A look at the American Eagles: The American Gold Eagles

This is second article of a 4 part series:

During the debate of the law that created the American Silver Eagle program, the gold mining interests began to lobby congress to pass a bill to allow the U.S. Mint to mint bullion coins using gold mined in the United States. A few months later, congress passed the Gold Bullion Coin Act of 1985 that created the American Eagle Gold Bullion Program.

The key provisions of the Gold Bullion Coin Act are that the gold used in the coins be purchased from United States mining sources at prevailing market value and that the coins would be produced using 22-karat gold. It was decided to produce the using 22-karat gold to allow the U.S. Mint to compete with the Krugerrand, which was produced using 22-karat gold.

American Gold Eagle Design

The obverse of the coin used the design of the $20 Double Eagle coin designed by Augusts Saint-Gaudens. This design is considered by many the most beautiful of all coins produced by the U.S. Mint.

The reverse features a male bald eagle carrying an olive branch flying above a nest containing a female eagle and her hatchlings. It was designed by Miley Frances Busiek.

American Gold Eagle Coins are offered in four different sizes with each size being of different legal tender face value. The different coins are as follows:

  • One ounce American Gold Eagle: $50 face value, is 1.287 inches (32 mm) in diameter, contains one troy ounce of gold and weighs 1.0909 troy ounces,
  • One-half ounce American Gold Eagle: $25 face value, is 1.063 inches (27 mm) in diameter, contains 0.5000 troy ounce of gold and weighs 0.5455 troy ounce,
  • One-quarter ounce American Gold Eagle: $10 face value, is 0.866 inch (22 mm) in diameter, contains 0.2500 troy ounce of gold and weighs 0.2727 troy ounce,
  • One-tenth ounce American Gold Eagle: $5 face value, is 0.650 inch (16.5 mm) in diameter, contains 0.1000 troy ounce of gold and weighs 0.1091 troy ounce.

All coins are struck with reeded edges.

Each coin is made from 22-karat gold. The composition is comprised of 91.67% gold, 3% silver, and 5.33% copper. The coins are produced so that each size contains its stated weight in pure gold. This means that the coins are heavier than their pure gold weight to account for the silver and copper.

Bullion American Gold Eagle Coins

The American Gold Eagle program produces bullion and collectible coins. The bullion coins can be stuck at any branch mint but does not have a mintmark. Bullion coins are sold in bulk to special dealers who then sell it to retailers. They are struck for the investment market.

Although some people do collect bullion coins they are not produced or marketed for the collector market. As with other investments, American Gold Eagle bullion coins are subject to taxes when sold. Please consult your financial advisor or tax professional for the tax implications for your situation.

It is important to note that there have been attempts to determine where the bullion coins have been struck. Collectors have tried to use shipping records from the U.S. Mint, shipping labels, and other means to try to investigate the origin of the coins. Although some believe that these methods have identified some coins, the U.S. Mint has said that the shipping records that are being relied upon are not correct and do not reliably show the branch mint of origin.

Collector American Gold Eagle Coins

Collector coins are produced and sold by the U.S. Mint in specialty packaging directly to the public. Collectors can purchase new coins directly from the U.S. Mint and find these coins online. Collector American Gold Eagle coins are produced only as proof coins.

American Gold Eagle Poof coins are sold individually or in a four-coin set. The coins sold by the U.S. Mint are stored in a specially made capsule and that capsule is placed in a special folder-like packaging. The folders are distributed in a brown box with a Certificate of Authenticity.

OGP vs. GRADED

2018-W American Gold Eagle Proof in Original Government Package

Collector American Gold Eagle uncirculated coins can be purchased either in their original government package or graded. When searching for coins that are in their original government packaging it is recommended that you add “OGP” as part of the search.

Collector American Gold Eagle coins may have been removed from its original government package in order to be sent to a third-party grading service for grading. Most of the time, the original government package may have been discarded. Some dealers will sell the package without the coin for a few dollars, but for collectors of graded coins, this is not a priority.

1999-W Bullion Eagles Struck with Unfinished Proof Dies

In 1999, there was an incredible demand for gold bullion. In the rush to produce $5 one-tenth ounce and $10 one-quarter ounce bullion coins to satisfy market demand, the West Point Mint mistakenly struck coins using unfinished dies made that were supposed to be for proof coins.

These dies were considered unfinished because they did not receive their final finishing treatment that would be used for proof coins.

As a result, about 4,000-6,000 American Gold Eagle 1999 bullion coins were struck with the "W" mintmark and the higher relief of proof coins.  Since most of these coins may be in bullion holdings, experts are not sure how rare these coins may be. However, few have been seen for sale on the secondary market.

SPECIAL SETS

Tenth Anniversary American Eagle Set

As part of the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the American Eagle program, the U.S. Mint created the 10th Anniversary American Eagle set. The set contained a four 1995-W American Gold Eagle Proof coins (one-tenth, one-quarter, one-half, and one troy ounce coins) and a 1995-W American Silver Eagle proof coin. This set is significant for the 1995-W American Silver Eagle proof coin since it was not made available to collectors not buying the set.

Most of the sets have been split up to take advantage of the fluctuating metal prices and the rarity of the 1995-W American Silver Eagle. Finding the entire set with the American Gold Eagle coins and the American Silver Eagle Proof coin in the original government package can set you back $8,000 and higher.

Twentieth Anniversary American Eagle Set

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the American Eagle bullion program, the U.S. Mint issued two different using gold coins in celebration.

The American Gold Eagle three-coin 20th Anniversary Set contained three coins: a 2006-W Proof Gold Eagle, a 2006-W Uncirculated Gold Eagle, and a 2006-W Reverse Proof Gold Eagle.

The 2006-W American Gold Eagle Reverse Proof was unique to the 20th Anniversary set. The raised design elements of the coin are mirrored and the background fields are frosted. This is the reverse of the typical cameo proof finish. Because of this, many of these sets were broken up and the coins encapsulated in third-party grading service holders.

A second 20th Anniversary Set included a one-ounce 2006-W American Gold Eagle Uncirculated coin and 2006-W American Silver Eagle Uncirculated coin. Both coins were treated giving them a burnished finish. Since both coins were available to be purchased individually with over 19,000 produced, it is easier to find a set in its original government packaging.

Annual Collector Coins and Sets

During the course of the American Gold Eagle Program, the U.S. Mint has offered proof coins for the collector they sold directly through their sales channels. Collectors could purchase each coin individually in a presentation case or all four coins as a set.

When searching for American Gold Eagle Proof coins on eBay, be careful not to buy a lot with just the original government package (OGP) and no coins. It is common for collectors to remove the coins from the OGP and send them to a third-party grading service for encapsulation. Collectors and dealers will try to sell the OGP without the coins for people who have the coins but not the package.

The OGP without the coins have no collector value.

Starting in 2006, the U.S. Mint has offered an uncirculated American Silver Eagle coins struck on specially burnished gold blanks. The burnishing gives the coin a satin finish that distinguishes this version from the bullion coin. These coins were offered from 2006-2008 and 2011 to present. Because of the increased demand for the gold bullion coins in 2009 and 2010, the U.S. Mint did not produce burnished collector coins so that the blanks can be used for fulfilling the bullion demand.

Similar to the proof collector coins, many of these coins were removed from their OGP and encapsulated by third-party grading services. The warning about sellers offering the OGP for sale without coins applies for the uncirculated burnished coins.

Rolls and the Monster Box

When the U.S. Mint sells bullion coins to their authorized resellers, the coins are packaged in 20-coin hard plastic rolls and 25 rolls are placed in a specially designed box that contains 500 troy ounces of silver. Rolls are topped with red caps and the boxes storing the rolls are red.

Although you may be able to find rolls and monster boxes of American Gold Eagle for sale, the price will be commensurate with the price of the coins. However, some dealers have tried to sell the boxes to anyone interested.

In our next installment, we look at the American Platinum Eagles.

A Look at the American Eagles: The American Silver Eagles

This is first article of a 4 part series:

The American Silver Eagle program was created to provide a way for the United States government to sell off silver that was saved in the Defense National Stockpile. Following the Coinage Act of 1965 that removed silver United States coinage the amount of silver being used was building up a supply that far exceeded the needs for the national stockpile.

Following several years of discussion that almost led to the bulk auction and sale of the silver, it was decided to use the silver to create a silver investment coin. The program was so successful that when the Defense National Stockpile was depleted in 2002, the original law was changed to continue the program by purchasing silver from U.S.-based mines at market prices to be used for future production.

American Silver Eagle Design

The obverse of the coin is the much-beloved design of that was used on the Walking Liberty Half-Dollar coin from 1916 to 1947. It was designed by Adolph A. Weinman, a former student of Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

The reverse features a heraldic eagle using a design by John Mercanti who would become the 12th Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint. Mercanti engraved both sides of the coin that including copying Weinman’s original design.

Each coin contains one troy ounce (31.103 grams) of .999 fine silver with the balance of copper. American Silver Eagle coins are 40.6 mm (1.598 inches) in diameter and 2.98 mm (0.1173 inches) thick with reeded edges. The coins are assigned a face value of $1.00 to give them legal tender status.

Bullion American Silver Eagle Coins

The American Silver Eagle program produces bullion and collectible coins. The bullion coins can be stuck at any branch mint but does not have a mintmark. Bullion coins are sold in bulk to special dealers who then sell it to retailers. They are struck for the investment market.

Although some people do collect bullion coins there are not produced for the collector market. As with other investments, American Silver Eagle bullion coins are subject to taxes when sold. Please consult your financial advisor or tax professional for the tax implications for your situation.

It is important to note that there have been attempts to determine where the bullion coins have been struck. Collectors have tried to use shipping records from the U.S. Mint, shipping labels, and other means to try to investigate the origin of the coins. Although some believe that these methods have identified some coins, the U.S. Mint has said that the shipping records that are being relied upon are not correct and do not reliably show the branch mint of origin.

Collector American Silver Eagle Coins

Collector coins are produced and sold by the U.S. Mint in specialty packaging directly to the public. Collectors can purchase new coins directly from the U.S. Mint and find these coins online. Collector American Silver Eagle coins are produced as proof and uncirculated coins.

The U.S. Mint sells American Silver Eagle proof coins in a specially made capsule and that capsule is placed in a blue velvet-covered case. The case was distributed in a blue box with a Certificate of Authenticity.

Beginning in 2006, the U.S. Mint has produced an uncirculated, business strike coin for the collector market. Most uncirculated American Silver Eagle collector coins are struck in West Point and bear the “W” mintmark. Following striking, the coins are then burnished, a process by treating the surface with fine particles to give the surface a smooth, satin finish. Collector versions of the American Silver Eagle are also placed in a capsule for sale to the public. Packaging has varied from year to year including special collectibles.

When looking for collector American Silver Eagle coins, note that the American Silver Eagle proof coin was not struck in 2009 and the uncirculated burnished coins were not struck in 2009-2010. These years were skipped because the demand for bullion American Silver Eagle coins became higher than the available supply of silver planchets. To satisfy the demand, the U.S. Mint decided not to produce these collector coins.

OGP vs. GRADED

2018-W American Silver Eagle Proof in Original Government Package

Collector American Silver Eagle coins can be purchased either in their original government package or graded. When searching for coins that are in their original government packaging on most online auction sites, it is recommended that you add “OGP” as part of the search.

Collector American Silver Eagle coins may have been removed from its original government package in order to be sent to a third-party grading service for grading. Most of the time, the original government package may have been discarded. Some dealers will sell the package without the coin for a few dollars, but for collectors of graded coins, this is not a priority.

2007 Reverse Variety

In 2008, the U.S. Mint updated the reverse dies of the American Silver Eagle giving it a slightly different appearance. The reverse die was only supposed to be used on collector American Silver Eagle coins in 2008 before being used for bullion coins in 2009.

However, as a result of the human factor required with operating the minting equipment at the West Point Mint, the reverse dies that were used for the 2007 American Silver Eagle coins were mated with 2008 collector coins creating a new variety for collectors. This is known as a 2008-W Silver Eagle Reverse of 2007 Variety.

2008-W Silver Eagle Reverse of 2007 Variety
(Image courtesy of the Silver Eagle Guide)

The 1995-W

Tenth Anniversary American Eagle Set

As part of the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the American Eagle program, the U.S. Mint created the 10th Anniversary American Eagle set. The set contained a 1995-W American Silver Eagle proof coin that was not made available to collectors not buying the set. Collectors wanting to purchase add the 1995-W American Silver Eagle proof coin to their collection had to purchase the entire five-coin set that included four American Gold Eagle proof coins ($5, $10, $25 and $50 gold American Eagles). The set was priced at $999 limiting the number of coins sold.

Most of the sets have been split up to take advantage of the fluctuating metal prices. The gold coins have been sold while the gold prices rose since 1995, but the limited availability has caused the 1995-W American Silver Eagle to rise significantly on the secondary market. Cost to purchase this coin averages about $5,000, depending on the grade. Finding the entire set with the American Gold Eagle coins in their original government package can set you back $8,000 and higher.

Special Sets

In 1993, the U.S. Mint offered The Philadelphia Set, which was issued to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the striking of the first official U.S. coins at the Philadelphia Mint. This special set included each of the Proof American Gold and Silver Eagles struck at the Philadelphia Mint and containing the “P” mint mark. The 1993-P Proof Silver Eagle was included in the set along with the one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce, and one-tenth ounce 1993-P Proof Gold Eagles. Also included was a silver Philadelphia Bicentennial Medal, which specially produced for this numismatic product.

To mark the launch of the new American Platinum Eagle bullion and collector coin series, the US Mint offered the 1997 Impressions of Liberty Set. This set contained the one ounce 1997-W Proof Platinum Eagle, one ounce 1997-W Proof Gold Eagle, and one ounce 1997-P Proof Silver Eagle. Adding some special allure to the set, production was limited to just 5,000 units, which were individually numbered. The serial number for each set was engraved on a brass plate affixed to the wooden display case.

In 2004, the U.S. Mint worked with the United Kingdom’s Royal Mint to create a numismatic product containing the silver bullion coins from each country. The Legacies of Freedom Set contained one 2003 American Silver Eagle bullion coin and one 2002 British Silver Britannia bullion coin. The two coins were placed in special packaging which highlighted the importance of the two national icons.

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the 220th anniversary of the United States Mint the two bureaus joined together to release the 2012 Making American History Coin and Currency Set. The set contained a 2012-S American Silver Eagle Proof coin and a $5 note with a serial number beginning in “150”.

As part of the 2016 Ronald Reagan Coin and Chronicles Set the U.S. Mint included a 2016 Proof American Silver Eagle along with a 2016 Ronald Reagan Presidential reverse proof dollar, and a Nancy Reagan Bronze Medal. To complete the set, it included a presidential portrait produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and an informational booklet.

Annual Sets

To extend the product line, the U.S. Mint began to create special annual issue sets to entice people to collect U.S. Mint products. The first annual set containing an American Silver Eagle coin was the Annual Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set. First offered in 2007, the set includes the issued uncirculated Presidential dollar coins, an uncirculated Native American dollar coin, and an uncirculated American Silver Eagle. Since the Presidential Dollar Program ended in 2016, it is unclear whether the U.S. Mint will issue the set in 2017.

Since 2012, the U.S. Mint has been producing the Limited Edition Silver Proof Set that contains 90% silver versions of the year’s five America the Beautiful Quarters, Kennedy Half Dollar, and Roosevelt Dime, along with the standard annual Proof American Silver Eagle. Sets are limited to 50,000 units annually.

Starting in 2013, the U.S. Mint has been producing the Congratulations Set as part of a new line of products targeted towards gift giving occasions. The This set included the standard annual Proof Silver Eagle within specially designed packaging which allowed a personalized message to be written the recipient.

Anniversary Sets

2011 American Silver Eagle 25th Anniversary Set

Since the American Eagle Program has been one of the most successful programs in the history of the U.S. Mint, they have used its popularity to extend the product line. Aside from celebrating the anniversary of the program, the U.S. Mint has produced anniversary sets to celebrate Mint facilities.

The Anniversary sets issued are as follows:

  • 1995 American Eagle 10th Anniversary Set included a 1995-W American Silver Eagle Proof coin and four American Gold Eagle coins.
  • 2006 20th Anniversary American Silver Eagle Set was a special three-coin box set included a 2006-W American Silver Eagle with a burnished (satin) finish, a 2006-W American Silver Eagle Proof coin, and a 2006-P American Silver Eagle Reverse Proof coin.
  • 2011 25th Anniversary American Silver Eagle Set was a five-coin box set that contained five different coins. The U.S. Mint produced only 100,000 sets that sold out within the first 10 minutes they were offered online. This extremely popular set is averaging $800 on the secondary market in the original government package. The set includes the following coins:
    • 2011-W (West Point) American Silver Eagle Uncirculated coin
    • 2011-S (San Francisco) American Silver Eagle Uncirculated coin
    • 2011-W (West Point) American Silver Eagle Proof coin
    • 2011-P (Philadelphia) American Silver Eagle Reverse Proof coin
    • 2011 (no mintmark) American Silver Eagle Bullion coin
  • 2012 American Eagle San Francisco Two Coin Silver Proof Set was issued to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the current San Francisco Mint. The set included a 2012-S American Silver Eagle Proof coin and a 2012-S American Silver Eagle Reverse Proof Coin.
  • 2013 West Point American Silver Eagle Set was issued to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the facility in West Point, New York. The set included a 2013-W American Silver Eagle Reverse Proof coin and a 2013-W American Silver Eagle Enhanced Uncirculated coin. This was a popular set since it was the first appearance of the Enhanced Uncirculated finishing process.

Although the U.S. Mint did not issue a set to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the American Silver Eagle in 2016, the collector issues of the coins were issued with special edge lettering. Rather than the edge being reeded it was smooth with “30TH ANNIVERSARY” struck into the edge. Both the proof and burnished uncirculated coins were produced at West Point include the “W” mintmark and the edge lettering.

Rolls and the Green Monster Box

When the U.S. Mint sells bullion coins to their authorized resellers, the coins are packaged in 20-coin hard plastic rolls and 25 rolls are placed in a specially designed box that contains 500 troy ounces of silver. Because the box is green in color and sealed by the U.S. Mint, the package is nicknamed the Green Monster Box.

Resellers sell Green Monster Boxes with the intent of selling to investors. They also sell complete rolls from the Monster Box.

Sealed Green Monster Boxes have the benefit of being unsearched and unhandled since leaving the U.S. Mint. Additionally, the cost per coin is usually the lowest available since the coins are being purchased in bulk. These boxes are usually offered for sale by bullion dealers at a small premium over the current market (spot) price of silver.

In the next installment, we look at the American Gold Eagle coins.

All images courtesy of the U.S. Mint unless otherwise noted.

The Under-Appreciated Platinum Eagle Proofs

Over a week ago, the U.S. Mint announced that they will begin a three-year series of the American Platinum Eagles proof coins featuring designs inspired by the Declaration of Independence. After looking at the designs and the designs of past platinum proof coins, they may be one of the most under-appreciated series of coins produced by the U.S. Mint.

Since its introduction in 1997, the U.S. Mint has produced four series of proof coins with the reverse honoring different aspects of the nation. To see the list, see the “U.S. Coins by Type” page.

What distinguishes these coins are the well-executed reverse designs that few get to see or pay attention. It may be difficult for the average collector to consider collecting these coins because of the price of platinum has been either on par or higher than the price of gold. Also, platinum is not as well regarded as gold or silver as a precious metal causing it to be overlooked.

Since many of these coins did not sell in large quantities, many could be classified as modern rarities. But do not let the lack of supply dissuade you. Prices could be in the range of their bullion value plus a modest numismatic premium because the demand is also lower.

It is too bad these designs are confined to platinum coins. Unfortunately, the authorizing laws allow the U.S. Mint to do this with the platinum coins but not with silver. Since silver is more affordable for the average collector, maybe it is worth trying to ask Congress to change the law to allow these types of series for the American Silver Eagle proof coins.

Coin images courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

POLL: Looking for Palladium Eagles after September 29

American Palladium Eagle mockup as presented to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee

The U.S. Mint announced today that sales of the American Palladium Eagles will begin on September 29. As bullion issues, they are being sold through with authorized channels and not directly to the public.

After seven years since the law was passed (American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act of 2010, Pub. L. 111-303), these coins Will begin their sale. There is no indication whether the U.S. Mint will offer collectable versions or just release the bullion coins.

The coin will have a $25 face value and require that “the obverse shall bear a high-relief likeness of the ‘Winged Liberty’ design used on the obverse of the so-called ‘Mercury dime’” making it yet another bullion coin that will feature a design from the early 20th century. For the reverse, the law says that the coin “shall bear a high-relief version of the reverse design of the 1907 American Institute of Architects medal.” Both the Mercury Dime and 1907 AIA medal designed by Adolph A. Weinman, whose Walking Liberty design is used on the American Silver Eagle coins.

No price has been announced but the current Price of Palladium is $911.63. As a reference the current spot price of metals are as follows:

Precious Metals Price Snapshot as of September 19, 2017
(This is a static chart—it does not update)

The U.S. Mint does not publish the bullion and bulk sale prices the way it does for collector coins but it is likely that these coins are sold to distributors at a premium over their spot price. I guess we will find out how much these coins will cost for investors and collectors purchase when they hit the market.

For today’s poll, are you going to buy one?
 

Are you going to purchase the new Palladium Eagle?






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Palladium Eagles are coming

American Palladium Eagle mockup as presented to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee

According to reporting by Coin World, the American Palladium Eagles will be released by the U.S. Mint sometime in September.

As part of the lame duck session following the 2010 midterm elections, Congress passed the American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act of 2010 (Pub. L. 111-303) telling the U.S. Mint strike one-ounce .9995 fine palladium bullion coins as part of the American Eagle Bullion Program. The coin will have a $25 face value and require that “the obverse shall bear a high-relief likeness of the ‘Winged Liberty’ design used on the obverse of the so-called ‘Mercury dime’” making it yet another bullion coin that will feature a design from the early 20th century. For the reverse, the law says that the coin “shall bear a high-relief version of the reverse design of the 1907 American Institute of Architects medal.” Both the Mercury Dime and 1907 AIA medal designed by Adolph A. Weinman, whose Walking Liberty design is used on the American Silver Eagle coins.

The catch to the law was that the U.S. Mint was to perform a feasibility study to determine if there will be market demand. Although the study showed that there is a market for palladium coins, it was not overwhelming. Based on the wording of the law, the U.S. Mint opted not to strike palladium coins.

This did not sit well with Rep. Dennis “Denny” Rehberg (R), Montana’s only member of the House of Representatives since the primary source of palladium in the United States is the Stillwater Mine in Montana. The mines, which also provides the U.S. supply of platinum group metals (PGM), is owned and operated by the Stillwater Mining Company. Rehberg added an amendment to the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act or the FAST Act (Public Law 114-94, 129 STAT. 1875, see Title LXXXIII, Sect. 73001) that took away the U.S. Mint’s option and added the word “shall.”

The FAST Act was also the law where the law was changed to allow the U.S. Mint to use better than 90-percent gold and silver in commemorative coins by changing the wording to say “not less than 90 percent….”

Palladium Eagle coins may have roughly the same impact on the market as the Platinum eagles since palladium is about $100 less expensive than platinum, 69-percent of the price of gold, but 53-times the price of silver. Based on the way the U.S. Mint prices precious metal products, the Palladium Eagle should cost within $100 of the platinum coins.

Precious Metals Price Snapshot as of August 4, 2017
(This is a static chart—it does not update)

Although palladium is only the fourth metal to have an official ISO currency code (XPD), it is not readily thought of as a precious metal that is used to hedge against financial disaster. Gold (XAU) and silver (XAG) are usually thought of first. Sometimes, platinum (XPT) is part of the discussion, but not as frequently as gold or silver.

Palladium does have industrial uses. Because of its ability to absorb hydrogen and compounds with hydrogen, like hydrocarbon, its major use is in catalytic converters used in every gasoline powered vehicle. It is also seen as a key element in the potential of cold fusion because of its ability to absorb hydrogen.

It is likely the American Palladium Eagle will be as popular as the Platinum Eagle. Maybe the U.S. Mint will sell more of these coins because they will be slightly cheaper and have a design more appealing to collectors, but neither of these coins will approach the sales totals of the gold or silver version of the American Eagle coins.

It is not a coin I am likely to collect. However, I will probably purchase the 2017 coin to have one from the first year of issue just as I did with the 2007 American Buffalo 24-karat Gold Proof coin.

Palladium Eagle images courtesy of the U.S. Mint via Coin World.

125 Year Celebration

Dr. George HeathIt has been 125 years since Michigan physicist Dr. George Heath founded the American Numismatic Association in 1891. Heath, who operated a coin business on the side, began this journey by publishing his own magazine in 1888 called The Numismatist. He used the magazine as a call to other collectors to create the ANA.

The ANA will celebrate this milestone at the upcoming World’s Fair of Money. In an interesting coincidence, or maybe planning, the celebration will be help practically next door to the place called “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Irrespective of whatever issues anyone sees or perceives with regard to the ANA, you have to admit that an organization like the ANA to survive 125 years is pretty amazing.

If you are interested in a long-form history of the ANA, I recommend reading “125 Years of Collecting with the American Numismatic Association” written by Q. David Bowers. It is not a quick read, but 125 years of history was not easy to create. The current page is in seven parts with an eighth promised for next month. There is no indication if that will be the last part. Still, it is a recommended article.

Currently, if you become an ANA member or renew your membership for 3 years or donate $125, you can receive a 2016 American Silver Eagle graded MS-69 by Numismatic Guarantee Corporation with a special Anniversary Label. I there is a limit of 2,500 coins. If you become a life member or donate $500, you can receive one graded MS-70. There is a 250 limit on the higher graded coins.

There was also a set of coins created for the National Money Show with a special label. There was a renewal opportunity that allowed existing ANA members to renew and receive their coin with the National Money Show label. These were coins left over from the show in Dallas.

Not only did I take advantage of the renewal offer but added a donation to receive both versions of the coin in MS-65. Although I do not collect grading service labels, this was an opportunity to support the ANA. There may be a limited number of coins left. If you are not a member, you may want to consider joining. If you are a member, either consider a three-year renewal or donate $125 to help the ANA. I believe it is a good cause!

Image of Dr. George Heath courtesy of the ANA.

How It’s Done: Packing Bullion Coins

American Silver Eagle Monster Box

American Silver Eagle Monster Box

When I am in the mood for the mental chewing gum that is television, I love to watch what I like to call documentary entertainment. The pros call it infotainment, information entertainment. These are cooking shows or a car-related show that takes a car with a problem and shows us how to fix them. Whether I am watching Chopped, Wheeler Dealers, or All Girls Garage I can find enough interesting watching.

Another of my guilty pleasures is How It’s Made on the Science Channel. How It’s Made is simply a show that will demonstrate how every day and other items are manufactured. I am fascinated by seeing the process of manufacturing. Some of the machines that are created to make our everyday items is fascinating. Take something simple as a pencil and think about how a company makes thousands over the course of a day and the non-standard machines required to do this.

The U.S. Mint infrequently posts videos about their coins, people and operations. What I find fascinating is the How It»s Made like videos that shows how they deal with the basic manufacturing process. In the latest video, the U.S. Mint shows how they package American Silver Eagle bullion coins into tubes for shipping to dealer.

The machine is called an Auto Tuber and can be found at the West Point branch mint where bullion coins are struck. After the coins are struck, they are laid flat on trays with the trays being stacked on a rack. From the rack, a machine takes one of the trays, places it next to the Auto Tuber, and pours the coins into the tracks. Using a suction cup fingers, the machine lifts the coins and places them into tube. The tubes are capped, weighed, packaged, inventoried, and sent for shipping.

At the end of the line is a human worker who picks up the packed green boxes you might have seen some dealers advertise for sale as “Monster Boxes” and places them on a pallet for shipping. That is where the one-minute journey ends.

BONUS VIDEO

Similar to the standard production videos is the proof set production video from the U.S. Mint in San Francisco that includes a similar machine that places the coins in the holders.

Credits

  • Monster box image courtesy of Wikipedia.
  • Videos courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

Raging into March

2015 American Silver Eagle Bullion CoinWhat began as an English proverb as “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb” may become a relic of history. Aside from the weather implications the markets are experiencing a lion-like robustness that even has the governors and branch presidents of the Federal Reserve issuing conflicting statements about the future of interest rates.

While the professionals are attempting to figure out what the economic numbers are saying, one thing is clear that the U.S. Mint is on pace to break its 2015 sales for American Silver Eagle bullion coins. March opens with the U.S. Mint announcing that it has another 1 million silver coins ready for sale. This is the fifth time in 2016 that the U.S. Mint has made this type of announcement.

Year to date, gold prices are up about 17-percent and silver prices are up 11-percent. This has not stopped the buying of bullion coins. One Canadian dealer recently informed me that they sold out of a specific silver issue from the Royal Canadian Mint because of high demand, especially from the United States.

This is reaching beyond collectors. While the numismatic world was focused on Dallas for the National Money Show, my business kept me in the D.C. area as a vendor at one of the largest antiques shows in the mid-Atlantic region. Although coins are a very minor part of the show, some dealers that were selling silver coins had high volumes of sales. One dealer reported that he sold out of the 30 American Silver Eagle bullion coins graded MS-70 by the middle of the show’s second day.

An informal poll of attendees to the National Money Show suggests similar sales performances.

Even though there may be areas of the economy that has not caught up to the current economic trends, it is difficult to find an analyst or pundit that does not believe that the current trends will end in the short term.

It is likely that March will go out like a raging bull, even if I could not find a one-armed economist to disagree!
 

Charging Bull by Arturo DiModica

Charging Bull by Arturo DiModica is a bronze sculpture that stands in Bowling Green Park just south of the Financial District in lower Manhattan.

December 2015 Numismatic Legislation

Congress ended the calendar year with a proverbial bang. Aside from actually passing a budget, they passed a comprehensive transportation bill that not only has the possibility of raising our infrastructure grade from a D– to a D (hey… it’s an improvement), but in a few short words will have a big impact on the U.S. Mint.

H.R. 22: Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act
Sponsor: Sen. Rodney Davis (R-IL)
• Introduced: January 6, 2015
• Passed House of Representatives on January 6, 2015
• Passed Senate with amendments on July 30, 2015
• Conference report presented to Senate on November 5, 2015
• Conference committee convened November 18, 2015
• Conference report agreed on by the House and Senate on December 3, 2015
• Signed by the President on December 4, 2015 to become Public Law 114-94

Read the details of this law at https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr22

If you want to read my analysis of the impact to the U.S. Mint from this law, see the following four-part series:

  1. Transportation drives numismatic changes
  2. Now with more silver
  3. Palladium arcadium
  4. Transportation silver eagles

Transportation Silver Eagles

2015 American Silver Eagle Bullion CoinAt the end of my last report on how the recent transportation bill will have an effect on coin collectors, I said that I would discuss how the new law will impact American Silver Eagle collectors. After taking a little time off for holiday festivities, we are going to look at the impact and unintended consequences of congress.

To review, earlier this month congress passed and the president signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act or the “FAST Act” (H.R. 22; now Public Law 114-94). It is a comprehensive transportation bill that is over 490 pages long with one third of those paged dedicated to items other than transportation. Buried deep in the document is Title LXXIII, “Bullion and Collectible Coin Production Efficiency and Cost Savings” section. For today’s post, we look at Section 73002:

Sec. 73002. American Eagle Silver Bullion 30th Anniversary
Proof and uncirculated versions of coins issued by the Secretary of the Treasury pursuant to subsection (e) of section 5112 of title 31, United States Code, during calendar year 2016 shall have a smooth edge incused with a designation that notes the 30th anniversary of the first issue of coins under such subsection.

If you are not familiar with “subsection (e) of section 5112 of title 31, United States Code” (31 U.S.C. § 5112(e)), it is the part of the law that authorizes the American Silver Eagle program. It says that these coins are to 40.6 millimeters in diameter containing 31.103 grams (one troy ounce) of .999 fine silver with a symbolic design of Liberty on the obverse and an eagle on the reverse.

Along with the prescribed elements the coin will have a reeded edge. It is this reeded edge requirement that may be causing a problem.

As written, Section 73002 does not say that the 2016 coin with a smooth edge with an inscription designating as the 30th anniversary of the first issue is for a special collectible. It is written as a blanket statement for all coins issued in 2016. Because of the word issued, the U.S. Mint is going to cancel the 2015 Limited Edition Silver Proof set.

2014 Limited Edition Silver Set (LS3) will be on sale until December 30, 2015 at noon.

2014 Limited Edition Silver Set (LS3) will be on sale until December 30, 2015 at noon.

The Limited Edition Silver Proof set consists of a dime, all five quarters, and a Kennedy Half-dollar struck in 90-percent silver. The set also includes an American Silver Eagle packaged in a special case. Originally, the 2015 Limited Edition Silver Proof set was to be released on November 23. It was reported that issues with packaging has delayed the issuance of this set. Because of the delay, the U.S. Mint was supposed to start selling the set on December 30 in order to meet its legal requirement to sell the coins in the same year as issued. While they can carry over the sets to subsequent years, they have to start selling them in 2015.

However, that word “issued” causes a problem. If the coins are part of a packaging production, the coins may not have been struck in 2016 but the sets are being issued in 2016, then the 2015 could be violating the law. It is that ambiguity in a law passed by congress that will cause the 2015 Limited Edition Silver Proof set from being released.

Sausage making at its finest!

Images courtesy of the U.S. Mint

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