Mint probing cause of American Eagle gold bullion coin variant

Thousands of coins struck at the West Point Mint with obverse relief above rim
By , Coin World
Published : 03/11/16
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Manufacturing officials at the U.S. Mint are investigating what caused thousands of 2016 American Eagle 1-ounce gold bullion coins to be struck at the West Point Mint with the obverse relief higher than the rim.

The problem apparently prevents the coins from properly stacking on top of one another, and the coins damage each other when stacked. Mint officials were notified of the relief problem by a Mint customer.

Mint officials consider the anomaly to be a variant and not an error, according to Tom Jurkowsky, director of the Office of Corporate Communications. Jurkowsky said as many as 63,000 coins could have been struck with the higher-than-intended obverse relief.

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The variant was first called to Coin World’s attention via email Feb. 24 from an anonymous sender. Coin World asked U.S. Mint officials for confirmation and an explanation detailing the cause of the anomaly and for images illustrating its appearance. The U.S. Mint has not provided images, and Coin World has not yet obtained images of the variants from private sources.

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Images accompanying this story were taken in-house at Coin World of a 2016 American Eagle 1-ounce gold bullion coin obtained Jan. 16 on loan from SilverTowne in Winchester, Ind., an hour’s drive from Coin World’s Sidney, Ohio, offices. The gold American Eagles went on sale to authorized purchasers on Jan. 11. SilverTowne is a secondary market distributor.

Coin World’s photography did not include images of the coin from all angles. The existence of the relief-above-rim variant was not yet disclosed.

(Individuals with images illustrating the variations in relief are invited to email them to cweditor@coinworld.com.)

Mint officials alerted

Seeking images to illustrate the normal obverse relief and the variant with relief above the rim, Coin World contacted several authorized purchasers.

Andrew Martineau, vice president of merchandising at APMEX in Oklahoma City, said the firm was unaware of the two variants.

Mark L. Oliari, chief executive officer of authorized purchaser Coins ‘N Things in Bridgewater, Mass., and president of Bay Precious Metals, told Coin World March 4 that he learned of the two variants not long after picking up his first shipment of American Eagle gold bullion coins the week of Jan. 11 from the West Point Mint.

Oliari said his first shipment included more than 10,000 of the 1-ounce coins. One of the sealed 500-coin monster boxes containing coins from the earliest production was sent to Professional Coin Grading Service for grading and encapsulation. Oliari said PCGS rejected all of the coins in the box because of scrapes on them caused by the higher relief, which prevented the coins from stacking safely. Oliari said he then notified U.S. Mint officials. He said his firm still has most of the gold American Eagles from that first order.

The Mint’s investigation into the cause of the obverse relief above rim variant is ongoing.

The bullion coins are picked up at the West Point Mint — by the U.S. Mint’s authorized purchasers who ordered them — in 500-coin plastic “monster boxes” containing 25 tubes of 20 coins each. Each box is strapped crisscross, with the strap imprinted with the name of the West Point Mint.

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