First Spouse mintages, Saddle Ridge popularity among trends shaping U.S. coin market today

Editorial column from June 16, 2014, issue of Coin World
By , Coin World
Published : 05/30/14
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In the March 10 Editorial I looked at trends shaping the world coin market today. Since then, several Coin World readers have asked me if any of these relate to the U.S. coin market. 

The answer is a resounding yes. 

Global trends identified in that Editorial included smaller mintages for some collectible coins, innovations in production, multiyear series, increased variation within a given series, and marketing beyond coin collectors to broader audiences.

Take smaller mintages. We see that for some U.S. issues like the First Spouse gold $10 coin series, lower mintages each year seem to be the norm. 

For example, as of May 25, sales for the Uncirculated 2013-W Edith Wilson gold $10 coin, honoring President Wilson’s second wife, was at just 1,428 coins. As Paul Gilkes notes in this week’s coverage, since 2008, none of the individual Proof or Uncirculated First Spouse issues has topped 8,000 in sales. Since 2010, none has surpassed 4,000 coins.

Regarding increased choices, buyers of the American Eagle silver bullion coin series continue to have more options. Both the U.S. Mint and third-party grading services can take credit for that. 

The Mint continues to develop technically with Reverse Proof and Enhanced Uncirculated finishes. 

Grading services have created demand for seemingly identical coins by distinguishing between Uncirculated examples struck at the West Point and San Francisco Mints, although the coins lack a Mint mark and can be identified only from packaging indicating their shipping location.

Perhaps the most influential trend that has the potential to transform the rare coin market is the marketing of rare coins beyond the traditional base of coin buyers. 

Selections from the Saddle Ridge Hoard of gold coins were made available on Kagin’s website — as would be expected — and also on online retailer Amazon.com. That, coupled with the press coverage of the hoard’s sale as reported by more than 1,000 media outlets, has huge potential to introduce new people to our hobby. 

The 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coins captured the interest of buyers beyond the traditional coin buyer, and that reach seems to be expanding in the secondary market as more people are introduced to the coins and their unique curved shape. 

It’s an exciting time in our hobby, and one certainly hopes that many of these new coin buyers stay involved in coin collecting!

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