Today, June 7, 2012 at 12:00 Noon ET, the United States Mint will begin sales of the 2012 San Francisco Silver Eagle Set. There has been a lot of discussion and debate leading up to this product release, so it will be interesting to see how it fares.
The first coin included in the set is the 2012-S Proof Silver Eagle, struck at the San Francisco Mint and carrying the “S” mint mark. The standard proof Silver Eagle for this year is struck at the West Point Mint and carries the “W” mint mark, which makes the current release a special issue. Proof Silver Eagles have been struck at the San Francisco Mint in previous years from 1986 to 1992, representing the regular annual issues for those years.
The second coin included in the set is the 2012-S Reverse Proof Silver Eagle. This coin features a special finish, which is the opposite of a traditional cameo proof. The background fields are frosted and the design elements and inscriptions are mirrored. This will be the third reverse proof Silver Eagle issued by the US Mint, following the 2006-P and 2011-P, which were issued as part of the 20th and 25th anniversary sets.
At this time, the 2012-S Proof and Reverse Proof Silver Eagles appear to be unique to the current offering.
The special sets will be available for sale only during a four week ordering window from June 7, 2012 12:00 Noon ET until July 5, 2012 5:00 PM ET. There are no household ordering limits and the sets will be produced to meet the demand from orders placed during the window. Pricing is $149.95 per set and shipping is expected to being in late July 2012.
The 2012 San Francisco Silver Eagle Set seems to have been created in part as a response to customer complaints about the handling of the 25th Anniversary Silver Eagle Set offering last year. This product contained two unique coins, was limited to just 100,000 sets, and priced at $299.95 with an ordering limit of five per household. The entire mintage sold out in less than a day, prompting numerous complaints from customers who were unable to order a set from the Mint.
Within a survey distributed to some customers in January, the Mint floated the idea of a two coin set containing proof and reverse proof Silver Eagles with the “S” mint mark. One version of the survey indicated planned production level of 200,000 sets, a household ordering limit of two, and a price of approximately $125. The US Mint ultimately changed the final details by producing to demand during a certain period, removing the ordering limit, and increasing the price.
Collectors who are waiting to see how sales of the sets fare before deciding whether to make a purchase will have a “sales odometer” to provide a daily measure. Previous reports have indicated that the US Mint will place the odometer on the product page with sales updates posted each weekday at 3:00 PM ET.
By minting to demand and establishing what many perceive to be an expensive price for the offering, some of the speculative enthusiasm surrounding the product release seems to have faded. Even some dedicated collectors of the series are beginning to think that the US Mint is starting to issue too many different versions of the Silver Eagle. After producing only one numismatic version of the coin for the first twenty years of the series, this year there will be potentially five different numismatic versions.
On the bright side, in the past when the US Mint has started to issue too many different numismatic products, some low mintage or unexpected winners have emerged. As collector interest and budgets become stretched, some offerings tend to be under-ordered or over-looked during their period of availability.
For those tracking sales of the 2012 San Francisco Silver Eagle Set, here are some reference numbers to consider:
- The 25th Anniversary Set, which contained the unique 2011-S Uncirculated and 2011-P Reverse Proof Silver Eagles had a total mintage of 100,000. This made the two unique coins tied for the second lowest mintage (non-variety) numismatic issue after the 1995-W Proof, which had a mere 30,125.
- The 20th Anniversary Set, which contained the unique 2006-P Reverse Proof, had a final audited mintage of 248,875.
- The lowest mintage regular proof of the series is the 1994-P Proof Silver Eagle with a final mintage of 372,168.
- This year’s regular issue 2012-W Proof Silver Eagle debuted with sales of 299,539 after four days of availability. The latest figures indicate sales have reached 404,985.