The Coin Analyst: U.S. Coin News Round-Up
by Louis Golino for CoinWeek ………
Allocations lifted on White Mountain coins and 1/10th ounce American Gold Eagles
On May 28 the U.S. Mint (www.usmint.gov) announced to its network of Authorized Purchasers that it is lifting restrictions on sales of the 5-ounce silver America the Beautiful coin for the White Mountain National Forest.
Prior to the launch of sales of these coins, the Mint had indicated that the coins would be sold to its distributors on an allocation basis. Under the allocation system sales of coins are rationed to the network of Authorized Purchasers based partly on past sales.
As of May 28, 25,800 of these coins have been sold. Now that the 25,400 threshold has been broken (which was the mintage of the Acadia bullion coin), this solidifies the status of all five of the 2012 bullion coins as series keys since they are the lowest mintage bullion coins issued so far.
Until now only the bullion Hawaii Volcanoes and Denali coins, which have mintages of only 20,000 coins, have been selling for significant aftermarket premiums, but if sales of this year’s coins continue to rise, I expect premiums for the Chaco Cultures and El Yunque coins, and perhaps the Acadia coins, to rise as well since they would remain the third to fifth lowest mintage bullion coins in the series.
On May 29 the Mint announced that its Authorized Purchasers will be able to order the second release for Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial in Ohio, which commemorates Admiral Perry’s victory in the Battle of Lake Erie, beginning on June 3.
The last three issues of 2013 in the bullion ATB series will be released on June 24 (Great Basin), August 26 (Fort McHenry), and November 4 (Mount Rushmore)
In addition, on the same day (May 28) the Mint announced that it was resuming sales of one-tenth ounce American Gold Eagles, which it had stopped selling to its distributors on April 22. The Mint stated that it has produced enough of these coins that it no longer needs to allocate sales of them.
It was interesting to see this news mentioned on Bloomberg’s business channel in the crawl that appears at the bottom of the screen.
Premiums on the smallest bullion gold coins the Mint sells had been rising significantly during the sales suspension, but recently they have come back down to normal levels with retail prices in the neighborhood of $165, or about $25 over melt.
This may be an early indication that gold coin supplies are not as tight as they were over the past month following the major correction in gold prices.
2013-W burnished American Silver Eagle launched
On May 28 the U.S. Mint launched the latest coin in what it calls the uncirculated American Silver Eagle coin program, which most people call the burnished Silver Eagle series because the coins are produced on specially burnished blanks. Calling them uncirculated can be confusing because bullion Silver Eagles are also sold in uncirculated condition.
The coin is priced at $47.95, following earlier plans to sell the coin for $5 more. The price was reduced because of falling spot silver prices, and a new price was published in the Federal Register on May 2.
However, with silver currently trading at about $22 an ounce, these coins are selling for more than twice their silver value, which seems like a rather high premium.
Premiums on the bullion coins, which had been very high recently, have started to come down.
I would definitely not rule out another price reduction on the burnished coins if silver stays close to its current level, but bear in mind that changes in silver coin prices occur much more slowly than they do for gold and platinum coins.
The burnished coins are very popular with collectors because they are made to high quality standards, but their price performance after they were no longer for sale at the Mint has been rather uneven. This particular subset of Silver Eagles is arguably still trying to reach series maturity.
Collectors will be closely watching mintage levels for this year’s coin because the 2012-W coin, with a tentative mintage of only a little over 230,000 coins, is the new key to the burnished series, as well as the fifth lowest mintage coin in the entire Silver Eagle series.
The 2012-W coin definitely appears to be a sleeper with good potential, as I have suggested since last year, but if prices on the 2013 coin do not come down to levels that reflect the silver market, it is possible the 2013 coin could set a new mintage low. It will also depend on how long the coins are on sale. Plus they will be offered in the annual uncirculated dollar coin sets, which are slated to go on sale on July 25.
Buffalo gold proof and reverse proof coins
On May 23 the Mint released the 2013 version of its annual proof gold Buffalo coin with an initial price of $1790, or about $400 over spot gold. The price of the coin fluctuates weekly on the basis of the Mint’s pricing grid for gold coins that is based mainly on the average price of gold during the preceding week plus the London market morning close on the day prices are updated, which is generally Wednesday.
Later this year the Mint will release the much-anticipated reverse proof gold Buffalo, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Buffalo nickel, the design which the Buffalo gold coin is based on. Those coins started to be produced in May, and a display example was available at the recent ANA convention in New Orleans.
In his video interview for CoinWeek John Maben noted how he believes the reverse proof Buffalo and the West Point American Silver Eagle sets are without question the hottest coins of the year from the Mint.
This will be the first reverse proof Buffalo coin, and the second reverse proof gold coin following the 2006 American Gold Eagle in reverse proof that was part of a special 20th anniversary three-coin gold set.
The Buffalo reverse proof will be minted to demand, and its packaging will be distinguishable from the regular proof through the inclusion of leather on the display case box.
Last year’s regular proof was a slow seller, probably because of high gold prices and strained collector budgets, and the 2012-W coin is now the second lowest mintage for the proof gold Buffalo series (after the 2008-W key coin) with 19,675 coins sold.
Some people have speculated that with all the interest surrounding the reverse proof, it is possible that this year’s regular proof could come in with a lower mintage. The regular proof is also minted to demand.
Please note that the images of the Buffalo reverse proof supplied by the Mint make it hard to see how these coins differ from the regular proof. That will be much easier to see when better images of the coin are available later.
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.