Today’s collectors certainly have a mixed relationship with the U.S.
Mint. On one hand, collectors love the surprises — like the use of the
Philadelphia Mint’s P mark on 2017 Lincoln cents. On the other hand,
collectors — along with Coin World’s staff — remain frustrated
by easily confused sales figures and mintage numbers, and collectors
have problems as well with attempting to order popular new releases.
As Coin World’s managing editor William T. Gibbs pointed out
in his editor’s letter last month, it could be worse. The Royal
Canadian Mint no longer publishes any kind of mintage information for
some programs, including its Maple Leaf gold and silver bullion coins.
We have plenty on the off-metal 1943 Lincoln
Cents and on the origin of Q. David Bowers’ column:
A reader wonders how much his 1943 cent struck on a dime planchet
is worth, while a long-time numismatist wonders why the origins of
two new bronze 1943 cents were revealed.
Coin World’s Freedom of Information Request to the U.S. Mint
revealed that just 79,640 American Eagle silver bullion coins were
struck at the Philadelphia Mint in 2015. The discovery instantly
created a new key in the series (though one that is only identifiable
by context). Since the American Eagle silver bullion coins struck
from the Philadelphia, San Francisco and West Point Mints each lack a
Mint mark, they can be identified based on information found only on
the 500-coin boxes of tubes that are sent to authorized purchasers.
Many of the 79,640 2015 American Eagle silver coins struck at the
Philadelphia Mint have long been removed from their original context
in the Mint boxes, so identifiable examples will remain scarce.
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Several Professional Coin Grading Service Mint State 69 examples
sold on eBay in April for $649. Prices now have moved to the $450 to
$500 level. On May 4 a PCGS MS-70 example brought $5,201 on eBay, and
in April they were selling for even more. Will future collectors
recognize this as a distinctive issue, since the coins themselves from
the three Mints are indistinguishable by appearance alone? Only time
will tell, and because the Philadelphia Mint American Eagle silver
bullion coins are unidentifiable on their face, we are waiting to
assess the long-term collector response before adding the Philadelphia
Mint coins to Coin World’s Coin Values.
The marketplace is also showing interest in a set recently offered
by the U.S. Mint. All 75,000 2017 Congratulations sets sold out in two
minutes on April 4 at an issue price of $54.95, with collectors drawn
to the Proof 2017-S American Eagle silver dollar. Today these sets
sell at the $150 level on eBay, allowing quick profits for speedy
buyers and presenting an expensive decision for collectors who didn’t
have the chance to purchase one directly from the Mint.
Finally, a once-steady area in the market — generic Proof gold and
silver American Eagles — has fallen in the past few months as interest
from buyers placing examples in individual retirement accounts has
dropped. The silver coins used to trade steadily at the $45 to $50
level, but market makers have lowered buy prices to the $33 to $36
level with little uptick in demand seen even at these new low levels.