With two designs for the numismatic series now sold out, I wanted to revisit the bullion versions of the 2012 America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Coins. The United States Mint had concluded production of the bullion versions at low levels and it seems that availability for some of the designs is now somewhat scant.
For each year of issue, the US Mint has offered both bullion and numismatic versions of the ATB 5 oz. Silver coins. The bullion versions are released through the Mint’s network of authorized purchasers, with the coins initially priced based on the market value of the silver plus a small fixed mark up. These coins feature a brilliant finish and do not carry a mint mark. Under the authorizing legislation, the bullion coins are minted in such number as the Secretary of the Treasury determines to be appropriate.
By contrast the numismatic versions are sold as numismatic products directly to the public. These coins have been priced at fixed levels which are published in the Federal Register. On numerous occasions, the fixed prices have been adjusted both lower and higher. Most recently, higher pricing was published for the 2013-dated coins at $244.95 each. These coins feature a special finish created through a vapor blasting technique and carry the “P” mint mark. The US Mint has announced maximum mintages for each design, although recently actual production has been lower than the maximum.
With regards to the bullion versions, the US Mint had experienced a chaotic release for the 2010-dated issues, which caused a great deal of tumult for collectors and unusual distribution for the coins. The following year, the initial surge in interest for the series dissipated and the US mint ended up overproducing the 2011-dated coins relative to demand. This resulted in the Mint taking a write down on their financial statements and also offering remaining unsold quantities to authorized purchasers at a discount.
After this experience, the Mint was much more conservative in their production levels for the 2012-dated releases. Late in the year, it was confirmed that production had concluded at unexpectedly low levels. The table below shows the production level for each design and the last reported US Mint sales.
2012 ATB Five Ounce Silver Bullion Coins
|Total Production||Sales to Date|
As seen, the full production run has sold out for each design with the exception of Chaco Culture. Presumably this design is still available for authorized purchasers to order, while the other designs are not.
The lowest production took place for the Hawaii Volcanoes and Denali National Park designs at only 20,000 each. While these levels are still above the mintages of the numismatic versions (which seem to be 15,000), the differential between the mintage levels for bullion and numismatic coins is vastly different than typical. For example, in recent years the ratio of bullion to proof mintages for American Silver Eagles has been more than 30 to 1.
A check of some online bullion dealers shows most of the 2012 ATB 5 oz. bullion coins no longer available. The few dealers which do have coins available, typically have only the El Yunque and Chaco Culture designs. One dealer has the low minage Hawaii and Denali designs available, but priced at a premium. On eBay, the bullion coins seem to be in short supply for some of the designs and are often priced at a premium. In some cases, there are more listings for the numismatic versions compared to the bullion versions.
It will certainly be interesting to see how the US Mint handles production levels for the 2013 ATB 5 oz. Silver Bullion Coins, after the overproduction in 2011 and under-production in 2012. At last check, the US Mint had not determined production levels or release dates for the 2013 bullion coins, although production had apparently started for the White Mountains and Perry’s Victory designs.
Going forward, more collectors may start turning to the bullion versions of this series, particularly since the US Mint is raising premiums on the numismatic versions. If mintage levels continue to be low, that will only make the bullion coins even more appealing.