Sprinting to 2008

Around the end of November or the beginning of December, the numismatic year begins to wind down and we start to look ahead to the new year. As 2007 has entered its final week, December was a buys and interesting month with the voting for the People’s Choice Award for Coin of the Year, to the release of the 10th Anniversary Platinum Eagles, the release of a plethora of Presidential $1 Coin products by the US Mint, and congress doing good and bad with our money. But with a week to go in 2007, everyone is getting ready for 2008.

Looking ahead, this is the last year of the 50 States Quarters for the states—the District of Columbia and the territories will have quarters issued in 2009. Designs have been announced with Arizona and Alaska having the potential to be very good looking coins.

Designs for the four Presidential $1 Coins have been announced. For 2008, the new dollar coins will feature James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. It is apparent that the Mint engravers are using official portraits and other art to base the coin designs. This makes makes the portraits very pleasing and worthy of being on coinage. Along with the Presidential coins, the First Spouse gold coins will include Elizabeth Monroe, Louisa Adams, Andrew Jackson’s Liberty, and Martin Van Buren’s Liberty. Both Jackson and Van Buren were widowed when they served as president.

Speaking of dollar coins, 2008 begins the Native American $1 Coin program. From 2008 through 2016, the reverse of the Sacagawea “Golden” Dollar will be changed yearly commemorate an aspect of history of the native American people. It will be interesting to see how the Mint will handle the design of this coin with the built-in bureaucracy prescribed by law.

The first commemorative for 2008 will be the American Bald Eagle Recovery and National Emblem Commemorative Coin to honor of the recovery of the Bald Eagle species, the 35th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and the Bald Eagle’s importance as a national symbol. I cannot help from thinking that Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey as the national symbol!

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing will release a redesigned $5 Federal Reserve Note with updated security features and a new purple color and a larger “5” on the reverse for the visually impaired. Sometime during 2008, BEP will introduce a redesigned $100 FRN with new security features and color. Because the BEP is not required to have its designs vetted by the Commission of Fine Arts, the new design will remain a secret until the BEP is ready to make their announcement.

Outside of the United States, the Royal Canadian Mint has started to introduce new non-circulating legal tender (NCLT) coins with new designs. The RCM is stressing new colors, designs, and the embedding of gemstones in their coins. Also, the 2010 Winter Olympics continues to be a significant theme of RCM coins.

Across the pond in the United Kingdom, the Royal Mint is advertising their new designs. New designs for legal tender coins are available from the Royal Mint whose sets include three commemorative coins honoring the 60th birthday of Prince Charles, the 450th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth I, and commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 4th Olympiad held in London.

Even The Perth Mint has issued its 2008 Silver Koala. This $1 NCLT silver coin is the second in the series of the Koala series introduced in 2007. The Perth Mint has also tried new coinage methods that includes moving parts and holograms.

It is going to be a very busy year and exciting year in numismatics.

Teletrade to Auction Largest Gold Coin

Have you ever wondered what a million dollars looks like? The picture to the right is Ian Russell, President of Teletrade, holding a one-ounce gold coin while leaning over the unique C$1 million coin. Yes, that large disk is a coin. In early May, the Royal Canadian Mint announced the production of a 100 kilogram (about 220 pounds, or 3,215 troy ounces) .99999 fine gold coin. With the price of gold as I type this currently at $666.60, its melt value is over $2.14 million!

Teletrade, a division of Spectrum Numismatics International, is using the coin to advertise a new service for investors to purchase precious metal bullion coins. Not only it is the first coin of its type, but it is the most expensive coin offered in an Internet-only format. Teletrade displayed the coin being auctioned at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money recently held in Milwaukee.

As I type this, the current bid is $1.65 million. If you cannot find that much money between the cushions of your couch, you can get special financing from Collateral Finance Corporation, also a division of Spectrum. Happy bidding!

Image courtesy of Teletrade

Can This Become a Modern Rarity?

The Royal Canadian Mint is embroiled in a controversy with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Canadian organization representing four Inuit regions. This week, the RCM issued a $20 commemorative coin to mark the 125th anniversary of the establishment of research stations around the Arctic to share scientific data. It is referred to as the first international polar year. English explorer Martin Frobisher is featured on the reverse along with a 16th century ship and kayaker representing the Inuit people.

According to history, Frobisher lured an Inuit kayaker to his ship in order to bring him back to England for display. The Inuit are people indigenous of the Arctic regions of Canada and must have looked very different to the 16th century anglo-saxons from England. The captured Inuit died of disease in England.

ITK is asking the RCM to consult its organization when issuing coins about its people saying ignorance caused this mistake. The RCM is saying that they consulted experts and added the kayak as an acknowledgment of the Inuit being in the region and that it is not a commentary on those events. ITK is preparing a letter to the RCM about this coin.

Although I cannot find records of the RCM withdrawing coins, it is possible that they could cease the sale of this coin. Canada does have laws governing the fair treatment of people which could dictate what the RCM does. This is not a judgement on Canadian law. I am anticipating that if the coin does get withdraw, it will be a modern issue with a low mintage and an interesting history.

Time to go to the RCM website to order a few coins.

Image from the Royal Canadian Mint

It’s Worth A Million

The Royal Canadian Mint announced they will be issuing a very large gold coin with a C$1 million denomination. At 100 kilograms (3215 troy ounces) and 53 centimeters (21 inches) it is the largest legal tender coin in existence. It will be made of .99999 pure gold making this coin the purest gold coin on the market. The obverse of the coin will feature Queen Elizabeth II with the reverse will feature a “new, elegant maple leaf design.”

As part of this project, RCM announced they will be producing a more affordable one troy ounce coin that will be 30 mm and made from .99999 pure gold. This coin will have a face value of C$200. RCM has not released the final pricing for these coins.

It is an ambitious project for RCM. Gold this pure can be difficult to strike because of the softness of the metals. Pricing will be an interesting issue. At today’s 4:00 PM New York gold price of $686.90, the 3215 troy ounce coin contains $2,228,990.50 in the value of the metal. I am guessing that RCM may charge $3 million for this coin.

RCM could price the new one troy ounce coin more competitively with the market. Their nearest competitor will be the US Mint’s American Gold Buffalo, which is one avoirdupois (regular) ounce of .9999 pure gold making the RCM coin lighter than the Gold Buffalo (1 troy ounce = 1.0971 ounces). RCM may price their coin competitively with the Gold Buffalo—which the US Mint announced will it will charge $850 for a 2007 proof coin. Bullion sales appear to average $75-100 over the spot price of gold.

It is an interesting publicity gimmick for the RCM. I would be surprised if they sold more than a dozen of the C$1 million coins.

Canadian coin image from the Royal Canadian Mint
American Gold Buffalo image from the US Mint

Pin It on Pinterest