Keeping with this week’s theme of sports on coins, a company named Baseball Treasure (at baseballtreasure.com) created baseball “coins,” technically medals, representative of all 30 teams. Each team is represented by one player whose likeness will appear on the medals.
Most of the medals are made from one ounce of copper. The medals are mounted on a baseball-card-sized cardboard card with player highlights, similar to what you would see on a baseball card.
The medals are sold in packs of three, six, and nine—or you will receive multiple packs of three medals. You can buy a box containing 36-packs. Assuming a pack contains three medals, their “Treasure Chest” contains 108 medals. For $3,000 you can buy a 12 box package with 432 packs containing 15,552 medals.
According to their website, one in every 432 packs will have a version of the medal made in .999 silver. Silver medals have been struck for each of the 30 players.
If you want to go for the gold, one in every 21,600 packs contains a specially marked medal redeemable for a gold medal featuring Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees. This was created to commemorate his rookie record of 52 home in the 2017 season.
José Altuve of the Houston Astros Copper Medal
Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers Silver Medal
For those who are into trivia and would like to win a silver medal, they will post a clue on social media with the answer being a major league team. If you want more information, visit their #JoinTheHunt webpage for more information.
Previously, Upper Deck created hockey coins that they sold for $100 per coin on a virtual basis. While you could request the physical coin, they created a system to buy and trade these medals. There was also the chase to find the gold versions in this series.
The hockey coins are legal tender coins in the Cook Islands.
I had interviewed the Vice President involved in the program and just could not bring myself to write about the interview because I was very skeptical about how the program worked. Initially, they were sold in what they called e-Packs, virtual packages that would be held by Upper Deck. From the e-pack website, collectors can trade with each other.
One of my issues with this program is that they are sold blind packaged like baseball cards. You do not know what is in the package until it is opened. At $100 you can receive either a one-ounce silver coin, one-ounce high relief coin, one-ounce silver frosted coin, or a quarter-ounce gold coins. It would be a real bargain if you received a gold. It would be a worse deal than many Royal Canadian Mint silver coins otherwise.
Visiting their website recently, there is an option to purchase the coins at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) throughout Canada. There is no option to physically purchase coins in the United States except through the e-pack website.
These coins must be selling well enough for Upper Deck to continue the program.
In both cases, I am just not impressed with either program.
Both programs are over-priced.
The Baseball Treasure program is selling one-ounce of copper medals at $6.65 each. With the current copper price of $3.2858 per pound, each coin contains 20.5-cents of metals. The rest is packaging, licensing, and distribution. Even so, that is a 3,123,9-percent markup that you may never make up on the secondary market if you were to lose interest, especially since this is a medal and not a legal tender coin.
Of course, it is a better deal if you found a silver or gold medal. Then again, part of the markup to the copper medal is subsidizing the silver and gold medals. Without knowing how many medals or packages are being produced, it is difficult to determine how much of the $6.65 price is subsidizing the gold and silver.
Baseball Treasure’s program is certainly a more interesting idea than the Upper Deck Hockey Coin Program. It is more affordable and carries less risk. The Treasure Hunt also looks like fun and maybe something I will look into. But for now, it is not something I will collect. But if you do be aware that the copper medals may not return much more than $1-2 on the secondary market, depending on the price of copper.
USA-North Korean Summit Challenge Coin created by the White House Communications Agency
Those of us committed to numismatics as a hobby has recently seen terms thrown around about a challenge coin that is more damaging to the hobby than anything that has been argued amongst ourselves.
The challenge coin in question was created by the White House Communications Agency (WHCA) for the now-canceled summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jung-Un. The partisan nature of our national politics and now the status of the summit has created a false narrative about the challenge coins that do not do the hobby any favors.
To set the record straight, a challenge coin is not a coin. A coin is a disk, usually made from metal, formed into a disk of standardized weight and stamped with a standard design to enable it to circulate as money authorized by a government body. In the United States, only the U.S. Mint is authorized to manufacture coins.
Challenge coins are medals with an organization or event logo or emblem that are part of a tradition to honor service. Challenge coins are part of a military tradition that started during World War I when Ivy League students went to war and created these coins as an act of camaraderie.
According to legend, a World War I pilot was shot down behind enemy lines and captured by German soldiers. Since the pilot kept the coin in a pouch around his neck, the Germans did not confiscate his coin. That evening, the pilot was kept in a French-German town that was bombarded in the evening by allied forces. The pilot escaped during the bombing. During the next day, the pilot came upon a French military unit who was told to watch for German soldiers posing as citizens. To prevent from being arrested and executed by the French soldiers, the pilot showed them his challenge coin. One of the soldiers recognized the insignia and delayed the execution until they were able to verify the pilot’s identity. Once the story spread, a tradition was born!
As a show of camaraderie, units began to issue specially designed coins to each other. The challenge came when members drew their challenge coin and slapped it on the table, the rest of the members with them must produce their challenge coin. If someone does not have their challenge coin, that person must buy a round of drinks for the group. The challenge is used as a morale builder amongst the group.
Challenge coins regained popularity around 1991 with the veterans and descendants of the Pacific Fleet honoring the service of those who survived and did not survive on the 50th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. They saw wider acceptance, especially outside of the military, following the attacks on September 11, 2001. As retired military members began to lead security-related civilian agencies, the use of challenge coins grew beyond the military.
The challenge coin in question is the product of a military organization.
The WHCA was founded in 1942 as the White House Signal Corps to provide communications for the White House. It is their job to make sure that whenever and wherever the presidents needs to communicate with the government or foreign leaders that he can do so and securely if needed. It is under the jurisdiction of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).
This is not the same agency as the White House Communications Director. That position was vacated by Hope Hicks in March 2018. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders would report directly to the Communications Director, not the WHCA.
Since 2003, WHCA has created challenge coins for nearly all overseas travel by the president. Only the secret travels to war zones when the president made surprised visits to U.S. troops were not honored with a challenge coin.
In this case, the challenge coin that made the news was made for the members of the advance team whose job it is to make all of the arrangements for a safe and successful trip.
The U.S. Mint does not produce these challenge coins. An approved manufacturer is contracted to design and strike the medals. That contractor works with the WHCA to create the design. After the design is approved, a limited number of medals are produced.
The inventory is separated to make sure that enough challenge coins are available to everyone making the trip and a few who were left behind on support duty. For example, one is probably set aside for Sarah Sanders who does not travel as much. As the first Press Secretary who is a mother with children still at home, she understandably stays nearby to care for them.
The White House Gift Shop (WHGS) is located in the White House and open to anyone able to visit. It is a separate organization from any of the agencies mentioned. If you cannot visit, everything the gift shop offers is available on their website at whitehousegiftshop.com. This includes challenge coins.
Reporters covering the White House spotted the WHCA Challenge Coin in the WHGS, took a picture and used their social media access to report its existence.
Irrespective of the political arguments being made over the subject matter, there is nothing illegal or morally wrong with the challenge coin. Although government funds were used to create the coin, those funds are included as part of the budget passed by Congress. Yes, the WHCA has a budgetary line item for the creation of challenge coins to help with the morale of the military detachment to the White House.
One of the reasons I looked into this issue was to find out who designed the coin. The artist did such a good job that I would recommend that they apply for the Artistic Infusion Program with the U.S. Mint. It is a fantastic representation for those participating as part of the advance team. The artwork and symbolism were really nicely executed. Using the enameled flags in the background leaving the two leaders to stand out without the enameled finish has a strikingly good look.
It is one of the best design I have seen for a challenge coin representing an event.
This challenge coin is no longer for sale in the WHGS. The webpage for the medal was changed to note that a new challenge coin will be designed for the event by the same artist who designed the WHCA challenge coin. The CEO of the WHGS published a note saying that the new challenge coin will be similar to the WHCA challenge coin. If you are interested, you can order one from their website.
Silver Medal from the 2013 Theodore Roosevelt Coins and Chronicles Set
A few weeks ago, the U.S. Mint announced to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee that they would be producing silver medals based on the design of previous presidential medals. These medals would be struck using the same .999 silver planchets that are used for the American Silver Eagle coins.
The U.S. Mint thinks that the silver medals would be a popular seller since silver coinage sells well. Using existing designs, the U.S. Mint hopes to be able to save time and money by removing the process of creating new images and not having to undergo the onerous review process of the CCAC and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts.
I think the U.S. Mint is missing a point. Collecting commemorative silver and American Silver Eagle coins have the cache of being legal tender coins.
Although there are some very dedicated collectors of medals and other exonumia, the vast majority numismatics collectors are collecting legal tender coins.
Many of these programs are a success because they are legal tender coins. It is a mindset that the coins are worth more because they are legal tender. Even coins advertised as being legal tender from Native American Nations (tribes) gain attention.
People are drawn to the concept of collecting and/or investing in real money.
Medals are not money.
Although it sounds like a harsh assessment of the concept, the only downside that can be foreseen is if the U.S. Mint faces a planchet shortage like it did in 2009. Otherwise, I am not sure it will sell like I think the U.S. Mint is portraying.
Super Bowl 52 Official 2-Tone Flip Coin (Courtesy of the Highland Mint)
In 1966, discussions between the upstart American Football League and the National Football League led to the development of a championship game. The idea came from Kansas City Chief’s owner Lamar Hunt to have a single game to crown the championship during the five years it would take to merge the leagues.
The game was called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game and was first played in the Los Angeles Coliseum on January 15, 1967, between the NFL’s Green Bay Packers and the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. The game drew 61,846 in a stadium that held over 90,000 people. Halftime entertainment featured Al Hirt and the marching bands from the University of Arizona and Grambling State.
Green Bay, coached by the legendary Vince Lombardi, won the game 35-10. Bart Starr was the game’s MVP. Kansas City was not a bad team, coached by Hank Stram and led by quarterback Len Dawson. But the Packers were just that much better.
The game was broadcast by both NBC and CBS who charged $42,000 per 30-second commercial. It is estimated that the game was seen by more than 51 million people.
The first game to be officially branded as the Super Bowl was Super Bowl III played at the Orange Bowl in Miami. It was also the game that introduced us to significant pre-game hype when New York Jets Quarterback Joe Namath guaranteed a Jets victory over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts. The Colts were led by Coach Don Shula and the legendary Quarterback Johnny Unitas. The Jets’ 16-7 victory has been said to have accelerated the merger between the leagues.
Super Bowl LII will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a nice city but not exactly a “hot” spot in February. U.S. Bank Stadium will be sold out to its capacity of 73,000 and should be seen by a national television audience of over 111 million people. It is estimated that another 30 million, including 4 million from Canada, will be watching around the world.
Advertisers are paying $7.7 million per 30-seconds for their commercials. Adjusting for inflation ($42,000 in 1967 would be the same as $314,711 today), it is costing advertisers almost 24½-times more than the first AFL-NFL World Championship Game. Although the production of the commercials has been a big deal, the gauntlet was thrown down in 1979 when Coca-Cola aired “Hey kid, Catch” starring Pittsburgh Steelers Defensive Tackle “Mean” Joe Greene. If you have not seen it or want to see it again, you can watch it at https://youtu.be/xffOCZYX6F8.
Super Bowl LII marks the 25th year that the Highland Mint of Melbourne, Florida will be striking the medal used in the coin toss. Prior to the making of the official coin, each game either used a coin of their choosing or the host city created their own medal. Of course, the NFL could not pass up a marketing opportunity and has decided to control the process.
After the game, the coin used for the coin toss is sent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. If there is an overtime game, as there was for Super Bowl LI, the same coin is used as the pre-game coin toss.
The official coin “is carefully struck of fine silver plate and selectively flash plated with 24kt gold,” according to the Highland Mint. Each 1½-inch coin is individually numbered with a mintage limit of 10,000. Super Bowl fans and the fans of the winning team can order one directly from the Highland Mint.
The Wilmington Symphony will premiere ‘The Dance of the Coin’ Feb. 3 at the CFCC Wilson Center. Handling coins is still a regular occurrence for many people. Writing this story served as a reminder that touching these artfully cast pieces of metal is as close as most of us ever come to touching history. → Read more at starnewsonline.com
More than $50 million worth of gold bars, coins and dust that’s been described as the greatest lost treasure in U.S. history is about to make its public debut in California after sitting at the bottom of the ocean for more than 150 years. → Read more at foxnews.com
The Royal Mint is set to honour four generations of the monarchy with a new coin depicting the Queen and three future kings. A new £5 coin will feature Her Majesty and her son the Prince of Wales, grandson the Duke of Cambridge and great-grandson Prince George. The historic coin will show their initials E, C, W and G, and three crowns. → Read more at standard.co.uk
Metal detectorists Paul Adams, 58, and Andy Sampson, 54, began dancing around a field in Suffolk, crying out in joy when they stumbled upon a handful of ancient coins potentially worth £250,000. → Read more at dailymail.co.uk
The US Mint recently began accepting mutilated coins from scrap recyclers after a 2 year hiatus while it investigated an alleged massive Chinese coin fraud operation. → Read more at motherboard.vice.com
While many countries are winding down use of physical money in favour of card and app payments, Germans are stubbornly clinging to the clink of coins and rustle of banknotes. → Read more at gulf-times.com
There may be a coin, token, or medal that will help celebrate any holiday or occasion.
Someone looking for a collecting idea decided to find out if there was a coin for every holiday or commemoration. After searching online for the last few months, this person found over 150 coins and medals to cover more celebrations than Hallmark has cards for.
I had asked for a sample of some of the finds. There were a few commemorative coins and medals from the United States and foreign made. Many are known, some were a bit obscure.
Happy Groundhog Day Commerative Coin
Then I decided to ask about specific holidays. With Groundhog Day approaching, I asked what was in the collection for that celebration. I was expecting a Canadian coin with a badger or Canadian marmot on the reverse. Instead, I was sent a link to the “Happy Groundhog Day Commemorative Coin.”
The Happy Groundhog Day Commemorative Coin is technically a medal. It is a 1½-inch gold-colored medal available from Punxsutawney Phil’s Official Souvenir Shop in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. For the low price of 94-cents each (and likely with added shipping costs), you can also have a medal to add to your collection to celebrate Groundhog Day.
When they pulled the poor rodent out of his warm home, probably from a comfortable sleep, and paraded him around, Phil did see his shadow, thus winter will last for six more weeks. Historically, Phil and his ancestors have only been 39-percent accurate.
Obverse of the 2018 Rose Bowl Commemorative Medal from the Highland Mint
It has been a few weeks since my Georgia Bulldogs lost the national championship game in overtime. It was a devastating end to a great season, one I had not experienced since I was a junior at the University of Georgia in 1980.
In 1980, it was a big deal to pack the Redcoat Marching Band into seven busses and travel to New Orleans for the sUGAr Bowl. We thought it was great to spend New Year’s Eve on Bourbon Street and then play in the Superdome, what we called the World’s Largest Mushroom.
I can only imagine what the current Redcoats felt like when they climbed aboard a chartered 757 out of Atlanta to fly cross-country to attend the Rose Bowl. In 1980 there were 300 total members including auxiliaries and support staff. Today, there are almost 300 musicians in the band.
Reverse of the 2018 Rose Bowl Commemorative Medal from the Highland Mint
The last bowl game I went to as a member of the Redcoat Marching Band was the January 1, 1983 sUGAr Bowl where we lost to Penn State. I was not happy then but time moves on. Now that we are 35 years later, age has caught up with me and my distance from Athens means I watch the games from the comfort of my living room. The last game I attended was Homecoming in 2012. I have to try to get down there for Homecoming this year!
But that Rose Bowl game was something else. No matter who I talk with about the game, it was the most exciting game they have seen, especially for a Rose Bowl. It was the first time a Rose Bowl went to overtime. Needless to say, I was happy with the outcome!
Previously, I mentioned I was interested in obtaining a copy of the coin used in the coin toss. In the video, it appeared to be silver in a plastic capsule with the school logos on either side. When I received an answer from someone associated with the Rose Bowl committee, I was told that it was indeed a silver coin, specially struck for the game. Only a limited number are struck and given to VIPs. The game-used coin is saved as part of a Rose Bowl museum. There are no extras struck and none are for sale.
I decided to find an alternative.
The Highland Mint, in cooperation with the College Football Playoff, struck souvenir medals for each of the games. Medals were struck in brass and placed in a plastic holder with the matchup. They also offer a silver-plated brass medal in a capsule and a velvet-covered case.
A medal in a case is pedestrian. It can be mistaken for just about any collectible, even those from the U.S. Mint. I would rather have the commemorative plastic holder with the information about the game. It makes more of a statement and can be displayed on my desk.
Front of the 2018 Rose Bowl Medal display case
Back of the 2018 Rose Bowl Medal display case
As I work to open my new business, I am planning on having this medal in my new office. It will remind everyone that if there is an early kickoff next fall, we will close on-time at noon so that I can rush home to my television and watch the game. Hopefully next year I will buy one that says National Champions!
According to the PyeonChang Olympic Committee, the design of the metals is inspired by Korean culture and traditions. The texture of the metals are intended to symbolize tree trunks representing the trees symbolizes the work that has gone into developing Korean culture. Edge lettering includes did the games in both English and Korean.
The ribbon that will be used on the medals has been created using Gapsa, a traditional Korean fabric that is used to make Hanbok. Hanbok is a type of traditional Korean dress.
The medals were designed by Lee Suk–woo, serves as a Director of Dongwon Metal Co., Ltd. Lee is the company’s General Manager and creative director. He is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University.
GOLD: 586 grams made from .999 silver and plated with 6 grams of gold $566.55 melt value with a silver spot price of $16.87 and gold spot price of $1289.30
SILVER: 580 grams made from .999 silver $317.84 melt value with a silver spot price of $16.87
BRONZE: 493 grams made from .900 copper and .100 zinc $2.97 melt value with a copper price of $2.8837 per pound and zinc price of $1.3932 per pound
All medals are 92.5 mm in diameter period
Medals range in thickness from 4.4 mm at its thinest to 9.42 mm at its thickest
Uses consonants of Hangeul, the Korean alphabet system extended across the face of the medal from its side
Obverse: Olympic rings
Reverse: Discipline, event, and PyeongChang 2018 emblem
Edge: Official title of the PyeongChang 2018 Games in the Korean consonants
Wooden cased designed with curves witnessed in Korean traditional architecture as the motif translated into a modern concept
Contains the medal, medal description, the IOC badge, and medallist note
Wooden case given to 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics medalists
Quantity: total 259 sets
222 to be awarded to athletes (102 medal events)
5 sets as contingency in case of tie
25 sets to be submitted to the IOC
7 sets for display in Korea
Produced by the Korea Minting, Security Printing & ID Card Operating Corporation (KOMSCO)
All images courtesy of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Committee.
American Liberty Four Silver Medal Set will be on sale on October 19, 2017 at Noon ET for $199.95
The U.S. Mint did you publish in the Federal Register last week that the American Liberty 225th Anniversary Silver Four-Medal set will be priced at $199.95.
The American Liberty Four Silver Medal Set are four silver medals featuring the gold 225th Anniversary American Liberty Gold design struck in silver and without a denomination. Each medal will contain one troy ounce of silver and consist of one medal from each of the active mints with different finishes:
Philadelphia Reverse Proof
San Francisco Proof
West Point Enhanced Uncirculated
It was previously announced that the set will go on sale at noon on October 19, 2017.
Not including the regular issues that will be sold by the U.S. Mint, the items left on their schedule is the American Liberty Four Silver Medal Set and the American Palladium Eagle.
American Liberty Four Silver Medal Set will be on sale on October 19, 2017 at Noon ET
I previously discussed the Palladium Eagle. The american Liberty Four Silver Medal Set are four silver medals featuring the gold 225th Anniversary American Liberty Gold design struck in silver and without a denomination. Each medal will contain one troy ounce of silver and consist of one medal from each of the active mints with different finishes:
Philadelphia Reverse Proof
San Francisco Proof
West Point Enhanced Uncirculated
Although the price has not been announced, given the current 225th Anniversary American Liberty Silver Medal $59.95, it is within reason to predict that the four medal silver set with special packaging will cost around $250 (plus-or-minus 15-percent).
The poll question of the day is are you going to buy these items?
Are you interested in the remaining U.S. Mint special collectibles?
I am just not interested (42%, 18 Votes)
I will buy the American Liberty Four Silver Medal Set (23%, 10 Votes)
These items are too expensive for my budget (14%, 6 Votes)
I am going to buy both (12%, 5 Votes)
I will buy the American Palladium Eagle (9%, 4 Votes)
I might consider them but buy them on the secondary market (0%, 0 Votes)
I have delayed writing about my happenstance to attend the Whitman Baltimore Expo waiting for more information on something that was on display at the U.S. Mint booth.
I was not going to visit the Whitman Expo on April 1 because I had a meeting scheduled with a client. After the client canceled, I decided to turn the truck to downtown Baltimore toward the Convention Center. One of the reasons for going was to see the 2017 Liberty Gold coin. I thought it would be my only chance to see the coins since it is unlikely I will purchase one. When I walked to the U.S. Mint booth in Hall C, the gold coin was in a display case. What was next to it was far more intriguing.
On a spinning stand were two silver medals using the same design as the gold Liberty coin. One was a proof with a “W” mintmark on the reverse and the other a reverse proof with a “D” mintmark. The look of the medal in silver was fantastic! The eagle on the reverse really stands out on the proof whereas the calming look of the burnished finish of the reverse proof shows real artistry.
2017-W Liberty Silver Medal (Proof Obverse)
2017-W Liberty Silver Medal (Proof Obverse)
Further examination of the pictures suggests that the reverse proof may be considered enhanced uncirculated where the U.S. Mint laser treats dies to change the texture of the strike.
2017-D Liberty Silver Medal (Reverse Proof Obverse)
2017-D Liberty Silver Medal (Reverse Proof Obverse)
It appears that the medals are the same size as the silver planchets used for the American Silver Eagle coins. If they are using the same planchets, they would be 38.1 mm in diameter of one troy ounce of .999 silver.
The U.S. Mint did not announce the production of silver Liberty medals. U.S. Mint personnel attending the booth were not able to provide additional information. Email inquiries have not yet been answered.
NOTE: Readers of the “Numismatic World Newsletter” were provided a preview of the medals. The newsletter consists of numismatic-related news from non-numismatic sources and a brief article that will not be posted here. Sometimes, I will send items to subscribers before appearing on the blog. Click here to subscribe!