By Louis Golino for CoinWeek ………
Here is a round-up of news developments from the U.S. Mint and some recommendations for 2013 coins to watch.
Unlike in years past when sales ended in mid-December, this year the U.S. Mint has decided to sell its 2013-dated commemorative coins until the last day of the year. Sales will end at 12:00 noon on December 31.
In the past we were informed that sales ended two weeks before year’s end to allow time for fulfillment of all orders by the end of the year. Commemorative coins can only be sold in the year they were minted.
It is not clear what the basis is for extending sales this year, though low sales numbers likely play a part.
The low sales, especially of the $5 gold Five-Star Generals uncirculated gold coins, and of the Five-Star Generals clad uncirculated half dollars, will be of interest to those who follow potential new low mintage coins. For the gold coin, the current king is the uncirculated Jackie Robinson gold coin from 1997, with a mintage of 5,174. The latest sales for the 2013 generals gold coin is 4,568, but several times higher for the proof version.
I would expect there to be a late buying surge, as there was last year with the $5 gold uncirculated Star-Spangled Banner coins, that will most likely push the number over that of the Robinson coin. The generals coin will probably come in second, but whether that will be low enough to give the coin much of a premium, at least in the near future, remains to be seen. Lower mintages are becoming the norm with a lot of Mint precious metal coins, but in many cases, that is not translating into much of a premium, with certain exceptions.
The 2011 Army clad half dollar, especially the uncirculated version and examples graded MS69 by PCGS, did see a quick premium, as the coin became the new low mintage key in the clad half series. But those premiums then came down quite a bit, though anyone who bought at issue price is doing fine with those coins. With the clad generals half setting up as an even lower mintage coin, we may see similar developments in about two months, especially give the key fact that current sales of the 2013 coin are running about ten thousand below the mintage of the 2011 coin. While I do expect a late surge, I am rather confident the 2013 coin will end up well below the mintage of the 2011, setting up the prospects for at least short-term profit potential.
Bullion eagle sales
The Mint also announced that allocations of 2013-dated American silver eagles will end on December 9, and sales of the 2014 coins will begin on January 13, which is later than usual. The gap of potentially a month when silver eagles will not be sold by the Mint, if the final allocation sells out fast, is presumably intended to give the Mint time to produce enough coins to satisfy the large surge in demand that always occurs at the beginning of the year when buyers eagerly snap up the new coins. This year the Mint had to ration or allocate sales due to overwhelming demand.
The Mint is on track to easily set a new record for silver eagle sales this year since it has already sold almost 40 million coins, and last year it sold 33,742,500.
It appears that a lot of people feel silver is a good buy at current levels.
For gold eagles, things are simpler, and sales for the 2013 coins will begin as usual on January 2.
Artistic Infusion Program
Budding artists and sculptors may wish to take note of a call for artists from the Mint and the National Endowment for the Arts for the Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program, which was established in 2003. The program aims to “enrich and invigorate the nation’s coins and medals by commissioning designs from a select pool of artists.”
In light of the ongoing debate on the designs that appear on modern American coins, which has been a frequent theme of this column, I hope lots of talented people participate in the program and produce strong coin and medal designs.
For more information, see this section of the NEA web site:
Applications are due January 10
Upcoming products of note
The Mint has announced, to the delight of many collectors who have been waiting all year for this news, that on December 17 a special coin and chronicles set honoring President Theodore Roosevelt will be released.
No details have been made available yet about the set, which is likely to include the 2013 Teddy Roosevelt $1 coin and possibly a U.S. Mint medal honoring President Roosevelt that was first issued years ago as well as some educational materials.
This particular president is very popular with collectors in large part because of his collaboration with Augustus St. Gaudens and other artists, who produced the coins which are considered the best ever minted in this country during what has come to be known as the golden age of American coin design. The $20 gold St. Gaudens double eagle is the best example of such a coin.
In addition, on November 14 the Mint will release the 2013 annual dollar set, which includes all $1 coins issued for the year including both the presidential and Native American coins and the burnished uncirculated silver eagle. The 2013-W burnished eagle is running even lower than last year in sales, and normally only around 30,000 or so of these dollar sets are sold, so keep an eye on the burnished eagle and pick up a dollar set which should be priced at about the cost of the silver eagle plus the face value of the other six coins.
Finally, on December 12 the 2013 limited edition proof set will be released. If it is like last year’s set, it will include the silver coins from the regular silver proof set plus the proof silver eagle, and will be housed in a special holder. Last year’s sets took some time to sell out of their 50,000 mintage, but they have acquired a premium on the secondary market. Although the set is a repackaging of previously-released coins, it is worth considering based on the performance of the 2012 sets.
Louis Golino is a coin collector and numismatic writer, whose articles on coins have appeared in Coin World, Numismatic News, a number of different coin web sites in addition to being a contributor to “American Hard Assets magazine”. 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.
I don’t think the five star general gold coins will make much a splash. Overall, except for the proof silver coin, I did not think any of them were particularly exciting. I’ve said this elsewhere but I think that while low mintages do help with premiums, the main driver is an unexpected sellout of a coin. If there’s an unexpected sellout, there will be people out there who want the coin that weren’t able to get it. I think Jackie Robinson is liable to remain the “key date.”
I am expecting the trend of declining commemorative sales to reverse next year, however, when the baseball coins are released. Based on the articles appearing in the press there is quite a bit of collector interest in these coins, and the runup to the release is beginning to feel like the runup to the West Point set’s release. I wonder if we will see a day one stampede similar to what we got for the West Point set, too?
You could be right, but keep in mind that the Robinson coins did not sell out unexpectedly. They were simply not very popular when available, so few people bought them.
The baseball coins will most likely be popular, but the mintage of commemorative coins is very high, and I would be extremely surprised to see a sell-out, early or not, of any commemorative issue.
[…] The Coin Analyst: News from the U.S. Mint The 2011 Army clad half dollar, especially the uncirculated version and examples graded MS69 by PCGS, did see a quick premium, as the coin became the new low mintage key in the clad half series. But those premiums then came down quite a bit, though … Read more on CoinWeek […]
The US Mint needs to reconsider the entire format of the commemorative program. This format has been in place since 1982 with the only difference between one issue and another being the inclusion or exclusion of the clad half.
I also find the artistic merits of these coins disproportionately mediocre and the events being commemorated frequently not worth the bother of issuing a coin at all. The entire program is boring.
The repetitive nature of the program, mediocre artistic quality, frequent irrelevance of the events being commemorated and the sheer number of coins being issued are the reasons why sales are low. I can see someone buying the dollar and halves to keep their sets current but the gold, forget it. I suspect that these coins are disproportionately bought by speculators hoping to cash in as opposed to real collectors. There are a vast number of coins and sets that can be bought for the same or less that are superior to these coins.