Making Moderns column from Feb. 13, 2017, issue of Coin World:
I recently had the chance to see a complete set of First Spouse gold
$10 coins in Uncirculated and Proof formats that was submitted to
Numismatic Guaranty Corp. for grading. It was just after the New Year.
The series had concluded in 2016 with the Nancy Reagan issue, and this
was the first time I had ever seen a complete set, fully assembled,
all at once.
I have always had mixed feelings about these coins. They were a
corollary to the Presidential dollars.
Authorizing legislation required minting, for each dollar coin, a
half-ounce pure gold $10 coin featuring an image of the first spouse,
if there was one, on the obverse and images emblematic of her life and
work on the reverse.
Connect with Coin World:
Sign up for our free eNewsletter
Follow us on Twitter
While the subjects themselves are worthy and have been
underrepresented on U.S. coinage, a commemorative gold coin series
seemed to generate little interest.
Issued in the order in which they served, the first pieces in 2007,
for Martha Washington and Abigail Adams, sold well, over 17,000 for
each of the Proof and Uncirculated.
Interest peaked with the third coin of the series, Thomas
Jefferson’s Liberty. Being a widower at time of his presidency, the
obverse of Jefferson’s “First Spouse” coin showed a Draped Bust
Liberty similar to that on the cent coins issued during his time in
office. More than 19,800 sold of each in Proof and Uncirculated
First Spouse coins were sold by the Mint at roughly a 30 percent
premium to their metal value, similar to the premium of a gold
commemorative issue (less the surcharge paid to a benefiting
organization). In the secondary market, trading values for these coins
fell to near melt, especially during gold’s dramatic rise from 2009 to
2011. First Spouse coins were seen as an expensive way to own gold and
an expensive series to collect.
Correspondingly, interest in the series plummeted. In 2008, roughly
4,000 Uncirculated and 7,000 proofs were made for each issue. In 2009,
it fell to about 3,500 Uncirculated and 5,000 Proof coins each.
For recent issues, 2013 through 2016, typical mintage figures are
under 2,000 Uncirculated examples and 2,500 Proofs, with spikes for
select issues like the other Liberty coins issued for Jackson, Van
Buren and Buchanan and popular first spouses, such as Jacqueline Kennedy.
With mintage figures so low, the time will soon come when these
coins are challenging to locate, but they can be found on the market
now. If this series holds interest for you, get buying!