The 2013-W Ida McKinley First Spouse coin, shown in these line drawings unveiled Aug. 6, will be the first of five First Spouse coins to be issued in 2013 once the U.S. Mint irons out production problems.
Production difficulties with the 2013-W First Spouse half-ounce gold $10 coins are leading U.S. Mint officials to continue delaying release of the series.
As of Sept. 26, U.S. Mint officials had not disclosed release dates for the .9999 fine gold coins honoring first ladies Ida McKinley, Edith Roosevelt, Helen Taft, Ellen Wilson and Edith Wilson. Designs for the coins were released Aug. 6.
The production problems the U.S. Mint is encountering with the 2013-W First Spouse coins is affecting Uncirculated and Proof versions for all five coins to be struck at the West Point. Similar problems delayed the release of the 2012-W First Spouse gold coins.
“The reason for the delay in bringing this year’s First Spouse gold coins to market is due to a problem that we refer to as ‘finning,’ ” according to U.S. Mint officials Sept. 23. “Because gold is a very soft metal, it can be very difficult to deal with. When the coins are pressed, excess metal can build up on the coin’s edges. This, in turn, causes an effect that we refer to as ‘bottle capping.’ The production team is working through this problem, and we are confident we will be able to resolve the issue.”
Finning is a production problem often encountered with circulation coins, which is usually rectified with the excess metal rising from the rims being separated from the coins as the coins repeatedly collide with one another, according to the Mint.
Finning occurs when the striking pressure on the coinage press is set higher than normal. The coin metal is forced up between the collar and the edge of the coin dies, resulting in a sharp, wire rim.
U.S. Mint officials define “bottle capping” as “high finning along the edge of the coin causes the coin to resemble a bottle cap.”
Finning in the past
U.S. Mint officials indicate finning has appeared sporadically on First Spouse gold coins since the series was introduced in 2007.
Finning also affected one of the 2012-W First Spouse coins, delaying release of the entire series. Officials did not disclose which 2012 First Spouse coin caused the delay.
The 2012-W Alice Paul coin, representing the term of Chester A. Arthur, was not released until Oct. 11, 2012; the Frances Cleveland (first term) coin was released Nov. 15, 2012; Caroline Harrison coin, Dec. 6, 2012; and the Cleveland (second term) coin, Dec. 20, 2012.
Dec. 31, 2012, was the final day the West Point Mint could strike 2012 coins. Sales, however, can continue indefinitely.
The maximum mintage for each coin combined in Proof and Uncirculated versions was 13,000 for the 2012 series.
As of Sept. 22, 2013, the U.S. Mint posted the following cumulative sales totals for the 2012-W First Spouse coins:
The maximum mintage for each coin combined in Proof and Uncirculated versions for 2013 has been lowered to 10,000 per First Spouse. ■