Later today, June 23, 2011 at 12:00 Noon ET, the United States Mint will begin sales of the 2011 Julia Grant First Spouse Gold Coins. This will continue the one-half ounce 24 karat gold coin series featuring the spouses of the former Presidents.
The obverse design features a portrait of Julia Grant designed by Donna Weaver and sculpted by Michael Gaudioso. The inscriptions include her name, the order of the Presidency “18th”, years of the term “1869-1877”, the mottoes “In God We Trust”, “Liberty”, the date, and mint mark.
On the reverse of the coin is a scene of young Julia Dent and her future husband Ulysses S. Grant. The two are pictured during their courtship, riding horseback on her family’s plantation, White Haven. The inscriptions include “United States of America”, “E Pluribus Unum”, the legal tender face value, and the weight and fineness of the gold content. The reverse was designed by Richard Masters and sculpted by Charles L. Vickers.
The maximum mintage level has been established at 15,000 coins, across the available proof and uncirculated versions. This is the same level that was in place for the previous release, as well as three out of the four releases for 2010. There are no household ordering limits imposed.
Initial pricing for the coins will be $929 for the proof version and $916 for the uncirculated version. This is based on an average gold price within the $1,500 to $1,549.99 range and may be adjusted throughout the course of sales as the average gold price moves into different pricing tiers. The previous Eliza Johnson gold coins had the same initial pricing, had a one week decrease, and then moved back to the original pricing.
The period of availability for each release of the First Spouse Gold Coin program has been somewhat erratic throughout the series. It seems that whenever a familiar pattern has settled in, the events or circumstances align to change it.
Back in 2007, the first three issues all managed to sell out of their maximum mintage of 40,000 on the first day of availability. The United States Mint responded by lowering ordering limits to one per household, which would remain in place for the next several releases, even after sales had cooled.
The following issues of the series remained available for approximately one year from the initial release date. The US Mint would end sales sales of one particular issue to coincide with the release of the coin one year ahead in the schedule. The only aberration to this pattern was when the US Mint ended sales of both the Letitia and Julia Tyler coins together to adjust for the extra coin issued for that year.
The next change in the pattern of availability came with the 2010-dated releases. Each issue carried a maximum mintage of 15,000 and there was no reason to believe sales would proceed any differently than in the past. In early 2011, the proof version of the James Buchanan’s Liberty coin unexpectedly sold out with sales well under the maximum mintage. It turned out that the US Mint had struck fewer than the maximum mintage based on demand forecasts, and no further coins could be produced since it was already 2011. Similar sell outs occurred for the other 2011 issues, and now the only one that remains available is the proof version of the Mary Todd Lincoln coin.
The shifts in availability have contributed to some attractively low mintages throughout the series. It’s probably safe to assume that new Julia Grant First Spouse Gold Coins will be available from the US Mint throughout 2011, but after that I suppose anything could happen.