ATB 5 oz. Bullion vs. Numismatic Sales

For the latest design of the America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Coins, the numismatic version is currently outselling the bullion version. This is the opposite of the typical situation.

Bullion versions of US Mint coins are sold in bulk quantities to authorized purchasers based on prevailing precious metals prices plus a small mark up. These coins are resold to other dealers or the public, once again based on the precious metals price plus a mark up. Typically, sales take place in larger quantities to customers who are primarily interested in the metal content. As precious metals investment products, these bullion coins experience broader demand and higher sales.

Numismatic versions of US Mint coins are sold individually or within small sets directly to the public. The coins may have a different finish or other distinguishing characteristics from the bullion versions, sometimes carry limited mintages, and are always priced at a higher mark up. Since the coins are marketed as collectibles, these numismatic coins usually experience lower sales than bullion.

Based on the most recent sales information, the El Yunque Five Ounce Silver Coins have sold 7,900 of the bullion version and 8,957 of the numismatic version. For all prior releases, the situation has always been the opposite. (Figures in italics are still available for sale.)

ATB 5 oz. Bullion vs. Numismatic Sales

Bullion Numismatic
Hot Springs 33,000 27,000
Yellowstone 33,000 27,000
Yosemite 33,000 27,000
Grand Canyon 33,000 26,019
Mount Hood 33,000 26,928
Gettysburg 126,700 21,974
Glacier 126,700 18,470
Olympic 85,200 16,117
Vicksburg 38,600 16,168
Chickasaw 28,900 14,433
El Yunque 7,900 8,957

While this might change over the course of the year, it leads to a few observations.

1.) As a bullion program, the ATB 5 oz. coins have not been very successful. From the beginning, the ATB bullion coins have always seemed to attract greater interest from coin collectors than bullion investors. It was likely the high level of interest from collectors that caused the US Mint to boost production and authorized purchasers to place heavy orders for the initial 2011-dated releases. After collector demand subsided, the demand from precious metals investors proved to be minimal.

For the current year through the end of May, the US Mint had sold 13,600 of the five ounce ATB bullion coins compared to 14,534,000 of the one ounce American Silver Eagles. This works out to sales of 1 five ounce coin for every 1,069 one ounce coins. As a comparison, for the Perth Mint’s 2011 Silver Lunar releases, sales included 8,030 five ounce coins and 300,000 one ounce coins. This works out to 1 five ounce coin for every 37 one ounce coins.

2. ) Collectors who are pursuing the numismatic versions of the ATB 5 oz. coins may also want to acquire the bullion versions starting with the 2012 releases. Unlike the situation for last year when the US Mint struck each design with a high initial mintage, this year the US Mint has indicated that they will produce the coins to demand. If demand continues to be low, mintages could be low.

3.) If sales continue at very low levels, it becomes a possibility that the US Mint may suspend or curtail the program. Under Public Law 110-456, it is not specifically mandated that the bullion coins must be minted for every year. The exact wording is: “The Secretary shall strike and make available for sale such number of bullion coins as the Secretary determines to be appropriate that are exact duplicates of the quarter dollars…” The US Mint and Treasury Department have come up with some interesting interpretations of the law in other situations, and zero is technically a number…

With regards to the numismatic versions, these coins are produced under authority 31 U.S.C. §5111(a) (3), which provides the Secretary of the Treasury with broad authority to design, produce and sell numismatic items. As such, there is no requirement or guarantee that the numismatic versions will continue to be produced.


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Comments

  1. ClevelandRocks says

    Thanks Captain.
    I think the ATBs will end up as winners if silver trends up to $40 again and will be a losing proposition if silver falls to the low 20s. Since silver has reached close to $50, I think it will get there again, just don’t know when…
    The fact that the left-wing group in Greece lost is a good thing and chances are much better now that they will never win.

  2. says

    Cleveland,

    I’m not a fan of SYRIZA, its policies, or its leader Alexei Tsipras, but I don’t think Greece can be saved, either. I’d almost rather SYRIZA have won, and taken Greece out of the Eurozone, because I think it’ll happen soon regardless of who is in power, and to tell you the truth I’d just as soon get it over with. It’s an issue of the national debt being too large, and they can’t pay it back at this point even with a big austerity program, IMO. Spain is probably in the same boat too, they’re just a few months to a year behind where Greece presently is.

    I wrote a pretty lengthy post on the situation with the AtB silver coins if anyone wants to read it.

  3. VA Bob says

    @ Steve – Shutter gave a great synopsis of the Bullion and Numismatic differences. I’ll go one step further. If a person has one bullion ASE it’s pretty much treated as a numismatic coin. If they have a 1000 it’s bullion. All perception of course lol. The purpose behind the US Bullion program is to put silver or gold (or at least make the offer) availability to the average person. The coin form (as opposed to bars, etc) is its own “seal of authentic” with a nominal face value. If you took an ASE to Walmart you can spend it for a $1 worth of merchandise (and make a cashiers day). It’s however designed to hold or trade at silver prices.

    The average person would not buy 1000 proof ASE’s (same year and mint mark), just a few for their collection or as gifts. For that reason proof ASE’s, AGE’s, APE’s, and Buffalo’s, which carry an additional premium for production, handling and packaging, have widely varying future potential, while bullion is (almost) always tied to spot. You should be able to buy 100 bullion ASE’s from a reputable dealer sight unseen, and not have any worries because you shouldn’t be so concerned with condition (as long as they are 1 full oz. and identifiable). If you’re buying a proof or unc numismatic product, condition is MOST important. IMO it is the poorly informed public that have created a boon for flippers, speculators, and dealers as the lines are pretty blurred now from when the program started in 1986 (every US coin prior is numismatic). All US commemorative coins are numismatic, that is one area that is still clear today.

    You asked a great question. I believe we can all get caught in the hype from time to time, even the old salts. The only advice I could provide to slabbed bullion buyers is be careful. You’re probably buying an item that has thousands of brothers and sisters in similar condition salted away their monster boxes, waiting to be opened and slabbed. That could affect your bottom line. I say let bullion be bullion and will only pay the spot prices + small premium. You’d be surprised how many of these slabs could be had for raw coin prices. For dealers holding out… I’m sure a noob will be along soon to pay the markup. If a dealer wants you to pay more for slabbed bullion, tell them you’ll take the coin they can keep the plastic.

  4. Dan says

    I too think that the 5 ounce ATB products are a novelty item destined to sell around the price of it’s precious metal content. This series is basically out of reach for most collectors especially if they want to build an entire set, as are the first spouse and gold/platinum eagles. Even proof platinum eagles don’t sell for very much over it’s intrinsic value.

  5. Shutter says

    If a person has one bullion ASE it’s pretty much treated as a numismatic coin. If they have a 1000 it’s bullion.
    Excellent point!

    the lines are pretty blurred now from when the program started in 1986 (every US coin prior is numismatic). All US commemorative coins are numismatic, that is one area that is still clear today.
    The current commemorative program started in 1982 with Washington half. Also, technically, all current US circulation coins are commemoratives. That is they commemorate some person, place, thing, or event. That is Franklin and Kennedy halves are commemorative, while Walking Liberty are not. Lincoln pennies are, Indian Heads aren’t. Of course when most people talk about commemoratives, they refer to the special issues with limited mintage (even if limits are hardly ever reached nowdays).

    If a dealer wants you to pay more for slabbed bullion
    I think that if you’re collecting a set of bullion coins and want a slabbed coin for each year in a certain condition, it’s probably ok to pay a premium for that particular coin. Or if there is a mint error or variety. If you just want to invest in silver, buy a tube of them and keep it.

    As far as noobs are concerned. Earlier this year, some enterprising fellow got a hold of empty 25th Anniversary boxes and capsules and stuffed them with plain old bullion 2011 eagles. Amazingly in at least a couple of cases he got over $250.

  6. vaughnster says

    Just got notice that the Chester Arthur rolls I ordered in April are now backordered until July 3rd.They were supposed to ship June 15th. Wonder what the problem is……

  7. says

    Vaughnster,

    The Mint is probably having trouble keeping up with demand for the coins. In general, too, we’ve been seeing product delays all year that don’t make any sense (see: first spouse coins, and also AtBs only being recently released).

  8. VA Bob says

    Shutter – The 1986 I was referring to was the start of the Mint’s Bullion program (minting ASE’s), not the Modern Commemorative era. Funny you should mention the 1982 Washington commems. I have a proof and an UNC. The Mint made a load of these. When I bought them, years after their issue date, I paid just under $7, which was a bit much at the time. Today’s silver prices taken into account, I was surprise to see a large distributer hawking them for $25 in OGP. I don’t recall the mintages, but I’m pretty sure it was over 1 million. This bodes well for folks concerned about the San Fran 75. Keep your common PM coins long enough and you’ll see some return, at some point.

  9. KC says

    Change the topic to S-ASE set for one moment. Only <4,000 set sold over the weekend. Can't wait for the last week of mad dash for pushing the final order to over 250,000 sets.

  10. simon says

    Re : I Buy American !

    Let’s take look at the numbers : assume there are 100 E6 fully employed workers at any given time in the US. For each 1 E12 (trillion) USD of debt, each of these workers owe now or later 10k USD. For example China alone hols roughly 1.75 E12 USD cash reserves. This eventually has to be returned to the US. So each worker would have to give up approximately 17.5 k (not including interest) over say ten years to China to pay off the debt. For us collectors this is approximately 1 Oz of Au (i.e. one Oz Au Eagle or Buffalo) at current prices per year for ten years. To this humble citizen this is quite a lot of coins and money to give up for nothing. In my assessment my numisbudget is best spent on US coins. Any dragons I purchase may well turn around and bite me or definitely our descendants in the axx. So, I will only buy American.

  11. Shutter says

    Funny you should mention the 1982 Washington commems. I have a proof and an UNC. The Mint made a load of these. When I bought them, years after their issue date, I paid just under $7, which was a bit much at the time. Today’s silver prices taken into account, I was surprise to see a large distributer hawking them for $25 in OGP. I don’t recall the mintages, but I’m pretty sure it was over 1 million.

    Way, way over 1 million. something like 2 million uncirculated and almost 5 million proof. They were on sale for several years. The original prices were $10.50 and $12.50, if memory serves. So, as investment, total loser. But for my money, the proof is the most beautiful modern half. They guy asking $25 for it is dreaming. They sell for $10-$15 raw. Because uncirculated Washingons were handled just like circulating coins, very few of them graded very high, and MS69 example may be worth $140 or so.

  12. Brad says

    CaptainOverkill,

    Yeah, it’s played out pretty much like I figured it would so far. There will be some days that don’t even register 1,000+ new orders since the previous day. The update this Friday might be for a few thousand sets more than usual, from anyone who waited to order the SF set with the “S” El Yunque quarter bags and rolls to save a shipping charge.

    I don’t think the orders during most of the final week will be any larger than they have been so far. Only the final day will have a big increase, but again it won’t be as high as the first day. And, there are no guarantees that all of the last minute orders will stand, anyway. They could always be cancelled prior to fulfillment if sales spike too high the final day to make some would-be gamblers want to bother with the set. I assume the Mint will provide at least one more update on July 6 to show where sales ended up during the full ordering period. Whether or not they’ll continue to update the sales odometer on the product page for future cancellations after that remains to be seen, but even if they don’t an updated figure should be provided in the weekly sales report.

    These sets might end up breaking 200K, but not 250K. Let’s just hope that silver spot stays low for another 2-1/2 weeks, so as not to improve the set’s perceived value in relation to the silver content!

  13. saucexx says

    CO,

    An austerity program will NEVER save Greece. I also agree with your assessment that this will drag on for awhile yet. Only 40% of Greek voters voted for the bailout parties, New Democracy and PASOK. Plus by continuing down the same road I don’t see anyway they can stop the bleeding. The more they cut, the more the economy slows, the more unemployment grows, the more their debt climbs and the more they borrow. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Spain is next in line but their problem is different. The Spanish Govt is borrowing money to prop up the banking sector not the economy. Their banks took a beating from their housing bubble, while giving the bill to the Spanish people. In return for borrowed money the Spanish get austerity and all the wonders it brings; crushing unemployment, negative growth and more borrowing. At the end of the day the EU either needs to let the ECB sell “Euro” bonds or the Euro implodes.

    I’m really surprised at the overall low sales for the ASE 75th so far. If it really does sell less than 250K that makes it a better bet than the 2006 set. I just don’t see that happening but I will be plenty happy if it does.

  14. TomP says

    After ordering the El Yunque ATB-P with the SSB special sets on 6/01 to save on shipping costs, I received them a day apart last week. Why the Mint couldn’t ship them together to save money puzzles me.

    I like the suggestions to alter the ATB 5 ounce coins to the nominal 5 dollar amount. It should take a simple amendment to the law to change the wording on the coin from ‘quarter dollar’ to ‘five dollars’. Explain to your congressman that flagging interest in the series could jeopardize the sizable investment in a special press. This denomination would correspond with the one dollar pure silver Liberty coin. Not changing George’s countenance would avoid charges of dissing G.W. and avoiding controversy to obtain rare bi-partisan support.

    After this amendment is passed, contact the media to complain the US government is inflating the value of existing coins to control the deficit artificially. After the media runs with the story with their usual accuracy, your congressman will get welcomed ‘air time’ to explain that enhanced interest due to the change will increase revenue voluntarily without a tax change. All of this will create many dollars of free publicity for the Mint for the ATB series and increase the market value of our collection. LOL

  15. Merlin says

    Tom, I experienced a similar situation. Two shipments on a single order. I suspect it may be a risk issue, by never putting all the eggs in the same basket.

  16. Frank says

    I combined my SF set with the PR 5 Ozer-P. And the 5 Ozer shipped today and the SF set can still be cancelled. I guess the Mint will allow cancellation for the SF set up till the final shipment.

  17. Sam Baker says

    I might get kicked out of the club for saying this but I think “colorizing” the numismatic ATBs would increase sales.

  18. slipchick says

    Has anyone been able to find a vending machine that will accept these suckers? I’ve already had to mend the holes in my pockets twice because of these bad boys…

  19. merryxmasmrscrooge says

    yeah, i agree with you buddy, esp. for the 5 oz ATB the slabs take the beauty away from the coin. i prefer the round plastic holder so never buy w the slabs. cool designs in order:
    1) Yelowstone
    2) Yosemite
    3) Mt. Hood
    4) Vicksburg
    5) Gettysburg
    6) Grand Canyon
    7) Hawai’i Volcanoes

    others i have no interest, even if the Mint does delay their releases

  20. saucexx says

    @Sam Baker,

    Yikes! I like the idea of a $5 value for the coins but please no color. I don’t ever want to see a colorized coin from the US Mint.

    I’m really getting on board the HR Peace dollar though.

  21. T1 Browserman says

    Here’s my .02:

    Based on the numbers provided by Mike above you might be saying goodbye to the bullion version of the ATB 5 oz just as there is no longer platinum bullion eagles or fractionals and I believe adverstising is not the problem. If anything, say goodbye to paper advertising; in fact, say goodbye to the newspaper industry (another victim of the internet). It’s just a sign of the times; sure you can still drive your Model T down main street but that is not going to stop new Rolls, Astons, or Ferraris from being manufactured (and remember these vehicles need no adverstising to sell, they just do). The internet is your adverstising vehicle these days. Bing this, Google that, Ask this etc. My aunt rips up newspapers and its adverstising for kitty litter (and they, the cats, like it); that alone should tell you where both industries are headed.

    For the future I believe the ATB 5 oz numismatic versions will be pumped out (perhaps on a ‘meet demand’ decree as with this San Fran special set) as ‘collectors’ of the series would like to have a complete set as stipulated by public law. The mint made its killilng at $279.95 ramming the 2010′s down our throats at the end of 2011. The ramming continued in 2011 but then the big silver correction came (down $12 – $15/oz) and with it all the ‘collectors” dismay for feeling snookered by our own government’s (mis)-management. I would like to see the mint’s silver pricing guide posted on that new website when it’s unveiled later this year. (How much code can a coder code if a coder could code code ?)

    I pray the bullion version gets scrapped, sooner rather than later and leave the numismatic version in place as is being done with platinum!

    Palladium eagle……verrrrrrrrrrrrrrry innnnnnnnnteresting but not funny.

    10 4

  22. Dave in CT. says

    Saucexx,

    Are they issuing a HR Peace dollar, or are you joking ?
    I missed this.

    On the topic of raising the value on the ATB 5 oz “Angel Halo’s”,
    we paid allot of money for these and never understood the denomination amount that was applied/stamped on all of our numismatic coins since the 80′s and up until the present. If we are paying a certain amount for these collectables ($204 for the current ATB’s), and ($50 or so w/proofs) our government have recd. those monies (excluding overhead cost), then I do not
    see why these coins don’t show a more reasonable dollar value stamped on them. For instance, I would much rather see $100 pressed onto my all of my ATB’s instead of .25 cents. Yes, I know it is off a quarter, I realize this. And our ASE’s, I realize it is from a silver dollar, but at least some of our ASE/AGE’s should reflect more as to what we paid for them. As stated, our US has been compensated, and so if we all at some time had to dip into our numismatic coins for spending, we would be somewhat compensated for a figure close to what was paid for them. Maybe I am wrong on some of the coins, but not all of them. I always felt that this was a scheme to short change us if our US ever scrubbed our change system. My argument may be weak, and if our fiat money collapsed, I doubt our coinage would too. It would cost to much to bring in new medal coins and would most likely be the paper money that would be changed. I sure would like some feedback on this post. I suggest, the ATB’s change to $100 face value. AGE 1 ounce, change to $1000.00 face. 1/2 ounce to $500.00, you guys get my intentions ? Any thoughts, please post them.On the other hand, I have been up for 24 hours now, and I tend to get crabby and goofy with a lack of sleep !

  23. Jack in N.E says

    Today i recieved the summer mint catalog for 2012 in the mail.It was the first time I remember them advertising the 5oz. Atb in print.Maybe they are finally trying to expand the advertising for these products. (Granted catalog ads are far from a wider audience)

  24. saucexx says

    @Dave

    There are no current plans by the mint to produce a HR Peace dollar. This is something that has just been discussed by collectors.

    There’s no way the mint is going to put $100 on an AtB 5 ozer. These coins are legal tender. If silver were to fall to $10 an ounce, the coin would be worth $50 more than the PM. Nobody has a coin slot big enough to store them ;) I don’t disagree with you in principal, It’s just not going to happen. At best you could hope for a $5 value.

  25. Dave in CT. says

    Saucexx, thanks, my point is, the US mint has already recd. the monies for the
    PM value, so it would not matter if silver fell. I know it will not happen, but should
    on some, as explained above. Thanks Saucexx, really thought more would have
    commented on this idea. My wife tells me I get some weird ideas !

  26. CQ CQ CQ DX says

    I have purchased all the 5 ounce ‘P’ numismatic versions so far, and plan on continuing to do so. My main objective is to sell the set one day to pay for my now 4 year old daughter’s college education!

  27. Dave in CT. says

    CQ, good luck to you. When that day arrives, I will give you a fantastic price
    on the Yellowstone Park that my family owns.

  28. Samuel says

    CQ,
    IF this series appreciates, it is going to be difficult to sell as a set just because it is too expensive. so i think it is not a good idea to collect them all just for re-sell. probably collect some of them and buy mutliples.

  29. CQ CQ CQ DX says

    I think I am going to stop purchasing into this series from now on. How can many people afford to shell out over 200 dollars a pop for these closely spaced releases? They should spread them out evenly throughout the year. Of course, we could do this ourselves, and purchase at spaced intervals, but the problem with that is if (for one reason or another) one of these 5 ounce collector’s coins sells out quickly, we won’t have an opportunity to buy later at the Mint’s prices!

  30. Arthur VanDine says

    ngc is to blame for the low sale of the 5 oz atb. If thay would have put them in a smaller holder we would buy them

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