Today, April 16, 2015 at 12:00 Noon ET, the United States Mint will begin accepting orders for the 2015 Bess Truman First Spouse Gold Coins. This will begin the ninth year of the series of one-half ounce 24 karat gold coins.
The obverse design of the coin features a portrait of Bess Truman designed by Joel Iskowitz and engraved by Phebe Hemphill. The inscriptions include the First Lady’s name, the motto “In God We Trust”, “Liberty”, “2015 W”, the order of the Presidency “33rd”, and the dates served “1945-1953”.
The reverse of the coin, which was designed by Joel Iskowitz and engraved by Charles Vickers, features the image of a locomotive wheel moving along a track. This is intended to represent Mrs. Truman’s support for her husband during his 1948 whistle stop campaign trip for his re-election. Inscriptions around the wheel read “Whistle-Stop Campaign” and “1948”. An outer ring of inscriptions includes “United States of America”, the motto “E Pluribus Unum”, “$10” and “1/2 oz. .9999 Fine Gold”.
During the design selection phase, the Mint had provided seven different obverse and six different reverse design candidates, which can be viewed here. The final design selections match the recommendations of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. The Commission of Fine Arts had recommended a different portrait and a different reverse design depicting an engine reminiscent of the 1940’s locomotives that would have carried the presidential train car Bess Truman rode on during the campaign tour.
The Bess Truman First Spouse Gold Coin is offered individually in proof or uncirculated versions. The initial pricing for the coins is $790 for the proof version and $770 for the uncirculated version, based on an average price of gold within the $1,150 to $1,199.99 range. The price of the coins may be adjusted weekly based on changes in the market price of gold.
A maximum mintage of 10,000 pieces has been established across proof and uncirculated versions of the coin. This is the same level established for the prior year releases of the series, although the US Mint apparently did not produce last year’s coins to the full extent of the maximum.
The previous release of the series featuring Eleanor Roosevelt has apparently sold out with last reported sales of 2,377 proofs and 1,886 uncirculated coins, or a combined total of 4,263 from the 10,000 maximum. The coins had been indicated as “out of stock” on the US Mint’s website, but were then abruptly removed from the website as well as weekly sales reporting. Meanwhile, all of the 2013-dated releases of the series still remain available for sale. The often tightly clustered release schedule combined with the uncertain and shifting availability periods have made this series a challenge to collect.