By Louis Golino for CoinWeek….
As the end of the year approaches, there are some interesting new coins from various world mints on a wide range of themes. Some are bullion, while others are numismatic issues, but all of them have low mintages and are intriguing in their own way.
Elephants instead of eagles?
On November 4 the U.S. Mint announced that it had depleted its inventory of 2014-dated American silver eagles and that its network of authorized purchasers would be notified when additional coins are available. In order to focus on producing them, the Mint has temporarily halted production of 2015-dated coins.
As always is the case when this happens, the perception of a shortage (when in reality 2014 eagles are readily available) and lower spot prices have pushed up premiums on 2014 silver eagles.
I would recommend considering the new 2015 Somali elephant silver coin, which is available for about the same price as 2014 silver eagles are going for, but which have much lower mintages. In addition, the coins sport a different elephant design each year and are growing in popularity, especially with wildlife fans.
Between 2004-2008 only 5,000 of these coins were minted, and that has pushed their retail values up to well over $100 a coin for these issues. In the years since then mintages have varied, but they have usually been around 130-170,000 except for the 2012 coin with a mintage of 80,000. Mintages have not been announced yet for the 2014 and 2015 coins, but they are unlikely to be more than about 4% of the mintage of 2014 silver eagles, which are approaching 40 million for the year. In October alone the Mint sold 5.79 million eagles.
Even the elephants from just a couple years back already sell for twice or more the price of current-dated pieces, so it is probably worth adding some of these to your silver holdings. These coins are also issued in colored, gilded, and high relief proof versions, a kilo-sized version, and a four-piece proof set with two, one, half and quarter ounce-sized coins.
Also keep in mind another African wildlife coin issued by Rwanda that depicts a different animal each year next to a larger image of the African continent. The 2015 Rwandan Cape buffalos will be available in December. The coins in this series also have low mintages and acquire solid premiums over time.
Bullion goats sold out at Perth
The Perth Mint (www.permint.com.au) announced last week that it has sold out of the entire 300,000 mintage of the latest coin in its bullion series II Lunar coins for the year of the goat. As a result of lower silver prices these coins are currently available for quite a bit less than coins from the last couple years cost when they were first issued. Once the coins sell-out at the Mint, they become harder to find over time, and premiums go up. This is a good hedge against fluctuating silver prices, which have been especially volatile this year. Perth also issues the bullion goat coins in a wide variety of other sizes as well as various numismatic versions with the most recent being the high relief coin released last week.
Meteor and lava coins
For the 10th anniversary of the Cook Islands meteor coin series this year a special coin with real moldavite at the center was issued with a mintage of 2500 pieces. Moldavite is a bottle-green glass colored substance that is believed to have originated from the impact of a meteor in Bavaria fifteen million years ago.
An even more impressive related coin is being minted by the Mint of Poland for Niue that is the first in a new series devoted to volcanoes around the world. The first coin, which should be available in December, depicts the Erta Ale volcano in the Afar region of Ethiopia. Erta Ale, which means “smoking mountain,” is one of only six volcanoes in the world that have active lava lakes at their summit and is the most active volcano in Ethiopia.
This innovative coin depicts the volcano in great detail on both sides in ultra high relief (with a reduced effigy of Queen Elizabeth instead of the usual one that takes up the entire obverse side*) and is made of two ounces of silver with an antique finish. It has real lava at the center, is concave/convex shaped like the 2014 baseball coins, and has a mintage of only 688 coins. It also has a huge 50 millimeter diameter and a height of 8 millimeters.
This coin is available in the U.S. from First Coin Company (www.firstcoincompany.com).
Early reactions from collectors commenting about the coin in the blogosphere are very positive. The volcano theme, domed shape, use of lava, low mintage, and intricate detail of the coin all add to its appeal for collectors. I would not be surprised to see this coin receive nominations in one or more categories of the Krause world coin awards.
Berlin Wall coins
November 9 marks twenty-five years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, a seminal event in the history of the 20thcentury that marked the end of the Cold War and led to the unification of Germany in 1990. Five years ago a number of countries issued coins to mark the 20th anniversary of this important event, including Palau, which issued coins that have small pieces of the wall itself.
For the 25th anniversary even more countries have issued coins. A few attractive, low-mintage standouts include:
1.) a 3D hologram $5 coin from Palau that depicts the profiles of German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev depending on the angle that comes in a handsome wooden box with graffiti-covered images of the wall
2.) a bimetal 2 euro coin from Vatican City with a 94,000 mintage that shows the Brandenburg Gate and bricks that describe the theme of the coin
3.) a 5 euro silver coin from San Marino with a 7,000 mintage in the usual colorful and informative folder
4.) a 20 euro coin from Belgium with a 15,000 mintage that shows the Brandenburg Gate and the wall
It is noteworthy that Germany itself has not, as far as I have heard, issued its own coin.
*On November 5 the Royal Mint (www.royalmint.com) announced that for the first time since 1988 a new effigy of Queen Elizabeth, the fifth to be issued during her 62-year reign, will begin appearing on UK coins in 2015. The current effigy was designed by Ian Rank-Broadley. 2015-dated gold sovereigns will include both the last to use the Rank-Broadley effigy and the first with the new one.