By Louis Golino for CoinWeek ………..
American Platinum Eagles: Return of bullion coins
On March 5 the U.S. Mint announced that in response to customer feedback it is resuming production of one-ounce American platinum eagle bullion coins after a hiatus that began in 2009. 2008 was the last year the coins were issued in four sizes (one-tenth, one-quarter, one-half, and one ounce coins) and since then only the one-ounce proof versions have been produced, which are made for collectors rather than bullion investors.
The coins were made available to the Mint’s network of Authorized Purchasers on March 10 at a premium of 4% over melt value, and those companies sell the coins to other bullion companies and coin dealers who deal directly with consumers. During the first week the coins were available, the Mint sold 8,700 units, which is clearly a solid start given the fact that platinum coins are usually not big sellers, especially with platinum spot prices close to $1500. Pent-up demand probably explains the strong start, and sales will likely not remain at that level in coming months.
Platinum has still not fully caught on with either bullion stackers or coin collectors, and sales of all American Platinum Eagles in proof and in the special burnished-blank uncirculated version similar to the burnished American silver eagles were very low in 2008, which set new low mintage records for those series, and even established a new overall mintage low of 2,253 for any modern coin (until the 2011 Lucy Hayes and Lucretia Garfield first spouse gold coins tuned out to be even lower).
Those low sales levels in 2008 are what led the Mint to cancel production of the burnished coins and to only issue the proof version in the one-ounce size. Bullion sales were also on the low side then.
But many buyers continue to express interest in the fractional-sized platinum coins, especially the bullion type since they are so much more affordable than one-ounce coins in today’s platinum market. In addition, the platinum burnished series only lasted three years (2006-2008) and that was a period that saw platinum prices crash from around $2200 to $800 when the Great Recession of 2008 hit. If given more time and more stable platinum prices, interest in these coins would likely grow.
2013 proof sold out
The Mint has also announced that the 2013 proof American Platinum Eagle has sold out. As of the weekly sales report for March 9, a total of 5,738 coins were sold, and that number will probably be adjusted next week. These coins had a maximum authorized mintage of 10,000 and an interesting classic-inspired design though many collectors said they would have preferred it without the gears.
Although these coins have the lowest mintage for the Preamble to the Constitution platinum proof series, the 2008 proof coins remain the lowest in the platinum series as a whole.
The high price of platinum while the coins were offered, which resulted in a retail price of about $1800 for most of the time when they were available since last July 18, most likely pushed sales down.
So far the sell-out has not translated into a major bump in secondary market values, and the coins remain available from many sellers.
JFK gold coins
The Mint has confirmed to CoinWeek some important details about the 2014 John F. Kennedy gold half dollar that has been under consideration in recent months and that were first reported in Coin World. First, based on the results of the Mint’s survey there does appear to be sufficient demand for the coin, and it will definitely be issued later this year, though no projected date has been given.
In addition, the coins will carry the dual date of 1964-2014, will feature a “W” mintmark for the West Point mint on the reverse, and the size of the eagle on the reverse will be reduced to accommodate the fineness of the gold in the coin, which will be indicated.
This means only the mintage, household limits and method of sale, and the weight of the coin remain to be determined.
Special CCAC meeting
The Citizens Coinage Advisory Commision (www.ccac.gov) held a special two-day meeting at the Mint’s headquarters in Washington, DC on March 10-11 to review a large number of coin and medal design candidates for several different programs, which are covered elsewhere in CoinWeek.
During the meeting CCAC Chairman Gary Marks announced that on April 8 a special telephone meeting will be held to discuss a possible new reverse design for the iconic American silver eagle that has been minted since 1986.
The CCAC has recommended redesigning this coin in several of its last couple of annual reports, but until now the proposal has not moved forward.
The meeting would only be one step in a longer process before any change would be made.
While many collectors seem to agree with the idea of redesigning one or both sides of the coin, others remain strongly wedded to the current modified Adolph Weinman Walking Liberty obverse and John Mercanti heraldic eagle reverse. If the coin is to be redesigned, the new design must be compelling, and for the majority of collectors and buyers, that means a classic design of some kind, or a modernized classic like Joel Iskowitz’s 2012 Star-Spangled silver dollar coin.
Stay tuned for any new developments on what is sure to be one of the hottest coin releases of 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 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.