By Louis Golino for CoinWeek….
For this month’s modern world coin round-up we have some interesting developments at the Perth Mint, the Casa de Moneda in Mexico, and the Royal Canadian Mint.
On September 1 the Perth Mint in Australia released its latest batch of new issues headlined by the silver and gold proof Year of the Goat coins. Though demand was not as strong as in the past for the three-coin silver set, which is the only way to obtain the two-ounce proof coin unless you bought the special 12-piece set that entitles buyers to purchase the coins separately, the sets did sell out at Perth and are commanding a small premium online. The silver proof sets have a mintage of 1,000.
But the individual one and half ounce silver proofs and the proof kilo coin do not seem to be big sellers from what I can determine. Each is still available from Perth. As one collector friend of mine puts it, we are a long way from the dragon-mania of 2012.
In addition to a variety of other releases such as the latest in the series that uses opal, which depicts an owl, a very intriguing new coin made with an abalone shell was part of the September line-up. American buyers were not pleased when they saw the coin is not being sold directly by Perth to U.S. customers, who were referred to their local distributors.
Many people assumed this meant the abalone coin was another coin created at the behest of a specific U.S. coin company, which in the past has meant American collectors had to order the coin from the dealer who worked with Perth to create the coin.
But Rose De Gregorio, who is the North American Manager for Perth, explained to me the reason is actually related to a legal matter, specifically, that coins with abalone can’t be imported without an export license. As she said: “The Abalone coin was to have been supplied to U.S. distributors however, the situation which had arisen was that the coin is considered to have wildlife content, which requires a U.S./Canadian import license before it can be allowed entry into these countries. We, the Perth Mint, were unable to meet the conditions to secure the relevant permit in time for the release of the coin. Hence, unless a North American distributor on their own initiative applies for the permit if interested to carry the coin, we at the Perth Mint cannot sell off of our website to anyone in the North American region.”
Libertad proof coins coming soon
It is not unusual for one or more of the many Libertad silver and gold coins to be delayed by the Casa de Moneda in Mexico, but this year collectors of the series experienced an especially long delay with the silver proof coins. By this time buyers expected to have in hand the 5 and 7-piece proof sets, and all the individual proof coins in one, two, and five-ounce sizes. Instead only the 5-piece proof sets and only 1,000 of them have been released so far, along with the various sizes of silver bullion coins, and the gold issues in the spring. And prices for the silver proof sets have been pushing higher week by week.
Part of the problem is the mint uses just one coin press to make all of the silver kilos and 5 ounce silver coins. But the bigger issue has to do with the recent Mexican election and some personnel changes.
As Pat Stovall explained a “perfect storm” delayed these release of the proof coins this year: “In the past 18 months a new president was elected to head the Mexican government, along with some new appointees to sit on the board of directors of the Banco de Mexico and the Casa de Moneda. The previous business model of the Numismatic Department of the bank has had their course altered slightly which in turn has accumulated in the delays of the entire 2014 Libertad series. A domino effect has taken place which has affected the decisions when to effectuate the authority for this year’s coin production, when to begin minting, and how to parcel out the coins to the worldwide network of distributors. On a conversation with the Banco de Mexico, this past week, I am told that the entire series will be released on the 18th of September.” Distributors should have the coins about a week later, he added. The wait is almost over.
Superman flies again
Last year the Royal Canadian Mint issued a series of 5 silver and one gold coin to mark the 75th anniversary of Superman’s debut in comic books. The character was created by American writer, Jerry Siegel and Canadian-American artist, Joe Shuster. The coins sold out very quickly during the pre-release period for Master’s Club members, and prices rose significantly on the secondary market, especially for the colored gold coin with a mintage of 2,000 pieces, which more than tripled in value. Prices for these coins have settled a little from their highs of last year, but they continue to garner considerable premiums.
At the end of August the mint started accepting pre-orders for a new series of silver and gold Superman coins this time depicting some classic covers of Superman comics. A half ounce coin showing the famous cover of Action Comics #1 from 1938; a three-quarter ounce coin showing a 1972 cover; an ounce coin with the 2012 image of Superman Annual #1 (all with mintages of 10,000); and a gold coin (made of 12 grams of 14 karat gold) with the enduring image of Clark Kent peeling away his shirt to reveal the Superman logo that has a mintage of 2,000 pieces are being shipped to buyers later this month.
Once again the coins sold out during pre-order for Master’s Club members except for the three-quarter ounce silver coin that sold out once public sales began the following week, and once again prices for the gold coin have risen the most from an issue price of $750 CAN to about $1,200. But as a percentage of issue price the smallest coin has been the best performer so far reaching about 60% over its $70 CAN issue price.
It will be interesting to see how the values for the coins fare once they are actually available. I suspect there may be a temporary dip, but that over time interest from Superman fans will keep their values up. The half-ounce coin is so popular probably because it depicts the first Superman comic cover and was the most accessible coin in terms of issue price.
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 article, “Proposed Design Change Takes Flight,” which deals with the CCAC’s recommendation for a new reverse for the American silver eagle, appears in the July 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.