In most cases, mintage correlates directly with a coin’s
availability. For the time being, the smallest final mintages of all
U.S. modern coins belong to Uncirculated 2006-W and 2008-W American
Eagle platinum coins.
In 2006, the U.S. Mint started selling specially burnished,
Uncirculated versions of bullion coins directly to the public. The
coins have a W Mint mark, for the West Point Mint, and, for the
platinum American Eagles, had the same designs as the Proof version of
the coin, which changes each year. While the Uncirculated coin program
continues for 1-ounce silver and gold coins, it was short-lived for
the platinum pieces, discontinuing in 2008.
These Mint-marked, Uncirculated bullion coins are often referred
to as the “burnished” issues, because the Mint described them on its
website as being struck on “specially burnished blanks.”
The Uncirculated 2006-W platinum coins did not sell well. Final
mintage figures for the four platinum denominations were as follows:
1-ounce $100 coin, 3,068 pieces; half-ounce $50 coin, 2,577 pieces;
quarter-ounce $25 coin, 2,676 pieces; and tenth-ounce $10 coin, 3,544 pieces.
Sales slightly improved in 2007, only to fall again in 2008. The
Uncirculated 2008-W platinum final mintage figures are slightly lower
than in 2006, except for the tenth-ounce $10 coin: $100, 2,876 pieces;
$50, 2,253 pieces; $25 coin, 2,481 pieces; and $10 coin, 3,706 pieces.
So here are eight platinum coins with mintages between 2,253 and
3,706 pieces. Despite the low mintages, both four-coin platinum sets
can be purchased for around twice their platinum melt value.
According to John Maben, CEO of Modern Coin Mart, “these coins are
still available ... for now.” He says that he is able to acquire a
half dozen or more sets a year of these elusive issues to place with
his customers because many were initially bought by speculators and
therefore are not locked up in the hands of collectors.
What does the future hold? Almost everyone seems to agree that
these coins will get harder to find over time. California dealer Mitch
Spivak observes that the low mintage Proof 2004-W American Eagle
platinum coins actually appear less frequently on the market today and
trade for more than the Uncirculated coins despite higher mintage
figures. Over time, the Uncirculated 2006-W and 2008-W coins could
become less available than the Proof coins as quantities are absorbed
into the marketplace.
But as with all modern coins, the situation is dynamic, according
to Spivak: “What looked like an incredible modern mintage a few years
ago from the U.S. Mint (i.e., sub-3,000) has now become fairly
commonplace due to the First Spouse gold coin series. In fact, two of
the Uncirculated coins from 2011, Garfield and Hayes, might even
challenge the lowest-of-the-low mintage burnished platinum coins from
2008 once the U.S. Mint releases it final audited mintage numbers at
the end of this year.”
Scott schechter is a grader at NGC and co-author of 100
Greatest U.S. Modern Coins. He can be reached by email directed
to him at email@example.com.