2015 Bess Truman First Spouse Gold Coin

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.

bess-truman

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.

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Comments

  1. Brad says

    I’m buying today, just in case. With the potential of a price increase next week and the uncertainty of how many will be made, I’m not taking any chances at this late stage of the game. I haven’t been in this marathon all these years just to be disqualified now!

  2. Jake says

    Since the coins are dated 2015 and it is still 2015, the US mint can make up to the maximum 10,000 if the coins become sold out.

    There is no reason to rush to buy them.

  3. Brad says

    Jake,

    You would think so, wouldn’t you? Still, I don’t trust them. They may not make more, in anticipation of needing blanks for Jackie Kennedy.

  4. Leo S. says

    Brad

    You aren’t the only FS collector that doesn’t trust the Mint. There original policy of removing the previous years offerings of FS coins has come and gone. We now have 3 different years of FS coins still available. It is also odd that the only FS coin eliminated from the sale list is the Roosevelt coins they were minted in the 2014 group. So with the mintages mentioned it will become the new low mintage. If the mint wants to sell out all the coins that they actually minted and with the popularity of E. Roosevelt, you would think that they would have minted more of her coin than the previous three. Is the Mint trying to create a new low for only those in the know. Something looks rotten in Denmark.

  5. fmtransmitter says

    @Brad: Congrats with staying the course. That is a good thought about the Jackie O blanks being needed!

  6. fmtransmitter says

    The often tightly clustered release schedule combined with the uncertain and shifting availability periods have made this series a challenge to collect.

    Under statement..

  7. Brad says

    Leo,

    Yeah, I hear you. I felt betrayed by the Mint effectively “changing the rules in the middle of the game” too. I would have never bought an extra uncirculated of both Ellen and Edith Wilson had I known they were not going to stop selling them on 12/31/14 like the precedent set by previous years.

    At least the Mint finally seems to have learned from their mistake of producing too many of these coins, though. It seems very likely that all of the 2014’s will achieve natural sellouts prior to their being on sale for a full year. On the other hand, most of the 2013’s may still be available by 12/31/17, at which time the program will have been completed for a full year. I’m only partially kidding when I say that. With the exceptions of the Edith Roosevelt proof (which has only 3 left in stock) and possibly the Ida McKinley proof (which is at the level it may drop below 100 remaining soon) it seems likely the other 2013’s may still have several hundred left to sell. It seems possible around 2,900 proofs and 2,200 uncs might have been struck for each design. It will take a long time yet for some of them to approach those levels. If the Mint refuses to grant them a “mercy killing”, then I look for them to languish in the catalog for quite a while.

  8. thePhelps says

    I guess I am wondering why the mint keeps the 2013′ listed as well. It isn’t like these would be hard to return to blanks and eliminate the 13’s. The demand isn’t going to suddenly show up for them – if it has over the past year and a half… send them back to the smelter and make new blanks for the Jackie coins.

  9. Brad says

    Thanks, Fm. This is one project I definitely want to complete. I’d hate to miss one so late in the game due to failing to anticipate something that could go wrong.

    This will be one awesome looking set when it’s finally completed. While I don’t like the thought of there being a “hole” in it due to the lack of Rosalynn Carter, it will be cool to have a Nancy Reagan coin. She’s the earliest First Lady that I have any real recollection of. I remember her and the “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign very well. I hope she is still living by the time her coin is released, as that will make it even more special. However, she’ll be 95 by then. I really hope she’s still around when it’s her turn.

  10. Mac in Ohio says

    Tito, Harry loved her and that’s what counts. The reverse is very cool, reminds me of the reverse of the UK 2 pound coin of recent years.

  11. KEITHSTER says

    I use to know how you guys are feeling about them not offing the old FS’s. But now thank the mint for leaving them up for sale. As I have not had the extra coinage to get one in a while. Had enough yesterday to get one but the IRS wanted that so it may be a while. So just stay the coarse and maybe give a little new blood sometime to jump in and join the fun? The more there are collecting these the better of you’ll be in the end.But if the mint feel’s the need to kill something quarters make a good target every few months or so ! So Good Luck To All:>:>:>:>:>:>:>:>:>:>

  12. bobo says

    I am another one who got tricked by the mint’s policy change, in that I bought a couple of extra 2013 FS coins at the end of 2014 thinking that they would no longer be sold after Dec. 2014. It stinks that the mint changed its policy without any warning. On the other hand, I doubt many people are going to buy 2013 FSs anymore anyway, so they will still end up with very low mintages. Why would anyone buy a 2013 FS now given that the 2014 FS coins will almost surely have even lower mintages than the 2013 ones (I suspect ~2400PF and ~1900 were made for each of the 2014s), and that the 2015 ones are now coming out. In any case, it seems that the Eleanor Roosevelt may end up being the most valuable coin of the series, both PF and MS. Even if some others come in at slightly lower mintages, she was perhaps the most important first lady ever, so demand will be higher than for the relative unknowns.

  13. Brad says

    Bobo,

    Yeah, it seems the Eleanor coin prices have seen a bump after they were removed from the Mint’s website. I see that the proof is nearing $1,300 for a raw coin now, with the uncirculated not far behind. The low mintage is great of course, but the coin itself has one of the better likenesses of the subject in the series as well. There’s something pleasing about the design. Maybe it’s that big smile!

    APMEX is a little slow on this one, as their website still shows that they will buy the uncirculated Eleanor for $619.40 at the time of this writing. They really need to catch up with the times! I hope no one actually sells to them at that price. That’s nothing but a big loss to the seller, as the Mint never sold them to anyone that cheap!

  14. Boz says

    Edith has been showing nearly sold out now for 6 months. I think that is another marketing trick to show low numbers available and then crunch out some more.

    Still it just staggers the mind to think that in a country of 400 million legal and 250 million illegal visitors, nearly a billion people in the borders, not even counting those who could buy from overseas if they wanted to, and only two thousand or so will spring for one of these.

  15. Ends in Error says

    Boz

    I think there are far less actual collectors buying these than the 2,000 or so that you mention. Most non collectors are totally shocked and surprised when I talk about the upcomming Jacqueline Kennedy Gold Coin. They are not aware of the First Spouse Coins at all.

    I’m guessing there are about 500 or even less flippers/speculators/hoarders buying into this series. OK, maybe I’ll throw in a hundred real Collectors.

    The Jacqueline Coin might give use a better idea of how things are going.

  16. Ends in Error says

    Is that really Bess Truman on that Coin? Looks like an NFL Player – maybe a Quarterback? I just can’t place the face.

  17. Clark says

    Much of what makes most modern coin series challenging to collect is the discipline to buy them soon after they are issued. Waiting for final mintage numbers, sales figures, and to assess market demand jeopardizes chances for securing a complete collection and often costs more when you must search the secondary market to chase down coins you missed. The First Spouse series is particularly challenging because the annual expense to collect uncirculated and proof pure gold varieties can reach ~ $8K or more during years when five spouses are issued.

    Many collectors who began collecting FS coins in 2007 when they were $400/coin didn’t sign up for high prices and understandably didn’t stick around. The Mint’s erratic sales and marketing practices for FS coins and poor quality control made planning purchases next to impossible. It’s hard to imagine a more challenging modern US pm coin series to collect. As they say, if it were easy, more people would do it and more complete FS sets would exist…whatever that number is.

  18. rpk says

    This is another example of a coin where the original artwork has a good likeness of the person and the image on the coin looks quite different from the artwork. Why can’t they find someone who can do a better job of transferring the artwork to a coin? I would not recognize her from the image on the coin.

  19. Larry says

    It has always seemed strange that the spouses get the gold while the Presidents get the clad.

  20. Brian says

    I just read a very interesting commentary over at Coin Week that touches on much of this discussion. Many of you may likely find interesting as well. Starts out talking about the many Canadian Mint products followed by brief discussion of US Mint products:

    http://www.coinweek.com/opinion/modern-coin-issues-and-the-secondary-market/

    Last paragraph states the following, “Collect only for the pure enjoyment of the coins and not for the road to riches. Don’t insist on having one of everything unless you are an heir of King Midas. Resist the urge to “invest” in modern coins. Choice rare coins offer a much better opportunity.”

  21. fmtransmitter says

    @Brian: I agree but I also collect what I like and I like to mix it up and simply look for good deals whether classic or modern. I have never went into this for any profit potential. Just to lose as little as possible. .

  22. Jerry Diekmann says

    fmtransmitter – the Illinois/Lincoln 1918 commemorative was truly one of the very best of the early commemoratives. Was this particular coin gold-plated – it was issued as a 90% silver half dollar and represents some of the best ever work by Morgan and Sinnock. It is still reasonably priced and costs much less than any of the regular 1918 Walking Liberty half dollars the Mint issued for circulation that year. I have a couple of these coins but have never been able to locate, or afford for that matter, any of the regular issue coins. In fact, with the single exception of the 1917P half dollars, I think nearly all of them, as with all the Barber half dollars, were released into circulation, and very few were ever saved, all the way up to 1934. Way back then 50 cents was an awful lot of money. For example, my dad as a young man earned $1.00 a day plus room and board when he worked as a young man as a farm laborer in Iowa during the 1930s.

  23. Jerry Diekmann says

    I never bought into the FS series, and I’m glad that I didn’t. Besides being terribly overpriced, and of no consequence historically in any way, this series has been mismanaged for years by the Mint, and people are very right in saying that they can’t trust the Mint. I would go even a little further and say I don’t think they know what in the hell they are doing half the time. Dealing with their contrived and weird policies is like dancing with the devil. At least they are still better than the Royal Canadian Mint and the Perth Mint. They should just change their names to “Franklin Mint – North” and “Franklin Mint – South. Some day all their products will sell for bullion – history says so – look at the Franklin Mint creations.

  24. Goat says

    Anybody need 2013 FS ? Still listed, WOW !! So much for buying extra to sell because it might be low mintage.
    @ Rick thanks for the info, if all FS bring that we are right to invest into series. Stay the course finish the collection.

  25. jeff says

    Ok lets get the buying frenzy going call your momma, daddy, sister, nieces , aunt, uncles, bother, GF, all your friends and tell them to buy this coin ASAP lets sell it out right here right now Let the frenzy begin. Oh can you say DUD I can enjoy suckers hook line and sinker these are novelty coins not worth a dime..

  26. Brad says

    If Nancy Reagan is still living by the time her coin is released, It’s very likely the U.S. Mint will present her with one in a special ceremony. That clip would probably be seen on TV news networks, finally bringing some national attention to the existence of this series. Maybe then people will become aware of them and look into the previous issues. The micro-mintages would come into play if some of those newly aware people have a go at trying to build a set.

  27. phillip says

    @jerry yup, the first spouses aren’t for everyone and it has been an interesting ride. not sure if you mean the women on the coins have no historical significance or the coins will have none. i’d disagree in either case. i’ve had a great time researching these women and you can’t help but learn a little about the times they lived in during the process. dolly madison was a ball of fire and the first to be called “first lady”. every one of them at the very least landed the most powerful man in the country and, in more recent times, the world. what do such women have in common? what drove them? how did they attract these men? i think it is a delightful endevour to collect these coins and learn about these gals. some of them were positively scandalous, depending on which accounts you believe.

    as far as the coin series goes, could there be any more intrigue? only maybe 500 people with have complete sets, someone above postulated. from the start they have been controversial and pretty much despised by collectors. then there was the “liberty” subsets that collectors liked better, perhaps because they did not depict real women but instead a male fantasy version of women. the adams mule provided something very rare to chase in the medals early on. alice paul raised the ire a little more. by then collectors’ choices had been made and the series set low after low in sales, resulting in a collection that contains most of the 100 rarest modern U.S. coins. and now it finishes up gloriously with some of the heavy hitters: rosevelt, kennedy, johnson, ford and maybe controversy right until the end with carter and reagan. too cool, i think!!

  28. Jerry Diekmann says

    Phillip – Very few of these women, as noble and as good as they might have been, have any historical significance whatsoever, and therefore the coin program showcasing them has little to no historical significance either. These coins are more medals than coins, and they will most likely be worth only bullion to everyone in the country except maybe 500 or so who really want to put together a 1/2 ounce gold set together. I’m pretty sure that everyone who has done this so far has spent more for the coins than they are worth. But the Mint might be helping out by deliberately issuing small mintages for some of the coins as they go about changing their policies willy-nilly. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to learn that the Mint may have been influenced by certain lobbyists representing the big dealers and TPGs.

    To continue, Dolley Madison has already been shown on a commemorative coin in 1999. Of all the other spouses on these coins, the only ones I think you would ever read about in a history book would be Martha Washington, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Jacqueline Kennedy. Except maybe Mary Todd Lincoln, but she is generally considered in a negative light by historians, but she was probably better than some of the doofuses that have occupied the Presidency over the years, of which there have been a fair number. So, I stand by what I said, and we can agree to disagree – it’s a free country, at least so far. I don’t know about the future, though..

  29. SilverFan says

    Ends in Error says
    APRIL 16, 2015 AT 6:26 PM

    Is that really Bess Truman on that Coin? Looks like an NFL Player – maybe a Quarterback? I just can’t place the face.

    Andrew Luck?

  30. phillip says

    @jerry. yeah, well it’s still free where i’m at and I appreciate it greatly. i think every first spouse is more significant than, say, you or i. haha. history books have mostly been written to emphasize men, manly issues such as wars (“blood and treasure” is a very popular meme these days) and manly things. maybe barbara bush? she married a president and gave birth to another! maybe two!! wrap your mind around that. i guess she is not eligible at this point…

    we won’t know on the value of my set for quite awhile as i certainly don’t intend to sell something so hard to assemble. it is a beautiful set and i have added examples of the half dozen or so other US coins to have ever been graced by real women, including the Dolley Madison you mentioned. absolutely stunning collection and not easy to put together!

  31. merryxmasmrscrooge says

    FS33 she looks unhappy. must have been completely stressed out considering the decisions her husband had to make.

  32. Boz says

    Edith Roosevelt proof now showing out of stock. May be the first of the 13s to finally go away. Yes, I wondered if anyone actually collected these, or if several of the big bullion supply houses were picking up 50% or more of the mintages..

    I still say where George Foreman sells millions of his grills on TV and just about any piece of junk advertised on an infomercial will spur 12 month installment credit deals, it is amazing that nobody is interested in these historic artifacts.

    Just pennies a day with no down payment and 12 years to pay with no. Interest. Absolutely no interest.

    But wait, buy two and get free shipping!

    Still no interest.

  33. phillip says

    Bess came in the mail today and she is beautiful in proof! Somehow the coin actually looks better than the pic here, maybe because it’s the uncirculated version. America loves you, Bess Truman… her husband did something to, I think.

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