Paul Gilkes

Mint State

Paul Gilkes

Paul Gilkes, senior editor, U.S. coins, is a Long Island native who has written for Coin World since 1988. While covering the U.S. Mint, Paul has reported many memorable stories including the record sale of the Farouk/Fenton 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle, the legal proceedings involving the Langbord 1933 double eagles, the aluminum 1974-D Lincoln cent, and the development of the concave/convex 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame coins.

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    Give the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders the medal they are asking for

    October 24, 2014 12:34 PM by

    This is an open letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob “Jack” Lew:

    Dear Treasury Secretary Lew,

    By statute, you have the final say for what designs will appear on the nation’s coins and medals, regardless of what the two congressionally authorized review panels — the Commission of Fine Arts and Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee — and even the U.S. Mint recommend.

    Public Law 113-106, signed into law May 23, 2014, by President Obama, authorizes the issuance of a congressional gold medal recognizing “the World War II members of the ‘Doolittle Tokyo Raiders’, for outstanding heroism, valor, skill, and service to the United States in conducting the bombings of Tokyo.”

    Of the 80 Doolittle Tokyo Raiders who launched on the April 18, 1942, raid, eight were captured, two died in crashes, and 70 returned home.

    Of the eight captured Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, three were executed and one died of disease.

    As of February 2013, according to the text of the enabling legislation, there were only five surviving members of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders.

    Today, only four survive, all in their 90s — Lt. Col. Robert Hite, Staff Sgt. Robert Thatcher, Lt. Col. Edward Saylor, and the senior member, Lt. Col. Richard Cole.

    As a lieutenant, Cole was Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle’s co-pilot in the lead plane. The crew had to bail out as the aircraft ran out of fuel and eventually crashed. Doolittle, Cole and the remaining three men in the crew were rescued by the Chinese.

    On Oct. 14, the CCAC made their recommendations after design review, and two days later, the CFA made their picks. The Doolittle Tokyo Raiders made it known to both panels the proposed designs the association wants to see on the final medal.

    The CFA backed the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders' preferences. The CCAC recommended different obverse and reverse designs.

    Simply put, give the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders what they are asking for.

    They earned it.

    Sincerely,

    Paul Gilkes

    Coin World

    Senior Editor, U.S. Coins

     

    Denver Mint 'stampede' atypical for gold half dollar purchasers

    August 13, 2014 1:42 PM by
    ​It was a shame that United States Mint officials announced the need Aug. 7 to suspend sales early for the gold Proof 1964–2014-W Kennedy 50th Anniversary half dollars at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Rosemont, Ill., and sales centers at Mint headquarters in Washington, D.C., and the Philadelphia and Denver Mints.

    But you can’t blame them, as the safety of the general public and Mint employees was of major concern. While it appears the literal stampede of potential coin buyers waiting in line at the Denver Mint for Aug. 7 sales was the likely culprit for sales suspensions at all outlets, the incident was an isolated one.

    Aug. 7 was the last day of sales at the three Mint facility locations, leaving 100 unsold coins at each location to be returned to the Mint’s order fulfillment center. And the 500 coins each day for both Aug. 8 and 9 at the ANA venue were also returned.

    At $1,240 per coin, the U.S. Mint gave up $1,612,000 in retail sales at the four venues combined in the name of public safety.

    No one could have anticipated the size of the crowds at each site. I was present at the ANA venue, and checked the line activity throughout each day, beginning with the line assembling the evening of Aug. 4 waiting for inaugurals.

    From what I witnessed, except for some line jumpers, the crowd was orderly and policed themselves. It was repeated each day a new line assembled.

    I also monitored activity at the other three venues through my sources on-site, who experienced similar orderly behavior,

    The sales of the gold Proof Kennedy 50th Anniversary half dollars was THE story of the show, making national headlines.

    There was more positive publicity and feedback generated for the hobby from the coin launch that no amount of money could buy.

    The U.S. Mint is planning to sit down for internal discussions to determine what officials felt was done right, what glitches there might have been and what things can be improved upon.

    The Mint is already looking at the release of an undisclosed numismatic product at the 2015 ANA convention, to be held at the same venue in Rosemont, Ill.

    It will be interesting to see what the product will be, and how the launch will be handled. I know I’m looking forward to it.

    By the way, as of Aug. 10, the U.S. Mint recorded sales of 112,134 of the gold Proof Kennedy 50th Anniversary half dollars.

    Gone are the days of U.S. Mint's 'salmon sheets'

    August 1, 2014 12:23 PM by
    If you haven't yet, read my first post about mintage numbers.​

    When I started covering the U.S. Mint beat for  Coin World  some 25 years ago, the Mint’s public affairs personnel periodically released what were referred to as “salmon sheets.”

    Containing the latest production figures for circulating coins and sales for precious metal coins and numismatic products, the “salmon sheets” derived their moniker from the color of the paper on which the figures were printed. Some of the figures reported were neither sales nor production, but what was shipped.

    Today, much of the same data for current programs is disseminated weekly online at  www.usmint.gov , or more frequently if we specifically ask the Office for Corporate Communications.

    The Mint reports the number of each denomination of U.S. coin struck for circulation and shipped to the Federal Reserve.

    Collectors often follow the sales numbers for numismatic products to determine whether to place an order with the Mint for a current numismatic product or to pursue a product on the secondary market for a program that has closed.

    The U.S. Mint reports final “sales,” not mintages, within six months after a numismatic program has officially closed and all sales reconciled and audited.

    In some instances, the wait to learn the final sales, mintage, or whatever the end number is to be called, can take longer, especially for programs for which sales are extended into the next calendar year.

    Commemorative coin sales are mandated to end on the specific date provided for in the enabling legislation.
    Sales of Proof or Uncirculated versions of American Eagle and American Buffalo coins carried over from the previous continue as long as inventory remains, but usually end once the new issue is released.

    First Spouse coins dated 2013 are still being sold, in 2014. There are several other 2013 products still being sold in 2014 even though their 2014 counterpart has been issued. Learning the final mintage for those 2013 products will be delayed until sales are cut-off, the program ends and the auditing subsequently completed.

    For American Eagle and American Buffalo bullion coins, as long as product remains in inventory for acquisition by authorized purchasers, the final “mintage” will not be disclosed, even though the number of coins actually struck is known.

    And because of the plethora of annual numismatic products containing some of the same coins in multiple packaging options, the final sales or mintage of a particular coin will be delayed even further until all those products have been pulled from sale and audited. 

    Numbers are critical in numismatics, but are not always easily determined

    July 21, 2014 2:21 PM by

    Numismatics is a numbers game.

    Collectors are obsessed with numbers.

    To answer the primary question, “What’s it worth?” collectors often rely on mintages in making that assessment.

    But what are mintages and what do they mean? Things have changed quite a bit since the U.S. Mint’s founding in 1792.

    Production at the fledgling United States Mint during the waning years of the 18th century, and well into the first half of the 19th, was derived from a combination of official Mint records and speculation.

    Official records might indicate a specific number of coins were struck during a specific calendar year or with a specific date; however, the Mint in its early years was prone to have dies from previous production years reused. So, in some instances, production figures from the 18th and 19th century coinage from the U.S. Mint may reflect output over more than one calendar year regardless of the date on the coin.

    A coin may have a reported mintage or production of 1 million coins, but circumstances resulted in half the output being melted.

    Should the mintage be reported as 1 million or 500,000?

    Today, while production can begin in 2014 for a coin to be issued in 2015, the coin can’t be officially released until the year whose date appears on the coin.

    Production may eventually span more than one calendar year, but must end no later than December 31 of the year of issue.

    The topic can be debated as to what a coin’s mintage actually is. Is it the number of actual coins struck? The number struck and issued? The net number after production and a quantity of that output subsequently melted?

    Many of the classic early commemorative coins dated and issued from 1892 through 1954 have had the production recorded as number struck, number sold, and number melted, from which the end result is the net mintage.

    Some of the early commemoratives had all the coins authorized struck on speculation they would eventually be sold.

    Today, the U.S. Mint strikes commemorative coins to order, up to the maximum authorized mintage for each issue according to the enabling legislation. While a program may be called a sellout, the combined Proof and Uncirculated sales reported might fall short of the maximum authorized mintage because some coins are returned for damage or other reasons, and eventually melted. The figures reported by the Mint that serve as the mintages are actually sales.

    Legislative language sometimes  specifies no more than a certain number can be struck or issued, while on occasion, the language specifies the maximum that can be issued. In those latter instances, more coins may be struck to compensate for rejected or damaged coins, but not more than the number authorized can be issued.

    Again, what is often publicly reported are the sales, not the number actually struck, which includes rejected coins, although those figures are likely available somewhere. Should the damaged, rejected or returned coins be reported as part of the mintage, even though those coins would not be available to the collector marketplace?

    Golden opportunity: Will U.S. Mint debut gold Kennedy half at ANA?

    May 9, 2014 8:47 PM by

    2014 is the year of the Kennedy – half dollar that is.

    The year marks the golden anniversary of the inaugural release of the Kennedy half dollar into circulation.

    By the time the year ends, collectors will have had the opportunity to acquire directly from the U.S. Mint at least nine different Kennedy half dollar composition, Mint mark, finish and design/relief combinations.

    Premier among the highly anticipated options is the dual-dated 1964-2014 Proof version containing approximately 0.75 ounces of .9999 fine gold.

    Collectors are speculating when it and two other versions – one in .900 fine silver and one in copper-nickel clad -- bearing U.S. Mint Chief Engraver Gilroy Roberts original 1963 sculpt of the slain president will be released.

    The popular bet is that the three special Kennedy commemoratives could be released during the American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money the first week of August in Rosemont, Ill.

    The U.S. Mint has previously released special numismatic commemoratives during the ANA’s conventions – the 2012 American Buffalo, Reverse Proof $50 coin and 2013 American Eagle West Point Two-Coin Silver Set among them.

    While it is known the gold version of the Kennedy half dollar will be struck with the W Mint at the West Point Mint, many questions remain unanswered.

    What finish will the high relief silver and copper-nickel clad versions bear? Which facility or facilities will strike these issues? Will mintages reflect striking to order during a set or open-ended ordering period, or will they be limited editions?

    Except for the gold version, the obverse of all Kennedy half dollar versions in 2014 will bear the single date 2014. The reverse design on all options, including the gold, will bear the lower relief Heraldic Eagle reverse last used on 2013-dated Kennedy half dollars.

    Collectors seeking to assemble a complete collection of Kennedy half dollars dated 2014 will need the following, with price from U.S. Mint:

    The three high relief commemoratives (prices unknown)

    Circulation quality copper-nickel clad Denver Mint (D) and Philadelphia Mint (P) strikes (two-roll set, $32.95)

    Copper-nickel clad Denver and Philadelphia strikes in the 2014 Uncirculated Mint set ($27.95)

    Copper-nickel clad San Francisco Mint (S) strike in 2014-S Proof set ($31.95)

    .900 fine silver San Francisco Mint strike in 2014-S Silver Proof set ($53.95)

    Collectors may lower their cash output by trying to acquire single examples of the coins, where available, on the secondary market.

    Visit the U.S. Mint’s website at www.usmint.gov.