The U.S. Mint Responds… YAWN!

U.S. MintFollowing the debacle that became of the online ordering process for the End of World War II 75th Anniversary American Eagle Coins, the U.S. Mint issued a statement on social media. On Twitter, the U.S. Mint posted in a series of tweets that read:

When people complained, whoever is posting on their social media platforms commented:

The problem is that there have been problems for many years. Every time the U.S. Mint offers a limited edition coin, their website has problems meeting the demand, leading to an apology and a promise that they will resolve the system issues.

Searching this blog, you can find problems with the ordering process for:

What you will not find is a story where the ordering process went smoothly. You will not find a story where the U.S. Mint claims that they have fixed their ordering problems. And you will be able to find a story where the U.S. Mint explains how they plan to fix the problems.

From 2016 through 2019, the U.S. Mint has held a collecting forum in Philadelphia. Each year, the U.S. Mint has invited people from all areas of the industry to meet with them and discuss the future of the U.S. Mint’s products. The coronavirus pandemic prevented them from holding this year’s forum. After every forum, the U.S. Mint thanks the participants and promises to do better.

David J. Ryder at the hearing regarding his nomination to be the 39th Director of the U.S. Mint

Unfortunately, politics have hurt the U.S. Mint. Since the resignation of Ed Moy in December 2010, they had been without a director until the appointment of David J. Ryder in April 2018. During the time between appointments, the Senate refused to confirm three nominations made by President Barack Obama to fill the position. Instead, there was an endless line of acting directors, which the law limits the term to 210 days.

Ryder is not a stranger to the U.S. Mint or the federal government. Besides working at the Commerce Department, he served in the Office of the Vice President for George H.W. Bush. Bush appointed Ryder as the 34th Mint Director during a Senate recess in 1992.

Before joining the U.S. Mint, Ryder worked for the Secure Products division of the Sarnoff Corporation. After purchased by Honeywell in 2007, he was Director of Currency for Honeywell Authentication Technologies. Ryder can lead an organization looking in the critical security of currency handling with worldwide influence, but he cannot manage the U.S. Mint out a technological paper bag.

As a former federal contractor, I understand that the contracting process is slow. The federal government acquisition process is fraught with checks, rechecks, oversight, and investigations that drive up a hammer’s price to thousands of dollars. But it is the same process to purchase a tool as it is to make a change to a fighter jet costing tens of millions of dollars.

The U.S. Mint has done some work on the website. Aside from changing the look, they replaced the content management system which manages the site. For the technologically savvy, they migrated from the original Drupal implementation to WordPress. The Coin Collectors Blog uses WordPress.

Although the transition to WordPress may provide the flexibility the U.S. Mint needs to manage the website, they have not met the critical need for customer engagement. Fixing customer engagement in a government agency requires the head of the agency to initiate that change. What has Ryder been doing?

Although the pandemic caused significant interruptions in everything, developers do not have to be on-site to develop software. A program can write programs from just about anywhere. Why were these processes not managed in the subsequent months?

I am asking Ryder to step up to his role and better manage the situation. I am not calling for the removal of Ryder. (POLITICAL ANALYSIS ALERT: Don’t read the rest of the paragraph if you do not like a frank discussion of politics as it affects the U.S. Mint). If Ryder leaves his position, President-elect Biden will likely never have an appointment voted on by the Republican-controlled Senate. We will be back to the nearly eight years of Acting Directors who do not have the authority to make necessary changes as the appointed director could.

Please, Director Ryder, fix the problem. Maybe you can listen to the collecting community. We have good ideas, and we are willing to help.

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U.S. Mint + CLOUDFLARE Screws Up Again!

DEAR U.S. MINT:
FIX YOUR WEB-BASED ORDERING PROCESS!
DEAR CLOUDFLARE:
YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO MANAGE TRAFFIC. THIS IS NOT A GOOD LOOK FOR YOU!!
Signed,
  Very upset collectors

What is this?

Get all the way to enter the credit card and then…

After making a work-related call, I decided to try one more time before going to complete my work for today and was able to order! Just a mear one-hour and 15 minutes after the coin went on sale!

SOLD OUT!
End of World War II 75th Anniversary American Eagle Silver Proof Coin

Weekly World Numismatic News for October 11, 2020

If you do not follow the U.S. Mint on Facebook or Twitter, they announced that there would be a price increase for silver coins as of October 13, 2020. Their statement read:

The United States Mint recently adopted a new strategy for pricing products in its silver numismatic products portfolio. As a result, prices for products containing silver will change EFFECTIVE October 13, 2020, with release of the 2020 American Eagle Silver Proof Coin with “S” mint mark (20EM). The new pricing will affect prices for silver products already on sale (including prior year) and those remaining to be released in 2020.

In order for the United States Mint to cover rising costs, meet its fiduciary responsibility to operate at no net cost to taxpayers, and return money to the Treasury General Fund, re-setting silver prices is necessary.

The Mint’s goal, as a fiscally responsible self-funded Federal agency, is to always provide the best quality numismatic products while maintaining fair prices. The first objective is to ensure that the numismatic portfolio (all product lines together) be self-sufficient and cover all associated costs. The new silver prices reflect a sound business decision aimed at meeting these obligations. (No tax dollars are used to fund numismatic operations.)

The United States Mint will continue to look for operations optimization and cost reduction efforts to deliver superior quality numismatic products at a fair price.

Kitco Silver Price as of 10/9/2020

Kitco YTD Silver Price as of 10/9/2020 (does not update, trendline added)

Although social media did not like the announcement, collectors should have expected the price increase. When the U.S. Mint set the price for silver coins at the beginning of 2020, the price of silver hovered around $18.00 per ounce. On March 19, the price closed as low as $12.005 per ounce. What followed was a steady rise until August 6 when the markets closed at $28.33.

From the $17.925 at the close of the markets on January 2 through August 6, silver rose 58-percent. If the U.S. Mint had to purchase silver in August to meet market demands, it was the most expensive silver they purchased.

U.S. Mint Price Update
Product Old Retail Price New Retail price Percent Increase
Presidential Silver Medals $46.00 $65.00 41.304%
America the Beautiful Quarters Silver Proof Set $42.50 $60.00 29.167%
American Eagle One Ounce Silver Proof Coin $64.50 $73.00 13.178%
American Eagle One Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coin $54.00 $67.00 24.074%
American Eagle One Ounce Silver Proof Coins—Bulk Pack $2,920.00
American Eagle One Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coin—Bulk Pack $2,680.00
Limited Edition Silver Proof Set $120.00‡ $201.00 67.500%
Silver Proof Set $63.25 $105.00 66.008%
America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coin $178.25 $229.00 30.670%
End of World War II 75th Anniversary American Eagle Silver Proof Coin * $83.00
End of World War II 75th Anniversary One Ounce Silver Medal * $75.00
2019 America the Beautiful Quarters Silver Proof Set $36.95 $60.00 62.514%
2019 American Liberty High Relief Silver Medal $99.95¶ $175.00 75.088%
2019 Congratulations Set $56.95 $75.00 31.694%
2019 Silver Proof Set $54.95¶ $105.00 91.083%
† These products are sold directly to distributors who sell them to dealers. Prices are not on the U.S. Mint’s website.
‡ The only items for sale at the U.S. Mint that comes close to this is the Women’s Suffrage Centennial 2020 Proof Silver Dollar and Medal Set
* Item was not for sale prior to the price hike
¶ Listed as “Currently Unavailable” on the U.S. Mint’s website.

You cannot blame the U.S. Mint’s metals buyers. First, they are mandated to buy precious metals from U.S. sources at the market value. If they need additional inventory, then they buy it on the market like everyone else. Like any investor, the U.S. Mint can try to predict the market, but the results are variable like any investor.

Since August 6, the price of silver dropped to $24.315, a 14.17-percent decrease. However, the price of silver is up 35.65-percent for the year. If the price of materials rise, how long could the U.S. Mint maintain their prices?

Aside from the rising cost of silver, the U.S. Mint did not report how much other costs have risen. Aside from the dies and facilities costs, they must account for labor, design, and production costs. The U.S. Mint has not reported what additional costs they have incurred because of the pandemic.

The U.S. Mint is unlikely to report about these issues until the release of the annual report.

And now the news…

 October 6, 2020
The Ministry of Culture and Sports on Monday announced that five rare silver coins dating to the 5th and 4th centuries BC were returned to Greece, before being auctioned off in Munich and Zurich.  → Read more at greekcitytimes.com

 October 5, 2020
The executive officer said construction workers found the coins and rings in a brass box.  → Read more at newindianexpress.com

 October 9, 2020
Surprising as it may sound, there once was a time that our coinage system, backed by gold and silver, was mostly supplied by Spain and countries under Spanish rule, such as Mexico, Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Guatemala.  → Read more at yarmouth.wickedlocal.com

 October 10, 2020
An extremely rare Roman coin commemorating the assassination of Julius Caesar has surfaced and may be worth millions of dollars, according to coin experts.  → Read more at foxnews.com
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Weekly World Numismatic News for October 4, 2020

New 2021 Britannia

The Royal Mint adds new security features for the 2021 Britannia

Even with the numismatic-related news picking up this week, the number of people that have written about buying counterfeit Silver Eagle coins has increased.

As much as I have written, tried to manipulate the search engine optimization (SEO) to get the word out, and dropped messages on social media, people continue to purchase counterfeit coins from China.

You cannot even trust the slabs sent by Chinese companies. A dealer who saw my post about purchasing coins that I suspected were counterfeit saw the picture of the slabs that were shipped. On closer examination, the slabs are the same as they use to counterfeit NGC slabs.

Last week PCGS announced they are adding a tag to their slabs that can help identify them electronically. The technology is called Near Field Communications (NFC). The technology creates contactless communications between a passive and an active device. In this case, the tag in the slab or currency holder is passive. There is no power in the passive tag but will respond to a special signal to transmit its data.

The active device sends the signal that causes the passive tag to respond. In this case, your smartphone can send the signal to and process what the passive tag sends. It is called Near Field Communications because the passive tag does not generate a strong signal, and the active device has to be close enough to hear what the tag has to say.

Using NFC is an interesting idea and, if implemented correctly, can add to the security of a slab. In the future, I will contact PCGS to discuss the security of the system they developed. Maybe I will dust off my old hacker’s hat and reverse engineer one of these tags. Very few electronic devices are unhackable. The idea is to make it as difficult as possible.

In the future, the technology that will help collectors protect themselves must be made publicly available. The current state of image processing and artificial intelligence can be used to examine a coin’s surface. Aside from its ability to grade the coin, it could tell the difference between a legitimate coin and a counterfeit that uses an aluminum alloy.

In addition to adding technology, the U.S. Mint should follow the leads of the Royal Canadian Mint and the Royal Mint to add security features to bullion coins. After all, David Ryder spoke about security during his confirmation hearing. Where is the progress on that?

And now the news…

 September 28, 2020
The European Commission is considering proposing a law to start phasing out the small 1 and 2 Eurocent coins, and round prices off to the nearest 5 cents. On Monday, the Commission opened a 15-week public consultation on the use of the small coins, during which both regular citizens and interested institutions are invited to share their opinions and suggestions on the issue.  → Read more at brusselstimes.com

 September 28, 2020
Doha: Since ancient times, coinage has played a significant role not only in the socio-economic aspect of civilisations as an instrument of business and trade but also in reflecting pivotal moments in a nation’s history.  → Read more at thepeninsulaqatar.com

 September 29, 2020
The Royal Mint has unveiled new gold bullion coins which can be authenticated as genuine by moving them in the light.  → Read more at belfasttelegraph.co.uk

 October 1, 2020
A Norwich jeweller has got people across the nation scratching their heads over his riddles which reveal where 49 special coins are hidden.  → Read more at edp24.co.uk

 October 2, 2020
Over time, people and markets the world over have been able to establish that investing in precious metals is a great way to diversify your investment portfolio. Whether you’re talking about gold, silver, or platinum, there are a handful of ways to get started in owning precious metals.  → Read more at thecostaricanews.com
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The Failures of the U.S. Mint’s Website Continues

2019 American Silver Eagle Enhance Revers Proof obverseThe subject line of the email contained the entire note. My correspondent asked, “Did you try to buy the 2019 Reverse Proof?”

Reports said that the remainder of the products sold out in 10 seconds. That was probably the same 10 seconds the U.S. Mint’s website seemed to freeze.

I admit that I tried cheating. As a retired programmer, I tried to script the purchase. The script watched the clock, and right at noon, the script tried to place the coin in my bag then transfer the payment page to the browser. But for the seconds after high-noon, the site did not respond. Frozen!

The best solution offered for these situations is a lottery system. Reports suggested that the suggestion was made to Director David Ryder. Ryder, like the last appointed director, is tone-deaf to the collectors. Some day, the U.S. Mint will have a competent director.

Weekly World Numismatic News for August 9, 2020

2019 American Silver Eagle Enhance Revers Proof obverseThe U.S. Mint does it again by shutting out collectors with an unannounced change in procedures.

According to reports, 95 of the 2019-S American Silver Eagle Enhanced Reverse Proof did not sell the first time because of an alleged glitch. Rather than letting the general public know that the coins were available, they snuck it onto their website and sent messages to people who signed up for reminders only.

The U.S. Mint did not send the message to everyone on their reminder list. Only to those people who signed up for when the coin would be available again.

So let me get this straight. If you’ve signed up for the U.S. Mint reminder services but not for restocking notice, you did not get notified. But if you signed up for a restocking notice after the U.S. Mint announced that all 30,000 coins sold, you were sent a notice.

From the poorly designed website with a bad ordering experience to the sneaking the surplus coins by the general public, the U.S. Mint is not endearing itself to the collecting public.

How can the hobby expect to attract more collectors if the source of coins makes it difficult to purchase their products?

And now the news…

 July 29, 2020
Toilet paper, sanitizer and yeast were but a few of the top-of-mind goods hoarded by Canadians at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In more recent weeks, however, another shortage – this of $50 banknotes – has come to light.  → Read more at canadiancoinnews.com

 August 3, 2020
Minelab Metal Detectors Luke Mahoney said the "feeling of scraping the dirt away and seeing the coins is indescribable" A metal detectorist who has spent 10 years searching for hidden treasure found "the biggest hoard of his life" in a field behind his village pub.  → Read more at bbc.com

 August 4, 2020
UK considers minting coin to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi  |  Photo Credit: BCCL Mahatma is poised to become the first-ever nonwhite person to feature on the British currency.  → Read more at timesnownews.com

 August 4, 2020
On July 27, 2020, gold prices hit an all-time high. Although the earliest traces of gold as a valuable material date back to the Paleolithic era in 40,000 B.C., about two-thirds of all the gold ever mined has been wrested from the ground since 1950. Throughout human history, it’s estimated that human beings have mined 197,576 tons of gold. One reason that gold has been so attractive to people across every corner of the Earth for all of recorded history is that it’s nearly indestructible, which means virtually all of that 197,576 tons is still around in one form or another. Even so, if you combined every ounce of gold ever mined into one large cube, that cube would only measure about 70 feet on each side.  → Read more at thestacker.com
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Weekly World Numismatic News for July 26, 2020

Colorized Basketball Hall of Fame Half Dollar Clad Coin

Colorized Basketball Hall of Fame Half Dollar Clad Coin (Image courtesy of the U.S. Mint)

The news of the week was tragic. It blew up social media and seemed to make people upset. This news is going to be the end of the hobby. We may never recover.

No, the tragedy is not the alleged coin shortage.

Social media went berzerk because the U.S. Mint is going to sell colorized versions of the Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coins.

How dare the U.S. Mint do something like this? It’s… it’s… un-American!

Calm down, folks. It is only a little color enhancing a commemorative coin.

But it’s not what the U.S. Mint is supposed to be about. They are supposed to produce real coins.

Real coins? Like the mess of coins in what we refer to as the Classic Commemorative Era? Can we also consider the circulating coinage disasters like the steel cent and Susan B. Anthony dollar?

It will turn us into Canada!

I can think of worse places. I like Canada. I have family in Canada. I collect Canadian coins. However, it is not going to turn the U.S. Mint into the Royal Canadian Mint. First, the Royal Canadian Mint produces more non-circulating legal tender (NCLT) coins that the U.S. Mint. Second, the Royal Canadian Mint uses technologies like lenticular printing to create the design. For the Basketball Hall of Fame coin, the colorization is an enhancement of a struck design.

Colorized Basketball Hall of Fame Silver Dollar Coin

Colorized Basketball Hall of Fame Silver Dollar Coin (Image courtesy of the U.S. Mint)

It’s ugly!

That is your opinion. I like what the U.S. Mint will do to the half-dollar coin by emphasizing the ball and rim. Based on the pictures I have seen, the colorized rim on the silver dollar is not enough.

It’s not what the U.S. Mint is supposed to do. I’m not buying it!

Good! It means that I will be able to buy one for myself without trying to fight the speculators.

It’s too expensive.

Finally, an argument I can agree with. Yes, the U.S. Mint is charging too much for the colorized coins. This is because instead of bringing the technology in-house, they have to pay a contractor to do the colorization.

It’s bad for the hobby!

How many times have we heard something is wrong for the hobby. Slabs signed by television reality stars were supposed to be the beginning of the end of the hobby. Endless series of circulating commemoratives are supposed to be bad for the hobby. Commemorative coins with unpopular themes were also going to kill the hobby.

To borrow a phrase: We’re still standing. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

Sorry, boys and girls (and we know the complaints are mostly coming from old men). Colorized commemorative coins are not bad for the hobby. It could be good for the hobby. These coins could attract people to the hobby that may not have been interested in the past.

If you want to know what is not good for the hobby, it is the U.S. Mint selling coins that did not sell at cut-rate prices to a television huckster like RCTV that pays NGC to slab the coins with special labels and then sells them at hugely inflated prices to unknowledgeable people on television.

You may also watch for the U.S. Mint’s “de-trashing” policy that is dumping other surplus coins on the market. These are coins that did not sell during the regular sales period that will have “special designation” labels from NGC. Not that the labels would make a difference, but we know that the dealers will over-hype these coins at prices far beyond their worth.

Remember what happened with the television hucksters selling state quarters at over-inflated prices? Or even RCTV selling a set of 31 American Silver Eagle bullion coins for more than you can buy a date run of 34 coins? Eventually, these coins will end up being brought to dealers who will tell them that they overpaid.

I will take colorized coins over the feeding crap to the television hucksters any day.

And now the news…

 July 20, 2020
Editor's Note: Get caught up in minutes with our speedy summary of today's must-read news stories and expert opinions that moved the precious metals and financial markets. Sign up here! (Kitco News) Gold and silver prices are higher in early U.S. trading Monday, with silver notching a nearly four-year high just above $20.00.  → Read more at kitco.com

 July 20, 2020
As if we needed any more challenges in 2020, earlier this month a national coin shortage hit America. That right, America doesn’t have enough physical change to go around.  → Read more at fastcompany.com

 July 21, 2020
Coin finds: Looking at this rural scene of Thornhill where Roman coins were found not far away on the Overthorpe estate in 1938, it fires the imagination to think that the early Romans just might have passed by this picturesque spot and even decided to settle here.  → Read more at spenboroughguardian.co.uk

 July 23, 2020
Old Masters seem to be a safe bet during the uncertain times. This painting, Pieter Brueghel the Younger, St.  → Read more at barrons.com

 July 23, 2020
In recent weeks, you may have noticed that most shops and restaurants are not accepting cash. This isn’t because of COVID transmission, as some assume, but because of a national coin shortage.  → Read more at savingadvice.com

 July 25, 2020
“Clare Duffy is a CNN Business associate writer covering the business of technology and the strategies of Big Tech companies. The opinions expressed in this commentary are her own.  → Read more at cnn.com
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Simply put, there is an adequate amount of coins in the economy

Coin JarThe U.S. Mint succinctly stated in its press release about the shortage of circulating coins is that there are enough coins in the economy. There is no shortage.

What is happening is that, like everything else during the COVID-19 crisis, the supply chain broke. Coins stopped circulating because people were not going out and spending the coins or currency. Since cash sales dropped, there was no need for stores to stock up on coins. They had the supply to conduct business.

Since the stores did not need the coins, the banks stopped ordering coins for its inventories. Larger stores that rely on logistics carriers were not ordering coins or sending coins into the supply chain. Finally, the logistics carriers saw their inventories rise and become stagnant, giving them no reason to buy more coins from the Federal Reserve.

Now that areas are opening and the demand for change has increased, the supply chain has to restart. According to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, the cash rooms operated by each Federal Reserve District has a sufficient supply of coins. But the coins have to be circulated through the system.

The government is doing its job. The U.S. Mint is striking a sufficient volume of coins for circulation, and the Federal Reserve has the supply to support commerce. It is the private sector that manages the supply chain that has failed.

The logistics companies, the coin processors that move the money between the Federal Reserve, the banks, and the retailers, have caused the backup. Since many banks have limited access to their drive-thru operations, there is an opportunity for the supply chain to adjust. They cannot adjust fast enough.

If you want to help fix the supply chain, spend your coins. Use exact change when possible. When it is not possible, use a credit or debit card.

If you are the type that keeps coins in jars, now is the time to do your search and send the rest back into circulation. Some banks are offering bonus payments for bringing in coins. Others that were charging fees if you did not roll the coins are waiving those fees. If you regularly buy from Amazon, consider using a Coinstar machine to turn your coins into an Amazon credit. Coinstar does not charge a fee when you trade your coins for Amazon credit.

Relax! It is not a conspiracy to get coins out of circulation. The government is not replacing U.S. dollars with Bitcoin. The government is not participating in creating a global currency, especially when you see how that has worked with mixed results in Europe. And this is not how the government is going to take your money away from you. That is what the tax code does.

Take your coin jar, search for collectible circulating coins, and spend the rest. Get the coins back into circulation.

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A Look at the American Eagles: The American Silver Eagles (UPDATED)

Coin Collectors Handbook: American Eagle Coins

Want more information about American Eagle Coins? The Coin Collectors Handbook: American Eagle Coins has more information and is fully illustrated. Read more → here;
This is first article of a 4 part series:

NOTE: This is an updated article that was first published on September 18, 2018.

After the Coinage Act of 1965 removed silver from United States coinage, the federal government held the silver in the national stockpile. By the 1980s, the supply that far exceeded the needs of the national stockpile. Following several years of discussion that almost led to the bulk auction and sale of the silver, congress decided to use the silver to create a silver investment coin, the American Silver Eagle.

The American Silver Eagle program was so successful that following the depletion of the Defense National Stockpile in 2002, the original law was changed to continue the program by purchasing silver from U.S.-based mines at market prices to be used for future production.

American Silver Eagle Design

The obverse of the coin is the much-beloved design that was used on the Walking Liberty Half-Dollar coin from 1916 to 1947, designed by Adolph A. Weinman, a former student of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The reverse features a heraldic eagle using a design by John Mercanti. Mercanti engraved both sides of the coin that including copying Weinman’s original design. Mercanti would later become the 12th Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint.

American Silver Eagle Specifications
 Composition .999 Fine Silver
 Weight One Troy Ounce (31.103 grams)
 Diameter 40.6 mm (1.598 inches)
 Thickness 2.98 mm (0.1173 inches)
 Edge Reeded
 Face Value $1.00
 Designers Adolph A. Weinman (obverse), John Mercanti (reverse)
 Engraver John Mercanti

Bullion American Silver Eagle Coins

The American Silver Eagle program produces bullion coins for the investment market and collectible versions of these coins. As bullion coins, the U.S. Mint tries to eliminate the factors that drive the price of collectible coins (mintage, rarity, and condition) by making each coin the same. The U.S. Mint strikes American Silver Eagle to meet the market demand and can be stuck at any branch mint. Bullion coins do not have a mintmark.

The U.S. Mint does not sell bullion coins directly to the public. They sell the coins to “Authorized Purchasers,” who then resell the coins to the market. Although the American Silver Eagle bullion coins are produced for the investment market, some people collect these coins.

As with other investments, American Silver Eagle bullion coins are subject to taxes when sold. Please consult with a financial advisor or tax professional for any tax implications.

Mint of Origin for Bullion Coins

The U.S. Mint branch facility in West Point, New York, has been the primary manufacturer of American Silver Eagle bullion coins. Over the years, the mint facilities in San Francisco and Philadelphia have supplemented production.

Following an investigation, researchers learned that the U.S. Mint struck American Silver Eagle bullion coins at San Francisco and Philadelphia from 2011-2017. Some have tried to use shipping records from the U.S. Mint, shipping labels, packaging materials, and other means to try to investigate the origin of the coins.

In 2015, the industry thought they understand how to tell which Mint struck the coins. According to a statement issued by the U.S. Mint in 2018, the Philadelphia Mint produced 79,640 bullion coins. However, 140 coins were “condemned” and not issued. They shipped 79,500 coins to West Point for distribution to authorized purchasers. Although the boxes contain labels and serial numbers, there was no attempt made to separate the coins by Mint. Further, the U.S. Mint acknowledges that they identified cases of duplicate labels and tracking numbers written on the box. The information creates a reasonable doubt as to determine the manufacturer of the coins.

The third-party grading services believe they identified strike characteristics of the 2015 bullion coins that occurred at the Philadelphia Mint. They have encased American Silver Eagle bullion coins with labels noting their Philadelphia pedigree with no additional evidence.

In 2020, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic caused the U.S. Mint branch at West Point to close temporarily. In order to keep up with production, the U.S. Mint struck 240,000 bullion coins in Philadelphia.

The third-party grading services asked the U.S. Mint about the production of these coins. Rather than leave the industry guessing, the U.S. Mint identified which boxes contained American Silver Eagle bullion coins struck in Philadelphia. The grading services are noting the origin of the bullion coin on the label of their slab.

Unlike the 2015(-P) coins, the 2020(-P) coins have an identifiable trail that leaves little doubt to the origin of the coins.

Collector American Silver Eagle Coins

The U.S. Mint produces collector versions of the American Silver Eagle are sold directly to the public in specialty packaging. The U.S. Mint sells American Silver Eagle proof coins in a specially made capsule stored in a blue velvet-covered case in a blue box with a Certificate of Authenticity.

Beginning in 2006, the U.S. Mint has produced an uncirculated business strike coin for the collector market. Most uncirculated American Silver Eagle collector coins are struck in West Point and bear the “W” mintmark. Uncirculated coins are burnished, a process by treating the surface with fine particles to give the surface a smooth, satin finish. The U.S. Mint sells these coins in a capsule with packaging that varies from year to year.

The U.S. Mint has produced coins with reverse proof and enhanced uncirculated finishes. A reverse proof coin is when the elements show a mirror-like appearance and the fields have a matte finish.

In 2009, the U.S. Mint was unprepared for the financial collapse that increased the demand for silver bullion coins. So that the U.S. Mint could produce the coins to meet the investor demand, the U.S. Mint did not produce collector American Silver Eagle coins. Although the American Silver Eagle proof coin returned to the market in 2010, the U.S. Mint did not produce uncirculated burnished coins.

American Silver Eagle collector coins returned in 2011.

OGP vs. GRADED

2018-W American Silver Eagle Proof in Original Government Package

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

Dealers and collectors will remove the collector American Silver Eagle coins from their original government package in order to submit them to a third-party grading service for grading. Collectors who prefer the encapsulated coins are not concerned with the package. Some dealers will sell the package without the coin for a few dollars, but for collectors of graded coins, this is not a priority.

2007 Reverse Variety

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

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

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

The 1995-W

Tenth Anniversary American Eagle Set

In 1995, the U.S. Mint created the 10th Anniversary American Eagle set to celebrate the program’s decade. The set contained a 1995-W American Silver Eagle proof coin that was made available only to collectors buying the set. Collectors wanting to add the 1995-W American Silver Eagle proof coin to their collection had to purchase the entire five-coin set that included four American Gold Eagle proof coins ($5, $10, $25, and $50 gold American Eagles). The $999 price for the set helped limit the number of coins sold.

As gold prices have risen, collectors sold the gold coins separately. However, the limited availability has caused the 1995-W American Silver Eagle to rise significantly on the secondary market. Cost to purchase this coin averages about $5,000-6, depending on the grade and finding the entire set with the American Gold Eagle coins in their original government package averages over $8,000.

Special Sets

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

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

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

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

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

In 2019, the U.S. Mint partnered with the Royal Canadian Mint to issue the Pride of Two Nations silver coin set. The set contained a reverse proof American Silver Eagle struck at West Point and a reverse proof Silver Maple Leaf struck at the Royal Canadian Mint’s facility in Ottawa, Ontario. Production was limited to 100,000 sets in the United States and 10,000 sets in Canada.

Later in 2019, the U.S. Mint released an Enhanced Reverse Proof coin struck at the San Francisco Mint. Its mintage limit of 30,000 coins is less than the number of 1995-W coins issued.

Annual Sets

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

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

Starting in 2013, the U.S. Mint has been producing the Congratulations Set as part of a new line of products targeted towards gift-giving occasions. The set includes the standard annual Proof Silver Eagle within specially designed packaging that allows the gift giver to add a personalized message.

Anniversary Sets

2011 American Silver Eagle 25th Anniversary Set

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

The Anniversary sets issued are as follows:

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

Although the U.S. Mint did not issue a set to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the American Silver Eagle in 2016, West Point struck proof and burnished uncirculated collector coins with edge lettering that read “30TH ANNIVERSARY.”

Rolls and the Green Monster Box

Bullion coins are packaged in 20-coin hard plastic rolls with 25 rolls packed in a specially designed green box that contains 500 troy ounces of silver. The U.S. Mint seals the box before shipping them to authorized purchasers. The term Green Monster Box refers to the green box with 500 silver coins.

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

Sealed Green Monster Boxes have the benefit of being unsearched and unhandled since leaving the U.S. Mint. These boxes are usually offered for sale by bullion dealers at a small premium over the current market (spot) price of silver. Unsealed Monster Boxes with the U.S. Mint’s labels intact can attest to the authenticity of the coins.

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

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

I like the idea of Privy Marks on US Coins

Hey, Coin Collectors Blog fans. I’m back! I have made several changes in my business to do more with less. These changes will give me more time to extend my numismatic writing. I have a backlog of issues and interests I want to talk about and will start to add content. Stay tuned. For now, here is something that I have been discussing with a few people via email.

2020-W Weir Farm Quarter

2020-W Weir Farm Quarter with privy mark
(U.S. Mint image via Coin World)

I have received a lot of emails about the U.S. Mint, who will be adding a privy mark to the 2020-W quarter. Although the reaction is mixed, more people seem to be against the move than being in favor.

Amongst the comments are “it is a gimmick,” “beneath the stature of the mint,” and “it’s ugly.” Some have admitted to not collecting or caring about modern coins. Others are regular critics of the U.S. Mint.

There is also a group of people with a pedantic image of the alleged integrity of the U.S. Mint. The same organization that has allowed the release of many patterns are a source of error coins available to the public, and one that has contradictory policies by attacking those with 1933 double eagles while doing nothing about the 1913 Liberty Head Nickels.

When it comes to the U.S. Mint’s policy history, it is as sketchy as any U.S. government agency. The difference is that its products have fans that will defend it because of the final results and not the process that came before it.

Since the U.S. Mint has legal restrictions as to what they can do when it comes to striking coins, I applaud whoever made this decision. We should be celebrating the end of World War II. Even though I was not alive at that time, we need to honor the sacrifice many Americans gave to ending totalitarianism and preventing an evil takeover of the world.

The U.S. Mint found a way to honor the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II without violating the law. I can’t wait to try to find these quarters in my change—or buy them from a dealer since I have had no luck finding W mint marked quarters in my pocket change.

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