In the Dec. 5 issue of Coin World, Paul Gilkes wrote that
it would cost a collector $23,500 to purchase each coin offered by the
U.S. Mint during calendar year 2011. To put that number into
perspective, the average per capita income in Ohio in 2009 was $24,830.
Stamp collectors have it easier, as the cost to buy 2011-issued
U.S. stamps and postal stationery dropped to $77.01, even though more
varieties were issued in 2011 than in 2010.
The diversity of coins produced by the Mint in 2011 is dizzying,
ranging from traditional Proof and Uncirculated Mint sets to the
sometimes forgotten American Buffalo 1-ounce gold coin, First Spouse
half-ounce gold $10 coins, America the Beautiful 5-ounce silver
quarter dollars and Presidential dollars.
This wide range makes one wonder if future generations will want
to keep up with these series. For example, will tomorrow’s collectors
want to put together a complete set of nearly 40 First Spouse
half-ounce gold coins?
The mintages for the First Spouse coins can be tantalizingly low:
for example, the 2009 issues each had combined Uncirculated and Proof
mintages of fewer than 10,000 coins for each type. Yet, these
low-mintage issues trade at a modest premium over their issue price,
with examples trading at the $1,300 level.
Collectors with $23,500 to spend could purchase some genuinely
tough coins in the present market. Recent auction results at this
level have included a Mint State 61 1889-CC Morgan dollar, an MS-63
1812 Capped Bust gold $5 half eagle and an MS-63 1907 Saint-Gaudens,
High Relief $20 double eagle. An example of one of these rarities
would be easier to store and keep track of than the many 2011 Mint products.
One cannot predict which of the 2011 issues will be long-term
winners or what issues will rise above their original issue prices. In
fact, some issues will likely depreciate, due to either unsustained
demand or a decrease in the price of bullion.
For collectors, as the quest for completeness in modern Mint
products has become nearly impossible for all but the most well-heeled
and dedicated collector, one has to wonder what series will capture
the attention of the next generation of collectors and which of
today’s low mintage issues will become tomorrow’s rarities. ■