by Louis Golino for CoinWeek
This is the first article in a new column that will provide brief news and analysis of significant developments in modern U.S. and world coins. This edition focuses on some noteworthy recent and upcoming coin releases from around the world.
1.) Unique Canadian Bumble Bee Coin Sells Out During Pre-Release Period
The Royal Canadian Mint (www.mint.ca) has a special program called the Masters Club for buyers whose cumulative purchases in a one year period exceed $999.99 in Canadian dollars (which is a little over $1,000 in American dollars). Members of this club receive free shipping, advance news about new coins, the ability to purchase limited releases during a pre-release period, and other benefits.
Following the quick sell-out of the Lady Bug on Tulip coin last year, the 2012 release in the Murano Glass $20 silver proof series features a Bumble Bee on an Aster Flower. This coin sold out to Master’s Club members before the coin was officially announced on April 9.
The coin has a mintage of 10,000 and is unusual because it has a hand-crafted bumble bee made of Venetian Murano glass that sits on a silver proof coin with a color image of an aster flower. Each coin’s bumble bee is hand-made in Italy. A representative from Gate West Coin in Canada (www.gatewestcoin.com) told me that this has resulted in major production delays.
The coin’s pre-release price was $140 (in Canadian dollars), but on April 9, once the coin was officially announced and listed as sold out, the aftermarket price quickly shot-up to between $200-300 from coin dealers and on e-Bay. Last year’s Lady Bug coin sells for about $350.
According to Talisman Coins (www.talismancoins.com), “The Royal Canadian Mint leads the world with its proprietary colorization technology, in which the color is actually sealed on the coin. The intricate detail, smooth gradients, and extreme precision of the technology create a stunning look on each coin.”
2.) Other New Canadian Releases
The Canadian Mint has also announced the second year of its Maple Leaf Forever series coins, which include a half-ounce silver coin with a 100,000 mintage, a one-tenth ounce coin with a 25,000 mintage, and larger versions, including silver and gold kilograms and a one-ounce platinum coin.
In addition, a special quarter-ounce proof gold coin with a 2,000 mintage is being released to mark the War of 1812. The coin sports an attractive heraldic design that shows an eagle on one side, representing American forces; a lion on the other side, signifying British forces, and a military shield with a maple leaf in the middle. The shield is intended to represent Canada’s unified efforts to repel incursions by American forces during the war.
There is also the latest coin in a colorized quarter dollar series honoring the birds of Canada. The inaugural release is for the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak. A dinosaur coin is being released that features a glow in the dark image of the dinosaur’s skeleton. And the traditional Canadian proof set for 2012 is coming out and includes the War of 1812 commemorative silver dollar. The mintage of this set is 40,000.
3.) Perth Mint Plans Strong Line-Up for May 1
Like the Canadian Mint and other world mints, the Perth Mint issues a wide range of coins featuring diverse themes and using color and other innovative techniques.
On May 1 the Perth Mint (www.perthmint.com.au) will release the first-ever high relief version of its popular kookaburra coins. The kookaburra is the national animal of Australia. This follows the recent release and quick sell out of the first high-relief Perth lunar dragon, whose mintage was limited to 7,500. Perth also has an existing series of high-relief Kangaroo coins.
In addition, the Perth Mint will be releasing the latest coin in its Ships That Changed the World series, the Cutty Sark coin, a coin honoring acclaimed actress and singer, Marilyn Monroe, a new release in the Dragons of Legend series on Chinese dragons, a gilded silver Koala and a five-ounce silver Koala, a proof gold sovereign, and other coins.
4.) Vatican Releases First Proof Set with Silver and Gold Coins
On April 20 the UFN (http://www.vaticanstate.va/EN/Services/Philatelic_and_Numismatic_Office/), which is an Italian acronym for the Philatelic and Numismatic Office of the Vatican, an independent state located within Rome, Italy, will release its annual line-up of proof and mint sets. The Vatican is famous for its stamps and coins.
The 2012 Vatican proof set is notable because for the first time the centerpiece of the set will be a 20 euro silver coin instead of a silver medal, which is what is in previous year’s sets. The coin features an obverse image of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The reverse of euro coins from all countries in the euro zone feature a common design that depicts a map of Europe.
The proof sets with the silver coin have a mintage limited to 13,000 units, and there is a second version that includes a gold 50 euro coin with a mintage of only 2,000 sets. Each year’s set has its own unique theme, and this year’s is the 10th anniversary of the euro. In addition, the Vatican releases annual uncirculated coin sets with a mintage of 85,000. The obverse of all Vatican coins except commemorative issues feature a bust of Pope Benedict.
Vatican coins have a loyal base of collectors, and there is strong demand for them globally. There is greater interest in Vatican releases in Europe, but plenty of Americans collect these coins too.
The price track record for modern Vatican coins and sets is impressive. One major reason is that it is very difficult to orderVatican coins directly from the Vatican, and most collectors have to purchase them from coin dealers. Another factor is the combination of low mintages and substantial demand.
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.