By Louis Golino for CoinWeek.com
More JFK coin details
The U.S. Mint issued a press release on July 1 with a couple important details about the upcoming John F. Kennedy half dollar tribute coins that are going to be the highlight of the summer for many modern U.S. coin collectors and attendees of the August World’s Fair of Money in Rosemont, Illinois.
First, each product, including the gold half dollar, two-coin uncirculated set, and the special four-coin silver set will have an initial household limit of five, which may be adjusted later. In addition, the silver sets will be released in the fall, but the other two products will be available starting at 12:00 noon on August 5 through regular Mint sales channels and at the ANA coin show.
The gold coin will come in a mahogany wood box, the uncirculated set will come in a card housed in a folder, and the four-coin set will come in a leatherette embossed folder. All coins will be encapsulated.
There is still no word on whether the gold coin and silver set will have a limited mintage, but the uncirculated set will have no mintage limit. Since the press release says “all purchases” will be limited to 5 per household, that presumably means five will also be the limit for coins sold at the ANA show.
American Buffalo high relief
The Perth Mint in Australia has followed up on its successful American bald eagle high relief silver proof coin with an American buffalo coin that is made in the same format and also has a mintage of only 5,000 coins. Like the eagles these coins were minted for Tuvalu, where they are legal tender. However, the project originated with American dealer SilverTowne, which also supplied the design in this case, according to officials from the Perth Mint.
The new buffalo coins feature a dramatic close-up portrait of the only animal that has as iconic a status in American culture as bald eagles, namely, the bison, or buffalo. As Q. David Bowers says in his new book, Buffalo Coins: America’s Favorite (Whitman, 2014), buffaloes are “part of our national history, romance, and legend.” He also points out that “nowhere is this great animal more appreciated than in numismatics.”
The coins come in similar packaging to the bald eagles, contain one ounce of pure silver, and were designed by Michael Glass, an artist and graphic designer, who works for SilverTowne. They have a diameter of 32.6 millimeters, and a thickness of 6 millimeters.
The Royal Canadian Mint has a nice four-coin set that recently concluded which also depicts the North American Buffalo that roams the U.S. and Canada. The first coin in that series has a front-facing portrait that is somewhat reminiscent of the new coin.
SilverTowne is the exclusive distributor of the new buffalo coins, and is selling them for $79.95 each with free shipping. A company representative indicated that graded coins from NGC and PCGS will be available at a later date.
On July 2 Perth released the 2014 Kangaroo high relief proof coin, the latest coin in a popular Perth series, as part of its July line-up of new issues.
2014 silver Libertads finally releasing
Libertad silver and gold coins from the Mexican Mint (Case de Moneda and released through the Banco de Mexico) are my favorite world bullion coins because they combine a gorgeous, classic design with low mintages. They are what I like to refer to as semi-numismatic bullion coins.
Their allure is further enhanced by the fact that mintages for these coins are in most cases not known until many months after they are first released. By the time everyone knows a certain coin has an unusually low mintage, even for a series known for issuing the lowest mintages of any world bullion coin, it is generally too late to get the coins at close to first release price, which is generally just a small premium over melt. And metal price increases also have to be factored in when applicable, and many analysts are bullish on 2014.
The gold Libertads (proof and uncirculated) were issued in March. Only 200 5-piece gold proof sets with each denomination from 1/20th ounce to 1 ounce were released. 2,400 1 ounce BU gold coins were minted, which is higher than last year’s coin, and 500 of the half ounce, which is the same as last year. Mintage figures are not yet available for the smaller gold coins, or for the proof gold that were not included in the sets.
The silver Libertads are normally released earlier in the year, but this year they have were delayed until July. First, a new product was announced last month for 2014, a special 7-coin proof set limited to 250 pieces in a wooden box with a certificate of authenticity (something which is especially coveted for Mexican proof sets, and which adds value when present) that contains every silver coin issued in proof. Included are proof coins in 1/20th, 1/10th, 1/4, 1/2, 1, 2, and 5-ounce sizes.
That set was the result of a partnership between the Banco de Mexico and Lois and Don Bailey and Son Numismatic Services of Houston, Texas, which is one of the main distributors of Mexican issues in the U.S. Mr. Stovall noted that one of the reasons Libertads are becoming harder to find is that many coins are going to European distributors.
This week he told his clients that he is accepting orders for the various sizes of proof and uncirculated silver Libs, which include everything from 1/20th ounce to 1 kilo proof-like coins. There are 4 and 5-piece fractional BU sets with no box (from 1/20th ounce to half ounce for the 4 piece set, and including the one ounce coin for the 5-piece) plus 2 ounce coins in BU and proof, and 5 ounce coins in BU and proof, and the kilos.
It varies from year to year, but the 5 ounce, 2 ounce, and kilo coins, and especially the limited issue sets with certificates tend to be the winners in the mintage and aftermarket premium game. Last year saw many new key coins in both the silver and gold series, and collectors are eagerly anticipating 2014 mintage levels that will be revealed in the coming months. I will let readers know when I find about them.
But keep in mind, as I have noted before, the market for these coins is still maturing, and do not expect large premiums to emerge quickly, though it does happen sometimes.
Wedge tailed eagles
Finally, a quick note about the bullion wedge tailed Australian silver eagles I covered in my last column. Although PCGS refers to them as mint state coins, these coins are clearly reverse proof coins. They are just like Perth’s other premium semi-numismatic bullion coins including the Lunar series, Kookaburras, and Koalas, which are all reverse proofs that come in capsules and are made to the highest quality standards. Perhaps the grading companies will considerdesignating them as reverse proofs.
You may want to check out the following video (not produced by CoinWeek). It shows the design differences between the bullion, proof, and high relief versions of Mercanti's Wedge Tail Eagle and was posted to youtube by user AgN03.
Copyright © CoinWeek – June 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 article, "Proposed Design Change Takes Flight," which deals with the CCAC's recommendation for a new reverse for the American silver eagle, appears in the July 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.