by Louis Golino for CoinWeek ……
San Francisco 70 sets take-off
As I suggested might be the case in July , there was significant appreciation potential for graded proof/reverse proof 70 versions of the San Francisco American silver eagle sets from the time we found out that only a portion of the total mintage would be delivered in time to be first strike/early release eligible.
Now we have learned of some additional factors that are pushing values for the 70 sets higher very quickly from $230-300 until a few days ago to $300-500 depending on which grading service graded them. An NGC 70 set is bringing $300-350, while PCGS sets are fetching $450-$500 as of August 12.
Apparently a significant number of people, or at least more than was the case with the 25th anniversary eagle sets, are reporting receiving sets from the Mint that are of sub par quality. This seems to be playing a role in values for 70 sets.
A week ago I was able to purchase a PCGS first strike 70 set in the labels signed by John Mercanti, designer of the reverse of the coin. I paid about $250 including the original government packaging and shipping, and now the same sets are bringing $500 a week later, which is a very fast appreciation.
The company I purchased my PCGS 70 set from sold out very quickly of that option, as I expected. So far relatively few PCGS sets have made it to the market based on the small number of e-Bay sales, as well as information from Modern Coin Mart indicating their PCGS sets have been delayed.
At the same time, ungraded sets have started to soften, and are bringing between $200 and 225 on e-Bay, which is still not bad for a coin set purchased from the Mint two months ago for $150 that was just received.
The smaller number of first strike-eligible coins than usual coupled with quality that seems to be lower than in previous anniversary sets and delays in getting PCGS sets to market have combined to put a lot of upward momentum on those sets. It may or may not last. If there really are fewer 70 coins than in similar eagle sets, that should help support higher values over time.
In the past, those looking to make a quick profit from this kind of set usually bought a large number and sent in their best coins hoping to get a lot of 70 sets. That may pay off for some people, especially the very large dealers, but for the more modest investor I think in this case the best strategy was to buy a lot of graded 70 sets before they went up so quickly in price.
Two new First Spouse queens
During the past week two of the gold First Spouse $10 coins sold out in the uncirculated versions at the Mint, and each coin’s sell out set a new mintage low for the series.
Final mintage numbers will not be available for some time until adjustments are made for returns and other factors, but tentative numbers are available now.
Based on the sales data from the Mint that is current through August 6, the Lucy Hayes uncirculated coin has sold 2,243 units, while the Lucretia Garfield coin is at least for now the lowest mintage coin at 1,973. Next week’s sales report will give us information that includes last minute sales.
Astute buyers have been tracking the sales numbers for these coins since both coins’ tentative mintage numbers are substantially below previous figures.
Until the Garfield and Hayes sell-outs, the previous keys were in the 3,000 range for the BU coin. But the Garfield coin is close to one thousand coins lower than previous keys, depending on how many were sold in the last few days.
It is for now the lowest mintage modern U.S. gold coin ever issued, and one the lowest mintage U.S. coins ever minted.
Some people continue to look at the series as overpriced bullion, but with mintage figures that low, collectors should pay attention to these coins.
With the exception of the 2007 issues, other coins in the series have acquired solid premiums. The lower mintage pieces and more popular issues like the Tyler coins and Liberty sub-set all sell at substantial premiums over gold content.
Many people are skeptical of the demand and future potential for these coins, but as I have previously suggested, this series could prove to be a long-term winner.
There will surely be more very low mintage coins in the series because of the high cost of the coins and other reasons. But the numbers for the Garfield coin are significantly lower than previous series keys, and this may attract some new interest in the series and push future mintages up.
I may be wrong, but I doubt we will see more mintage as low as the two-thousand range. I think it caught some people off guard that sales of the Garfield and Hayes coins would end when they did.
Although there are lots of skeptics when it comes to First Spouse coins, there is also a small group of loyal buyers who will keep buying the coins and trying to build a full set.
Whether due to rising gold prices in the coming years, or as a result of that and the unusually low mintage numbers of coins in this series, there is a decent chance that those who keep collecting will be rewarded down the road.
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 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.