by Louis Golino for CoinWeek.....
When the U.S. Mint issues a special silver eagle set, it is an important numismatic event. On June 7 the Mint launched the San Francisco Mint 2-coin proof American silver eagle set, and once again everyone clamored on the first day to get their orders in.
Some people thought that the fact that the product is being made to demand would reduce interest a little, particularly on the first day of the offering, and that people would wait to order. But whether it was out of concern to receive first strike coins or what, buyers managed to overload the Mint’s ordering system as usual, in what is by now a ritual for many coin buyers.
The Mint had announced that a sales odometer would be used to show how many sets are being sold, and that it would be updated daily. When the first update appeared following the first day’s sales, it showed the Mint had sold 85,341 of the sets. After the first week sales, the total stood at 125,371.
So far sales are only 25% higher than the 25th anniversary set, but the Mint will be taking orders until July 5, and large numbers of people may cancel their orders between now and then if sales numbers get high. Those who are most concerned about mintage levels and secondary market values are hoping sales stay below 200,000, which is the level of the 20th anniversary set.
When it was launched a lot of collectors and buyers of the San Francisco sets weighed in on the price, which was set at $149.95.
Most people feel the Mint priced the set higher than necessary and that it could have priced it a little more reasonably given where silver values are, but at the same time the price was not totally unexpected given other numismatic offering prices. There is also the fact that the Mint is losing a lot of revenue in the form of lost seigniorage from not issuing as many quarters and dollar coins, and the revenue has to come from somewhere.
Collectors who want to submit coins to the grading companies in hopes of getting graded 70 sets were relieved to learn that they do not need to send in any of the original government packaging when submitting the coins for third party grading. The coins themselves in their original capsules will be sufficient. That is because these sets only contain unique coins that are not available in another set.
Collector like unique coins, and this set has both the first reverse proof silver eagle coin with a San Francisco mintmark and a regular proof eagle with the same mintmark. Proof silver eagles in recent years have been issued at West Point and carry a W instead of an S.
But the unlimited mintage of the set is expected to put a ceiling on how much it can appreciate, though it remains to be seen how things work out.
For now everyone is watching the sale odometer and checking to see where the final total will clock in, and what kind of premium attaches to the set.
There could be either a large number of cancellations or large number of new orders at the end , but the later is less likely.
Meanwhile, the Mint has a strong line-up of releases planned for the summer, including silver and gold burnished American silver eagles, though so far there is no information about another burnished San Francisco coin like in 2011.
There are also several of the five-ounce America the Beautiful coins coming, though still nothing firm on when the 2012 first spouse coins will be released apart from adding them to the Mint’s calendar of upcoming products. However, the coins were listed without dates.
Eliza Johnson Spouse Coin Becomes New Low Mintage Key
Sales of the Eliza Johnson First Spouse uncirculated gold coin ended recently. So far final sales of the coin are 2, 915. That is a new low mintage coin for the series.
The recent book by John Maben and Eric Jordan, Top 50 Modern Coins, arrives at a different final mintage number of 3,143 for the Julia Tyler coin from the previously used figure that was under 3,000 coins. The Tyler coin has been considered the key coin from a mintage standpoint.
Since the Eliza sales numbers are lower than Maben and Jordan’s Tyler mintage number, which is the most authoritative figure available on the final mintage, that means we appear to have a new low mintage for the series, at least for now.
However, with interest in the series fairly weak from what I can determine, future coins are likely to have even lower mintages. So I do not expect the Eliza Johnson coin to develop a strong premium, though it is possible.
We will really have to see where things stand later as far as mintages and premiums are concerned. Too many collectors seem to think that the minute a coin is no longer available from the Mint, it should carry a substantial premium. That is not how things usually work.
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 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.