Today October 11, 2012 at 12:00 Noon ET, the United States Mint will begin accepting orders for the 2012 Alice Paul Suffragist Gold Coins. This release is part of the First Spouse Gold Coin Program and will be the first release of the series for the year.
The release of the 2012 First Spouse Gold Coins comes after a lengthy delay. In April, the designs for this year’s four coins were announced, but the coins failed to be added to the product schedule. This lead some collectors to speculate whether the series would be canceled, although legally the series is required to continue. The US Mint finally provided an explanation in August, when they cited production problems as the reason for the delay. At that time, the Mint indicated that all four coins in proof and uncirculated versions would be struck and released before the end of the year.
Alice Paul was a leading strategist in the suffrage movement that ultimately gained women the right to vote with the adoption of the 19th amendment. She is featured on the First Spouse Gold Coin released to represent the Presidency of Chester A. Arthur. This was specifically required by the authorizing legislation, which notes that she was born during Arthur’s Presidential term.
The obverse design of the coin features a portrait of Alice Paul designed by Susan Gamble and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill. The name “Alice Paul” is inscribed above, with “Suffragist” at the base. (Typically for the series, the inscription at the base would indicate the order of the Presidency and the dates of the term.) The reverse design of the coin depicts a participant marching in the suffrage parade holding a flag and wearing a banner with the words “Votes for Women”. The reverse was designed and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill.
As with previous releases of the series, each coin carries a legal tender value of $10, and is struck in 1/2 oz. of .9999 fine gold.
The US Mint has established a maximum mintage of 13,000 coins across proof and uncirculated options. This represents a decline of 2,000 from the maximum mintage established for the 2011-dated releases of the series. None of the 2011 releases managed to sell more than 7,000 coins across both options.
Pricing is set at $1,054 for the proof version and $1,041 for the uncirculated version of the coin. These prices are based on an average gold price within the $1,750 to $1799.99 range. As with the US Mint’s other numismatic gold offerings, pricing may be adjusted weekly in response to changes in the market price of gold.
How will collectors respond to the Alice Paul Suffragist $10 Gold Coin offering? There are several factors both working for and against the offering.
The First Spouse Gold Coin Program moved back onto the radar for some collectors after the unexpected sell out of the uncirculated Lucy Hayes coin. The last reported sales were a mere 2,263 coins, setting a significant new low for the series. Soon after this sell out, sales for the uncirculated Lucretia Garfield coins surged and also sold out. In the past, unexpected sell outs and low mintages have somtimes served to reignite interest in a series.
The release of the Alice Paul coin has been delayed for about five months compared to last year’s schedule. Lengthy delays in release have tended to create a sense of urgency and pent up demand for some collectors.
Some factors which may weigh on sales begin with the overall trend for the series, which has been towards lower and lower sales. This may simply continue with the current year releases. Pricing for the offering will be at the high end of the spectrum for the series, due to the higher market price of gold. Gold is now up more than $200 per ounce from the lows of the summer months. Compared to 2007 when the series began, gold is up more than $1,100.
Finally, the use of a one-off concept may impact sales. As discussed previously, for all other Presidents who served without a spouse, a classic coin design featuring Liberty was used for the obverse. While it is important to recognize the suffrage movement, if another Liberty design was used (such as the Morgan Dollar obverse) this would have been one of the most exciting releases of the year.
Given these overlapping factors, it will be interesting to see the opening sales figures next week.