The Coin Analyst: U.S. Mint Update
By Louis Golino for CoinWeek
The U.S. Mint Comments on the Matter of Baseball Hall of Fame Coin Shipping Delays
LG- “As best I can tell orders placed during the first 30-60 minutes online have shipped, and the rest are waiting to be shipped. I was told there is a computer glitch with the system that generates order shipping dates by the folks at the telephone center, and that orders are shipping, but I can’t find anyone whose order for BHOF coins is moving. I have an order from the first day that is backordered to July, and the latter ones all have a May shipping dates that keep getting pushed back a day. If this is all a computer issue, it seems odd that 5 weeks after the release it has not been resolved.
Can you provide any information on why so many orders for the baseball coins are not shipping?”
USM- “For those customers who placed orders directly on our website or placed orders through our call center, orders were shipped on a first-in first-served basis. Once the initial inventory was depleted, the remaining orders were placed on backorder. We expect to receive additional inventory for the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin over the next month. Please be assured that orders will continue to be fulfilled according to our standard policy which can be found on www.usmint.gov.
In regards to the “computer glitch”, we are experiencing technical difficulties with the part of our system that displays the expected ship date for your order, causing the dates to move incorrectly. Unlike a computer glitch that is typically resolved in a relatively short period of time, the technical difficulties associated with our system have not yet been resolved. However, this issue will have no impact on the actual shipping dates. Customers should expect to receive their products, depending on their order date, between May and July 2014.
A new order management system is expected to be operational later this year, but no specific date is available at this time. Once implemented, customers can expect the new system to provide a more responsive website, improved order tracking and issue resolution, shorter fulfillment cycle times and more shipping options.”
Shenandoah 5 ounce ATB silver coin released
On May 15 the Mint released the second coin in this year’s line-up of five-ounce silver America the Beautiful coins, which honors the Shenandoah National Park. After strong early sales for the Great Smoky Mountains issue, the Mint decided to raise the maximum mintage from 25,000 to 30,000, which begins with the Shenandoah coin. The Smoky Mountains coin started off very strong in large part because of the 10% discount that subscribers receive, but since then sales have slowed.
As of May 12 they stand at 24,043.
The bullion version of the Shenandoah has been available for pre-order from dealers for several weeks and was expected to be available for shipping at the same time the numismatic version is released by the Mint. The maximum mintage for this version has been raised from 35,000 to 40,000. But so far the Smoky Mountains bullion has sold 26,500 pieces, and the Shenandoah 17,200, which will increase in the coming weeks and months.
The Mint also recently released the 2014-W American Buffalo gold proof coin, which had strong opening sales of 7,899 for the first week of sales, and on May 22 will released the 2014-W American gold eagle uncirculated or burnished coin. In addition, the 2014 uncirculated coin set with one of each coin issued by the Philadelphia and Denver Mints this year was released on May 13.
The next 5 ounce silver coin for the Arches National Park will be released on June 12.
The coins most collectors are anticipating the most are the special issue to mark the 50th anniversary of the release of the John F. Kennedy half dollar, including silver and clad half dollar sets and the gold half dollar. There are no release dates for those coins, but it is believed they will be released around the time of the August ANA World’s Fair of Money in August and that the coins will be available for purchase at the show.
2014 spouse designs revealed
The Mint has also recently revealed the 2014 First Spouse gold coin designs that were approved by the Secretary of the Treasury.
This year’s release of the approved designs comes about three months earlier than last year, which will hopefully translate into a release schedule that is not as frenzied as it was the last two years.
As I have discussed before, most buyers like to get their coins soon after release. Given the high cost of these coins a rapid release schedule over a brief period of time has strained collector budgets and probably contributed to declining sales of these coins.
However, no specific release dates are available at this time.
Commemorative coins proposed
Several different commemorative coin programs were proposed recently by members of congress, including coins honoring Mother’s Day and the U.S. Coast Guard, and a bill for coins to mark the National Park System’s 100th anniversary passed the House.
The Mother’s Day Centennial Commemorative Coin Act calls for the minting of up to 400,000 silver dollars in 2018 to honor the 100thanniversary of the founding of Mother’s Day. Surcharges from the sale of the coins would be split between the National Osteoporosis Foundation and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. There have been other Mother’s Day coin bills in the past that did not become law.
S. 2303 calls for the issuance of up to 500,000 silver dollars, 750,000 clad halves, and 100,000 $5 gold coins in 2017 to honor the Coast Guard. Surcharges from the coins would help finance the Coast Guard Museum in New London, Connecticut.
Finally, on April 30th the House of Representatives passed a bill that calls for the issuance in 2016 of the usual three denominations in the unusual mintages to honor the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the National Park Service.
While these are all laudable issues, in your columnist’s view they are emblematic of the problems with our commemorative coin program I have discussed many times and as usual they use maximum mintage levels that are unrealistically high. The Congress should consult with the Mint and numismatists about mintages that make more sense.
The National Parks are already being honored with the current quarter and five-ounce silver coin series. Mother’s Day is a great national tradition but not the kind of theme that has strong appeal for coin collectors, and the two foundations that would benefit from it are organizations that do important work, but why should coin collectors be helping to fund them? And the modern Coast Guard was created in 1915, so why not issue a coin in 2015? The reason is that two programs for that year have already been enacted for the Marshall Service’s 225th anniversary and the March of Dimes.
Copyright © CoinWeek – May 2014
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 was 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.