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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Lost Opportunities with Anniversary Coins

The U.S. Mint recently announced that during the upcoming Whitman Exposition in Baltimore, Maryland (held from March 31 to April 3) Mint Director nominee Rhett Jeppson will be there to talk to collectors and sign certificates of authenticity.

It also announced that the 2016-W American Buffalo Gold coin, which marks the 10th anniversary of this program, will be released at the show.

Perhaps worried about a repeat of the pandemonium that emerged in August 2014 when the Kennedy gold half dollar tribute coin was launched at the ANA’s World Fair of Money, there will be nothing special about this coin for the anniversary at least based on what has been announced.

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So no special finish or design, nothing.  I can understand the desire not to change the design, but to mark the occasion they could have used a new type of proof finish called enhanced proof, or done something else such as a one-year only reverse proof fractional set.

Collectors regularly lament the fact that fractional Buffaloes were only issued in 2008.

The bullion version of this coin fills a niche for bullion buyers who want a one-ounce gold coin made to the world standard of 24 karart, four nines (.9999 fine) gold, but the proof coin, which carries a very hefty premium, has seen its mintage decline substantially in recent years.

The 2015-W coin had sales of 16,591 as of December 2015 when it became unavailable compared to the previous low in 2013 of 18,599.

Collectors love the design but are probably growing tired of paying large premiums for a coin that is the same year after year with the exception of the 2013-W reverse proof coin and the 2008-W uncirculated coins.

Doing something special for this year’s proof, and perhaps also for the bullion counterpart, would have helped to breathe new life into the series.

Similarly, during the March 15 meeting of the CCAC in Washington, DC, the Mint’s staff announced plans for the 20th anniversary American Platinum Eagle proof coin, which is to simply reissue the design of the first proof coin issued in 1997 that has appeared on all bullion issues for 20 years. 

This is the case even though the product manager at the Mint in this area recommended three possible options: proof, reverse proof, or enhanced proof.  The second was used in 2007 for the 10th anniversary, so it would make sense to do the third, enhanced proof, especially if no new design will be used.

This lost opportunity is especially glaring because the APE proof series has seen some of the best artwork of any modern U.S. coin series, and it is the only ongoing American Eagle program which has utilized the concept of changing reverses.  In the earlier years the half ounce coins had a different reverse each year, and more recently the one ounce proofs have done that. 

The Mint will continue to lose market share to other world and private mints unless it becomes bolder and more imaginative with its coin programs, which it could do without losing its distinctly American character.    

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From what I have gathered from the mint by speaking to them on Facebook, I think that the mint is going to make the design for the proof American Eagle the same as the Walking Liberty type to honor the centennial as well as the 30th anniversary of the American Eagle. By the way if you are wondering about the American Liberty 2016 Silver Medal's this year I will give you a hint they won't be from last years design they will be the Mercury dime and Standing Liberty Quarter. So the mint will make a fortune and I am so excited. Again this is what I have gathered based on my Facebook interaction.