Sales of the 2012 Star Spangled Banner Commemorative Coins will begin at the United States Mint on March 5, 2012 at 12:00 Noon ET. The available products include $5 gold coins and silver dollars in individual proof or uncirculated options, as well as a two coin proof set.
The program was authorized under Public Law 111-232 to commemorate the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner, the national anthem of the United States of America. The designs for the coins are required to be emblematic of the War of 1812 and particularly the Battle for Baltimore which formed the basis for the Star Spangled Banner.
The United States Mint initially prepared ten obverse and eight reverse design candidates for the $5 gold coin and six obverse and nine reverse design candidates for the silver dollar. These were reviewed by the Commission of Fine Arts, Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, and the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission.
During the review process, the CCAC took the interesting approach of evaluating all obverse and reverse design candidates together, without regards to how the US Mint had identified the designs. This resulted in obverse designs intended for the $5 gold coin being recommended for the silver dollar and vice versa. The Secretary of the Treasury followed these recommendations for the final design selection. (See coverage of the CCAC and CFA reviews and recommendations.)
The Star Spangled Banner Silver Dollar carries a design emblematic of the theme “The Battle of Baltimore at Fort McHenry. The obverse design depicts Liberty waving a 15-star, 15-stripe flag with Fort McHenry in the background. The reverse features a waving modern American flag. The obverse was designed by Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill, while the reverse was designed by William C. Burgard III and sculpted by Don Everhart.
The silver dollars are struck at the Philadelphia Mint with the “P” mint mark. The maximum authorized mintage is 500,000 across proof and uncirculated versions.
The Star Spangled Banner $5 Gold Coin carries a design emblematic of the theme “The Battles at Sea During the War of 1812.” The obverse design depicts an American ship in the foreground with a damaged and fleeing British ship in the background. The reverse features the opening words of the Star Spangled Banner in Francis Scott Key’s handwriting against a backdrop of 15 stars and 15 stripes. The obverse was designed by Donna Weaver and sculpted by Joseph Menna, while the reverse was designed by Richard Masters and sculpted by Joseph Menna.
The gold coins are struck at the West Point Mint and carry the “W” mint mark. There is a maximum authorized mintage of 100,000 coins across proof and uncirculated versions.
The US Mint has indicated that the packaging for the individual silver dollars and gold coins will come in two different colors, blue or black. The blue packaging represents the older style prior to the US Mint’s rebranding, while the black packaging represents the newer style. To reduce waste, the Mint will use both versions of the packaging for this program, with fulfillment done at random.
A two coin set will be available for this program, which includes both the proof silver dollar and proof gold coin. This is the first time the US Mint has offered a multi-coin set for a commemorative coin program since 2008. For the two coin proof sets, there will be an initial household limit of 50 units per household. There is no stated product limit.
From the start of sales on March 5, 2012 at 12:00 Noon ET until April 5, 2012 at 5:00 PM ET, the Star Spangled Banner coins will be available at introductory pricing. After that date, regular pricing will go into effect. The introductory pricing for the silver dollars is $44.95 for uncirculated and $49.95 for proofs, while regular pricing is $49.95 for uncirculated and $54.95 for proofs.
The prices for the gold coins and two-coin proof set will be based on a grid and updated as frequently as weekly based on the average market price of gold. For the start of sales, individual $5 gold coins will be priced at $519.30 for uncirculated and $529.30 for proofs. The two coin proof sets will be priced at $579.30. These prices are based on an average market price of gold in the range of $1,750 to $1,799.99.
It will be interesting to see how sales for this commemorative program fare. I expect that sales will run ahead of last year’s programs for a few reasons, although precious metals prices will have an unknown impact.
First, there are a smaller number of competing offerings from the US Mint, and in particular a smaller number of commemorative coin offerings. Last year collectors were presented with the largest number of different commemorative coins since 1997. The two programs included two gold coins, two silver dollars, and a half dollar (not to mention a commemorative silver medal). Other numismatic product offerings were also expansive, with the addition of eight different five ounce silver coins, a special Silver Eagle Set, and the return of the collectible uncirculated “W” mint marked Gold and Silver Eagles. This year’s schedule should ultimately prove to be lighter, allowing commemorative offerings to hold more prominence.
Second, the US Mint has resumed the offering of a multi-coin set. Additional packaging options usually seem to add to overall sales. The US Mint also included the “Star Spangled Banner Bicentennial Silver Dollar Set” within a pricing notification. Presumably, this product will be released later, again adding to overall sales.
Pricing may also play a factor in sales. The prices for the silver dollars are set $5 lower than the prior year coins and these prices were established in early February when the market price of silver was lower. This could help sales as collectors see a relative bargain. On many occasions, the sales levels for fixed price silver products have jumped when the market price of silver has risen.
On the other hand, a rise in precious metals prices could cut into sales of the gold coins. The general trend has been for lower gold product sales as prices have moved higher. Many collectors will be closely watching sales of the Star Spangled Banner $5 Gold Coins to see if the numbers eventually come in above or below the historically low mintages seen for the 2011 commemorative gold coins.