Numismatic Purists Heads are Exploding

Last week, the U.S. Mint reported that the sales of the Rocket Ship Set is close to being a sellout. With an announced limit of 50,000 sets, they said that 46,762 were sold.

The Rocket Ship Set is a coin product produced for kids to tie in with the space theme generated by the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Commemorative Coin program. The set contains two coins: an uncirculated 2019 Kennedy Half Dollar an a proof Native American $1 Coin honoring American Indians in the Space Program. The coins are mounted on a card shaped like a rocket ship that glows in the dark and can be set up to stand up on a desk, shelf, or anywhere else.

The text an the card explains the significance of the coins in honoring the space program written for children.

When the set was announced, there was a lot of commentary how the U.S. Mint was wrong for doing this. I read and received emails saying that this is the wrong way to reach children that many thought this set would barely reach 15,000 units sold.

While the numismatic snobs were throwing around adjectives like “dumb” and “stupid” claiming it is “bad for the hobby” and wondering out too loud what the U.S. Mint was thinking, customers bought up 93½-percent of the available inventory in two-weeks!

Although we do not know how many of the sales are to dealers or other institutional buyers, the fact that there is that level of interest suggests the U.S. Mint might have a better idea as to what’s good for the hobby than the snobs.

Weekly World Numismatic News for February 10, 2019

The numismatic news of the week of the week is the appointment of Joseph Menna as the 13th Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint.

Although the position of Chief Engraver was abolished in 1996 as an appointed position, Mint Director Edmund Moy resumed the position and appointed John Mercanti as the 12th Chief Engraver. The position was vacant since Mercanti’s resignation in 2010.

Many references cite Public Law 104-208 as the law that eliminated the Chief Engraver position. That bill is the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997. As with a lot of these omnibus acts, there is a lot of “stuff” packed into this law, but there does not appear to be a reference to the Chief Engraver.

In fact, a search the term “chief engraver” at govinfo.gov, the site for the Government Printing Office shows no public or private law with those words. The GPO has nearly every bill and public law for the past 100 years available for full-text search.

This is something to look into.

In the mean time, congratulations Joe Menna!

And now the news…

 January 30, 2019

A 300-year-old British coin has sold at auction for a world-record price of £845,000. The five guinea 'Vigo' coin dates to 1703 and was made using gold seized by the British from a Spanish treasure ship at the Battle of Vigo Bay.  → Read more at dailymail.co.uk


 February 3, 2019

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Hundreds of students took part Saturday in a robotics competition at Southern New Hampshire University. And the event came with an assignment from inventor Dean Kamen: He wants every student to get involved with an effort to honor a New Hampshire hero.  → Read more at wmur.com


 February 5, 2019

More than a decade ago Aries Cheung, a Toronto-based artist, graphic designer and filmmaker, was approached by a representative from the Royal Canadian Mint. Would he like to enter a competition for a new series of coins to celebrate the Lunar New Year?  → Read more at scmp.com

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Weekly World Numismatic News for January 13, 2019

Pairing U.S. coins with a foreign coin for sale has been done in the past by the U.S. Mint. In 2002, the U.S. Mint offered the “Legacies of Freedom” This week, the U.S. Mint announced a collaborative project with the Royal Australian Mint to produce a commemorative coin set in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. The set will feature a U.S. Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Half Dollar paired with an Australian 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing 1 oz. $5 Silver Coin.

The announcement noted that the set will be produced and sold by the Royal Australian Mint with marketing help from the U.S. Mint who will put a link on their website.

set. A limited edition of 50,000 sets that included an uncirculated American Silver Eagle $1 coin and a £2 Silver Britannia from the Royal Mint. These sets were created and marketed by the U.S. Mint with a price of $49.88 per set, noting that the spot price of silver was $6.39 per troy ounce.

Prior to that, the U.S. Mint produced the 2000 Leif Ericson Millennium Commemorative Set that included a 2000 Leif Ericson Proof Silver Dollar and a 1000 Kronur proof silver coin produced by the U.S. Mint for Iceland. It was the last coin the U.S. Mint produced for a foreign government. The U.S. Mint sold 86,136 sets at a price of $63 per set.

Since the set will be produced by the Royal Australia Mint, there are questions regarding the opportunities that may be missed by the U.S. Mint to do the same. For example:

  • The press release says that it will be a “limited production set” but does not specify how many sets will be produced.
  • Other than the legal requirements that the U.S. Mint shall not lose money on a commemorative coin program and that the half-dollar includes a $5 surcharge, what are the financial arrangements between the two government mints?
  • Who will handle the fulfillment of orders from the United States? Those who have purchased items from Australia and New Zealand know that the because of shipping and customs restrictions, items can take 6-8 weeks to enter the United States before it can be given to the Postal Service for delivery.

These questions will be addressed to the U.S. Mint as soon as Tuesday. Even though the U.S. Mint continues to operate during the shutdown, offices in Washington, D.C. will be closed on Monday because of 8-12 inches of snow that covers the region.

And now the news…

 January 5, 2019

Coins expected to bring increased security to economies of British territories and dependencies  → Read more at theguardian.com


 January 9, 2019

A penny that a Massachusetts teenager found in his change from lunch money could be worth as much as $1.65 million (£1.3 million) when it is auctioned off.  → Read more at foxnews.com


 January 9, 2019

My grandfather was a numismatist. William Evans Mullan II died over the weekend. The coin collection lives on.  → Read more at djournal.com


 January 10, 2019

Don Lutes Jr. kept the 1943 copper penny he stumbled upon in his high school cafeteria seven decades ago in a safe behind a wall in his Massachusetts home.  → Read more at cnn.com


 January 11, 2019

Jim Cramer shares his favorite ways to add gold to a portfolio and encourages investing in the precious metal if you’re nervous about 2019.  → Read more at cnbc.com


 January 11, 2019

BERLIN — Four young men have gone on trial over the brazen theft of a 100−kilogram Canadian gold coin from a Berlin museum.  → Read more at manitobapost.com

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Can we just get along

Since U.S. Mint announced the launch of the American Innovation $1 Coin Program there has been nothing but complaints from the community about the coin.

According to the law (Public Law No: 115-97), “The common design on the obverse of each coin issued under this subsection shall contain a likeness of the Statue of Liberty extending to the rim of the coin and large enough to provide a dramatic representation of Liberty.” With the U.S. Mint under a short deadline because of when the bill became law (July 20, 2018), there were a number of disagreements with the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee regarding the obverse design of the coin. The U.S. Mint tried to modify an old design but the CCAC did not like that. Eventually, the design from Miss Liberty’s left side was used.

It has turned out to be an elegant design that does not duplicate any previous one. She stands on the coin as stately as she stands in New York Harbor, extending from rim to rim as required by law. For once, the CCAC and I agree on a good design.

But that is not enough for some people. The design is too plain.

The reason why the coin appears plain is that two elements that could have been on the obverse, the date and motto “E Pluribus Unum,” are on the edge of the coin.

Edge lettering for the $1 coins began in 2007 with the introduction of the Presidential $1 Program. It was decided to move these elements, along with “In God We Trust” to the edge because the obverse was to include the years of the president’s term. Aside from providing more space for the design, relocating the date would prevent potential confusion as to the date of the coin.

“In God We Trust” was restored to the obverse of the coin in 2009 after striking errors caused the edge of the coin to be blank. This caused overzealous conspiracy theorists and the gullible believing that this was done purposely against the religious communities.

Some argue that since the conditions have changed, the coin should not have edge lettering.

Aesthetically, the obverse design was well executed. It would be how the statue would look if you were standing in Battery Park located at the southern tip of Manhattan, and looked across the water on a clear day. There should be no reason to change the design.

However, there is a problem with the edge lettering in that it makes it difficult to see. As someone who has reached the age where an annual eye exam is a requirement and “corrective lenses” is now a permanent fixture on my driver’s license, having the mintmark on the edge requires me to use magnification to find the mintmark.

As a member of the Baby Boomer generation whose glasses seem to get stronger every year, I would be in favor of moving the date and mintmark to the obverse of the coin. But if the problem is only aesthetics, then I have no problems with having to use a 16x loupe to help identify where the coin was struck.

Weekly World Numismatic News for December 16, 2018

Patent X1 issued to Samuel Hopkins and signed by President George Washington on July 31, 1790 (USPTO Image)

This week, the U.S. Mint made the most impact in the world of numismatics. first, the U.S. Mint released the first coin in the American Innovation $1 Coin Program. It features a new design of the Statue of Liberty on the obverse, which has not been favorably received. The reverse recognized the first U.S. patent signed by President George Washington.

On July 31, 1790, Samuel Hopkins was granted patent number X00001 for this method “in the making of Pot ash and Pearl ash by a new Apparatus and Process.” In June of this year, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued Patent #10,000,000 based on the current numbering system that began in 1836. According to the USPTO, there were 9,433 patents issued from 1790 through 1835.

The other news from the U.S. Mint was the first strike ceremony for the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coins at the Philadelphia Mint. Children of the three astronauts who flew on Apollo 11 represented their fathers at the ceremony: Mark Armstrong, Andrew Aldrin, and Ann (Collins) Starr.

Coins will be offered for sale to the public on January 24, 2019. The money raised from this commemorative coin program will benefit the Astronauts Memorial Foundation, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s “Destination Moon” gallery.

A pair of 5-ounce silver proof $1 coins struck during the First Strike Ceremony at the U.S. Mint (photo courtesy of collectSPACE.com)

And now the news…

 December 10, 2018

Cash use has plummeted in Australia over the last few years but Eric Eigner isn't worried. "People will want to collect something that appears to be more scarce," he says. "I think it's a good thing to a certain extent."  → Read more at smh.com.au


 December 10, 2018

The patterns on Guangxi commemorative coins reveal special cultural elements and how the region has developed in the past 60 years.  → Read more at news.cgtn.com


 December 10, 2018

Museum intern Roo Weed ’18.5, a physics major, is using digital solutions to make the College’s rare coin collection more accessible to the public.  → Read more at middlebury.edu


 December 11, 2018

"> <META PROPERTY=  → Read more at miningnewsnorth.com


 December 14, 2018

From Alexander the Great to the Byzantium and the Middle Ages until the modern era all periods are covered in an exhibition featuring a rare collection of gold coins. This collection contains coins that are considered to have paved the way for the use of coins in world history and is being staged by the &hellip;  → Read more at cyprus-mail.com


 December 14, 2018

The United States Mint reveals a new coin collection to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Item includes great video of striking coins in the mint  → Read more at myhighplains.com


 December 15, 2018

The U.S. Mint has struck its initial coins commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. You could say it was one small strike for the Mint, one not-so-giant press for Apollo history. The coins were stamped as part of a "first strike" ceremony.  → Read more at collectspace.com


 December 15, 2018

The finds are "of great benefit" in helping understand Wales' "unique history", National Museum Wales says.  → Read more at bbc.com

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An Innovative Start

Later today, the U.S. Mint will have a ceremony to begin the American Innovation $1 Coin Program. The ceremony is scheduled for 11:30 am at the U.S. Mint’s headquarters at 801 9th Street NW in Washington, D.C.

The American Innovation $1 Coin Program will issue four dollar coins a year in recognition of the significant innovation and pioneering efforts of individuals or groups from each of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories. Coins will be issued in the order that the states entered the union followed by the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

As allowed by law (Public Law 115-197), the U.S. Mint is producing an introductory coin for the program that will be presented as part of the launch.

The obverse of the coin, which will be featured throughout the series, is a view of the Statue of Liberty in profile. The view of the upper third of her body with the torch extended to the edge of the coin with a plain background gives the image a quiet elegance that is not usual for a U.S. Mint design. It was designed by Justin Kunz of the Artistic Infusion Program with credit to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee for pushing the U.S. Mint to come up with something different.

The reverse design of this introductory coin provides hope that the future of this program will not be mired in trite designs. It honors American Innovation by recognizing the first U.S. patent signed by President George Washington that was issued to Samuel Hopkins on July 31, 1790, for developing a process for making potash. The gears representing innovation appears next to Washington’s autograph.

The year, mint mark, and E PLURIBUS UNUM (Out of many, one) will appear on the edge of the coin as it does with all $1 coins since 2007.

Although it is a fantastic design worthy of a collection that includes the Native American Dollar designs, it will have the same impact as all dollar coins issued in the 21st century. It is a coin that will barely circulate and will not grab the attention of the U.S. public without its circulation.

Even though Congress creates these programs and has been told that this program will be a failure because the coins will not circulate alongside the paper dollar, they continue as if nothing is wrong. Even the Government Accounting Office, their own agency that helps with investigations and oversight of the federal government, has recommended eliminating the one-dollar note.

I will collect these coins as I have done for all of the special series introduced in the 21st century. But I will not be as enthusiastic about this series as I should be until something is done to make these coins circulate.

From manufacturing to circulation: Why does the most season numismatists get it wrong

It never ceases to amaze me that even the most seasoned and esteemed numismatists do not understand how United States coinage goes from manufacturing to circulation.

Recently, Harvey Stack wrote a column that appeared as a Viewpoint in Numismatic News (November 18, 2018). In the column, he blamed the U.S. Mint for problems with the distribution of the 50 State Quarters program. In the article Stack wrote that “the distribution of the new designs did not get full nationwide distribution. The Mint sent to most banks nationwide whatever they had available, with some districts getting large quantities of the new issue and other districts getting relatively few, if any.”

The U.S. Mint does not distribute circulating coins to any United States bank except the Federal Reserve. At the end of every production line is a two-ton bag made of ballistic materials that collect every coin produced on the line. When the bag is full it is sealed and later transported to a processing center designated by the Federal Reserve.

The U.S. Mint is a manufacturer. When they complete making the product, it is packaged in bulk and the customer, the Federal Reserve, picks up the product. Once the product is delivered to the client, that product’s distribution is no longer in the U.S. Mint’s control.

During the time of the 50 States Quarters program, the U.S. Mint had an agreement with the Federal Reserve to distribute the new coins first in order to get them into circulation. When the new coins were transferred to the various Federal Reserve cash rooms in the 12 districts, the Federal Reserve did circulate the new coins first.

What gets left out of the discussion is the logistics of transferring the coins from the cash rooms to the banks. The Federal Reserve does not deliver. Like many government agencies, the Federal Reserve relies on contractors to carry out that job. The Federal Reserve “sells” the coins to the logistics companies that bag and roll the coins and eventually deliver the coins to in armored vehicles to the banks.

In order to save money, these logistics companies keep their own supply of coins. This supply comes from the Federal Reserve cash room operations or excess they are given by the banks. Sine the logistics companies were not part of the deal that the U.S. Mint made with the Federal Reserve, a bank that asked for a delivery of quarters may have received quarters from the logistic company’s stock rather than new issues from the Federal Reserve.

Logistics is the coordination of complex operations and it is the job of these logistics companies to fulfill the inventory needs of the bank in the most efficient manner possible. It was more efficient to supply the banks in less densely populated areas with coins from current stock than transporting large amounts of coins from one of the Federal Reserve cash room operations that may be hundreds of miles away.

The U.S. Mint may do many things that collectors might take exception to, but the distribution of circulating coins is not their responsibility.

Coin image courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

A Look at the American Eagles: The New American Palladium Eagles

Collecting American Palladium Eagles

This is last article of a 4 part series:
  1. American Silver Eagles
  2. American Gold Eagles
  3. American Platinum Eagles
  4. American Palladium Eaglesyou are here

The American Palladium Eagle coin is the newest addition to the American Eagle program. The bill to create the program was introduced by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), the representative-at-large from Montana. Montana is home of the Stillwater Mining Company, the only producer of palladium in the United States. Stillwater also owns platinum mines that supply the U.S. Mint with platinum for American Eagle Bullion coins.

In the world of metal investing, palladium is behind gold, silver, and platinum in demand. Palladium is not as popular in the United States as it is in other countries. Palladium sells better than silver in Canada and Europe. It is rarer than gold, but a little more abundant than platinum but has the silky look of platinum while being almost as ductile as silver. Artists in Europe and Asia are beginning to use palladium instead of platinum for their higher-end designs.

The American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act (Public Law 111-303) originally requested that the secretary study the feasibility of striking palladium coins and mint them if the study shows a market demand. Although the study showed that there is a market, it was not overwhelming. Based on the wording of the law, the U.S. Mint opted not to strike palladium coins.

In December 2015, 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. The first American Palladium Eagle bullion coins were struck in 2017.

Source of Metals

The law requires that the U.S. Mint purchase palladium from United States sources at market values. It allows the U.S. Mint to purchase palladium from other sources to meet market demands.

A difference between the authorizing law for the American Palladium Eagle and other coins in the American Eagle program is that there is no requirement for the U.S. Mint to produce proof coins. It will be up to the U.S. Mint to determine whether there is a collector demand and strike proof coins accordingly. How this differs from the rest of the American Eagle program will be tested the next time metals experience high investor demand.

The American Palladium Eagle Design

By law, the obverse of the American Palladium Eagle coin features a high-relief likeness of the “Winged Liberty” design used on the obverse of Mercury Dime. It is an acclaimed classical design as created by Adolph A. Weinman.

The law requires that the reverse used to bear a high-relief version of the reverse design of the 1907 American Institute of Architects medal. The AIA medal was also designed by Weinman. It is the first time that this design is featured on a legal tender coin.

American Palladium Eagle coins are made from one troy ounce of .9995 palladium. The balance is copper. These coins are produced so that each coin states its weight and fineness and has a denomination of $25.

Bullion American Palladium Eagle Coins

The American Palladium Eagle program produces bullion and collectible coins. The bullion coins can be stuck at any branch mint but do 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 Palladium Eagle bullion coins are subject to taxes when sold and may be held in Individual Retirement accounts. Please consult your financial advisor or tax professional for the tax implications for your situation.

Collector American Palladium 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 Palladium Eagle coins are produced only as proof coins.

The U.S. Mint began selling American Palladium Eagle Proof coins in 2018 with a limited production of 15,000 coins. The coins sold by the U.S. Mint are stored in a specially made capsule and that capsule is placed in a package similar to that used for other coins in the American Eagle program.

Since this program is new, there have been no special issues or the discovery of errors. As time passes, that will likely change.

Images courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

A Look at the American Eagles: The American Platinum Eagles

This is third article of a 4 part series:
  1. American Silver Eagles
  2. American Gold Eagles
  3. American Platinum Eaglesyou are here
  4. American Palladium Eagles

The Platinum American Eagle coins were an addition to the American Eagle bullion program to satisfy the needs of the domestic platinum mining industry. Work to create the program began in 1995 with Platinum Guild International Executive Director Jacques Luben working with Director of the United States Mint Philip N. Diehl and American Numismatic Association President David L. Ganz to pursue the appropriate legislation.

As with a lot of legislation, it was added to an omnibus appropriations bill (Public Law 104-208 in Title V) passed on September 30, 1996. Since the bill was necessary to keep the government functioning, it was signed by President Bill Clinton that same day.

The first platinum coins were issued in 1997.

Platinum American Eagle coins are the only bullion coins struck by the U.S. Mint that use a different reverse design for the proof coins than the uncirculated bullion coins. The reverse of the proof coins featured different themes that have largely gone unnoticed by collectors. Beginning in 2018, the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence series will introduce all new designs for both the obverse and reverse of the proof coin.

American Platinum Eagle Design

The obverse design of the American Platinum Eagle features a front-facing view of the Statue of Liberty from the shoulders designed by John Mercanti. Mercanti also designed the obverse of the 1986 Statue of Liberty Commemorative Silver Dollar.

The reverse features a bald eagle soaring above the earth with a rising sun in the background. It was designed by Thomas D. Rodgers Sr. The reverse also includes the weight of the coin and its denomination.

The reverse designs of the proof coins were by different artists and discussed below.

American Platinum 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 Platinum Eagle: $100 face value, is 32.7 mm in diameter, contains one troy ounce of platinum and weighs 1.0005 troy ounces,
  • One-half ounce American Platinum Eagle: $50 face value, is 27 mm in diameter, contains 0.5000 troy ounce of platinum and weighs 0.5003 troy ounce,
  • One-quarter ounce American Platinum Eagle: $25 face value, is 22 mm in diameter, contains 0.2500 troy ounce of platinum and weighs 0.2501 troy ounce,
  • One-tenth ounce American Platinum Eagle: $10 face value, is 16.5 mm in diameter, contains 0.1000 troy ounce of platinum and weighs 0.1001 troy ounce.

All coins are struck with reeded edges.

Each coin is made from .9995 platinum. The composition is comprised of 99.95% platinum and 0.05% of an unspecified metal, likely copper. American Platinum Eagle coins are produced so that each size contains its stated weight in pure platinum. This means that the coins are heavier than their pure platinum weight to account for the other metals in the alloy.

Bullion American Platinum Eagle Coins

The American Platinum 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 Platinum Eagle bullion coins are subject to taxes when sold and may be held in Individual Retirement accounts. Please consult your financial advisor or tax professional for the tax implications for your situation.

Bullion coins of all four weights were struck from 1997-2008. Beginning in 2014, the U.S. Mint has only struck the one-ounce $100 American Platinum Eagle for the bullion market.

Collector American Platinum 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 Platinum Eagle are different from other coins in the American Eagle series in that every year they are produced the U.S. Mint struck them in different designs and are only available as proof strikes.

In addition to the changing designs, the U.S. Mint sold uncirculated coins with a burnished (satin) finish using the design of the business (bullion) coins were struck 2006-2008 at West Point in all four weights.

The collector American Platinum Eagle 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 with plans for two more beginning in 2018 and 2021.

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.

Following the proof coins issued in 1997 with the design used on the bullion coin, the reverse design has featured the following themes:

  • Vistas of Liberty Reverse Designs (1998-2003):
    • 1998 Eagle Over New England
    • 1999 Eagle Above Southeastern Wetlands
    • 2000 Eagle Above America’s Heartland
    • 2001 Eagle Above America’s Southwest
    • 2002 Eagle Fishing in America’s Northwest
    • 2003 Eagle Perched on Rocky Mountain Pine Branch
  • 2004 Proof reverse design: Daniel Chester French’s “America” that sits before the U.S. Customs House in New York City.
  • 2005 Proof reverse Design: Heraldic Eagle
  • Branches of Government Series:
    • 2006 “Legislative Muse” representing Legislative Branch
    • 2007 “American Bald Eagle” representing Executive Branch
    • 2008 “Lady Justice” representing Judicial Branch
  • Preamble Series (2009–2014):
    • 2009 “To Form a More Perfect Union”
    • 2010 “To Establish Justice”
    • 2011 “To Insure Domestic Tranquility”
    • 2012 “To Provide for the Common Defence”
    • 2013 “To Promote the General Welfare”
    • 2014 “To Secure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and our Posterity”
  • Nations Core Values (2015-2016):
    • 2015 “Liberty Nurtures Freedom”
    • 2016 “Liberty and Freedom”
  • 2017 depicted the original reverse designed by Thomas D. Rodgers Sr.

Beginning in 2018, the U.S. Mint will introduce two themes that will feature new obverse designs with a new common reverse with the following themes:

  • 2018-2020 Preamble to the Declaration of Independence Series
    • 2018 “Life”
    • 2019 “Liberty”
    • 2020 “Pursuit of Happiness”
  • 2021-2025 Five Freedoms Guaranteed Under the First Amendment Series
    • 2021 “Freedom of Religion,”
    • 2022 “Freedom of Speech,”
    • 2023 “Freedom of the Press,”
    • 2024 “Freedom to assemble peaceably,”
    • 2025 “Freedom to Petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances.”

Tenth Anniversary American Platinum Eagle Set

As part of the Tenth Anniversary of the American Platinum Eagle, the U.S. Mint issued a special set to celebrate this milestone. The set featured two one-half ounce platinum proof coins using the American Bald Eagle design representing Executive Branch by Thomas Cleveland and was struck at the West Point Mint. One was struck as a standard proof with mirrored fields and frosted designs. The other was struck as a reverse proof with mirrored designs and frosted fields.

The set was announced November 2007 and scheduled to go on sale in mid-December. and remain on sale until December 31, 2008, with several interruptions.

During the sale, the price of platinum greatly fluctuated. At one point the price of platinum was greater than the price of the set. The U.S. Mint had suspended the sale of the coins in February 2008. They were priced higher when they were offered for sale again a month later. Sales were suspended again when the price of platinum fell dramatically. When the coins were brought back for sale, their final price was less than the set’s initial offer price.

Although the U.S. Mint set a maximum mintage of 30,000 sets, the final sales figure showed they sold 19,583 sets.

2007 “Frosted Freedom” Variety

For a very low production series that is handled differently than other coins, it is unusual for there to be a variety or error. In 2011, the Numismatic Guarantee Corporation announced that they certified a variety that was given the name “Frosted Freedom.”

On the proof strike of the 2007 American Platinum Eagle coin with the bald eagle design to celebrate the executive branch of the government, there is a shield in front of the eagle’s breast. Draped across the shield is a ribbon with the word “FREEDOM”. On the coins issued in 2007, the incuse word “FREEDOM” has the same mirrored finish as found on the coin’s fields. On the variety found by NGC, the word appears frosted with the same finish found on the coin’s raised devices.

In a statement by the U.S. Mint, these coins were pre-production strikes that had been inadvertently released into the production stream. They were struck to verify the look of the coin.

According to the U.S, Mint, the total number of “Frosted Freedom” coins potentially distributed to collectors includes 12 one-ounce coins, 21 half-ounce coins, and 21 quarter-ounce coins. As this is being written, only two one-ounce, one half-ounce, and one quarter-ounce coin have been certified by the major grading services.

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

All images courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

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.

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