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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 'February 2016'

    U.S. Mint Can Learn from Other Mints

    February 22, 2016 4:04 PM by Louis Golino

    There has always been, as I have suggested before, a substantial difference between modern U.S. numismatic coins and the typical collector pieces issued by other world mints.

    The U.S. Mint tends to issue coins that are more traditional in appearance and does not follow all the latest fads and trends in advanced minting, although it does innovate and follows what other mints are doing.  For example, the enhanced uncirculated technique borrows from the Royal Canadian Mint’s pioneering of laser frosting to make certain elements of a coin’s design more distinctive.

    And as many collectors know our mint consulted with the Paris Mint and Royal Australian Mint to produce the award-winning 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative since those mints had experience producing curved coins that the U.S. Mint did not at that point.

    When it comes to some of the more unusual types of coins other mints produce such as odd shapes, or the use of crystals and other materials as inserts, the U.S. Mint has hewed to a more conservative approach that seems to suite most of its buyers just fine. 

    Another technique, namely, selective gilding, or gold plating, which is popular on world issues from other mints, may or may not prove popular with U.S. coin buyers, but one approach I know they do like is high relief striking, which has become very popular with world coin buyers because it gives coins the appearance of three-dimensionality. 

    Until now just two gold coins, the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle and 2015 American Liberty High Relief $100 coin have been issued in high relief, and a silver medal version of the 2015 coin is planned for later this year. 

    But it is time for the U.S. Mint to also issue silver coins in high relief, perhaps starting with the 30th anniversary of the American Silver Eagle and extending to other programs as well.  In fact, a two coin set of high relief American Silver and Gold Eagles would be a nice way to mark the third decade of both programs.

    Until now it was necessary to make high relief coins thicker and with smaller diameters than non-high relief issues, but all that has changed thanks to a new technology called smartminting that has been developed by the prestigious private mint, Coin Invest Trust, in Lichtenstein.  CIT is well-known for producing gorgeous, highly intricate pieces like the award-winning Tiffany series.

    Smartminting allows high relief coins to be made with much larger diameters and makes it possible to produce coins with a depth of relief that was not previously possible. 

    At the recent World Money Fair in Berlin CIT unveiled a dazzling array of coins struck with smartminting that will be hitting the market over the next couple months.  For example, there are two versions of a coin commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Great Tea Race in 1866, a 2-ounce silver piece with ultra high relief in the billows of the ship, and an 8-gram version of the same coin with the diameter of a 1-ounce coin and considerable relief, which is impressive for a coin of that weight. 

    It would be a good idea for our Mint’s officials to consult with CIT about smartminting and with other world mints like the Perth Mint that have extensive experience issuing high relief coins.

    And this would not be anything new or unusual since as Jeff Starck wrote in the February issue of Coin World, the U.S. Mint has been inspired by the work of other world mints for a long time.

    ATB Demand May Not Reach New Maximum Mintage

    February 10, 2016 11:59 AM by Louis Golino

    Earlier this month I was surprised when a friend of mine told me he heard the mintages for the 2016 5-oz. silver America the Beautiful coins had been increased, according to someone who contacted the U.S. Mint about the issue.  So I made an inquiry to the Mint.

    On February 3 I received this response from Michael White in the Mint’s Office of Public Affairs: “The current authorized mintage limit for both numismatic and bullion 2015 America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Coins for Shawnee National Forest is 150,000 coins. An announced mintage limit of 30,000 coins has been set for the America the Beautiful Five Ounce Shawnee National Forest Uncirculated Coin.  However, based on demand, the United States Mint may mint and issue more than the minimum of 120,000 America the Beautiful Five Ounce Shawnee National Forest Silver Bullion Coins so long as the United States Mint does not exceed the 150,000 coin limit.”

    There seems to be some confusion within the numismatic media about this change since I have seen reports stating that the mintage for these coins has been increased to 150,000 coins, which is not accurate.  It is only the authorized maximum mintage that has been increased to this amount, which does not in itself mean that many coins will be produced. 

    The key point is that demand will determine how many coins are minted.  Depending on the level of demand, we could see mintages much lower than 150,000 for the two versions of each coin.

    In fact, I suspect that only one 2016 release in this program has a chance of reaching this level of demand and that is the coin that will honor the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which will be released in October.

    Collectors are concerned that minting so many coins will dilute the value of the 2016 issues, which will be true if so many coins are actually made. 

    But since this series began in 2010, only two coins, the 2011 Gettysburg and Glacier National Park coins, sold enough to reach this level with sales of the bullion versions were 126,700 plus 35,000 of the “P” version, or 161,700 total for those two issues. 

    Last year, for example, no bullion coin in the series sold more than 45,000 coins and the “P” versions have been averaging a bit under 20,000, so it is not clear why the Mint decided to raise the max to more than twice the level of sales of any coin since 2011.

    Perhaps it is because they are eager to sell more silver coins given the months-long delay in the release of the 2016 American Silver Eagle proof coin while the Mint re-tools its dies to add the 30th anniversary edge inscriptions.

    Collectors have reacted positively to the 2016 designs, and the series seems to have picked up steam over the years.  But with silver prices rising and many other coins coming from the Mint this year that collectors are saving for, I find it hard to believe there will be demand for 150,000 of any of the 2016 releases other than possibly the Roosevelt coin. 

    Sales of the first bullion issue of the year for Shawnee National Park have already reached 86,400 in a short period, though, so perhaps the Mint was right that there is demand for a lot more of these.

    And if I prove to be wrong, and there is demand for 120,000 of the bullion coins this year, that will of course make the previous issues, especially the lows from 2012, worth even more than they are now.  

    New Zealand Mint Launches Kings of the Continent Series

    February 2, 2016 9:46 AM by Louis Golino

    On February 3 the New Zealand Mint (www.nzmint.com), which produces a wide variety of modern world coins, launched a new series of silver proof coins called Kings of the Continent.  This series of coins will feature engraved and colorized designs of the largest of the African carnivores seen in their natural habitats. 

    The series debuts with the 2016 Lion coin that shows a color image of a snarling male African Lion standing proudly against a backdrop of southern African grasslands.  The color image is a close-up of the lion’s face.

    The term African lion is used to refer collectively to several subspecies of lions that are found in Africa.  They currently are found in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia, but previously were also seen in North Africa and Southwest Asia, where they became extinct.

    The male lion is best known for its long mane, and its face is one of the most widely recognized symbols of the animal kingdom.  Some male lions weigh more than 550 pounds, making them the second-largest big cat after the tiger.

    There are several other recent coin series that features lions, but the art work on the new NZM lion coin is an especially stunning and impactful contemporary design that really captures the strength and majesty of these amazing animals.

    Each coin is made of 1 ounce of .999 fine silver, is struck in proof, and has a diameter of 40 millimeters.  The mintage is limited to just 5,000 coins. 

    They are housed in a black display case that slides out of the outer packaging.

    The coins are issued under the legal authority of Niue, as are numerous collector coins produced by various world mints on their behalf.

    They can be purchased soon from The Coin Shoppe in Canada (www.thecoinshoppe.ca), which carries an extensive selection of the latest world coins and is a distributor for the Royal Canadian Mint, Perth Mint, and several other major world mints, and from other companies.  The Coin Shoppe ships to the U.S. from Niagara Falls.

    The New Zealand Mint is perhaps best known for its Star Wars and Disney coin series, which are popular not just with coin collectors but also have crossover appeal with fans of those franchises.

    The lion issue will likely appeal to animal lovers and modern world coin enthusiasts.