Yesterday, the US Mint began sales of the 2011 First Spouse Bronze Medal Set. There are four medals included which feature “likenesses” of the First Spouse Gold Coins issued for the 17th to 20th Presidencies.
Specifically, the medals feature the First Ladies Eliza Johnson, Julia Grant, Lucy Hayes, and Lucretia Garfield. Each medal is struck in bronze and has a diameter of 1 – 5/16 inches.
The designs are the same as the one-half ounce 24 karat gold coins with some inscriptions removed. The obverse features a portrait and inscriptions indicating the name, order of the Presidency, and years as First Spouse. The reverse of each medal does not include any of the inscriptions appearing on the gold coins, so instead the image extends all the way to the edge.
Each of the four medals was made available for sale individually at $7.95 each, coinciding with the release of the corresponding gold coin. The four coin sets released on December 1, 2011 are priced at $19.95 each, representing a savings of $11.85 compared to the individual pricing.
Based on the images on the US Mint’s website, the packaging for the set has changed again. From 2007 to 2009, the envelope was bronze colored and illustrated with line art renderings of each medal’s design. For 2010, the “black bar” style was used reflecting the US Mint’s newly adopted “brand promise and identity”. This year seems to have a white bar dominating most of the design.
Some collectors have chosen to collect these medals as a less costly alternative to the half ounce gold coins. Some of the earlier sets and individual medals have sold out at the US Mint and sell for premiums on the secondary market. The 2007 sets received some added attention when collectors discovered a mule error in some sets, which combined the obverse of the Abigail Adams medal with the reverse of the Louisa Adams medal.
Within the past month, the US Mint has released some other noteworthy bronze medals. These were the bronze reproductions of the Congressional Gold Medals awarded to the Nisei Soldiers of World War II and the Apollo 11 astronauts and John Glenn.