What’s Next for First Spouse Gold Coins?

As the United States Mint has finally moved forward with details on the offering the of 2012 Presidential Dollars, they have still not provided any details on the 2012 First Spouse Gold Coins. As of the current date, the officially selected designs have not been announced and release dates are yet to be provided. At the same time, sales of all of the 2011-dated coins of the series have continued, but at a slower pace than previous years.

2012 First Spouse Gold Coins

The 2012 First Spouse Coins will feature Alice Paul Suffragist, Frances Cleveland, Caroline Harrison, and Frances Cleveland (again).

The 21st President Chester Arthur served in office without a spouse. In past similar situations, a depiction of Liberty from a circulating coin of the era was used as the obverse design. In this case, the depiction of Alice Paul is specifically required under the authorizing legislation, which states:

…in the case of President Chester Alan Arthur, by a design incorporating the name and likeness of Alice Paul, a leading strategist in the suffrage movement, who 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.

The depiction of Frances Cleveland on two separate coins also stems from a specific requirement of the legislation. Essentially, separate Presidential Dollars are required for Presidents who served in nonconsecutive terms and the issuance of First Spouse Coins follows the same pattern. Grover Cleveland is the only President to serve in two nonconsecutive terms. Here is the section of the authorizing legislation dealing with the treatment of period of service:

…only 1 coin design shall be issued for a period of service for any President, no matter how many consecutive terms of office the President served. If a President has served during 2 or more nonconsecutive periods of service, a coin shall be issued under this subsection for each such nonconsecutive period of service.

The Commission of Fine Arts and Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee reviewed the design candidates for this unusual lineup in November 2011.

Both the CFA and CCAC recommended the designs shown above for the Alice Paul Suffragist Coin.

For the first Frances Cleveland First Spouse Gold Coin, both the CFA and CCAC recommended the designs above.

The CFA’s recommendations for the Caroline Harrison coin are shown above.

The CCAC recommended different obverse and reverse designs for Caroline Harrison. With regards to their recommendation for the reverse design, it is:

…prefaced on the further recommendation that design be modified to replace the proposed floral design with an image of a plate that was hand painted by Mrs. Harrison and that a four-leaf clover mark that was the known moniker of the first lady be added to the design. Provided that the forgoing recommendation to use Mrs. Harrison’s plate design is not approved, the Committee recommends that the paintbrush shown in the design be altered to be shown over the top of the illustration of the lily pedal.

The CFA did not offer any recommendations for the second Frances Cleveland coin. The CCAC recommended the designs shown above.

All of the design candidates can be viewed in this article. As of the current date, the US Mint has not announced the official design selections made by the Secretary of the Treasury. Last year, the announcement of the designs for the 2011 coins was made on February 3, 2011.

The US Mint has  not announced a release date for any of the 2012 First Spouse Gold Coins. For some years, the first coin of the series for the year was released in March. Last year, the first coin was not released until May 5, 2011.

2011 First Spouse Gold Coins

At the time of this post, all of the 2011 First Spouse Gold Coins remain available for sale at the United States Mint. The typical availability period for releases of the series has been “approximately one year” or until the maximum mintage has been sold. In practice, the US Mint has ended sales of each coin as the corresponding coin from the following year is released. For example, sales of the Eliza Johnson coin (the first release of 2011) would conclude when sales of the Alice Paul coin (the first release of 2012) begin. Earlier sell outs can also occur if the US Mint did not produce enough coins to last for the full period.

So far, the pace of sales for the 2011 coins is slower compared to previous years. To get an idea of how current sales compare to previous years, I looked up some old sales reports from March 15, 2010, March 13, 2011, and the most recent sales report on March 19, 2012. Then, I placed the sales numbers for each coin in the chart below.

By reading each line across the chart, you can see how sales of the currently available coins compare to sales for prior year issues at a similar point in time. In each case, the current issues show the lowest number for their respective position on the chart. Final sales for the 2011-dated issues will remain dependent on how much longer the coins remain on sale, the potential impact of gold prices on sales, and the possible occurrence of early sell outs.

Comparing First Spouse Gold Coin Sales Levels At Three Different Dates

3-19-12 3-13-11 3-15-10
Johnson PR 3,807 Fillmore PR 5,790 Harrison PR 6,250
Johson UNC 2,845 Fillmore UNC 3,546 Harrison UNC 3,537
Grant PR 3,964 Pierce PR 4,843 L. Tyler PR 4,789
Grant UNC 2,575 Pierce UNC 3,305 L. Tyler UNC 2,866
J. Tyler PR 4,449
J. Tyler UNC 2,552
Hayes PR 3,110 Buchanan PR 7,304 Polk PR 4,266
Hayes UNC 2,004 Buchanan UNC 5,086 Polk UNC 2,557
Garfield PR 2,590 Lincoln PR 5,552 Taylor PR 3,232
Garfield UNC 1,633 Lincoln UNC 2,708 Taylor UNC 1,798
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  1. G says

    I like the Alice Paul “Suffragist” design. It actually relates to something she stood for and isn’t just another portrait. She’s a looker,too!

  2. says

    Paul would not have been my first choice to be the accompanying coin for Chester Arthur. She had basically no involvement in his administration and her tie to him is tenuous at best. If they wanted to honor Paul, better to just outright do some sort of commemorative coin for her. I’d have preferred something similar to Jackson’s liberty if they couldn’t think of anything else to do for the coin.

  3. jeff72 says

    iiiiiiiii….just can’t seem to get into the “spouse” coins…nor can I afford them….too many in the series to collect.

  4. VABEACHBUM says

    Following up on the Capt’s comments, I seem to recall from previous articles that Paul either was born or was a toddler during Arthur’s administration. Agree that it is nearly impossible to establish any type of association between the two.

    Given the time frame and recognizing that the Morgan craze was right around the corner, how great would it have been to see the Morgan Liberty on this gold piece. Certainly more deserving and better suited to create a complete Liberty Sub-set!!

    As for the Harrison coin, this is one of those instances where I hope Mr. Tie-Breaker (Mr. Secretary) would select the CFA Obverse and the CCAC Reverse. I can envision the minimalist flower devises against the open field – creating a wonderful cameo effect on the PR coin. The plates are just too busy.

    Like some, I’m still fighting to keep up with the series. Keep in mind, though, that there’s another 5-spouse year around the corner. Start planning now!!

  5. Brian says

    About five weeks ago, I wrote an email to the CCAC and CFA suggesting that it might be appropriate to include the date of Ms. Paul’s birth on the coin, as otherwise the inclusion of this coin in the series may be difficult to place in time without such a date, considering all the other coins in the series contain the dates of the presidency for which they correspond.

    Even the four liberty coins contain the dates of the presidents of which the coins are to be associated. Text such as “b. Jan 11, 1885” somewhere in the field between Ms. Paul’s name and “Liberty” could help provide a temporal context for the Alice Paul coin within the overall First Spouse series.

    I did not receive any response to my email. In any event, I like the inclusion of this coin in the series because I think it takes advantage of an opportunity to honor a heroic American woman, a real antagonizer against the status quo of her time, and in a series of coins honoring American Presidents wives, this makes some sense.

    I think the inconsistency is what is odd. To provide better cohesion within this series, the Alice Paul coin would have made more sense if the legislation had specified coins, issued concurrent with the other four Presidents that served w/o a spouse, that similarly honored important American women that lived during the time, and not the Liberty motifs. That way, we would have had a unified five-coin subset of coins honoring great American women citizens, that would complement the real women that are the President Spouses.

  6. VA Bob says

    …and why shouldn’t this coin set be reflective of our convoluted, over-bearing, needlessly complicated “modern” government which often leaves one scratching their head, asking WTF? Seems par for the course.

    G – “A looker”, not sure about that. She looks pretty unhappy as depicted on the coin to me. Maybe better in hand. I agree with most, her coin breaks the set. Another coin or medal would have been best for her, while keeping with the Liberty theme for this set.

  7. auxmike says

    I can’t get too fired up over this series period. The only one I would consider would be Jackie O.

  8. POP says

    Not overly impressed with some of the reverses in this series. An egg rolling contest? I think the coins educational value would have been better served with the portrait of the prez from the $1 coin’s as a reverse. Or maybe a heraldic eagle. Could be I’m wrong.

  9. Eric the Red says

    I thought about one or two from this series but Jackie O No. Nancy Reagan and Laura Bush Maybe?

  10. Matt L. DeTectre says

    If these special issue women that are not married to a president they should have a commemorative coin of their own and let the liberty subset continue for presidents without spouses. The liberty subset is a really neat collectors item but I did not partake due to expense involved.

  11. jim says

    Hello Mike
    Where can I get one of these coins?
    2012 Olympic Pegasus Silver 5 ounce proof
    Thanks Jim

  12. G says

    Okay- I just learned that Paul wasn’t Arthur’s wife. That’s embarrassing… I thought this was the first spouse set? shouldn’t this be a liberty coin if he wasn’t married??? what am I missing? I changed my mind. Horrible choice. am I missing something here?? Just read back the post- oops I totally skipped Michael’s explanation. my bad- sorry guys. I don’t like this idea. Why not just have a commemorative coin for her???? This makes NO sense! Lol

  13. vaughnster says

    What better “spouse” could there be for an unmarried president than Lady Liberty? The symbolism is perfect. Hence the problem for The Mint–it makes sense. They did it for 4 other presidents, why did they change it? You almost want to bang your head against the wall it’s so frustrating.

  14. Brian says

    Are folks missing the fact that it isn’t the Mint that decided to create the Alice Paul coin? This was specified in the legislation. Contact your representatives or members of congress to complain.

    It is interesting to see how rigid some collectors appear to be when some particular aspect of a series deviates from the “norm” (in this case issuance of spouse coins concurrent with the five bachelor presidents). What is being thrown out of whack for people because the legislation specified four liberty issues and one issue honoring a real person!? Is this liberty subset really the creme de la creme of modern issues and it is just too heartbreaking to consider that congress was inconsistent in the legislation?

  15. beaver says

    G says:
    March 27, 2012 at 5:19 am
    Okay- I just learned that Paul wasn’t Arthur’s wife. That’s embarrassing… I thought this was the first spouse set? shouldn’t this be a liberty coin if he wasn’t married??? what am I missing? I changed my mind. Horrible choice. am I missing something here?? Just read back the post- oops I totally skipped Michael’s explanation. my bad- sorry guys. I don’t like this idea. Why not just have a commemorative coin for her????

    Too funny G. LOL!!!!

  16. Shutter says

    The mint can’t make two headed coins.

    Other than upsetting coin flippers everywhere, why not? Pretty sure the Mint would have to make whatever coin the Congress orders it to make.

  17. VA Bob says

    This years Native American dollar coin is three-headed. Sacajawea (obverse), the Indian Chief and the horse (reverse).

  18. Tom says

    “This years Native American dollar coin is three-headed. Sacajawea (obverse), the Indian Chief and the horse (reverse).”

    By that logic, it is four-headed. Sacagawea and her son Jean Baptiste are on the obverse.

  19. DCDave says

    Almost no one is buying first spouse gold coins, time to kill the series.

    Mint needs to “sell out” something.
    ’11 Buffalo needs to stop along with a bunch of other stuff.
    They should kill the ATB 5 oz series, (lower mintages to 15k for future offerings) too.
    Keeping products available for over a year is BAD for the hobby.

    Not too many excited collecters these days.

  20. Two Cents says

    And don’t forget the three lttle heads of the running horses in the background …

  21. Tommy says

    I don’t care who they put on the coins.Let’s get them out. What are they waiting for; the price of gold to go up???

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