by Louis Golino for CoinWeek ……..
Sales of U.S. mint collector and bullion coin products have generally been trending lower since last year, especially for the 5-ounce America the Beautiful (AtB) silver coins. But the new coin that honors Acadia National Park in Maine is attracting a lot of interest based on the latest sales data from the Mint.
Although it will not be available to ship until August 10, sales of the bullion version of the Acadia coin already reached 9,900 on July 30, according to the U.S. Mint. July 30 was the very first day that the Acadia bullion coins were available for purchase by coin dealers from the Mint’s network of authorized purchasers. That definitely represents a strong start, especially compared to recent trends for coins in this series.
It is not clear at this point whether it is because the Acadia design is especially popular, whether lower silver prices are helping to increase interest in the series, or if some other dynamic is at work.
9,900 is also more than sales by the same date for the previous AtB issue, the Chaco cultures coin, which is at 7,400, according to information on the Mint’s web site (www.usmint.gov). Interestingly, sales of the collector version of the same issue are very close at 7,433 as of July 31 based on the Mint’s weekly sales report. Both Chaco versions have been available for about a month.
At the end of last year, interest in the series was trending lower in part because silver prices, which collapsed in 2011, resulted in many buyers losing money on AtB coins they purchased earlier in 2011 when silver was higher.
In addition, the Mint’s decision to increase maximum mintage levels for the 2011 collector versions of the coins to 35,000 appears to have contributed to slower sales and diminished interest in the coins. For 2012 mintage levels have been decreased to 25,000. It is too soon to assess the impact of the lower mintage levels since the Mint only began selling the first 2012 coins on May 29.
The first 2012 AtB issue, the El Yunque coin, has so far sold 13,200 of the bullion coins and 12,035 of the collector version. Because of silver prices, which currently are about $27 per ounce, the bullion version of these coins has been available from coin dealers and bullion companies for about $150-$170 recently.
The collector version of the Acadia release will be available from the Mint beginning on August 13. Unless prices are adjusted before then, which would require publication in the Federal Register, the coins will be priced at $204.95.
John Maben, owner of John Maben Rare Coins, a former professional coin grader, and author the recent book, Top 50 Most Popular Modern Coins, said of the AtB coins: “The 5 ounce AtB collector coins are worth putting away. You should buy one (or more if you can afford it) each time they come out and sock them away still sealed in the outer mint boxes. Low mintages, nice looking coins and a bit weird. Somewhere down the road they'll be more appreciated.”
As I have discussed before there are certain key factors like storage issues because of the large size, and prices if silver resumes its upward trend as widely expected, that could inhibit sales of the AtB coins in coming years.
There have certainly already been fits and starts with this series, but it still has lots of potential as a silver vehicle in an era when most experts expect silver prices to rise. And it also has potential as a low mintage collectible. Future demand is what will determine whether the coins pay off as collectibles. But for a lot of buyers, they are simply attractive coins with a lot of silver, which should help them to increase in value.
As someone who is still trying to collect the coins, and who has purchased all the 2012 issues so far, I can say that they are very pleasing from an aesthetic perspective. This year’s designs display especially well in the large format.
This will be a busy summer for the Mint, as the burnished gold and silver American eagles were recently released, and the proof platinum American eagle will be available beginning on August 9. The Mint has still not provided any release dates for the First Spouse gold coins, though they are listed on the upcoming products schedule on the Mint’s web site.
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.