per once.
May 5, 2011: Sales resume. Price remains at $41.95. Silver is around $35 per ounce.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Eliza Johnson First Spouse Gold Coins

Today at 12:00 Noon ET, the US Mint will begin sales of the Eliza Johnson First Spouse Gold Coins. This release honors the spouse of the 17th President of the United States.
The obverse design features a portrait of Eliza Johnson designed by Joel Iskowitz. The inscriptions include her name, order and dates of the Presidential term, "In God We Trust", "Liberty", the date and mint mark.

On the reverse is a scene from a children's ball organized by Eliza Johnson for her husband's 60th birthday. The image includes three children dancing and a Marine band fiddler playing. The reverse inscriptions indicate the legal tender face value, weight and fineness of the gold content, "United States of America", and "E Pluribus Unum". The reverse was designed by Gary Whitley.

The US Mint has set a maximum mintage of 15,000 coins across both proof and uncirculated versions. This is the same level that was used for last year's issues, except for the Mary Todd Lincoln coin, which was limited to 20,000. There have been no First Spouse Gold Coins to reach the maximum mintage since the first year of the series in 2007.

Pricing has been set at $929.00 for the proof version and $916.00 for the uncirculated version. This is based on an average gold price within the $1,500 to $1,549.99 range. Pricing may be adjusted weekly based on changes in the gold price. There are no household ordering limits in place for the release.

Along with the 2011-W Uncirculated Gold Eagle being released today, this will be another interesting coin to watch. There are a number of factors that will possibly lead to low sales and low mintages.

The Eliza Johnson First Spouse Gold Coin is being released after a two month delay. Providing a similar delay is not experienced for the first 2012 issue, this should shorten the period of availability for collectors. If an earlier sell out does not occur, the US Mint generally ends sales to coincide with the release of the corresponding issue in following year.

Initial pricing for the coins will be the highest on record, with an increase of $75 from the last release. The escalating cost of the series may cause attrition to the collector base.

Lastly, many collectors have expressed negative opinions about the design. This is the first reverse design for the series that does not include an image of the spouse (with the exception of the Liberty subset coins issued for Presidents who served in office without a spouse). Holding a children's ball was also less historically significant than some of the other things Eliza Johnson did in her life. The US Mint clearly struggled with the designs for this particular coin and had to create a second set of design candidates, after criticism of the first design set for historical inaccuracies.

In general, the First Spouse Gold Coins that have performed best on the secondary market have had both low mintages and designs which collectors find pleasing. There seems to be a small but dedicated following for the entire series, but additional demand and higher prices for particular issues that meet these criteria.
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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

2011-W Uncirculated Gold Eagle

The United States Mint will begin sales of the 2011-W American Gold Eagle Uncirculated Coin on May 5, 2011 at 12:00 Noon ET. This will mark the return of this collector version of the popular bullion coin, following a two year gap.

The coins are struck on specially burnished blanks and carry a finish similar to the bullion version. The collector versions carry the "W" mint mark on the obverse of the coin, while the bullion versions do not carry a mint mark.

The collectible uncirculated American Gold Eagles were introduced by the United States Mint in 2006, first issued as part of the 3-coin 20th Anniversary Gold Eagle Set. In the following month, the US Mint began sales of the coins on an separate basis, with individual one ounce, half ounce, quarter ounce, and tenth ounce coins, and a 4-coin set available. At the time, the Mint stated that these collector versions were "priced at the relative mid-point" between the proof coins and bullion coins.

For the following two years in 2007 and 2008, the US Mint also issued the uncirculated Gold Eagles in four individual denominations and the 4-coin set. As part of a sweeping elimination of products near the end of 2008, the Mint announced that the individual half ounce, quarter ounce, and tenth ounce coins, as well as the 4-coin set would be discontinued. In 2009 and 2010, the remaining one ounce version was not issued, as the US Mint canceled the product in order to meet demand for bullion coins.

The one ounce 2011-W Uncirculated Gold Eagle will be priced at $1,778.00. (This price is only $7 cheaper than the individual one ounce proof version, which went on sale a few weeks ago.) The US Mint has indicated that the collectible uncirculated coins will be minted to demand, and there will be no household ordering limits. Each coin will come encapsulated in plastic and mounted in a presentation case with a certificate of authenticity. Pricing may fluctuate weekly based on the market price of gold.

Some previous year collectible uncircualted Gold Eagles carry large secondary market premiums due to their low mintages. In fact, the 2008-W Uncirculated Gold Eagle quarter ounce coin has the lowest mintage for any coin of the series, across all versions, at 8,883 coins.

How will the 2011-W Uncirculated Gold Eagle fare? Even though the product is returning after a two year gap, there doesn't seem to be much excitement brewing for the release. There is certainly not the impression of pent up demand that existed for the return of the Proof Gold Eagles after their one year gap.

When these "W" mint marked uncirculated coins were last available a few years ago, I was always very favorable about them. With more collectors opting for proof coins, the uncirculated coins remained overlooked and under ordered. This led to the low mintages, which eventually led to higher premiums. Could the same thing happen again?

I'll be watching the sales numbers closely to see what happens.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mount Hood Quarter Three Coin Set

Tomorrow on May 4, 2011 at 12:00 Noon ET, the US Mint will release the 2010 Mount Hoof National Park Quarter Three Coin Set. This product highlights the fifth release in the America the Beautiful Quarters Program.
Each set includes an uncirculated Denver Mint coin, uncirculated Philadelphia Mint coin, and proof San Francisco Mint coin. The three Mount Hood Quarters are presented on a plastic card containing a brief description of the park and coin design, as well as a certificate of authenticity.

The Three Coin Sets are priced at $14.95 each. As mentioned in prior posts on this product type, the cost of acquiring the coins through these sets is significantly higher than the cost of acquiring them through other options. The coins are included in the full 2010 Proof Set and 2010 Mint Set, or the separate 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Proof Set and Uncirculated Set.

This product will be the final Three Coin Set released for the 2010-dated quarters. The product type got a late start last year, with the Hot Springs set issued in mid-November 2010. With last year's designs all released, the US Mint will begin issuing Three Coin Sets for the 2011-dated quarters.

Looking ahead, the US Mint will issue sets for the Gettysburg, Glacier, and Olympic National Park Coins on the same date July 27, 2011. After that, the three coin set for Vicksburg will be released on October 19, 2011, and Chickasaw on December 20, 2011.
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Monday, May 2, 2011

Unc ATB Sales Update and One Per Household Products

Total sales for the 2010-P Hot Springs Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coin have now reached approximately 25,000 units. This accounts for more than 90% of the total mintage of 27,000 coins.

Sales of the coins began at the US Mint on April 28, 2011 at 12:00 Noon ET. The heavy orders placed at the start of sales took down the Mint's website for about 45 minutes. By 9:00 PM ET, more than 19,000 orders had been accepted.

If not for the one per household ordering limit, these coins would have no doubt sold out on the opening day of availability. The US Mint has used ordering limits to ensure the broadest possible distribution to the public for products with an anticipated high demand.

There have only been a few other numismatic products released by the US Mint in recent years that have been subject to a limit of only one per household. I thought it would be an interesting exercise to examine these.

The Lincoln Coin & Chronicles Set went on sale October 15, 2009, had a maximum production of 50,000 units, was priced at $55.95 and limited of one per household. This product sold out after 30 hours of availability.

The Braille Education Set went on sale October 8, 2009, was limited to 25,000 units, priced at $44.95, and limited to one per household. The opening sales figures for the set were 2,719 units, which rose to 5,996 by the second week. At this point the ordering limit was removed.

The 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin went on sale January 22, 2009, had no maximum mintage, was initially priced at $1,189 per coin, and limited of one per household. Opening day sales were 28,173 coins. After four days, sales reached 40,727. More than six months after the start of sales, the ordering limit was increased to ten coins, later increased further, and eventually removed.

The 2007 10th Anniversary Platinum Eagle Set went on sale December 13, 2007, had a maximum production of 30,000 sets, initial price of $1,949.95, and limit of one per household. After one week, sales had reached 14,682. The US Mint re-evaluated the order limit at the 7-day mark and decided to keep it in place. The limit was eventually removed.

The 2007 Thomas Jefferson's Liberty $10 Gold Coin went on sale August 30, 2007, had a maximum production of 40,000 coins across proof and uncirculated versions, initial pricing of $429.95 (proof) and $410.95 (uncirculated), and limit of one per option per household. A sell out occurred on the first day of sales.

The US Mint also imposed an ordering limit of one per option per household for the next releases of the First Spouse Gold Coin Program featuring Dolley Madison, Elizabeth Monroe, and Louisa Adams. None of these issues achieved a sell out. For each coin the limit was in place for at least the first seven days of sales, but eventually raised and/or removed. After the diminishing sales for the series became apparent, the US Mint imposed an initial ordering limit of ten per option per household starting with the Andrew Jackson's Liberty release. Finally, starting with the 2010 releases, the US Mint stopped imposing an initial ordering limit for newly released First Spouse Gold Coins.
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