About four weeks ago, the 2013 5-Star Generals Uncirculated $5 Gold Coins unexpectedly sold out at the United States Mint. I thought it would be a good time to revisit the issue which has been commanding a sharp premium on the secondary market.
The sales figures for modern commemorative gold coins had been drifting lower for several years. The gold coins issued for the 2008 program featuring the Bald Eagle had achieved respectable sales of 15,099 uncirculated and 59,269 proof coins. The issuance of the next gold coins in 2011 would see overall sales fall to less than half this level. In 2012, the uncirculated $5 gold commemorative coin would end up with the third lowest sales of the modern era.
|Recent Commemorative $5 Gold Coin Sales Figures|
|2008 Bald Eagle||15,009||59,269|
|2011 U.S. Army||8,062||17,173|
|2011 Medal of Honor||8,251||18,012|
|2012 Star Spangled Banner||7,027||18,313|
|2013 5-Star Generals||5,658||15,843|
Despite the historically low mintages for the 2011 and 2012 gold commemoratives, the secondary market reaction was relatively muted.
The reaction to the sell out of the 2013 5-Star Generals Gold Coin has been much more dramatic. Almost immediately following the sell out, secondary market prices quickly jumped with strong premiums still being paid for the coins.
A survey of recently completed eBay auctions since the start of the year shows prices for raw and MS69 graded pieces ranging from $603 to $685. Examples graded NGC MS 70 have realized prices ranging from $800 to $953. Examples graded PCGS MS70 have realized prices from $980 to $1,225. The highest price points occurred for coins with an Early Releases of First Strike designation.
These prices can be compared to the last US Mint issue price of $400.45 per coin.
Two factors driving the high secondary market prices are the low mintage of the coin and the unexpected nature of the sell out. With last reported sales of 5,658, the uncirculated version of the 2013 5-Star Generals $5 Gold Coin ranks as the second lowest mintage modern commemorative coin. The only issue with a lower mintage is the long standing key date uncirculated 1997-W Jackie Robinson $5 Gold Coin at 5,174 pieces.
The uncirculated 5-Star Generals Gold Coin sold out on December 23, 2013, which was more than a week before the US Mint’s pre-announced sales ending date. As I had mentioned previously, this is the first time I can recall seeing a commemorative coin sell out prior to the announced sales ending date (except in the case of the sales reaching the full maximum mintage). No doubt, there were some collectors and dealers waiting until the final few days of sales to place orders for the coins. Once the sell out occurred, there seemed to be a scramble to find available examples of the secondary market, which served to push prices immediately higher.
Looking slightly ahead, the low mintage status of the 5-Star Generals Gold Coin should not be in any danger of being undercut this year. The only commemorative gold coin for 2014 is included in the program honoring the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Due to the popular subject matter and the special curved shape, the coins should easily surpass the low sales of the 5-Star Generals issue.
Looking further ahead, in 2015 there will be a commemorative $5 gold coin for the United States Marshals Service. In 2016, there will be a commemorative $5 gold coin honoring author Mark Twain.