The United States Mint has announced the “launch” of the 2012 First Spouse Gold Coin series, with the first release scheduled to go on sale October 11, 2012 at 12:00 Noon ET. The release dates for the other three designs have not yet been established.
The release of the 2012 First Spouse Gold Coins had been delayed due to production problems discussed in this post. In prior years, the first releases of the series for each year had occurred on June 19, 2007, February 28, 2008, March 5, 2009, March 18, 2010, and May 5, 2011.
The first release features a portrait of Alice Paul, a leading strategist in the suffrage movement. As the US Mint clearly points out in their press release, the use of Alice Paul’s image is specifically required by a provision of the authorizing legislation. President Chester Arthur had served in office without a spouse, so the use of Alice Paul was directed since she was “instrumental in gaining women the right to vote upon the adoption of the 19th amendment and thus the ability to participate in the election of future Presidents, and who was born on January 11, 1885, during the term of President Arthur.”
In the previous four situations where a President served in office without a spouse, the authorizing legislation had required “an image emblematic of the concept of Liberty as represented on a United States coin issued during the period of service of such President.”
Not to dwell on what could have been, but if not for the specific provision requiring a design featuring Alice Paul, some coins issued during the Presidential Term of Chester Arthur (1881-1885) include the Indian Head Cent, Morgan Silver Dollar, and the Indian Princess Gold Dollar.
I am not seeking to downplay the contributions of Alice Paul, but in terms of continuity it is a bit odd to treat a certain situation one way for the first four instances and a different way for the fifth instance. Alternately, the legislation could have required the depiction of an important woman from the relevant time period for all five instances, or an image emblematic of Liberty for all five instances.
If the market price of gold remains within its current range leading up to the release, the Alice Paul Gold Coins would be priced at $1,041 for uncirculated coins and $1,054 for proofs. The maximum mintage is set at 13,000 across both versions, which is a reduction from the 15,000 maximum established for the 2011 releases.
So far, the press release and product schedule make no mention of an Alice Paul bronze medal. For each prior release of the series, a bronze medal featuring the same design as the gold coin has been released. The individual medals have gone on sale the same day as the gold coins.
Sales Report Posted: On Coin Update News, I have just posted the latest numismatic sales report, which shows a strong start for the 2012-P Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coins. The opening sales are 40% higher than for the prior release, and represent the strongest start for the product line to date.