Modern Coin Scene: Tuvalu American Bald Eagle Popular with Collectors

Tuvalu American Bald Eagle Popular with Collectors

UntitledThe Perth Mint in Australia has once again issued a one-ounce high relief silver proof coin with a stunning design that is captivating modern world coin collectors.  This time the coin features an obverse image with a striking profile of the head of an American bald eagle issued for the island nation of Tuvalu.

The coin has a limited mintage of 5,000 pieces and collectors had to obtain the coin through U.S. distributors, one of whom claimed to be the exclusive distributor for all 5,000 coins, though the coin was also available from several other companies.  In a short period almost all the coins sold out, including examples graded proof 70 by PCGS and NGC.  On e-Bay they are selling at a premium over the prices dealers were charging during the past couple weeks.

The coin was designed by Perth Mint artist Ing Ing Jong, who has designed many other coins for Perth such as the 2013 Year of the Snake line of coins and others.

The bald eagle is a very popular theme, especially with North American collectors since that is where the animal lives.  Bald eagles are said to represent strength, courage, freedom, and longevity.

Perth’s recent wedge-tailed silver eagle and the Royal Canadian Mint’s 2013 4-coin bald eagle series were both very popular and all those coins sold out quickly.  It is clear that if the design is good enough and the coin has the added feature of being high relief and limited mintage, it is very likely to be a hit with buyers.

Modern Coin Scene: CCAC Recommends New Silver Eagle Reverse Design

Proposed $5 Silver Eagle | Goldmart.comCCAC Recommends New Silver Eagle Reverse Design

On April 8 the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations to the Secretary of the Treasury on the designs that appear on U.S. Mint coins and medals, agreed to recommend a new design for the reverse of the American silver eagle program.  The change, if agreed to by the Commission on Fine Arts, which could instead recommend a different design, and selected by the Secretary, will be used on all versions of the coin, bullion, proof, etc.  This would be the first change in the coin’s design since it was first minted in 1986.

The committee has recommended this change in its last three annual reports, but momentum for the effort only reached critical mass this year.  For several years Mint officials have been putting aside eagle designs that were considered but not used for other programs like the 2008 bald eagle commemoratives, and this resulted in a group of 44 designs that the committee narrowed down to 16.

The selected design, which was first proposed for the 2015 Marshall Service $5 gold commemorative coin, is one that many people agree is the best of the group, the runner-up being the design actually chosen for the Marshall coin.  The same design could not be used as the new silver eagle reverse.

It did not take long for the committee to reach consensus on the design, though there was one strong dissenting voice.

The silver eagle is the king of modern American bullion and collector coins, and it holds a special place for millions of collectors and silver investors.  The committee realized that changing the design had to be done right since they did not want to do any damage to sales of the #1 silver bullion coin on the planet.

The committee ended its session by tasking the Mint to produce several versions of the selected design with some subtle changes to some of the devices like the olive branches in the eagle’s talons, which might either be eliminated, or arrows could be added.

Modern Coin Scene: Silver Baseball Coins Sell Out at the Mint

Silver Baseball Coins Sell Out at the Mint

I discussed this more than a week ago, and it seems I was right!

On April 9 the U.S. Mint posted a waiting list on its web site for the Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative silver dollars, which means the coins are effectively sold out.  Earlier that day 90% of the coins had already been sold.  The breakdown between proof and uncirculated coins has not yet been announced, but it will be roughly 260,000 proofs to 140,000 uncirculated coins.

The silver dollar sell-out took place in 13 days compared to 14 days in 2001 to sell 500,000 Buffalo silver dollars, a coin that many people are comparing to the baseball dollars because of their popularity and iconic designs.  The Buffalo coins continue to command strong premiums today, though less than they sold for at certain points in the past 13 years.  This is widely viewed as an indicator of likely strong premiums for the baseball coins.

Many commemorative issues quickly peak and then drop in price, which may happen in this case for the coins graded at the Baltimore coin show the day the coins were released, but overall most people expect the baseball coins to remain in high demand, which should support strong secondary market values.

Coins graded by NGC and PCGS that were not submitted in Baltimore are just starting to hit the market.  Examples of the gold versions graded MS and PF70 are fetching on average $1500, and the silver dollars in the same grades are bringing about $350-400, an even better return on the buyer’s investment of $50 plus grading fees.

So far a lot of the silver and gold coins are receiving the top grade.  If that continues to be the case, we are likely to see some softening of prices for coins in those grades.

The half dollars are also selling for high premiums, and there 70’s are not nearly as common.  One auction for a 70 set for halves sold for over $700, which is almost a ten-fold return for the buyer.

Modern Coin Scene: Silver Baseball Coins Approaching Sell-Out

Silver Baseball Coins Approaching Sell-Out

On the heels of the record-breaking $5 gold Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coin sell-out that took about 12 hours*, a new record for silver commemoratives appears imminent.

The proof and uncirculated silver baseball coins are extremely popular.   Sales were already brisk with almost 60% of the maximum mintage sold in the first couple days.  Then the gold coins sold out, which spurred buyers to load up on the silver version.

By April 2 208,870 proof and 104,841 uncirculated silver coins were sold.  With about 25,000 coins selling each day, the silver versions were expected to be gone by the time the Mint returned to work on Monday, April 7, when a wait list was expected to be posted.

The clad coins have not been selling nearly as quickly, though that could change now that the new baseball season has started.  The coins are expected to be sold at games to fans.

The silver dollars may end up as long-term winners with collectors like the 2001 Buffalo silver dollars were.  Back then 500,000 coins were sold in 14 days, and in this case the sale of 400,000 coins is set to end a couple days sooner.  The breakdown between proof and uncirculated coins is not yet known, but I suspect it will be roughly 250,000 proofs to 150,000 uncirculated coins.  That may give an edge to the value of the uncs down the road, but that remains to be seen.

Both coins are popular largely because they depict iconic American themes, baseball and bison (which is technically, a North American animal also seen in Canada).

*Although all the gold coins sold out on the first day, the sell-out was not official until March 30.

Modern Coin Scene: Baseball Coin Sales Frenzy Begins

Baseball Coin Sales Frenzy Begins

baseball coin

It was the perfect numismatic storm: the commemorative baseball coin. The first curved coin issued by the U.S. Mint, a well-executed design that meshes form and content, a tie-in with America’s national pastime (baseball), and a lot of speculative interest from dealers and other coin sellers.

The U.S. Mint’s web site, which made the coins available from noon on March 27, used a waiting room system to stagger order placement and help prevent the system from crashing as it has so many other times during peak-demand periods.  This helped, but the system still prevented many people from being able to order, or made them wait hours to do so.  It clearly still needs work.

By about 6:30 pm both the proof and uncirculated gold coins were placed on a wait list, which meant that only if orders are cancelled would others be filled and that would be on a first-come, first-served basis.

The following morning the Mint provided sales figures to the media which showed that 41,797 gold coins, 156,675 silver dollars, and 73,354 were sold as of late the previous day, though there were conflicting reports about when the data was compiled.  That translates into about 85% of the gold mintage, 40% of the silver, and 10% of the clad.

This was clearly an amazing first-day of sales for a commemorative issue, the strongest in many years for the dollars and halves, and perhaps the best-ever for the gold versions.  It seemed odd that the gold coins would be wait listed, which meant they were essentially sold out, with 8,000 remaining of the maximum mintage, but that appeared to be a function of when the data was prepared.

Some people who ordered after 6:30 on the 27th will get their gold coins, but many will not, and the Mint has said it does not expect a lot of cancellations.  The silver dollars may sell out in the next couple weeks, or sooner, but the clad halves are likely to be around for quite a while.