The Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Program continues to perform well in the secondary market. Will this trend continue?
By Louis Golino for CoinWeek
Modern commemorative coins from the U.S. Mint frequently drop in price after initial interest in the coins fades. When early prices for 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame coins sold and graded at the Baltimore Whitman Expo and pre-orders for raw coins started off at such lofty levels, many people argued that they too would soon trend lower.
But a little over a month after the release of the coins on March 27, prices remain firm for coins with the Baltimore labels and have moved higher for most raw and graded coins as well. For example, a set of the six different baseball coins graded MS/PF 70 with PCGS “First Pitch Baltimore” labels sold at Great Collections on April 27 for $9,075, which is similar to what complete sets were bringing a month ago on eBay. And a proof $5 gold with the same label sold on e-Bay on May 2 for $4,595, which is the same level the coins were at a month ago.
The silver dollar in original government packaging was bringing around $90-100 over the past couple weeks on eBay, but in the past week prices have moved up to the $120-130 level in many cases. An unopened box went for $140 on May 2. And the $5 gold coins are doing even better with the proof example that started off a month ago at about $600-700 for pre-sales has more recently moved from $850 for in stock coins just a few days ago to $1,000 and more. When the gold coins are available from dealers, they sell out very quickly. It is also interesting that dealers do not have as extensive stocks of the coins as they normally would for a recent modern issue.
The supply crunch is a result of the way orders for the coins have been handled by the Mint. Those who got orders in the first hour or so onMarch 27 have received most of their coins, but many orders are waiting to be shipped based on what I read in the numismatic blogosphere and hear from collectors.
When I called about my own pending orders, including some placed on the first day, I was told that the Mint is having computer problems with the system that generates order shipment dates and that the coins have been minted and are shipping. But it is strange that none of my orders, except one placed during the first half hour the coins were available online, has been sent, or is marked as “in stock and reserved,” which is what precedes shipment. This has been an ongoing issue with the Mint’s order fulfillment process, which is supposed to be replaced later this year with a better system.
Another factor it that the cut-off dates for first strike and early release at PCGS and NGC are May 6 and May 8 respectively. It appears far fewer coins have been received in time for the cut-off with this release than is usually the case, which may add value to the coins that have the FS/ER labels.
In the meantime, the shipping delays and undiminished interest in the coins are providing support for an unusually strong market for these coins. The relative lack of coins in hand has created the opportunity for those with coins ready to ship to capitalize on the situation. The big question is what will happen when more coins are available. To address this and the broader issue of the market potential for the baseball coins, I contacted a couple of the leading dealers in the country who specialize in modern coins.
John Maben, a former NGC coin grader, owner of John Maben Rare Coins, which includes Modern Coin Mart, a market-maker in modern coins, and co-author with Eric Jordan of Top 50 Most Popular Modern Coins (Krause, 2012) provided the following insights on the BHOF coins: “I grossly underestimated how popular these coins would be. The curved or dish concept isn’t new… Perth has done it several times. However, being the first U.S coin to utilize this production method and with a baseball theme, ended up being a homerun with collectors.”
Mr. Maben also said: “I expect prices to be volatile for a few months before they settle down but suspect they will still end up well above issue prices. NGC and PCGS coins seem fairly priced at current levels based on current demand. In my opinion, the Baltimore coins carry more downside pricing risk because of the bigger premiums, but again, the market will determine if they deserve those premiums. For my money, personally, I would not be too concerned about getting coins that were released first and designated as a show release if it meant paying more than a modest premium over non show releases.”
An example of the volatility Mr. Maben discussed was two sales on the same day at Great Collections, a leading auction company that does a lot of business in modern U.S. coins, of the $5 gold graded PCGS MS70 first strike. One went for $1,126, and the other for $1,386.
Ian Russell, president of Great Collections, expressed views that in many ways mirrored what Mr. Maben said: “I originally thought the mintage numbers were very high and this would restrict the upside. Clearly I underestimated the demand for the series and frankly, I’ve never seen such demand for a new issue. Over the past week, the prices have literally been increasing 5% *a day*.”
Mr. Russell added that” “The coins look fantastic, especially the $1 proof. People are buying them that don’t collect coins. I anticipate demand from overseas for this series. We’ve started to auction different clients coins at GreatCollections (many we helped grade for the owners) and the prices have been much higher than I would have expected. Perhaps when the Mint ships more coins, there will be some pricing pressure (less of an issue with gold, since the mintages are low in comparison; more of an issue with silver since there will be a lot shipped in the next month).”
Finally, the baseball coins provide a very clear example of why mintage alone does not determine the market value of modern coins. Consider the contrast between the BHOF coins and the other 2014 commemorative issue, the Civil Rights Act 50th anniversary coins, which have been selling very poorly because most collectors do not like the design.
Those coins will have much smaller final mintages than the BHOF coins. Just the gold examples of the baseball coins have sold about the same number of proof civil rights silver dollar coins and the uncirculated civil rights coin is trailing even more with only 20,000 sold in the past four months. The difference between these programs is that demand is so much higher for the BHOF coins because of the strong appeal of the design and subject matter coupled with the novelty of the coin’s shape, the very effective launch of the coins by the Mint, and promotion by the BHOF.
Time will tell if prices continue to hold up as they have. I suspect there will be some leveling off of prices once more coins are in the market, but I also continue to believe these be long-term winners and highly sought for years to come.
Copyright © CoinWeek – May 2014
Louis Golino is a coin collector and numismatic writer, whose articles on coins have appeared in Coin World, Numismatic News, and a number of different coin web sites. His insightful retrospective on the American Silver Eagle was the cover feature of the February 2014 issue of The Numismatist. His column for CoinWeek, “The Coin Analyst,” covers U.S. and world coins and precious metals. He collects U.S. and European coins and is a member of the ANA, PCGS, NGC, and CAC. He has also worked for the U.S. Library of Congress and has been a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international affairs for a wide variety of newspapers and web sites.
Yes they will, and if I had been able to foresee how popular these would be, I’m pretty sure I would have purchased a few more than just the ones for my own collection. Regardless, it’s a great time to be a collector.
It appears most people, including the Mint, underestimated the appeal.
For those of you who have received BHOF coins from the Mint, please tell us what time you ordered on 3/27, and especially if any orders placed later than that have shipped?
I ordered the following at 9:52AM 3/27
2 gold, 1 each – proof shipped 4/7, unc to ship 6/30
8 silver, 4 each – proof shipped 4/7, unc shipped 4/20
20 clad, 10 each – all shipped 4/7
the bag shipped 4/3
On 4/8 at 4:58PM I ordered 4 more silver, 2 each which have a ship date of 8/14-proof and 7/31-unc.
On a side note, I sent 10 clad to NGC, 5 each. 4 proof were PF70, 1 PF69 & 3 Unc MS70, 2 MS69. 70% perfect and I understand this is normal for these coins.
I have 5 silvers in for grading now as well as a double die clad proof, which I have not heard of any yet.
Good luck getting your coins.
My order was taken on 3/27 @ 12.53 PM. I received it about the 13th of April.
Thanks, John. You get the prize for being first!
A great update on the BHOF products and their secondary market trends. I agree that the gold coins always will see demand, while the silver will trend downwards, somewhat, as the next groups of strikes are released to the market. Still,I believe that anyone who purchased the $1 coins directly from the Mint will have opportunities for returns on those investments.
I also would offer a clarification on Mr. Maben’s comment about “Perth’s curved coins.” To date, Perth has offered several Double Concave UHR coins in 1 oz / 5 oz Silver and Gold. The Royal Australian Mint has offered two, truly domed coins, with the third expected this year, while the Monnaie de Paris has offered two, the most recent being their 2014 FIFA World Cup coin.
WRT orders placed and fulfilled. My initial orders were placed at 1534 EDT on 27 March. PR and UNC gold still back-ordered to 6/21. UNC $1 still back ordered to 5/21. To date, I have taken delivery of 2 PR & UNC Clad and 1 PR $1 from my initial order.
It seems clear something more than a computer glitch is at work.
I ordered 10 proof gold coins, 5 uncirculated gold coins and 2 each silver proof and uncirculated. Orders placed 1:17 and 1:27 march 27th. I have only received the silver coins. I have never ordered anything from the mint that quick and not received them within a month. Something is messed up.
An astute blogger noted that if the issue with the Mint is a computer glitch affecting shipping dates, then why does it seem to work for other products than BHOF coins such as proof sets, etc.? Good point, which does make one wonder whether there is an issue with production of the coins.
Somebody needs to find out what the real issue is at the mint. There is obviously some problem with the distribution of these coins.
Thanks LOUIS. As always you are right on top of things. I hope
that your SPOUSE monies went into the $5 BHOF PAIRS – just like you said you were going to do.
My hat is off to you.
Thank you very much, S. Knight, for the kind words.
I have a question and hope a read can answer this. I am a baseball “nut” so I knew I was going to buy this coin and have done so through the E Bay site. I saw a coin in a holder with Nolan Ryan’s signature which had a very high premium and chose the First Pitch Baltimore label at a lower price. Upon a close-up of the Nolan Ryan coin, below his signature was written “authorized facsimile” . I think these were the words. Anyway it was not Nolan Ryan’s signature but he authorized a copy of his signature. I am glad I did not buy the coin because I want the “real deal” Can anyone tell me if a copy of his signature is worth the premium price they wanted for this coin?
NGC and PCGS are competing against each other for advantage on the secondary market by utilizing a number of different labels. This causes confusion in the marketplace, if you ask me. NGC has licensed the use of a number of “facsimile” signatures from Hall of Famers. Nolan Ryan and Reggie Jackson are two that I know of. There may be others. PCGS, on the other hand, has licensed a number of Hall of Famers (some not yet announced) to actually sign the labels. PCGS is offering these to dealers at a premium price – as they are limited in nature and the athletes are getting paid a sizable amount of money to do this.
As to which labels are ultimately going to be worth a premium? That’s a tougher question. In my experience, the idea that the label and not the coin would be the ultimate draw for collectors, is something new and untested in the long term.
Thank you Mr. Morgan for a very insightful and informative answer. I think the lesson you tried to convey to me is to buy the coin for its beauty and grade and if it happens to come in a “fancy” holder, well it’s just a fancy label. Agree. Thanks.
The PCGS slabs with the real deal – original Hall of Famers’ signatures – have just entered the market! Check out eBay for some listings.
What ever happened to “buy the coin, not the holder”? Is that officially over now? I mean, I see why PCGS and NGC might WANT it to be over, but still … Anyway, I guess unless the mint promises to do another domed coin, they have slabs to use up, eh?
My $.02 on the mint and slow shipping: Even the clad halves (UNC – don’t know about PROOF) aren’t shipping, and they’re nowhere NEAR a sellout! What gives?
Can’t escape the feeling we’re conning ourselves here with these coins. I suspect a SEVERE drop in market prices. “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but SOON, and for the rest of your life.”
Kurt- With coins as with economics or anything it’s always dangerous to paint with a broad brushstroke. The fancy label coins will of course come down, but the raw coins will probably hold their value esp. compared to issue price. Unless you have seen one of these coins in hand esp. the proof dollar, you have no idea what the fuss is all about.
And for people like you who seem so eager to see prices drop, how about just waiting and seeing what happens? Will you eat crow if you are wrong about the ungraded coins or the regular graded ones? I bought all mine at issue price and am very confident I will not lose a dime.
I bought mine at issue price, too, and with mintage numbers like these, I guarantee you within 10 years the Baseball Hall of Fame dollar will be among the lowest priced ones in the modern commemorative series, just like the 2013 reverse proof gold Buffalo will establish the bottom of one ounce gold proofs.
Demand is subject to temporary whim. Supply (mintage) eventually determines value in commems. The evidence is everywhere.
Bottom line is this:
Buy when and what nobody wants at issue.
Avoid buying what is hot at issue. That is, “wait and watch”.
You almost will never lose if you do that.
I have asked the Mint for some clarification on the shipping delays, and I believe it is hurting the Mint’s image to continue to allow this situation to fester without providing any info.
Some people in the blogosphere say they were told by CS reps that there are production problems. If so, the Mint really has an obligation to tell its customers who have spent millions of dollars on these products what is going on.
And quite frankly, like many other buyers I am not pleased with the way those free black bags were handled. They charged me shipping on all my unshipped orders so they could mail a box with a reusable bag. The bags should only be shipped with the product, and the buyer should be able to opt out as many do not want them. If the Mint fails to provide the products we are expecting, are we going to get refunds on shipping charges for those bags?
I am not trying to pile on here, and have defended the Mint many times in my articles, but this situation needs to be addressed asap. And in all the years I have been a Mint customer, this is by far the worst order fulfillment fiasco I have encountered. It is one thing when, such as with some of the special silver eagle sets, we were told upfront to expect a delay of a couple months, but in this case orders placed within a couple hrs of the start of sales on March 27 have estimated shipping dates that are getting pushed out to the middle of the summer with no explanation given.
Other mints around the world do sometimes encounter production or other delays, but they make that info. available to their customer or to the dealers who distribute their products.
Well said, Louis. Even the 2009 UHR and the “late book” problems were handled with much more aplomb than the delivery of any of the remaining coins in this series.
In the 3 days since you published this article, my ship dates for 4 different BHOF orders (3/27 Au; 3/27 Ag & Clad; 4/7 Add’l Ag when sales @ 91% and sell-out emminent; and 4/28 Add’l Clad at Intro $) have bounced FAR to the right, and only slightly left. And anyone who says “software glitch” might as well put their other foot into that fresh, steaming pile of dung, because the other Mint product orders I placed before, during and after the BHOF have loaded, changed status, and shipped without Glitch One!!
I have not doubt that the Mint greatly under-estimated the demand for and popularity of this series, so the first production runs probably were not as extensive as they could have been. Still, The Mint has a proven process and the planchets for the additional coins. The final production runs should not be taking this long.
What ever the reason for these delays, we customers deserve a flankly honest, detailed explanation. And it damn well better not include the words “delivery of packaging and / or capsules.”
Recognizing that the ER and FS designation dates close today, I’d be curious to learn if large numbers of orders will be cancelled in the weeks and months ahead. I’m an OGP collector, so I will be more than elated when I learn that they have shipped!!
Thanks, Chris. The Mint will be getting back to me soon. I also asked one of the grading companies if they are considering extending the cut-off date, but I did not receive a response.
I can imagine that the clad halves might be a tricky production issue. Getting a three layer sandwich to form into a dome properly sounds like a nightmare to me, but that doesn’t explain the silver coin issue. My silver estimated delivery date changes nearly daily on the mint’s back order listing.
Any word from the mint on the HOF coins yet ?
I did hear something.
Check one of my next articles.
Thanks! I will keep my eyes open. I always enjoy reading your
Louis, can we get a link on here to your next article? I still havent received any updates from the mint on my gold coins. Getting kind of mad . Lol
I will have a brief response from the Mint next week, but the bottom line is they are making more coins and it will probably be a while.
Crazy i got my gold orders in 108 PM and 109 PM on the release day and havent received any Gold Coins yet. Seems like everyone who ordered before 100 PM on release date got their coins.
Last night Mike Mezak of the Home Shopping Network offered a BHOF Gold Proof 70 for $1799. Wow! (Fortunately HSN has a 30 day refund policy, for those buyers that may have remorse : ) )
I’m still waiting on all of my coins and the US Mint keeps pushing back the shipping dates. Am I the only one having this issue?
Nope. Mine got pushed back from the original ship date of april 16 to june 30. Not happy
I have started a petition at change.org hopefully coin week will post this message and everyone interested can sign the petition to get the US Mint to come clean on this Baseball Hall of Fame coin roll out Disaster.
Looks like my coins are in stock and reserved. Should ship next few days.
I’m happy for you, I called yesterday. The representative told me she was one of the first orders and she doesn’t have her coins yet, didn’t make me feel any better. Also told me they have no explanation for the delays and can’t guarantee any dates.
I had to refund a few of my customers who got tired of waiting and decided to pay the premium the dealers are asking – funny how the dealers, NGC and PCGS got all the coins they needed and way ahead of the little guys like me.
Again very happy for you, some of my just got moved up but nothing in stock yet.
They are now $30 a piece on ebay. So much for increasing in value for years to come. Suckas!!