My First Coin Design Change and Celebration

I am sponsoring GOLD memberships for new and renewing memebers of the American Numismatic Association. This is a limited-time offer to celebrate National Coin Week and the 131st anniversary of the American Numismatic Association. The offer expires on April 25, 2022. Call (800) 514-2646 or visit to take advantage of this offer. Be sure to apply code NCW22SB at checkout!

1976 Washington Quarter with my favorite, the Drummer Boy reverse

Although I began collecting coins in 1970, I became interested in coins a few years earlier. My paternal grandfather used to pick coins out of change and save them. He owned a magnifying glass to look at the coins. When we visited his Brooklyn apartment, I would grab the magnifying glass and explore.

After the introduction of the Eisenhower Dollar, the first design change came in 1975 for the bicentennial. In the 1970s, celebrating the bicentennial was a significant event. The planning began in the last 1960s and picked up in 1972. The entire nation planned for a celebration that spread across every community.

The American Revolution Bicentennial Administration logo was everywhere, including the official medals the U.S. Mint produced. But that is not all the U.S. Mint produced as part of the bicentennial celebration.

In 1973, Congress passed the law allowing the U.S. Mint to change the reverse design of the quarter, half-dollar, and dollar coins to honor the bicentennial in 1975 and 1976. The coins will be dated 1776-1976 before they revert to their original designs.

My first introduction to a design change was the Drummer Boy reverse on the Washington Quarter. I liked the design more than the original eagle design on the reverse, and it continues to be one of my favorite designs.

As a collector and a newly minted driver, I saved money from my after-school jobs to purchase uncirculated coins and the sets with the bicentennial coins.

In 2001, there was a reunion of the artists who created the designs. Jack Ahr (quarter), Seth Huntington (half-dollar), and Dennis Williams (dollar) attended the celebration. PCGS had the three artists sign labels inserted into slabs with proof versions of the coins they designed. I was able to pick up a set on the aftermarket.

1976-S Silver Proof Bicentennial Autograph Set

Because of the hype, and the potential to increase seigniorage, the U.S. Mint overproduced these coins. They also made proof and silver proof sets so plentiful that they remained on sale through 1986. The U.S. Mint ended up melting over 600,000 sets.

Suggested Reading: To learn more about the legislation that created the Bicentennial coinage program, read “14 Bits: The Story of America’s Bicentennial Coinage” by David Ganz (ISBN 978-0914478638).

The Bicentennial celebration was a national event to remember. Nearly every community issued medals. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing joined in and changed the reverse of the $2 Federal Reserve Note to an interpretation of John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence. The BEP issued the notes on April 13, 1976, and it is possible to find uncirculated notes postmarked on that date. July 4, 1976, is another popular postmark for bicentennial collectibles, especially postmarks from Philadelphia.

Reverse of the Series 1976 $2 Federal Reserve Note features an engraved modified reproduction of the painting The Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull.

Even though the circulating commemorative was generally successful, the concept would not return until the beginning of the 50 State Quarters program in 1999.

All images are original and property of the author used under the Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Weekly World Numismatic News for January 17, 2021

1994-P Washington QuarterThe president has signed the last numismatic-related bill this past week. On January 13, 2021, the president signed the Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020 (Public Law No. 116-330). It was the last possible day to sign the bill. If he did not sign it, the bill would be subjected to a pocket veto.

  • H.R. 1923: Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020
    Sponsor: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
    LAST ACTION: Signed by the President and became Public Law No: 116-330. — Jan 13, 2021

The law will require the U.S. Mint to redesign the quarters’ reverse through 2030, starting in 2022.

Prominent American Women Quarters

For the quarters issued between 2022 and 2025, “The design on the reverse side of each quarter dollar issued under this subsection shall be emblematic of the accomplishments and contributions of one prominent woman of the United States.” The U.S. Mint will issue “up to” five quarters per year and confer with several groups to determine who receives the honor.

United States Semiquincentennial Coins

The United States will celebrate its seniquincentennial (250th Anniversary) on July 4, 2026. In celebration of the event, the law states that the U.S. Mint will issue the following coins:

  • QUARTERS: 2026 quarters “with up to five different designs emblematic of the United States semiquincentennial.” One quarter must be design to be emblematic of the contribution of a woman or women.
  • DOLLARS: orders the Mint to issue “$1 dollar coins with designs emblematic of the United States semiquincentennial.” These dollar coins will be issued in addition to the Native American and Innovation dollars.

Youth Sports Program

The law requires the U.S. Mint to celebrate youth sports with changes to the quarter and half-dollars to correspond to the Summer Olympic games of 2028 and the Winter games of 2030. This program will run from 2027 through 2030.

  • QUARTERS: Up to five coins issued each year “shall be emblematic of one sport played by American youth.”
  • HALF-DOLLARS: Up to five coins issued each year “emblematic of one Paralympic sport.”
  • MEDALS: The law authorizes the U.S. Mint to create “medals with designs emblematic of the sport honored with the issuance of the coin.”

Medals for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles

The law authorizes the U.S. Mint “to design and manufacture medals for awarding at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California.” The law makes it the first time in the modern Olympics history that the U.S. Mint will create the games’ medals. Previously, the Olympic committees had a private vendor create the medals. According to the International Olympic Committee website, medals for the games played in the United States were created by the following:

Year Games Location Minter of the Medals
1904 Summer St. Louis Diege & Clust
1932 Summer Los Angeles The Whitehead & Hoag Co.
1932 Winter Lake Placid Robbins Company
1960 Winter Squaw Valley Herff Jones
1980 Winter Lake Placid Medallic Art Co.
1984 Summer Los Angeles Jostens, Inc
1996 Summer Atlanta Reed and Barton
2002 Winter Salt Lake City O.C. Tanner

Silver Bullion Coins

The new law allows the U.S. Mint to continue to make the five-ounce silver bullion coins that correspond to each of the quarter and half-dollar programs. Interestingly, the silver hockey-puck-sized coins appear to be popular and will continue to be available to collectors and investors.

Also added to the law is the ability to strike factional silver bullion coins with the same designs. It is uncertain if a half-ounce or quarter-ounce silver coin will sell, but we will find out.

Obverse of the Coins

George Washington will continue to appear on the obverse but “be designed in a manner, such as with incused inscriptions, so as to distinguish it from the obverse design used during the previous quarters program.”

The bill includes similar language for the image of John F. Kennedy on the 2026 Semiquincentennial half-dollar.

And now the news…

 January 8, 2021
Coin collecting is viewed by many enthusiasts to be a form of modern day treasure hunting, as shops in South Beloit and Beloit continue to do well as collectors come seeking rare finds, or simply to make an investment in precious metals.  → Read more at

 January 11, 2021
The world’s finest Brasher Doubloon, the most legendary U.S gold coin ever produced, is heading for auction at Heritage this month. The 18th century coin is described as “arguably the world’s most famous numismatic rarity”, and is one of only seven examples known to exist.  → Read more at

 January 13, 2021
Ongoing excavations at a rural spot near the village of Újlengyel in central Hungary recently struck gold, both figuratively and literally. Archaeologists armed with powerful metal detectors found a buried treasure of approximately seven thousand silver and four medieval  gold coins  in Hungary, hidden centuries ago by unknown individuals.  → Read more at

 January 14, 2021
Egypt: Archaeologists find coins with Cleopatra’s face on Thousands of objects including ancient coins, pottery and sculpture thousands of years old have been secured, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has confirmed.  → Read more at
Coin Collectors News


If you like what you read, share, and show your support Buy Me A Coffee

Creating a modern typeset

What would it take to put together a modern type set?

How would you define a modern type set?

This is the summary of the email conversation I have been having with someone looking for an interesting challenge to work on with his children.

For new readers and those new to numismatics, a type set is one coin of every type regardless of date or mintmark. Although some coins have one-year types, like the 50 State Quarters, there are others where one coin will represent an entire series, like the Roosevelt Dime.

While there are a lot of interesting coins types we focused on modern coins. Modern coins are those struck since 1965 when coins went from silver to copper-nickel except for the Kennedy half-dollar that was made of 40-percent silver through 1970. To budding young numismatists, modern coins are all they know.

In fact, all they know is that the quarter has a constantly changing reverse and they have seen differences in the Lincoln cent and the Jefferson nickel. They did not go through the fiasco of the Susan B. Anthony dollar or marvel at the first circulating commemoratives of the modern era: the dual-dated bicentennial coins. They were not around to search boxes of Cheerios for the new Sacagawea dollar coin or the millennial cent.

Modern coins do not get the same love as some of the classics. Aside from not containing silver, there have been controversies over designs (see the “spaghetti hair” that George Washington was sporting on the 50 State Quarters) and how the relief on coins has been lowered by the U.S. Mint in an attempt to extend die life.

Some not-so-great designs

Although people love the classic designs two of my favorite designs of the modern era is the Drummer Boy reverse on the Bicentennial quarter and the Thomas Jefferson portrait on the obverse of the 2005 Westward Journey nickels. And even though I have not written much about them, there are some fantastic designs in the America the Beautiful Quarters series. A few that you may want to take a second look at include 2017 Ellis Island, 2017 George Rogers Clark National Historic Park, 2016 Shawnee National Forest, and the 2015 Blue Ridge Parkway quarters just to name a few.

A few of the great America the Beautiful Quaters designs

Sitting with a Red Book, I started to list the coin types that would make up a modern type set. If we limited the set to circulating coins (e.g., not including half-dollars and one-dollar coins) that can be found in pocket change, there would be 128 coins with a face value of $28.97.

Type No. in Series Face Value Series Value
Lincoln Memorial Cents 2 0.01 0.02
Lincoln Bicentennial Cents 4 0.01 0.04
Lincoln Shield Censt 1 0.01 0.01
pre-2004 Jefferson Nickels 1 0.05 0.05
Westward Journey Nickels 4 0.05 0.20
Return to Monticello Nickels 1 0.05 0.05
Roosevelt Dimes 1 0.10 0.10
Washington Quarters 1 0.25 0.25
Bicentennial Quarters 1 0.25 0.25
50 State Quarters 50 0.25 12.50
D.C. and U.S. Territories Quarters 6 0.25 1.50
America the Beautiful Quarters 56 0.25 14.00
Total 128 1.53 28.97

The above table does take into consideration the entire 56 Amercia the Beautiful Quarters series including future issues. The kids have to understand the concept of future issues and maintain space for these coins in their album.

Starting the set with pocket change allows the kids to get used to the concept of looking at the coins to understand what they are looking for. To help with their search each child was given a Red Book and two apps on their iPads: PCGS CoinFacts and PCGS Photograde. They can use the Red Book as a handy off-line reference but use PCGS CoinFacts to learn more when they have access. Photograde is very useful to help them assess the condition of the coins.

While collectors have a basic understanding of coin grading, getting it right can be difficult. These kids were given a basic lesson on things to look for when trying to assess the condition of the coins they find. It will be interesting to see how they interpret this information.

Once we covered coins that can readily be found in circulation, we then discussed the other business strikes that are usually not found in ordinary pocket change.

After an interesting discussion, it was decided to make those a separate collection.

As a separate collection, this will give the kids an opportunity to go to dealers and coin shows to allow the kids to learn about buying coins in this environment. They will learn how to talk with a dealer, gain experience negotiating, and do some comparison shopping. It will let them get the experience and see different coins but maintain a collection discipline that will allow them to learn to collect on a budget.

What are the modern type coins that do not see a lot of circulation? Once again, I sat with the Red Book and came up with the following list:

Type No. in Series Face Value Series Value
Kennedy Half Dollars 1 0.50 0.50
Bicentennial Kennedy Half Dollar 1 0.50 0.50
Eisenhower Dollars 1 1.00 1.00
Bicentennial Eisenhower Dollars 2 1.00 2.00
Susan B. Anthony Dollars 1 1.00 1.00
Sacagawea Dollars 1 1.00 1.00
Native American Dollars 11 1.00 11.00
Presidential Dollars 39 1.00 39.00

To complete the task, I came up with a checklist for all of the modern coins in two formats. One is a printed version that they could keep in their pocket as they go about their day. The other is a spreadsheet that can act as an official record. The paper version is a very basic PDF file that can be used to write notes. The spreadsheet offers more information. It also allows them to come up with their own catalogue.

Both files are attached for you to use (see the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License for text of the permissions granted with this release).

It will be interesting to see what these kids do!

Modern Coinage Type Set Checklist
Modern Coin Type Set Detailed Checklist


A Festivus Half-Dollar Festival

Arriving in time to celebrate Festivus was my order from the U.S. Mint. The sense of timing was interesting since December 23rd was also the seventh day of Chanukah and the last of the eight candles would be lit that night and the day before Christmas Eve. Call it a celebration in a box!

In this order were my 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half-Dollar products. I first opened the 50th Anniversary Kennedy 2014 Half-Dollar Uncirculated Coin Set. Shrink wrapped, the set that sold for $9.95 was in a nice folder with a card containing two uncirculated coins in capsules embedded in the card. The half-dollars, one from Philadelphia and the other from Denver, are well struck and if I were to have them graded would probably be assigned a high grade.

Some people may balk at spending $5.00 for a half-dollar, but the presentation makes it a nice collectible even for the budget conscious.

Next was the 50th Anniversary Kennedy 2014 Half-Dollar Silver Coin Collection. The set contains four 90-percent silver half-dollars struck in four different finishes: reverse proof, proof, enhanced uncirculated, and uncirculated. This boxed set contains a presentation folder, Certificate of Authenticity from the U.S. Mint, and a booklet documenting how the Kennedy half-dollar came into being following the President’s assassination.

There is a somewhat cheesiness quality about the presentation. First, the outer cardboard sleeve that surrounds the box has a design that is repeated on the box top. The same design is on the outer flap of the folder itself. Esthetically, this type of design is visually fatiguing by the time you are to the point of opening the folder. In the past, the U.S. Mint used their logo or a heraldic eagle. It broke up the visual monotony created by using the same imprint on three different surfaces.

Another problem with the product design is that the encapsulated coins are embedded into a holder that is only one sided. In order to see the reverse of the coins they have to be removed from what holds them into the folder. Unfortunately, the fitting is so tight that it I started to pull apart the part of the folder that attaches the capsules to the folder. Eventually, I used a letter opener to gently pry the capsules out of their slots so that I could see the reverses.

It was worth the trouble removing the capsules from their holders. All the coins were beautifully struck and looked great including the reverse proof struck in West Point. I love the look of the reverse proof coin. Aside from having Kennedy really standing out on the obverse, there is something regal looking about the heraldic eagle on the reverse.

At first glance there almost appears to be no difference between the proof coin, struck in Philadelphia, and the enhanced uncirculated coin struck in San Francisco. After placing the coins side-by-side it was evident that he proof coin was struck differently than the enhanced uncirculated coin. Proof coins are usually struck with more force and more than once. Looking at both coins together before using a loupe shows that the relief for the proof half-dollar was higher. You can really see the difference by looking at Kennedy’s hair which showed more definition in the proof coin.

Where the enhanced uncirculated coin has an impact is on the reverse. Whereas the elements on a proof coin are frosted the laser process used on the enhanced uncirculated coins allows the U.S. Mint to create the frosting effect on some of the elements. For the reverse of the enhanced uncirculated half-dollar, the U.S. Mint selectively frosted elements of the heraldic eagle giving a “pop” that would not be possible using any other method. By frosting some of the higher relief areas, especially around the eagle’s shield, it provides a visual cue of more depth which makes for a nice refresh of a 50 year-old design.

As I write this, the London Fix price of gold is $1,170 per troy ounce. If the PM Fix of gold stays below $1,200, the price of the 50th Anniversary Kennedy 2014 Half-Dollar Gold Proof Coin will drop to $1,165, down from its current $1,202 and will be $75 less than its first issued price of $1,240. Although it is not a good idea to try to time the market, I wonder if all those dealers who caused problems during the coin’s initial release are worried about their profit margins now that the price of gold is going down!

How did you Kennedy?

2014 Kennedy Half Dollar Gold ProofAs the year winds down and the end of the 50th Anniversary of the Kennedy Half-Dollar draws to a close, I am curious as to how many of my readers bought one of the special coins offered by the U.S. Mint. This is just a quick poll to satisfy my curiosity.

Did (or will) you buy a 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half-Dollar Coin

Yes, I bought the 50th Anniversary Collection (40%, 24 Votes)
Yes, I bought the uncirculated set (28%, 17 Votes)
No, it's not something I collect (18%, 11 Votes)
Yes, I bought the gold proof coin (13%, 8 Votes)
No, I just bought 2014 half-dollars to add to my collection (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 39

Loading ... Loading ...

News from the U.S. Mint

A couple of quick news items that came out of the U.S. Mint on Tuesday.

2014 American Silver EagleThe U.S. Mint reported that as of December 8, 2014, they had sold a record 42,864,000 one troy ounce American Silver Eagle Bullion coins for all of 2014. This beats the previous record of 42,675,000 coins sold in 2013. Sales of the 2014 bullion coins to authorized dealers will end during the week of December 15.

Taking a sample of five different bullion dealers, the average price is around $20 for one American Silver Eagle Bullion coin. If each coin is worth about $20 each, that means the U.S. Mint sold $857.28 million in silver bullion for 2014. Remember, this is for the bullion coin. This does not count the collectible versions such as the proof or the West Point struck uncirculated coin.

Coin Discovery Set — An Introduction to Coin CollectingThe other announcement was that the U.S. Mint will sell a new product, Coin Discovery Set — An Introduction to Coin Collecting. The set costing $24.95 will include three 2014 Kennedy Half-Dollars in three different finishes—proof, uncirculated and circulating. It will also include two coin tubes for quarters, a magnifying glass, cotton gloves, and a booklet that explains the coin production process. The box will the the size to store U.S. Mint proof sets.

Sales will open at noon Eastern Standard Time (1600 UTC) on Tuesday December 16, 2014. While there will be no household ordering limit, the U.S. Mint has set a product limit to 45,000 sets.

Images courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

2014 Trick or Treat

Hobo Ike and JeffersonIt has been a few years since I did an All-Hallows-Eve numismatic trick-or-treat that it seems like a good time to do add one. Here are my numismatic tricks and treats for this past year.

Girl Scouts need a values adustment

TRICK: It was announced in January that the 2013 Girl Scouts commemorative coin did not generate enough sales for the U.S. Mint to provide a payout of seignorage. This is the first time this has happened. Part of the problem was that the Girl Scouts are stuck in the 1950s mindset that does not see collecting coins as a girl’s hobby. Although values are important, this shows that he Girl Scouts’ values are behind the times and will not be the catalyst behind helping expand the hobby. They should be ashamed for contributing to this failure.

ANA Willfully Gives up its Premier Status

TRICK:The Professional Numismatists Guild and the American Numismatic Association announced in January that “the first” PNG-ANA Numismatic Trade Show the weekend prior to the 2014 World’s Fair of Money in Rosemont that it will be open to the public. While making it sound exciting it made the entire show 8-days long. This was a bad move because of the length and because it makes the ANA play second to PNG. If the ANA wants to be the premier numismatic organization, the one that anyone wanting to learn about and be about numismatics, The ANA should not play second fiddle to any other organization.

There are coin treats!

TREAT:In creating a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Kenney half-dollar, the U.S. Mint has made a coin that is not really circulated into something interesting for the collector. The dual-dated gold coin became an instant hit before the price of gold dropped and the silver sets are reportedly selling well. This was a good move by the U.S. Mint.

TREAT:For the most part, commemorative coins are sales do not meet expectation. While there are a few exceptions like 2005 Marine Corps 230th Anniversary silver dollar, most commemoratives do not come close to their maximum mintage. But the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame commemoratives appear to have hit a home run. The combination of the subject and the curve of the coin may be a significant factor in the coin’s success. The $5 gold and silver dollar coins are both sold out. There are some of the clad half-dollars available.

TREAT:Speaking of cool stories, what about the Saddle Ridge Hoard? After a couple found the hoard of gold coins while walking their dog, it spawned an interest in metal detectors and searching for buried treasure. It was such an amazing story that it even found its way into the national news cycle. But like everything else, another shiny story diverted the media’s attention and the coins went on sale to the general public on

Not all coins are treats

TRICK: Colored and coins with gimmicks are proliferating in the market. So far, the U.S. Mint and the Royal Mint are resisting colored and other gimmicks while the Royal Candian Mint and New Zealand Mint are at a race to the bottom for gimmick coins.

Numsimatics and technology

TREAT: The ANA launched its new website with new technology ready for growth on time and under budget. This is the website that ANA Governor Laura Sperber said, “I can’t wait to see what a disaster the ANA new web site will be.” So far, there has not been a follow up from Sperber while the new site has been a success.

TREAT: More recently, the U.S. Mint had a great launch to their new website. After years of frustration with the online ordering of what would be popular items, the new site handled the launch of the 50th Anniversary Kennedy 2014 Half-Dollar Silver Coin Collection with no issues.

Failure to launch

TRICK: The U.S. Mint launched the Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coin at the Whitman Show in March not anticipating its popularity with fewer coins that there was a demand. It was as if the U.S. Mint had a blind spot with how popular this coin would be.

TRICK: The dealers who paid less than desireable people uninterested in anything other than a quick buck to mob the lines at the Denver Mint and the World’s Fair of Money. I continue to belive that their ethics must be questioned and appropriate actions taken by the ANA even though I do not think that will happen.

TREAT: With the drop in the price of gold, the current price of the gold Kennedy half-dollar tribute is less than what is was at launch. Teach these greedy dealers a lesson and buy the coins for less directly from the U.S. Mint!

U.S. Government hands out coal

TRICK: Because the U.S. Mint can only do what the laws that congress pass tells them they can do and congress is so dysfunctional they cannot even pass laws for issues they agree on, the United States was the only country involved with the Allies on D-Day NOT to issued a commemorative to honor the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

TRICK: In the name of political correctness, the State Department’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) continues to make it difficult for ancient coin collectors to participate in its hobby by allowing countries to ask the State Department to overreach on the enforcement on the Cultural Property Implementation Act. It is turning ancient coin collectors into criminals even for collecting common coins. Their actions are rediculous.

CCAC is the CCAC

TREAT: The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee suggested creating American Arts medals that will feature the artistic ability of the U.S. Mint’s artist.

TRICK: The arts medals are medals, not coins. Even with the beauty of medals like the 9/11 silver medal, it did not sell like coins would. In fact, it grossly under performed without raising significant sums for the 9/11 Memorial at the site of the Twin Towers in New York. But this is what the CCAC is face with because of congressional dysfunction (see above).

So goodbye everybody, and remember the terrible lesson you learned tonight. That grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody’s there, that was no Martian… it’s Hallowe’en.
— Orson Welles, The War of the Worlds, CBS Radio, October 30, 1938


Hobo Ike and Jefferson courtesy of Darth Morgan posted at Coin Community

U.S. Mint’s Techno Win

2014 Kennedy 50th Anniversary Silver Collection

2014 Kennedy 50th Anniversary Silver Collection

If you are like me and forgot, the U.S. Mint began to take orders for the 50th Anniversary Kennedy 2014 Half-Dollar Silver Coin Collection yesterday, October 28. The set consists of four 90-percent silver coins from each of the branch mints using the original design of the Kennedy half-dollar as designed by Gilroy Roberts. For those who are not regular collectors of these coins, the design is known as the “accented hair” variety with deeper highlights of the slain president’s hair. The set will be in a special faux leather folder enclosed in a specially designed box.

Each of the four coins will have different finishes. There will be one reverse-proof coin from West Point, a proof coin from Philadelphia, and uncirculated coin from Denver, and an enhanced uncirculated coin from San Francisco. The enhanced uncirculated coin will be struck on dies that will use a laser frosting and special wire brush treatments to enhance the design. The wire brush treatment is something new to the U.S. Mint that has not been seen on any publicly released coins or medals.

What is even more impressive is that the new computer ordering system withstood the challenge of a new product offering. In years past, the computer ordering for popular U.S. Mint products had sent the computer system into fits while trying to keep up with the requests. By all accounts, the computer system not only processed every order in a timely manner, but the U.S. Mint reports that the site was working at a rate of 14 orders per second and that the average peaked at 24.9 orders per second.

Orders for the set began at noon and after a half hour, 36,000 units were sold translating into $3.6 million in sales. As of midnight, 12 hours after opening the sale, the U.S. Mint sold 85,670 sets. The U.S. Mint is reporting that by 8:30 PM, they shipped 14,000. They started with 180,000 sets in stock which means there is time to order yours and to have it processed quickly.

For those of us who suffered through the pain of ordering of products line the American Eagle 25th Anniversary Silver Coin Set, the performance of the new website is a welcome change.

While the new website looks good and sports more modern functionality, it seems to perform well and works more smoothly than the old site. Unfortunately, I am not sure that I like the way the site is organized. My primary complaint is that the site is designed as a shopping site that seems to have buried the information about the coin programs. There should be a better balance between their mission as the government’s manufacturer of coins and the sales of those coins.

After years of frustration with the U.S. Mint, it looks like they are really working to serve its clientele including the Federal Reserve, which it is required to produce coins for by law. Maybe it has served the country well by having a professional run the U.S. Mint rather than a politician.

As gold falls so will U.S. Mint prices

If you have not seen what has been going on in the gold market, the prices have been falling. The financial press has not provided a single reason as to why the gold market is going down but there is a consistent view that the United States economy showing strength with unemployment dropping and low inflation may be alleviating fears in the markets. Stocks are rising and it is suspected that investors are selling their gold shares in order to participate in the bull market.

For collectors it means that the U.S. Mint could adjust the prices of precious metal products. In particular, the price is coming down that could affect the price of the Kennedy gold half-dollar. Based on the table published in the Federal Register [PDF], if the London Fix price of gold falls below $1,250 per troy ounce, the price of the coin will drop to $1,202.50 or $37.50 below the $1,240 issue price.

The London Fix is now managed by The London Bullion Market Association. Gold prices are set by an auction that takes place twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 AM and 3:00 PM London time. Auctions are conducted in U.S. dollars. The benchmark used by the U.S. Mint is the PM Fix price on Wednesday.

On September 10, 2014, the London PM Fix was $1,251.00 which will leave the price of the Kennedy gold half-dollar $1,240.

London PM Gold Fix for the month leading up to September 10, 2014

London PM Gold Fix for the month leading up to September 10, 2014
London PM Fix on September 10 was $1,251.00
Prices are in U.S. dollars

A strong economy is good for many reasons. In this case, when the price of gold drops the price of gold coins also drops. While this is not good for investors, it benefits collectors who will buy one or two coins for their collections. It also means that the value of the inventory that the dealers who spent a lot of money and effort in order to be first will be worth less than previously. After all, if the U.S. Mint is going to produce as many coins as the demand, then the public is better off saving money and buy from the U.S. Mint.

As anyone who has invested money will tell you that it is dangerous to try to time the market. I am sure that if you can figure out when the price of gold will be at its lowest while the U.S. Mint is still selling the Kennedy gold half-dollar, I know a bunch of people on Wall Street who want to talk with you. That being said, I have a feeling that the trends are in favor of waiting to see what happens. Although I have not decided whether I will buy a coin, I am going to wait to see what the market does. If the price of gold continues to fall, I could be convinced to buy one of these coins for myself.

Pricing for the 2014 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half-Dollar Gold Proof Coin
As published in the Federal Register (79 FR 38127) on July 3, 2014
London PM Fix Item Sale Price
$1000.00 to $1049.99 ¾ Troy oz $1,052.50
$1050.00 to $1099.99 ¾ Troy oz $1,090.00
$1100.00 to $1149.99 ¾ Troy oz $1,127.50
$1150.00 to $1199.99 ¾ Troy oz $1,165.00
$1200.00 to $1249.99 ¾ Troy oz $1,202.50
$1250.00 to $1299.99 ¾ Troy oz $1,240.00
$1300.00 to $1349.99 ¾ Troy oz $1,277.50
$1350.00 to $1399.99 ¾ Troy oz $1,315.00
$1400.00 to $1449.99 ¾ Troy oz $1,352.50
$1450.00 to $1499.99 ¾ Troy oz $1,390.00
$1500.00 to $1549.99 ¾ Troy oz $1,427.50
$1550.00 to $1599.99 ¾ Troy oz $1,465.00
$1600.00 to $1649.99 ¾ Troy oz $1,502.50
$1650.00 to $1699.99 ¾ Troy oz $1,540.00
Fixing chart courtesy of London Gold Fixing Company.

Kennedy gold opens strong

2014 Kennedy Half Dollar Gold ProofAlthough I am not able to attend this year’s World’s Fair of Money, I have been keeping up with the news coming out of Rosemont. Amongst the interesting news reports are those about the long lines collectors were standing in for the 2014 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half-Dollar Gold Proof Coin. There was even a story that claimed dealers paid homeless people to stand in line because of the U.S. Mint’s purchase limit of one coin per person.

Watching the scene from afar gives it a reality television-like feel. Just like reality television, I find it difficult to understand the appeal of having to be the first or one of the first to purchase the coin. In this case the people who bought the first coin had the coin slabbed and was paid $20,000 for the coin, what about the people standing in line behind them? Were they expecting to resell the coin to a dealer desperate to have the coin in their inventory? Was the line there representing dealers who will advertise that they have the coin from the first day of issue and mark up the price for those who collect the labels and not the coin?

If you are interested in purchasing the coin and not worried about the hype, I recommend that you buy the coin directly from the U.S. Mint. First, the U.S. Mint has already announced that there will not be a production limit. While there are initial sales limit, the U.S. Mint will strike as many as ordered. Second, those coins purchased at the U.S. Mint booth at the World’s Fair of Money will likely be removed from the U.S. Mint packaging and entombed in one of the third party grading company’s hunk of plastic. The price will be overly inflated.

When you buy the coin from the U.S. Mint, the price you will pay is the market price of three-quarters of a troy ounce of gold, the full cost of manufacture, and the packaging. According to the U.S. Mint, “The coins are encapsulated and packaged in a single custom-designed, brown mahogany hardwood presentation case with removable coin well and are accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity.” That mahogany hardwood presentation case is probably not cheap. If it is the same case that has been used for past special coin programs, then it is a nice package and should display the coin nicely. You will probably not receive the presentation case from the dealer that slabbed the coin. In fact, some dealers have started to sell the empty presentation cases without the coin—essentially, double-dipping at the expense of the purchaser of the coin.

The final reason to buy the coin directly from the U.S. Mint online or via the telephone is that there is a limit of five coins per household. When you buy the coin at one of the U.S. Mint facilities or this week at the World’s Fair of Money, you are limited to buying one coin and that there is a daily sales limit of 500 coins at each location.

With no offense intended to dealers who will have plenty of opportunities to make money on this coin in the future, I recommend that Coin Collectors Blog readers who want to purchase a coin for their own collection to buy it directly from the U.S. Mint. Even if the price of gold rises, the U.S. Mint pricing table [PDF] for these coins shows that the difference is about $35 per pricing band. I suspect that it will be less than the premium that many dealers will add to the price of the coin at the same time it is available from the U.S. Mint, except that they can sell you the coin now and you will not have to wait.

First Day Sales Figures

The U.S. Mint released their first day sales figures for the 2014 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half-Dollar Gold Proof Coin:

Online/Call Center Sales 54,825
ANA World’s Fair of Money 493
U.S. Mint Headquarters, Washington, DC 376
Philadelphia Branch Mint 500
Denver Branch Mint 500
All sites   56,694
Coin image courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

Pin It on Pinterest