By Louis Golino for CoinWeek ...........
1. How much are the 2014 Baseball Commemorative Coins graded at the Baltimore Whitman Expo last week selling for? Will these coins hold their premiums?
In the first few days after the Baltimore Whitman expo, coins with special show labels (“Opening Day Releases” for NGC and “First Pitch Baltimore” for PCGS) began to appear for sale on e-Bay. Prices for the gold MS and PF-70 coins quickly rose from about $3500-4,000 for a set to that much for each coin, and even $5,000 for a PCGS PF70 on April 1. The silver and clad coins have been going for even higher percentages over issue price with dollars graded 70 bringing from $400-500 to $700 or more each and top-graded clad coins bringing about the same amount, even for PF70 halves, which are likely to end up being quite common in a couple months. Those prices will most surely come down.
Some people point to the value of the Chicago ANA-pedigreed Buffalo reverse proof gold coins, which have mostly held their value, as an example of how much buyers will pay for special pedigree coins, but in that case the premium over gold content was a fraction of what the Baltimore coins have been bringing.
The key factor driving these extremely high premiums seems to be the very small number of coins sold at the show (400 for the gold), and then only some portion of those coins were graded at the show or submitted for special show labels. That is especially true of the gold, which had a 2-coin per person limit at the show.
As of April 1 the PCGS web site* lists the following population data for the “First Pitch Baltimore” coins: just 75 $5 gold uncirculated coins graded, of which 61 got 70’s and 14 69’s. For the proof gold it has 73 total of which 59 graded 70 and 14 69, a similar 80-20 split between 70 and 69.
For the mint state silver dollar of 212 graded by the same date, 163 got 70’s and 48 got 69’s. And for the half dollars of 178 graded, 98 received 70 and 80 69, a much lower proportion than with the gold and silver.
Finally, in terms of proofs coins of 299 dollars graded 213 received 70 and 86 received 70, and 172 clad proof halves were submitted, but no breakdown is available yet. I expect a higher proportion of the clad proof halves to receive 70’s than the uncirculated halves, but that still does not in my view justify paying prices such as $1200 for MS70's, as is the case now.
These numbers show how scarce the Baltimore label coins are, but I think prices peaked early and do not have further upside in my view. The data also show a clear trend of higher-than-usual percentages of coins receiving 70 grades, as I said industry insiders expected in my previous analysis. The ratios will change as more coins from the show are graded, but I expect the basic trend to hold. Secondary buyers of these graded coins would be well-advised to wait to see where prices settle esp. if 70’s continue to appear in such high numbers.
2. How much are regular BHOF coins in original government packaging selling for? What is the outlook for prices of those coins?
The raw gold coins started off at the $550-600 level and then rose each day or two by about $100, reaching an average of $700-750 in early April, and as much as $860 on April 1 (for a pre-sale). A lot of collectors were unable to order gold coins because of the quick sell-out and web site issues or because they were at work then and so forth, and many of them will buy in the aftermarket, which should sustain high premiums. Those will at some point settle down, but depending on demand, they may rise again later.
Auctions for pre-sales of the dollars started off around $100 per coin, or double issue price, but are now in the $75-80 range. The clad halves have lately been going for $35-40. It is the examples graded at Baltimore that are bringing very high premiums, and it will be interesting how much coins not graded at the show bring.
With many orders getting ready to ship soon from the Mint (see below), prices will probably come down for raw coins too, but I expect the gold coins in particular to continue to do well compared to issue price.
3. Does the fact that the gold uncirculated version will have the lowest mintage of the entire set matter especially given that most people think the proofs look nicer?
On April 1 the Mint revised the sales data from the previous day that included 9,000 orders over the 50K maximum mintage, which are the wait listed orders, and gave the proof a 32,000 total, and the uncirculated 18,000, making it the lowest mintage of this set and the series key. Of course there are much lower mintage gold commemoratives like the 1997 Jackie Robinson and 2013 Five Star Generals coins. But neither of them were the subject of such intense media interest, or had the benefit of being a first type of U.S. Mint coin, so demand for the BHOF coins will be much higher.
People always prefer the look of proofs, even more so with these coins. There was a lively debate online about which gold coin would be more valuable, and the early view was the proof because it looks better and would therefore be in higher demand, but once people realized there were only about half as many uncs, views started to shift in its favor. Over the long-term I expect the uncirculated coin to continue to outpace the proof in price, but that will take time to develop, and for now expect prices of both gold versions to be similar.
4. Do you expect a sell-out of the silver and clad versions?
I do think the silver coins will reach a sell-out, though when is hard to say. With the quick sell-out of the gold, sales of the other coins will likely pick up. I would not be surprised to see the silver dollars sell out within about two weeks given the quick pace of sales in the past week with almost 60% of the maximum 400,000 mintage purchased during the first five days. Demand will determine the breakdown between the proof and circulated versions, as with the gold coins.
Shipping update: After a few days marked by conflicting reports on when coins would begin shipping, those who ordered during the first 90 minutes or so online have seen all or most of their coin orders marked as “in stock and ready to ship.” Their credit cards were also authorized for the cost of those orders, which should ship in the next couple days.
U.S. Mint Sales figures from March 31, which are current through March 30:
- Proof $5 Gold Coin 32,000
- Uncirculated $5 Gold Coin 18,000
- Proof Silver Dollar 155,523
- Uncirculated Silver Dollar 73,002
- Proof Half Dollar 67,236
- Uncirculated Half Dollar 44,144
*As of April 2 NGC has not yet posted census data on coins graded in Baltimore. A representative of NGC could not provide any information on when the data will be available.
Louis Golino is a coin collector and numismatic writer, whose articles on coins have appeared in Coin World, Numismatic News, and a number of different coin web sites. His insightful retrospective on the American Silver Eagle is the cover feature of the February 2014 issue of The Numismatist. His column for CoinWeek, “The Coin Analyst,” covers U.S. and world coins and precious metals. He collects U.S. and European coins and is a member of the ANA, PCGS, NGC, and CAC. He has also worked for the U.S. Library of Congress and has been a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international affairs for a wide variety of newspapers and web sites.
Copyright © CoinWeek LLC. March, 2014