US Coins

2019-W Silver Proof American Eagle hot item at FUN

The U.S. Mint’s success at the Florida United Numismatists Convention Jan. 10 to 13 in Orlando with sales of the Proof 2019-W American Eagle silver dollar might not have occurred without the last-minute approval of Treasury Secretary Stephen T. Mnuchin.

Thousands of Proof American Eagle silver dollars packaged as single coins and in Congratulations set packaging were sent to the Orange County Convention Center, awaiting the arrival of the Mint sales staff scheduled to attend the FUN show.

Mint officials at the convention Jan. 9 during table setup indicated to Coin World they had been notified while aboard their flights of the possibility of being recalled to Washington, unless revised clearance would be received directly from the Treasury secretary amid the partial government shutdown.

T.V. Johnson, director of the Mint’s Office of Corporate Communications, told Coin World Jan. 15 that once Treasury executives were informed of the Mint’s potential to record nearly $2 million in numismatic sales, full travel authority was granted.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing personnel were not at the convention.

Several months ago, the BEP’s online sales capabilities were merged with those of the U.S. Mint, with BEP products sold via the Mint’s website. Mint sales personnel at the FUN show did have several BEP products in display cases at the Mint booth for customers to purchase, however.

The Proof 2019-W American Eagle silver dollar was the star of the numismatic products the Mint had to offer, with a long line of collectors and dealers assembled before the noon Eastern Time launch of sales Jan. 10.

The single coins are being offered at $55.95 each and the Congratulations set for gift-giving at $56.95.

The Mint has set no purchasing limits on either packaging option.

Attendance figures increase

FUN Convention coordinator Cindi Wibker reported that attendance during the 2019 FUN convention reached 9,500, compared with 8,000 in 2018 when the show was held in Tampa.

Numismatic Guaranty Corp. and Professional Coin Grading Service held respective events for registry set collectors and invited guests during the 2019 FUN show.

The roughly 250 people who attended the Jan. 11 PCGS luncheon were each given an encapsulated 1776–1976 Eisenhower, Bicentennial, Thin Letters copper-nickel clad dollar with special label designating the event.

NGC, which moved to an evening cocktail reception rather than a luncheon format Jan. 11, distributed encapsulated 2018-P American Innovation dollars to the approximately 100 attendees.

1943 copper alloy cent

The multimillion-dollar auction conducted by Heritage Auctions featured a wealth of numismatic rarities during the Platinum Night session Jan. 10, including the discovery example of a 1943 copper alloy Lincoln cent.

The bidding for the NGC About Uncirculated 53 cent rotated between online bidders and Tom Caldwell from Northeast Numismatics in Concord, Massachusetts, who was in the auction room placing his bids in person.

Caldwell was the successful bidder with a hammer price of $170,000 which, with the 20 percent buyer’s fee added, brought the purchase total to $204,000.

Caldwell said he bought the coin for inventory and doesn’t have any current plans to sell it. 

He believed it was important to keep the coin in Massachusetts beyond the seven decades the coin has resided with its owner since its discovery in 1947 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Then 16-year-old Don Lutes Jr. received the coin in change at his high school’s cafeteria and retained the coin until consigning it to the Heritage sale. Lutes passed away in September 2018.

Lutes’s close friend, Peter Karpenski, who attended the Jan. 10 Heritage sale, said the net proceeds from the auction of the coin will be presented, per Lutes’ wishes, to the Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield’s public library.

The wrong planchet error, struck on a leftover bronze planchet from 1942 instead of the intended zinc-plated steel planchets, realized a price within the pre-sale estimate range of $170,000 to $200,000 set by Heritage.


A number of awards were presented in conjunction with the FUN convention.

The FUN 2019 recipient for the Best in Show exhibit award is James Zylstra, for his display “Primitive Money from the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

The first-place Junior Young Numismatist Award was presented to Radek Molchain for “Colonial Currency.” 

The Senior YN first-place award went to Devon Webber for “Never Forget — A Numismatic Tribute to the 9-11 First Responders.”

The People’s Choice Award winner went to Kin Carmody for the exhibit, “The Cinderella Coin: The Rarest U.S. Circulation Strike.” Carmony’s exhibit description indicated: “On display is The Cinderella Coin with all the supporting research that proves it is the only known circulation strike 1838-O half dollar from the shortest circulation strike run, of 10 coins, in federal coinage history.”  

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