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Louis Golino

Modern Numismatics

Louis Golino

Louis Golino has been a collector of American and world coins since childhood and has written about coins since 2009. In addition to writing about modern coins and other numismatic issues for Coin World, he also has written a regular column for CoinWeek.com since 2011, writes a monthy column for The Numismatist magazine and has written for other coin publications. In 2015, for his CoinWeek column “The Coin Analyst,” he was presented with the Numismatic Literary Guild's award for best online column. He is also a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum. 

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Archive for 'January 2016'

    Mint Can’t Issue More 2015 Platinum Eagles

    January 23, 2016 10:56 AM by Louis Golino
    I would like to respond to the letter by Cornell Scanlon in the Feb. 8 issue of Coin World.   Mr. Scanlon suggests that he was unable to purchase a 2015-W American Platinum Eagle proof coin due to “the professional speculators’ computer-controlled entries” and that the Mint should reissue the coin this year when sufficient platinum planchets are available.   Finally, he suggested that buyers of the 2014 issue should have been given first crack at purchasing the 2015 issue.

    First, it was certainly not easy to place an order before sales ended somewhere around 4-7 minutes after they began.  But there is no proof that speculators grabbed the lion’s share of these coins, whereas there is considerable evidence that individual collectors purchased many of them. 

    Most dealers, even major ones, were only able to secure a handful of coins based on the small number of coins available for sale from those companies as far as I have seen.  Second, if speculators had indeed purchased a majority of the coins, the secondary market value would have by now either crashed or at least declined substantially by now.  Instead, values have held steady at around $2,000 for raw coins and $3,000 and up for 70-graded pieces.  This typically means the coins are in “strong hands,” meaning held by buyers who plan to keep them at least for now.

    I was able to purchase a coin and encountered none of the website issues I have seen in the past, and I have many friends who also got their orders in.  From what I have heard most people were so impressed with these coins in terms of the design and high quality that they decided to keep them despite the prospect of an easy payday.  I noticed the same trend in online coin forums.

    Second, the key point is the Mint by law cannot strike coins from one year in the following year.  They can sell them provided they were struck during the year that appears on them except for commemoratives, and whatever rules apply to stamps have no bearing here.  Besides, even if they could, this would be a dangerous precedent and would upset the market for these coins and of course the buyers too, who would see the value of their purchase decline after the mintage was increased.

    In fact, this is something the Perth Mint in Australia has done in the past, and it did not go over well with collectors.

    The U.S. Mint does try to focus on collectors and maintain an even playing field, but it also has other clients too, namely dealers, and it is not so easy catering to such a wide customer base.  As I have argued previously, there are certain areas in which it gives dealers the ability to buy in bulk at a discount, but that does not apply to all products and did not apply to this coin.  Moreover, most of the allegations one hears from Mint buyers about how they got locked out by the “big boys” turn out not to have any solid evidence.  They are based on issues such as how fast some dealers had their coins graded, which is often a function of how close they are located to the grading companies. 

    And keep in mind that virtually every other major world mint gives dealers huge advantages such as the ability to order coins before they are released to the public, which in the case of the Royal Canadian Mint often results in coins being sold out before the public can even order with the exception of members of their Master’s Club, which was revamped last year. 

    Finally, as far as giving priority to buyers of the previous issue, this is something some foreign dealers do, and perhaps the Mint could look into such an approach.  A first step would be to ask its customers if they would favor doing this. 



    2016 Lunar Skulls Coins Announced

    January 10, 2016 11:47 AM by Louis Golino
    Following the success their 2015 Lunar Skulls Year of the Goat proof and uncirculated silver coins, which sold out very quickly and was a hit with collectors, SM Mint and SkullCoins announced on January 9 the worldwide release of the 2016 Lunar Skulls Year of the Monkey coins.

    This coin series offers an unusual twist on the popular Chinese Lunar calendar theme, which is the largest modern world coin program ever in terms of countries issuing coins and the number of different coins produced.  With so many Lunar-themed coins being released, it helps to have an approach that is different from other series.

    As was the case last year, the proof coin will have a tiny mintage of just 500 coins, and the BU example will have a mintage of 2,000 coins.  Each comes encapsulated and has a serial number on its edge, which matches the number that appears on the accompanying certificate of authenticity. 

    While proof coins have been numbered before, this series may be the first to number BU coins.

    Last year’s release was issued under the legal authority of Ghana, but as a result of some issues encountered with the project management team for the 2015 release, the new coins are being issued under the authority of Palau and are being minted by renowned German private mint, B.H. Mayer, which produces coins for many countries, including the popular Tiffany Art series.

    In their press release, SM Mint noted: “After we experienced multiple issues from our hired project management team on the 2015 release and delays from the mint, we decided to hire a brand new team of the most competent professionals in the field to assist with our 2016 release.  In addition, we are releasing under Palau and minting with the world renowned BH Mayer in Germany, this combination has produced some of the most well-known, high quality award winning modern world coins today, such as "Tiffany Art.”  The release also indicates the capsules have been improved.

    There are also some other changes with the 2016 coins compared to those from 2015.  The serial numbers have been moved the edge of the coin to give it a cleaner design, the finish of the proof coins is slightly different than it was last year, and the finish of the BU coin is more of a traditional BU finish while last year’s was more of a matte uncirculated finish. 

    SM Mint said their plan is to retain the current format and finishes for the next 10 annual releases in the series and believes that collectors will be pleased with the improvements that have been made this year.

    The coins are being sold directly by SM Mint through its SkullCoins division at http://www.skullcoins.com/lunar-skulls/ as well as through a network of six authorized distributors, including five in the U.S. (APMEX, First Coin Company, ModernCoinMart, and Liberty Coin and Currency, Dazzling Coins in Canada, and Powercoin in Europe. 

    At the moment pre-orders are being accepted, and the coins are expected to ship in the middle of February.  Buyers can check SM Mint (http://www.smmint.com/) for updates and for answers to questions from collectors about the new release. 

    SM Mint is selling pairs of BU and proof coins with matching serial numbers for $169.  Prices are expected to move higher once the mintage of each coin has sold out from the network of authorized distributors. 

    To help to ensure a wide distribution of these limited issue, high-demand coins, SM Mint held a lottery in which the winners were able to purchase a pair of 2016 coins with matching serial numbers at a special price.  The lottery closed on January 8, and the winners were notified by e-mail.

    2016 Should be a Good Year for Coins

    January 2, 2016 10:42 AM by Louis Golino
    As the New Year begins I would like to offer a few thoughts about how I see the coming year in numismatics.

    The overall state of the coin market, which has been rather lackluster below the level of high-end rare coins in the past couple years, is likely to be impacted by how precious metals perform.

    Metal prices help shape the numismatic market in many ways, and a bullish metals market lifts the coin market.  For example, dealers and collectors whose bullion holdings increase in value have more funds available to purchase numismatic pieces. 

    I have no idea what the price of gold or silver will be at the end of the year, but I would not be surprised if we see a positive turnaround in 2016.  Fundamentals are strong, and it is unusual for an asset class to be down for several years in a row.

    Bear in mind as well that the strength of the dollar has masked the performance of gold in the past couple years since in non-dollar currencies it has done much better, especially in countries that have seen significant inflation and currency depreciation. 

    I agree with those who say the dollar may begin to decline at some point in 2016 for several reasons, including, among others, the fact China’s currency, the renminbi, officially becomes a global reserve currency at the end of the year, which means central banks around the world will need to convert some of their dollars into that currency.

    In terms of modern U.S. numismatics, 2016 should be a strong year with all the anniversaries to be celebrated with U.S. Mint coins this year.  From the centennial of the debut in 1916 of three collector favorites (Walking Liberty half dollar, Standing Liberty quarter, and Liberty Head dime) and of the National Park Service to the 30th anniversary of the American Silver and Gold Eagle programs and the 10th anniversary of the American Buffalo Gold coin, 2016 will be marked by a wide range of coins that will excite collectors and include surprises. 

    I expect the Mark Twain commemoratives to be a hit because of the solid designs and the broad appeal of the subject matter, and within the America the Beautiful quarter and 5-ounce silver coin series, the October Theodore Roosevelt National Park coins will be very popular because so many collectors admire Roosevelt.  In fact, many believe he should have appeared on the obverse of the coins rather than Washington.

    The Reagan coin and chronicles set will of course be a hit too, though collectors will not be happy with the fact that no set is planned for the Nixon and Ford dollar coins since collectors hate gaps. 

    The 2016 American Platinum Eagle proof coin is another I expect to attract a lot of attention.  The mintage will likely be higher than that of the 2015 coin provided that sufficient planchets can be secured, and those who were fortunate to obtain the 2015 coin will be pleased to see their investment hold its value as a key coin.

    Finally, the American Liberty high relief silver medal should prove very popular too, and when combined with strong sales of the gold version, may result in a rethink of the Mint’s decision not to make this an ongoing series.