Tomorrow, March 27, 2014 at 12:00 Noon ET, the United States Mint will begin accepting orders for the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coins. The $5 gold coins, silver dollars, and clad half dollars feature the common design of a baseball and glove minted on convex and concave surfaces.
The program, which was authorized under Public Law 112-152, has received a great deal of attention from the mainstream and numismatic media leading up to the release. Not only does the coin feature the broadly appealing baseball theme, but the authorizing legislation also required a public design competition and a suggested a unique curved shape which made for compelling articles leading up to the release.
The public competition to design the common obverse of the coin would receive a total of 178 design submissions. From the finalist designs selected by a panel of National Baseball Hall of Fame members, both the Commission of Fine Arts and Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee would offer strong support for a design carrying a depiction of a 1960’s style baseball glove. The design, which was created by Cassie McFarland of San Luis Obispo, California, would also be the one selected by the Secretary of the Treasury
It was included in the authorizing legislation as the sense of Congress that the $5 gold coins and silver dollars should be produced in a fashion similar to the 2009 International Year of Astronomy Coins issued by the Monnaie de Paris with a convex reverse and concave obverse. The United States Mint would exceed the expectations set forth by Congress, producing all three coins of the program with the curved shape and also using more pronounced relief than the French coin.
The $5 gold coins of the program are struck in 90% gold and 10% alloy with a diameter of 0.85 inches and weight of 8.359 grams. The net gold content of each piece is 7.5231 grams or 0.2419 troy ounces. Across proof and uncirculated versions, the coins are limited to a maximum mintage of 50,000 pieces.
For the start of sales, the coins will be priced at $419.75 for the uncirculated version and $424.75 for the proof version. These prices are based on an average weekly market price of gold in the $1,300 to $1349.99 range and reflect a $5 discount during the introductory period. Pricing may be subject to potential change on a weekly basis and the introductory period will end April 28, 2014 at 5:00 PM ET.
The 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame Silver Dollars are struck in 90% silver and 10% copper with a diameter of 1.500 inches and weight of 26.73 grams. The net silver content for each coin is 24.057 grams or 0.7735 troy ounces. Across proof and uncirculated versions, the coins are subject to a maximum mintage of 400,000 pieces.
During the introductory period, the uncirculated version is priced at $47.95 and the proof version is priced at $52.95. After April 28, 2014 at 5:00 PM ET, the regular pricing will be $51.95 and $56.95.
The clad half dollar included in the program is struck in a composition of 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel. The coins have a diameter of 30.61 mm and weight of 11.34 grams. While all three coins of the program share the spotlight as the first domed coins produced by the United States Mint, the half dollar actually represents the first clad domed coin produced anywhere in the world.
During the introductory period, the uncirculated version of the half dollar will be priced at $18.95 and the proof version will be priced at $19.95. After the end of the period, regular pricing will be $22.95 and $23.95. At a later date, the US Mint will release a Young Collectors Set which includes the uncirculated half dollar. The release date and pricing for the product has not yet been indicated.
The prices for the commemorative coins include a surcharge of $35 per gold coin, $10 per silver dollar, and $5 per half dollar, which will be distributable to the National Baseball Hall of Fame to help finance its operations.
Household Limits and Special Events
After initially announcing the commemorative coin program without any ordering limits imposed, this morning the US Mint added household ordering limits. The proof and uncirculated $5 gold coins will be limited to 50 coins each, the proof and uncirculated silver dollars will be limited to 100 coins each, and the proof and uncirculated half dollars will be limited to 100 coins each.
As mentioned earlier this week, the US Mint intends to use their online “waiting room” to handle the expect influx of traffic surrounding the initial release of the coin. Online customers will be able to enter the waiting room to “get in line” to enter the website and make a purchase. This system will serve to prevent an outright shutdown or crash of the Mint’s website.
Tomorrow, March 27, 2014 at 11:00 AM ET at the Main Hearing Room of the Senate Agricultural Committee, 328A, Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C., the United States Mint will officially launch the commemorative coin program at a press conference. Attendees will include Treasurer Rosie Rios, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Richard Hanna, Chairman and President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, and Baseball Hall of Fame members Joe Morgan and Brooks Robinson.
From March 27-30, 2014, the United States Mint will have a limited supply of the new commemorative coins available for purchase at their booth at the Whitman Coin and Collectible Spring Expo held at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore Maryland. On March 27 from 3:00 to 4:00 PM ET, Brooks Robinson will be on hand to support the release.
A question on many collectors minds is which 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame Coins may sell out and how quickly this may occur. Given the build up and continuing excitement surrounding the program, a sell out of the gold coin at 50,000 pieces and silver dollar at 400,000 pieces seems all but assured. The half dollar should experience strong sales, but it may be a high hurdle to reach 750,000 pieces for a full sell out, although historically it is not out of the realm of possibility.
The last United States Mint commemorative silver dollar to sell out was the 2010 Boy Scouts Silver Dollar. After opening week sales accounted for more than 60% of the 350,000 maximum mintage, the full sell out would occur in a little more than one month’s time. Prior to this, the 2009 Abraham Lincoln Silver Dollar sold out of the 450,000 pieces available for individual sale after about a month and a half. The final 50,000 pieces of the maximum mintage were allocated to the Lincoln Coin and Chronicles Set which was released later in the year and sold out after 30 hours.
One of the most rapid sell outs for a commemorative silver dollar occurred before the start of this blog, with the 2001 American Buffalo Silver Dollar reaching a sell out of 500,000 pieces in about two weeks.
I believe that the only US Mint modern commemorative gold coin to sell out of the full maximum mintage was the 1986 Statue of Liberty $5 Gold Coin, which managed to reach combined sales of 1,000,000 pieces. In the ensuing years, sales of commemorative gold coins have declined with the maximum mintage levels also seeing reductions.
Looking at some recent statistics, last year’s 5-Star Generals $5 Gold Coins had sold 21,501 pieces across all options from a maximum mintage of 100,000 pieces. Sales for the 2011 and 2012 programs were somewhat better around 25,000 to 26,000 pieces. In 2008, the Bald Eagle $5 Gold Coins reached overall sales of 74,278 pieces.
In recent years, commemorative half dollars have tended to experience sales far below the established maximum mintage levels. The most recent 5-Star Generals Half Dollars saw sales of 74,278 across all product options from the 750,000 maximum mintage. The last commemorative half dollar to sell more than 750,000 pieces was the 1994 World Cup Half Dollar with overall sales of 779,662 from the maximum mintage of 5,000,000. The all time best selling commemorative half dollar was the 1986 Statue of Liberty Half with sales of more than 7.8 million from a massive maximum mintage of 25 million.