It’s time for another America the Beautiful 5 oz. silver numismatic release. Today, June 29, 2011 at 12:00 Noon ET, the US Mint will begin accepting orders for the Grand Canyon National Park Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coins.
The reverse of the coin, designed and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill, features a view of the granaries above the Nankoweap Delta in Marble Canyon near the Colorado River. The obverse features the 1932 portrait of George Washington by John Flanagan.
Following the format of previous numismatic releases, the coins will include the “P” mint mark and carry a finish created through a vapor blasting technique.
The Grand Canyon Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coins are priced at $279.95 each and have a maximum mintage of 27,000. An ordering limit of one coin per household has been established and will remain in place for at least the first week of sales.
This will represent the fourth numismatic release in the program. The first release featuring Hot Springs saw a flood of orders during the opening hour of sales that took down the US Mint’s website. Orders were received to meet the 27,000 mintage following 15 days of availability, after which a waiting list was imposed.
The next release featuring Yellowstone National Park experienced a less turbulent opening, and the US Mint’s website remained operational. The pace of sales was around the same level as the prior release, with a sell out achieved after 15 days. This time, there was no waiting list.
The most recent release featuring Yosemite National Park saw opening sales that were somewhat slower than the prior two releases. However, after 14 days of availability, orders had been received to meet the 27,000 maximum and a waiting list was imposed. The coins still remain available for ordering on the US Mint’s website on a waiting list basis.
Once again, it’s likely that the Grand Canyon design will achieve a sell out of the maximum mintage. If the pattern of the last two releases holds, the coins might be available for about two weeks.
The big question is how will the US Mint handle the future numismatic releases of the series after the last of the 2010-dated coins? Presumably, the low mintage of 27,000 was the result of the limited time frame and/or precious metals blanks available before the close of last year. Given the opportunity, will the US Mint increase the mintage levels, as they did for the bullion versions of the coin? The 2010-dated bullion coins had 33,000 per design, while the 2011-dated versions have had 126,700 per design.
In terms of collector products, the US Mint has a tendency to increase mintage levels for products that quickly sell out. At some point, the increased mintages start to have the opposite effect and actually serve as a detriment to sales. A recent example is the one ounce Proof Platinum Eagle, which had a maximum mintage of 8,000 coins in 2009. This was increased to 10,000 for 2010, and finally 15,000 for the current year. The 2009 and 2010 issues sold out in about a week, while this year’s coin has been lingering and selling slowly. Nearly doubling the maximum mintage may be a significant factor in the slower sales.
Personally, I would prefer if the US Mint keeps the same 27,000 maximum mintage for the 2011-dated numismatic ATB 5 oz. Silver Coins. This would maintain a level of enthusiasm and collectibility based to the limited nature, which would help to preserve the collector base for the ongoing series.