Commemorative Coin and Medal Sales Ending December 17

The United States Mint has announced that they will stop accepting orders on December 17, 2012 at 5:00 PM ET for the 2012 Star Spangled Banner Commemorative Coins, 2012 Infantry Solider Silver Dollars, and 2011 September 11 National Medals. This leaves collectors with approximately two more months to place orders for the coins.

For both commemorative coin programs, the authorizing legislation provides that the coins may only be issued during the calendar year beginning on January 1, 2012. As in the past, the US Mint has established an earlier order cut off date to allow time for order processing and delivery.

The authorizing legislation for the September 11 National Medals provides that no medals may be struck after December 31, 2012, but does not provide a limit for how long the medals may be issued. However, from the outset, the US Mint has indicated that sales would conclude at the end of 2012 so the dispersal of surcharges would not be delayed.

The 2012 Star Spangled Banner Program includes $5 gold coins and silver dollars in proof or uncirculated versions. In addition to individual options, a two coin proof set and Bicentennial Silver Dollar Set are also available. Sales began on March 5, 2012 for all products except the Bicentennial Set, which had sales begin on June 1, 2012.  Sales for each option as of the most recent sales report are shown below.

2012 STAR SPANGLED BANNER COMMEMORATIVE COINS
Proof Gold 5,531
Uncirculated Gold 4,571
Proof Silver 106,084
Uncirculated Silver 38,433
Two Coin Set 10,828
Bicentennial Silver Dollar Set (Proof) 28,860

The coin to watch from this program is the uncirculated version of the $5 gold coin, which has sales of only 4,571. This puts the coin on pace to have one of the lowest mintages for any modern commemorative coin. The current low is held by the uncirculated version of the 1997 Jackie Robinson $5 Gold Coin at 5,174 pieces, followed by the uncirculated 2001 Capitol Visitor Center $5 Gold Coin at 6,761.

Given that the two coins mentioned trade for significant premiums on the secondary market, it certainly makes this year’s potential low mintage coin tempting. However, in this post, I discussed some of the caveats of chasing recent low mintage coins.

Sales of the 2012 Infantry Soldier Silver Dollar began on February 16, 2012. The US Mint offers individual proof and uncirculated versions, as well as the Defenders of Freedom Set, which includes a replica dog tag and chain. Sales for each option as of the most recent sales report are shown below.

2012 NATIONAL INFANTRY SILVER DOLLAR
Proof 101,840
Uncirculated 42,036
Defenders of Freedom Set (Proof) 44,635

The September 11 National Silver Medal began sales on June 20, 2011. The proof quality one ounce silver medals are offered with either the “W” or “P” mint mark. A high maximum mintage of 2 million pieces was authorized, although sales have remained well below that level. Sales figures as of the most recent report are shown below.

SEPTEMBER 11 NATIONAL MEDALS
2011-W 105,597
2011-P 66,443
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Comments

  1. DCDave says

    I’ll take any of the above commemoratives over the Paul Alice commemorative (be real, it is a commemorative NOT a First Spouse).

    The SSB silver proof may never have high premiums, but it is one of the nicest looking coins the Mint has ever made!

  2. ClevelandRocks says

    The SSB silver is a beautiful design. Is the UNC SSB mintage fairly low for a silver commemorative? I agree with Michael’s post about using caution when chasing low mintages (as this seems to be the “new norm”), especially gold, since this can get very expensive.

  3. Louis says

    CR, No, not really. Low would be 16K or less like 4 of the Olympic silver dollars. For the silver dollar commems, I would reallt stick to getting what you like. These almost never do well as far as premium apart from silver value. Many are cheaper now than when issues, and many of the most common are sold generically by dealers at spot or very close (so imagine how little they buy them for).

  4. VA Bob says

    There is an upside to the gold coins IMO, and in no way am I insinuating this will happen. The Jackie Robinson exploded in value when gold was relatively cheap (by todays standards). So I believe it may be possible for some of these coins to at least retain value, and perhaps increase, even if Ag drops significantly in the future. Greater demand of gold at lower prices could potentially spark collector interest in these, even at the higher price, later down the road.

    Most collectors would at the very least for their collections to hold value. Now the only question is which will be the winners or losers.

  5. Robertson says

    Even if the SSB gold uncirculated ends up with a lower mintage than the Jackie Robinson gold unc., I don’t see it ever approaching the value of the Robinson gold for one very good reason. Collectors and investors often forget that part of the built-in value of the Jackie Robinson gold is demand coming from collectors of another hobby: sports cards and memorabilia. In other words, this coin is a classic example of an item that is highly sought after from TWO hobbies, not one. In that respect, the coin hobby should consider the Robinson gold’s $2,900 value somewhat inflated when drawing comparisons with other commemorative issues because of its unique status.

    I personally like the SSB and think it might enjoy a spike in value if its mintage stays relatively low. However, there are two concerns I have in addition to the the author’s advice. 1) How widely distributed the SSB will be hard to determine. I think the larger the distribution, the greater potential for a coin to increase in value because it’s much harder for dealers to market something they can’t get quantity of. This is another reason the Jackie Robinson has done well on the secondary market is because more than likely it enjoys a very wide distribution, which is a direct result of the lack of knowledge hobbyists had back in 1997 when the coin was being offered by the Mint. Remember, the Mint did not provide weekly mintage reports then like they do now — collectors only learned how scarce the Robinson coin was weeks or months after it became unavailable. Secondly, there are some dealers who will be watching the SSB right up until its final days and if it stays low up until then, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see another 500 coins ordered in the last 24 hours (think FS Lucretia Garfield uncirculated).

  6. Hidalgo says

    I bought last year’s Army gold commemorative because it was said that it was a low mintage coin. So, I paid $500 for it when the price of the coin “floated” with the price of gold. Where is the price now? Below $500.

    So when it’s said that a coin is “low mintage,” take it with a grain of salt. We’re experiencing new normals here…. Low mintages do not necessarily translate to greater demand and higher values.

  7. T1 browserman says

    It seems so long as Ag remains in the low ~$30’s price range then it will go unchanged but should it go above $35 or below $30 for at least a good month and a half then there will be a suspension and $25 price change. The low $40’s spot carried the $279 tag when the 5 oz ATB debuted; there does seem to be ‘unpublished’ criteria for Ag pricing after all.

  8. Shutter says

    Is the UNC SSB mintage fairly low for a silver commemorative?

    It’s in the lower half of the range, but not particularly low. More importantly, mintage is not the only determinant of value. Compare Ericson MS to Buffalo MS coins. Mintage 28K and 227K respectively. Buffalo is the more valuable coin in spite of a huge mintage.

  9. Shutter says

    Collectors and investors often forget that part of the built-in value of the Jackie Robinson gold is demand coming from collectors of another hobby: sports cards and memorabilia.

    So where were those sports collectors, when the Robinson coin was available from the mint? And why aren’t they bidding up all the other baseball coins, that US Mint has issued?

  10. Louis says

    Exactly, no one wanted the Robinson coin when it came out, which is why it is valuable today. Keep that in mind all your first spouse coin haters. The same is true of the Library of Congress coin, the BU, which is worth more than the Robinson. I remember well when it came out because I worked there then. I was on a tight budget and did not get it, but I remember when the coin was launched across the street from where I worked, and I saw well-heeled colleagues of mine with literally stacks of those coins!! If they bought the BU’s and waited a while, they made a fortune. But I also know someone who once owned 8 BU’s and had to sell them all long before they reached their potential, and he kicks himself everytime he thinks of it.

  11. Hidalgo says

    @Louis – you win some, you lose some. Personally, I do not have the finances to buy one of each FS gold coins. To keep things simple, a complete collection at today’s prices would be $900 – $1000 per coin. That’s a huge amount of money that I personally could use for other purposes.

  12. Shutter says

    Library of Congress coin, the BU, which is worth more than the Robinson.

    While LoC coin doesn’t have phantom second hobby collectors pining for it, it does have a couple of advantages over Robinson. It has higher melt value and it is the only US bi-metal coin ever. It’s still low mintage, but higher than either Robinson or Capitol.

  13. Robertson says

    So where were those sports collectors, when the Robinson coin was available from the mint? And why aren’t they bidding up all the other baseball coins, that US Mint has issued?

    My educated guess is that the vast majority of sports collectors bought the Robinson coin on the secondary market once they learned of it. And they found out about the coin fairly quickly because there were a lot of coin dealers who had gravitated over into sports cards during the 90’s mainly to boost business. (Sports cards and memorabilia were still enjoying their heyday during this time and the coin hobby was literally in the trenches along with precious metals values.) I remember well because I was involved in both hobbies throughout that decade and these dealers were conducting a tremendous amount of crossover business — buying/selling/trading cards for coins, coins for cards, etc.

    In the sports collectors world, Jackie Robinson is incredibly popular, especially with the boomer and older generations. Like many hobbies, some of these collectors specialize in only one area, one of the most popular, for example, is to acquire all the cards and memorabilia of one player. And do you suppose there are any collectors who collect only Jackie Robinson? You better believe it and there are many of them.

    Given these circumstances then, it’s not too difficult to imagine that for coin collectors, there are even fewer of the Robinson coin available to them because for each one that is held by a sports collector, that’s one less coin for the coin collector. Hence, the value goes up. Remember, scarcity is just one factor in a coin’s value, the other being demand. And for the Robinson gold uncirculated, the demand is higher than normal for the reason I just described.

    I don’t think this rule would apply to most any other coin that features baseball, especially if the theme is generic. However, I would bet there will definitely be some interest from the sports hobby in the upcoming 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative coins — those I think will definitely be winners.

  14. Nate says

    Robertson, remember that even if the 2014 commem is popular, it may not be a ‘winner’. If a coin is popular right from issuance there will be many purchased. Even if there is much demand for the coin, there will also be much supply. The best ‘winners’ are often unpopular at issuance and gain popularity over time.

  15. Shutter says

    In the sports collectors world, Jackie Robinson is incredibly popular, especially with the boomer and older generations.

    Ok, that might explain why they aren’t clamoring for the 1992 and 1995 baseball coins. Even though those were much more popular than Robinson at the time of issue. But why just one of the 4 Robinson coins? Where is the crazy demand for proof gold or either silver issue? Especially, since the silver coin shows Robinson actually playing. The simple fact is that at the time of issue, Robinson gold was considered ugly and expensive and consequently very few were sold. It is still ugly and expensive, but having the distinction as the lowest mintage modern commemorative goes some way mitigating those shortcomings.

  16. Shutter says

    The best ‘winners’ are often unpopular at issuance and gain popularity over time.

    Those are good, but for my money the really best winners are the ones that are popular at issue and stay popular, such as the silver Buffalo. Recycling classic designs, obviously doesn’t hurt.

  17. DCDave says

    @Hidalgo:
    I bought an Army UNC since I was sure it was a winner with low mintage, but I was wrong. I’m happy I have it since there are Army members of my family, but chasing low mintages on expensive products is not a good idea, especially since the dealers will snap up a lot if mintages look low at the end of sales like the Garfield UNC.

  18. EvilFlipper says

    Low mintage definitely isn’t everything. First thing you look for is your high demand markets when it comes to modern issues. Lots of people collect gold and silver eagles… Period. Not many collect commems. You would think people who collect military stuff would be into the military comem’s-but not so much. Ultra high relief of silver/gold reissues would be much better. An ultra high relief standing liberty, silver buffalo, mercury…. Something. Oh, an ultra high relief standard gold eagle Indian would be great!! The UHR coins just have that outstanding artistic value!

  19. EvilFlipper says

    Maybe even a UHR gold double eagle, eagle, half eagle, 1/4 eagle reissue set.! Damn that would be wicked!! Then a silver peace, half dollar, quarter dollar and dime ultra high relief set! Wow!

  20. David O says

    I bailed on the gold coins last year and bought 180 clad half army halves for $20 each. I sold them to a B&M dealer in Florida for $55 each. My best flip to date!

  21. VA Bob says

    Nate – Not all unpopular coins become later winners. Example: Eunice Shriver.

    Robertson – So then there is a possibility music lovers will eventually discover the SSB down the road??? I suppose theme fans could say that about most every coin made, but Shutter made some good points about the JR, namely the popularity not translating to the rest of those offerings. At any rate I enjoy hearing and appreciate all the opinions presented. Each are plausible. All we can do is speculate to the how or why on any particular coin(s). If someone does figure out a winning formula let me know. LOL I passed on some of those winners! The circumstances Louis mentioned he encountered with the LoC rings familiar all to me as well.

  22. Louis says

    By the way, my point on the LOC coins had nothing to do with winning and losing or sour grapes. I have one of them in proof that I got when metal prices were much lower than today’s and I love it. I just thought you folks might enjoy some fun stories. In fact, I don’t know if this is written anywhere but the idea for the coin came from some young staff members at the LOC who worked with the Mint to create it.

  23. says

    OT…I wonder why the SF sets ordered late in the day on 7/5 are still showing a 10/31 ship date?
    The only reason I haven’t canceled my last 4 sets is because I’m curious as to what the final mintage will be….anyone care to guess as to how many sets were cancelled? It’s really just a guess, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the revised mintage/sales was around 235,000. If that’s the case, will these sets see an increase from what they are selling for now??

  24. Shutter says

    If someone does figure out a winning formula let me know.

    There is no winning formula. For one thing, winning looks very different, depending on who you are. For the Mint and organization getting kickbacks from coin sales, winning means number of coins sold. For collectors/investors, it’s value appreciation. For coin designers, it’s artistic merit of the design. Very rarely are they all satisfied. You mentioned the Shriver coin (modeled apparently on Prince Valiant), and it’s true that today it has been selling for almost melt, but they did sell 441K of them. That’s more than all of the 2012 commemorative coins sold so far. So to Special Olympics people, it might look like a winner. To the rest of us, not so much.

  25. saucexx says

    Steve,

    I had 8 sets ordered on the last day and cancelled them all. They can make 8 more MAH sets from the proofs and melt the reverses for all I care. I’ve heard rumors that mail sales might actually increase the final number regardless of cancellations. My guess is that very few ended up getting cancelled and the final number will stay close to what it is now.

  26. simon says

    Here’s what I would like : The reverse and standard proof gold buffalo (any size) WITH a special re-strike of the nickel buffalo (type 1) with a centennial marking, preferably on the edge. Talk about a winner !

  27. Wes says

    I bought the West point commemorative coins. They didn’t increase value. Same with the Wildlife Series Medals only 25000 produced of each coin in the series.

  28. VA Bob says

    Shutter – I believe the unattractiveness of the Special Olympics coin, actually helped sales. People thought it might be a low mintage (at a time when higher mintages were a bit more common). I also believe being a good cause, and anything Kennedy, was a plus for sales. Heck I bought one. Of course I really lucked out with the RFK dollar/JFK half combo three years later.

    Wes – The first Wildlife Series Medal, the bald eagle had a 35000 mintage, the following three were 25000. These are important for two reasons. They are the first silver medal series offered by the Mint. It is also the first Mint product to use laser technology in their production. I’ve seen these sets go for as much as $240 OGP, but there are “deals” on the Bay. The “salmon” one is the real catch (pun intended). All in all not too bad for the original price being $29.50 with a portion of the cost going to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and hey, it’s silver. I’ll be hanging onto my set.

  29. Wes says

    Thanks yes I remember reading that article, and I to will be keeping my set but it has not appreciated in value as much as I had expected. I see that on Ebay they are going for around 40.00 each in original packaging. 60 in graded 70 condition each.

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