The First Spouse Gold Coin series began with much excitement in 2007. The first three coins released sold the maximum authorized mintage of 40,000 coins in less than one day. As the series has progressed, collector interest has dwindled resulting in lower sales and relatively low mintages.
There are currently five First Spouse coins available directly from the US Mint. This includes four releases from 2009 and the final 2008 release featuring Martin Van Buren’s Liberty. On December 4, sales will begin for the final release of 2009 featuring Margaret Taylor, and sales of the Van Buren’s Liberty coin will end. There are seven previous issues of the series that are no longer available for sale.
Sales figures for all released First Spouse Gold Coins are presented below. This data is based on the latest weekly sales report and earlier data. Coins listed in italics still remain available for sale directly from the US Mint.
|Van Buren’s Liberty||4,229||7,314||11,543|
So far, the low for the series (considering coins no longer available at the US Mint) remains as the 2008-W Uncirculated Louisa Adams coin at 4,223. This low will stand until at least 2010 since the Van Buren’s Liberty uncirculated coin has just surpassed this level.
Most of the sold out First Spouse Coins can be tracked down relatively easily. Prices are usually in the $600 to $700 range. The highest prices seem to be coming for the Andrew Jackson’s Liberty coin, which sells above this range. Top graded NGC and PCGS certified coins also drive an extra premium.
There has been a lot of thoughtful discussion about the future prospects for the First Spouse Gold Coins in terms of potential price appreciation. The main argument in favor of the series is the low mintage of many issues. In the past, coins which have been unpopular or overlooked while offered, became desirable rarities after sales ended and the low final mintage attracted new interest. The most notable example of this is the 1997-W Uncirculated Jackie Robinson $5 Gold Coin with a mintage of 5,174 coins. The value of the coin has risen from the initial $180 to
more than $4,000 around $3,000.
Another argument in favor of the series is that it will experience renewed interest when better known First Spouses are honored. New collectors will enter the series, with some eventually deciding to seek out older low mintage issues of the series to issues to build a complete collection. There are actually two releases coming in 2010 which should be popular.
The James Buchanan’s Liberty coin will be released in the second half of the year. Since Buchanan never married, the obverse design will feature the image of Liberty from a circulating coin of his era. The CCAC has supported using the design from the Coronet Gold $2.50 Quarter Eagle. This will be the fourth and final coin in the “Liberty” subset of the First Spouse series, and the only one to feature a design from a classic gold coin. Also, the final release of 2010 will be the Mary Todd Lincoln Gold Coin. Coins related to Lincoln have always been popular with collectors and this coin together with the 2010 Lincoln Presidential Dollar should be popular.
Arguments against the series center around the limited popularity and low demand, which might always be the case despite the low mintages. Other gold coins with extremely low mintages, like the Jackie Robinson coin, were part the broader modern commemorative series. The mintage of 5,174 was extremely low when compared to other $5 gold commemorative coins, making it a standout for the entire series. In the case of the First Spouse Gold series, it seems likely that there will be numerous issues with mintages in the 4,000 to 5,000 range or lower. This might dampen some of the appeal of the low mintage coins since none of them will be a singular standout.
As a final consideration, prices of the coins are likely to remain heavily influenced by the price of gold. Each coin contains one-half ounce of gold, which currently represents the majority of the value for each coin. The rising price of gold obviously can work in favor of the series. The first three releases were originally offered at $410.95 and $429.95. Prices of the coins have increased, largely in line with the rise in the price of gold. If the price of gold falls, the opposite scenario would likely occur. The lower mintage coins may be more insulated against a changes in the price of gold, but would likely still be impacted.
Personally, I have been a buyer of the series, starting with the 2008 releases. I purchased most of the 2009 releases when prices were lower. I haven’t decided whether I will buy the upcoming Margaret Taylor coin when sales begin, or try to wait for a lower price.
I haven’t done a poll for a while, but this seems like a good subject for one. How will First Spouse Gold Coins Perform in the Future?