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US Mint Commemorative Coins

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#1
Back in the days of 90% silver and gold coinage, commemorative coins were an easy task for the Mint. Everyday coinage was minted in 90% silver or gold, so there was little consideration regarding the cost of the coins. Starting with the Columbus Expedition half dollar in 1892 and going through the Booker T. Washington half dollar in 1954, the Mint created an impressive and varied collection of 90% silver half dollars, with some other 90% silver and gold coins sprinkled into the mix.

After the US Mint switched to clad coinage in 1965, with silver clad half dollars (which were discontinued after 1970), commemorative coins were few and far between. The Mint experimented by making semi-commemorative coins, including silver clad Eisenhower dollars and Bicentennial sets consisting of dollar, half dollar, and quarter dollar coins.

Only in 1982 did the Mint start making 90% silver commemorative coinage again, with the Washington half dollar. Then, for the 1984 Olympics, they tried making 90% silver commemorative coins again, introducing a special surcharge program that ensured that the extra cost of the coins would be adequately funded. In addition to the 90% silver dollars, the Mint also offered a 90% gold $10 coin, modeled after the $10 gold coins minted near the turn of the century.

This coin surcharge program was the silver bullet that the Mint needed to create 90% silver and gold commemorative coins on a regular basis. By act of Congress, on a per-year basis, the Mint was able to not only offer new designs with 90% gold and silver content, but also make some money in the process--for a good cause, of course. In 1986, the Mint began the tradition of offering a 90% silver dollar, clad half dollar, and 90% gold $5 coin--this was the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty.

The tradition of a 90% silver dollar, clad half dollar, and 90% gold $5 coin was mostly followed since 1986 until now. At the time this tradition was started, collectors were very enthusiastic, with mintage numbers in the millions for the silver dollar coins and hundred thousands for the gold coins. But interest in US Mint commemorative coins declined over the years. Last year, the Boys Town coin series marked all-time mintage lows with all 6 of its coin varieties, with the Gold Unc coin finishing barely below 3k.

The Boys Town series, along with the previous year's National Park series, were a wake-up call for commemorative coins. Even with a popular theme and great designs (for example, a $5 gold coin featuring side-by-side portraits of John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt at Yosemite National Park), the National Park series managed to score mintage lows with both the Gold Unc and Clad Unc coins, and the Boys Town series broke the records again.

After the Boys Town series coins, collectors have been awakened to the potential of US Mint commemorative coins with good potential for value appreciation, and this is reflected in the relatively strong sales of the Breast Cancer Awareness gold coins (which, interestingly, were minted in 85% gold, 14.8% copper, and 0.2% zinc to create a pink-like hue). It will be interesting to see whether the heightened interest continues, or is only short-lived.
 
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#2
After the Boys Town series coins, collectors have been awakened to the potential of US Mint commemorative coins with good potential for value appreciation, and this is reflected in the relatively strong sales of the Breast Cancer Awareness gold coins (which, interestingly, were minted in 85% gold, 14.8% copper, and 0.2% zinc to create a pink-like hue). It will be interesting to see whether the heightened interest continues, or is only short-lived.
A disclaimer for the last paragraph of the previous post...

This is not to say that the 2018 Breast Cancer gold coins have good potential for value appreciation, but that they are perceived to have, due to the previous year's stellar mintage numbers.

For the record, I have bought only the Clad Unc and Clad Proof coins for this year.
 

Buck

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#3
In the mid 90's, there were some extremely low mintages on the silver commemorative dollar series
That was from offering too many choices, the collector market couldn't absorb the entire series, so, keys were born

Today's low mintages don't follow the same reasoning, I have my suspicions but there's no way to measure true collector sentiment

But, lastly I'll add, it IS the content of the design that moves people

For instance:
Featuring a Mexican Folklorico Dancer on the National Park dollar
Featuring a girl on the Obverse of the Boys Town dollar

Seriously, I only bought these pigs because of the mintages
The designs suck

Now, compare that with the BB Glove dollar and IMHO, we can clearly see where the lines are drawn towards propaganda and the lines toward a reasonable design

Anyway, that's my 2¢
 

oldgaranddad

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#4
I see part of the problem is the same thing as stamps. The collector based aged out and died. Stamps never recovered.

Coins had the advantage of adding precious metals and new designs. Unfortunately Congress who authorized the issues went overboard and flooded the market with a plethora of designs and issues that even the most ardent collector can hardly keep up. Thus even scarce issues have too few collectors chasing them.

The second facet is that the ANA and dealers only gave lip service to Young numismatists (YN). The ANA did the bulk of the heavy lifting but could have done more with getting presentations into schools via history and art classes but didn’t for numerous reasons. Dealers cut their own throats by neglecting the less monied YNs and allowing them to fall prey to the hucksters selling crap that would only lose value.

Congress needs to pull back on coinage offerings and improve existing designs by bringing in outside talent like Teddy Roosevelt did in the early 20th century.
 

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#5
My journey with commemorative coins started with the silver dollars, like most other collectors. My first silver dollar was a 1983-S Olympic coin (too bad the price has gone down since then).

Two years ago, I started collecting commemorative $5 gold coins (along with their older counterparts), and I made a bold move on the 2016-w National Park Unc coins, buying 6 of them.

I also ordered some 2016-D clad unc coins in the same order, and both issues ended sales as new keys in their series (since then, they were knocked off the top spot by the 2017 Boys Town coins).

Both 2016 and 2017 were great years for Clad Uncs, and 2018 looks promising as well, looking at initial sales numbers and average condition. I have grown to like these coins, over the last one-and-a-half years. Although the 2016-D Clad Unc was not the main item in my purchase back then, I have learned to respect the potential of these coins as collectors items. And no doubt, the collectors who bought some of them from me on eBay had great respect for the coins.

Here are images of a 2018-D Clad Unc, a 2018-S Clad Proof, a 2017-D Clad Unc, and a 2016-D Clad Unc.

20180409_205449.jpg
20180409_205407.jpg
20180409_205336.jpg
20180409_205227.jpg


If you look closely enough at the images, you may find that the 2018 coins are of superior quality compared to the 2017 and 2016 coins. The most telling difference is the near elimination of rim nicks on the 2018 coins, a big grade-killer.

I think it is not a coincidence that the Mint raised their prices on their Clad coins by $5 per coin. The extra cost probably translated to more careful handling of the coins after minting, and I believe the coins were treated with as much care as silver or gold coins.

By the way, the 2015-D coin has a great design, and I was thinking of buying one. But every time I browsed eBay looking for one, I realized that the same money could probably be better spent on a current year coin, with much better prospects for low mintage.
 

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#6
In the mid 90's, there were some extremely low mintages on the silver commemorative dollar series
That was from offering too many choices, the collector market couldn't absorb the entire series, so, keys were born

Today's low mintages don't follow the same reasoning, I have my suspicions but there's no way to measure true collector sentiment

But, lastly I'll add, it IS the content of the design that moves people

For instance:
Featuring a Mexican Folklorico Dancer on the National Park dollar
Featuring a girl on the Obverse of the Boys Town dollar

Seriously, I only bought these pigs because of the mintages
The designs suck

Now, compare that with the BB Glove dollar and IMHO, we can clearly see where the lines are drawn towards propaganda and the lines toward a reasonable design

Anyway, that's my 2¢
I fully agree that the designs are very important.

The 2014 Baseball HOF coins were a massive hit with collectors, and premiums spiked very high in the initial year after release.

Even well into 2016, the 2014 gold coins were selling at higher premiums than many other coins with much lower mintage.

This year, however, premiums on the 2014 coins seem to have gone down, finally. Good thing for myself, I did not shell out money to buy one of the 70-graded gold coins back in 2016 (although I bought a 69-graded gold coin at a reasonable price).

I think the 2017 Boys Town silver dollar has a good design, though, despite the misleading use of a girl under the words Boys Town. The placement and spacing of the letters and pictures is well done, in my opinion, and this coin has a good future ahead.

I see part of the problem is the same thing as stamps. The collector based aged out and died. Stamps never recovered.

Coins had the advantage of adding precious metals and new designs. Unfortunately Congress who authorized the issues went overboard and flooded the market with a plethora of designs and issues that even the most ardent collector can hardly keep up. Thus even scarce issues have too few collectors chasing them.

The second facet is that the ANA and dealers only gave lip service to Young numismatists (YN). The ANA did the bulk of the heavy lifting but could have done more with getting presentations into schools via history and art classes but didn’t for numerous reasons. Dealers cut their own throats by neglecting the less monied YNs and allowing them to fall prey to the hucksters selling crap that would only lose value.

Congress needs to pull back on coinage offerings and improve existing designs by bringing in outside talent like Teddy Roosevelt did in the early 20th century.
I feel very fortunate I did not go down the path of collecting stamps. Back in the early 80s, I got a few stamp collector kits from the post office, but once I was introduced to coin collecting, I forgot about stamps.

With coins, I just think the Eagles have been too dominant for the last 10 years. But their dominance is finally going away, I think. The many low mintage issues in the commemorative and ATB 5 oz coins of recent years should take away some of the dominance of Eagles.

But I agree that if the Mint can perfect just a few designs, and use them repeatedly (even for commemorative coins), it can do wonders to help the coin collecting community.
 

oldgaranddad

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With coins, I just think the Eagles have been too dominant for the last 10 years. But their dominance is finally going away, I think. The many low mintage issues in the commemorative and ATB 5 oz coins of recent years should take away some of the dominance of Eagles.
Eagles have been the one constant theme on the reverse since the US 1793 Flowing Hair Dollar. I do agree that the eagles have been more prominent but that was in response to consumer sentiment from marketing research that the mint had done.
 

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#8
it's been interesting watching the price action on the old low mintage five dollar golds. the new, lower mintages have caused their prices to drop (to varying degrees). great for collectors interested in the older golds
 

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it's been interesting watching the price action on the old low mintage five dollar golds. the new, lower mintages have caused their prices to drop (to varying degrees). great for collectors interested in the older golds
The big question is how far will the correction of the older gold coins (for example, Jackie Robinson Gold Unc) go?

Right now, there is still a big price difference between the 1997-W Jackie Robinson Gold Unc and 2016-W National Park Gold Unc, two coins which differ in mintage by less than 100, and their prices seem to be at $1800 and $600, respectively, for MS-70.

If "correct" prices are based on a combination of design quality and mintage, then the relative pricing of these two coins will not be correct until they are equal, or nearly equal.

The technical charts--hypothetically speaking, if we could chart the prices of collector coins--are really the only saving factor for the Jackie coin, at this point. Buyers of this coin are hopeful that the coin price gets a rebound from its oversold condition, even though the long-term trend may indeed be downward.

One additional variable may be that the average condition of the older coins may tend to be worse than the newer ones. If this is the case, then it would be a good reason for valuing the Jackie coin higher than National Park.
 

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One additional variable may be that the average condition of the older coins may tend to be worse than the newer ones. If this is the case, then it would be a good reason for valuing the Jackie coin higher than National Park.
The NGC census shows about 1/3 of Jackie coins grading at MS 70, with the rest at MS 69. For the National Park coins, a much larger fraction of coins are MS 70.

This provides some validation for a higher price of the Jackie coin. But then again, one only need compare the MS 69 Jackie coin (at $1000) with the MS 70 National Park coin (at $600) to realize that there is still a price gap to be closed between the two coins.
 

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that's a big difference. imo the jackie holders are looking at big downside. i dont know anything about the 70 market - i pay more attention to the original packaging or 69s

the boys gold recently been selling for 800-1000 on bay
 

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I see part of the problem is the same thing as stamps. The collector based aged out and died. Stamps never recovered.

Coins had the advantage of adding precious metals and new designs. Unfortunately Congress who authorized the issues went overboard and flooded the market with a plethora of designs and issues that even the most ardent collector can hardly keep up. Thus even scarce issues have too few collectors chasing them.

The second facet is that the ANA and dealers only gave lip service to Young numismatists (YN). The ANA did the bulk of the heavy lifting but could have done more with getting presentations into schools via history and art classes but didn’t for numerous reasons. Dealers cut their own throats by neglecting the less monied YNs and allowing them to fall prey to the hucksters selling crap that would only lose value.

Congress needs to pull back on coinage offerings and improve existing designs by bringing in outside talent like Teddy Roosevelt did in the early 20th century.
Excellent observations re: aging collector base and YN. Had a conversation with one of local coin club's most active members and he said that YN aren't really there to replace previous generations. Getting worried about the future of the hobby in general.
 

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Excellent observations re: aging collector base and YN. Had a conversation with one of local coin club's most active members and he said that YN aren't really there to replace previous generations. Getting worried about the future of the hobby in general.
So true. I was the the 2002 ANA World's Fair of Money Numismatic Theater Chairman. I worked with the Massapequa Coin Club for years to get younger collectors into the hobby. I eventually gave up in disgust with older members of the hobby who were only interested in their collections and their niche collecting realms while talking down to the newbies.

If the coin collecting community put half the energy the firearms community puts into attracting and training new blood to the sport the numismatic community would be vibrant. That is why I personally moved away from numismatics and now I train new shooters in firearm safety (Women on Target classes). I've personally seen someone let a new shooter try out their northwards of $5K shotgun on the range -- and supply the ammo. When I shoot my Garands at the range I think at least 10-20% of my ammo is burned up by young shooters with their parents at the range. You'd be lucky if someone let a young numismatist examine their $5K valued coin (even if it was in a slab) at a coin show. (Maybe things are different but I doubt it).
 

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Gentlemen, and Ladies,
Part of the difference between what we collect and what others collect is:
At the end of the day, we still have the gold, or silver, or clad (what the hell is clad?) (sorry, JK, i've made some good money, in the past on the clad half dollars but have only one, for sale, to anyone, at this time LOL ) anyway, sooory, that was for ME :)
but, we have the base metal to fall back on, the mintage, design, country of origin, were all value based upon the core metal of the coin/bar/round/etc

that's NEVER going to go away, unless it's confiscated again, but at which time, in the past, it was still traded openly
see the many coin clubs that still existed, at that time
now, see how many exist today

Gold and Silver and Bronze are STILL the world's money source
don't let anyone kid you, the people who control the worlds money sources ALL own something of intrinsic value and I'll suggest they ALL have physical gold and silver


it ain't going away in our lifetime,
the value of precious metals
the collector base of coinage
investors
an eventual stock market correction, long overdue according to traditional sentiment
 

stas3000

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Gentlemen, and Ladies,
Part of the difference between what we collect and what others collect is:
At the end of the day, we still have the gold, or silver, or clad (what the hell is clad?) (sorry, JK, i've made some good money, in the past on the clad half dollars but have only one, for sale, to anyone, at this time LOL ) anyway, sooory, that was for ME :)
but, we have the base metal to fall back on, the mintage, design, country of origin, were all value based upon the core metal of the coin/bar/round/etc

that's NEVER going to go away, unless it's confiscated again, but at which time, in the past, it was still traded openly
see the many coin clubs that still existed, at that time
now, see how many exist today

Gold and Silver and Bronze are STILL the world's money source
don't let anyone kid you, the people who control the worlds money sources ALL own something of intrinsic value and I'll suggest they ALL have physical gold and silver


it ain't going away in our lifetime,
the value of precious metals
the collector base of coinage
investors
an eventual stock market correction, long overdue according to traditional sentiment
Certainly, what many of us are doing here is different comparing to an average coin club member. We'll see how this transition from the existing, sort of legacy collector base to younger generations unfolds. The fact of the matter is (well, from what I hear), attendance at club meetings is dwindling and younder people are not joining hence some regulars being worried. It's been a while since I've been to a coin club meeting so I suppose I'm part of the problem... :)
 

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#16
imo, the bullion stackers got a nice bump from the ron paul reLOVEution. a scant few understood the fed or what money was before that. from there, some of the bullion stackers are branching into the numi market (but still pm). think the future is good on that market. the non-pm coins probably wont get the same support -- until one day when there are no coins (all digital) at all
 

oldgaranddad

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#17

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that's a big difference. imo the jackie holders are looking at big downside. i dont know anything about the 70 market - i pay more attention to the original packaging or 69s

the boys gold recently been selling for 800-1000 on bay
I agree, and it will be interesting to see how low the Jackie coins can go, MS 69 or 70.

Coin price changes are not very different from more standard investments, except that prices can be very different even at the same point in time.

At some point, prices may go low enough to trigger a rebound, but the big question will be whether the rebound is long-term or only short-term.

I have a feeling that much more drop is needed by the Jackie before a long-term rebound is due.

So true. I was the the 2002 ANA World's Fair of Money Numismatic Theater Chairman. I worked with the Massapequa Coin Club for years to get younger collectors into the hobby. I eventually gave up in disgust with older members of the hobby who were only interested in their collections and their niche collecting realms while talking down to the newbies.

If the coin collecting community put half the energy the firearms community puts into attracting and training new blood to the sport the numismatic community would be vibrant. That is why I personally moved away from numismatics and now I train new shooters in firearm safety (Women on Target classes). I've personally seen someone let a new shooter try out their northwards of $5K shotgun on the range -- and supply the ammo. When I shoot my Garands at the range I think at least 10-20% of my ammo is burned up by young shooters with their parents at the range. You'd be lucky if someone let a young numismatist examine their $5K valued coin (even if it was in a slab) at a coin show. (Maybe things are different but I doubt it).
I consider myself somewhere in between the two parties. I have never associated closely with the establishment coin collector societies, but I have had a heart for numismatics for quite a while.

In today's digital age, eBay and numismatics forums are my vehicle for connecting with numismatics again.

Gentlemen, and Ladies,
Part of the difference between what we collect and what others collect is:
At the end of the day, we still have the gold, or silver, or clad (what the hell is clad?) (sorry, JK, i've made some good money, in the past on the clad half dollars but have only one, for sale, to anyone, at this time LOL ) anyway, sooory, that was for ME :)
but, we have the base metal to fall back on, the mintage, design, country of origin, were all value based upon the core metal of the coin/bar/round/etc

that's NEVER going to go away, unless it's confiscated again, but at which time, in the past, it was still traded openly
see the many coin clubs that still existed, at that time
now, see how many exist today

Gold and Silver and Bronze are STILL the world's money source
don't let anyone kid you, the people who control the worlds money sources ALL own something of intrinsic value and I'll suggest they ALL have physical gold and silver


it ain't going away in our lifetime,
the value of precious metals
the collector base of coinage
investors
an eventual stock market correction, long overdue according to traditional sentiment
My guess is that 1965 brought about a major shift in coin collecting. Because silver coins were removed from circulation, it became harder to do coin collecting in the traditional manner.

People probably became discouraged in not being able to find dimes or quarters before 1965.

Eventually, the only practical way of finding collector coins was now either to buy them or trade for them.

After gold and silver eagles matured over the decades since 1986, coin collecting got a second wind, but in the form of precious metals investing. This is why commemorative coins are massively lagging behind eagles in sales.

Once the low mintages start attracting more and more collectors, I think there will eventually be a revival in traditional coin collecting, but it will still take hard cash (over face value) to buy new coins, unlike in the past, when it was far easier to find them in change.

By the way, I believe clad coins have gained a reputation over the decades as a symbol of American coinage. For this reason, collectors may connect more with them than otherwise.

Certainly, what many of us are doing here is different comparing to an average coin club member. We'll see how this transition from the existing, sort of legacy collector base to younger generations unfolds. The fact of the matter is (well, from what I hear), attendance at club meetings is dwindling and younder people are not joining hence some regulars being worried. It's been a while since I've been to a coin club meeting so I suppose I'm part of the problem... :)
I think nowadays, people (including myself) prefer to use the computer and the internet to buy, sell, and discuss coins, due to convenience.

I hear about coin shows in my local area, but the question is whether I actually have the time to go to them.