By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez for CoinWeek.com ……
The 2016 American Liberty Silver Medal is among the hottest products on the numismatic block today. After selling out on the United States Mint website within six minutes of their release, the new silver medals have been trading for multiples of their issue price in the secondary market.
The unmonetized one-ounce 99.9 percent silver medal carries the same design as the 2015-W $100 American Liberty High-Relief Gold Coin. The 24-karat one-ounce gold coin was a major hit last year when the Mint offered the .9999-fine coins for $1,490 each. With a mintage limit of just 50,000 pieces, the 2015 American Liberty High-Relief gold coin went on sale on July 30 of that year. It sold out within hours.
The gold coin and silver medal feature an obverse image of a modern Lady Liberty. She stands before the viewer at three-quarters profile with a torch in her right hand and the American flag attached to a pole held in her left hand. The reverse depicts a soaring American eagle gripping an olive branch in its talons. United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) designer Justin Kunz created the obverse, while fellow AIP designer Paul C. Balan created the coin’s reverse. U.S. Mint sculptor-engravers Phebe Hemphill (View Designer’s Profile) and Don Everhart (View Designer’s Profile) engraved and adapted the designs for the obverse and reverse, respectively.
But even though it is not struck in high-relief like the gold coin is, the Proof silver medal’s issue price of $34.95 provided collectors with an affordable version of the popular modern Liberty design. The budget-friendly medal proved so popular that all 25,000 pieces sold out within just six minutes upon hitting the U.S. Mint website at noon on August 23.
The medals were produced at the San Francisco (“S) and West Point (“W”) mints, each producing 12,500 pieces. Due to the limited mintage run, the Mint stipulated a strict household ordering limit of just two per household, which allowed a maximum total of four pieces for both the San Francisco and West Point medals.
With their relatively small mintage, restrictive ordering limits, affordable pricing and exceptional design, it’s little wonder the American Liberty 2016 Silver Medals performed well with customers. Within hours of their sellout, the medals were commanding steep prices on the auction website eBay. Some four-piece sets containing two S-Mint and two W-Mint raw, uncertified silver medals sold for as much as $707, or $176.75 per medal – a profit of $141.80 over the issue price. Meanwhile, many major secondary market retailers are selling individual pieces for between $160 and $180 each.
Modern Coin Mart (MCM) in Sarasota, Florida, has seen a steady stream of online customers inquiring about the 2016 Liberty silver medal.
“I’m not 100 percent sure this is representative of demand or speculation,” remarks MCM President Andy Salzberg. “My gut says this is a true incidence of demand. It’s a beautiful design and the reverse in particular is the best I’ve seen on a coin in a long time, [though] I would have liked to see the high-relief design.”
But there are questions about the medal’s future performance.
“Will collectors have concerns with the piece being non-denominational?”, Salzberg asks.
Still, he believes the silver American Liberty medal offers plenty of redeeming qualities.
“It‘s a chance for people to purchase a beautiful medal that’s affordable.”
APMEX Vice President of Merchandising Andrew Martineau also believes the silver medals are compelling to collectors for many reasons. “Unlike previous medal releases from the U.S. Mint, these new medals contain one ounce of .999 fine silver,” he says.
“The limited mintage of only 12,500 per production by the San Francisco and West Point Mints each is also a huge selling point. Because the medals were struck from the planchets normally reserved for the U.S. Silver Eagle and feature the popular design introduced on the 2015 American Liberty High Relief Gold coin, this allows additional opportunities for collectors who may not purchase gold to own this stunning design in silver,” Martineau comments. “Although we are not currently selling these coins on our website, due to awaiting confirmation of their arrival date, we have received a substantial amount of customers showing interest by signing up for email notification and will work to have the medals up on our website soon.”
While APMEX prepares to sell the new American Liberty 2016 Silver Medals, Martineau has high hopes for the potential impacts the medal program may have upon the hobby.
“It should provide newfound interest in numismatic coins and medals.”
U.S. High Relief Gold Coins Currently Available on eBay