US Coins

Secondary market hot for new American Liberty medals

In just six minutes Aug. 23, the United States Mint received enough orders to reach the maximum product limit of 12,500 each for its Proof 2016-S and 2016-W American Liberty silver medals.

The medals, struck at the San Francisco and West Point Mints, were offered at $34.95 per medal, with a maximum household ordering limit of two of each medal, for a total of four medals.

The silver medals went on sale at noon ET. Read our coverage from the day of the launch.

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United States Mint officials indicate the medals will remain in “unavailable” status until all orders that were placed before the mintage limit was reached are reconciled. That leaves open a possibility that medals could become available, should orders not be filled because of expired credit cards or returns of the shipped product.

Secondary market prices for the medals are already climbing. Within minutes of the sellout, the medals were trading at about $100 each on dealer trading networks. Multiple listings at eBay are offering the medals for prices ranging from $450 to $1,000 or more for two of each medal.

Individual medals on eBay are being offered at $200 to $300 each.

The sellout angered some col­lectors unable to buy the medals. 

Completed transactions on the secondary market

Some completed transactions on eBay were recorded at $120 and higher per medal within an hour or so after the sellout.

There were confirmed sales on eBay at $109.95 to $139.99 for single medals from either Mint in original Mint packaging; $199.99 for one medal from each of the two production facilities; and multiple confirmed sales at $450 to $459.99 for two medals each from the San Francisco and West Point Mints.

Some dealers before sales began were offering premiums to persons willing to place orders for the maximum number of medals permitted per household, offering a windfall of $25 to $100 per medal the orderer would make available.

How collectors are reacting

Visitors to Coin World’s Facebook page related mixed experiences in placing orders for the silver medals:

Christopher Brant: I purchased both of mine (2 of each) at 12:01. I would not be surprised if they are indeed sold out.

Wenbo Li: Anyone selling for not too much? I am looking for 2.

Shawn Savage: I got all 4 of mine at 12:03.

Ernesto Aguilar: I ordered 2 and had a few hiccups with the site. But I got my confirmation email so all is good!

John A. Zieman Jr.: Getting a confirmation number does not guarantee you will get coins. Trust me. Till they charge your credit card, they are not yours.

Miguel Lemus: Very disappointed.

Ken Fry: They need to fix their dang website. Took six different tries to get mine, but I did get them.

Bill Williams: Got mine by 12:03, went back just to see and couldn’t believe within 6 minutes they were all gone. Going to check eBay to see what they are going for.

Bill Mulroy: They will be on the secondary market soon; and slabbed !!

Glen Wooldridge: I never get to order these, always sold out when I hit submit.

Mark Boyle: I’m disappointed with the Mint. They’ll give 90% to dealers and to hell with the average collector.

About the medals

The medals bear the same obverse and reverse designs that appear on the 2015-W American Liberty, High Relief gold $100 coins, but the silver medals bear a lower relief and lack statutory coinage inscriptions.

Silver medals were originally contemplated to be offered in 2015, but were moved to the 2016 calendar year because of a crowded 2015 production schedule.

The original vision for the silver medals called for the same high relief, but the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee recommendation for a larger palette for the silver medal required changing the relief specifications.

The 40.6-millimeter American Liberty 1-ounce silver medals are struck on the same kind of blanks as are used for the American Eagle silver dollar.

The American Liberty, High Relief gold coins were struck on special blanks, having the same 30.61-millimeter diameter as the 1964–2014-W Kennedy gold half dollar but a thickness of 3.128 millimeters. 

The extra thickness boosted the American Liberty gold coin’s weight to 1 ounce.

The American Liberty gold coin was originally scheduled to be a $75 face value coin and contain three-quarters of an ounce of pure gold.

About the designs

The obverse of the silver medals depicts a “modern” Liberty, portrayed standing, crowned with leaves, holding the American flag and a torch. Inscriptions are LIBERTY and 2016.

The obverse was designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program artist Justin Kunz (designer’s initials JK at base left of Liberty’s gown) and sculptured by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill (initials PH at right of bottom strip on flag).

The medals’ reverse design depicts an American eagle rising in flight, gripping a branch in its talons. Inscribed along the top border is UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. 

The reverse was designed by AIP artist Paul C. Balan (designer’s initials PCB above left of branch) and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Donald Everhart II (initials DE to far right of branch).

Balan’s eagle in flight design, reminiscent of the eagle reverse of the original Gobrecht silver dollars of the 1830s, was originally submitted but not adopted for the reverse of the 2015-W U.S. Marshals 225th Anniversary gold $5 half eagle.

Balan’s eagle design was resurrected and proposed in 2015 by a then CCAC member for use on other U.S. Mint products. The member unsuccessfully proposed using Balan’s eagle design to replace John Mercanti’s Heraldic Eagle design for the reverse of the American Eagle silver dollar.

Mercanti’s design has occupied the American Eagle silver bullion coin’s reverse since its introduction in November 1986.

The West Point and the San Francisco Mint American Liberty medals both were struck on a Gräbener GMP 360 TK coinage press, each struck three times under 219 metric tons of pressure.

The dies are oriented to strike vertically, with the upper or hammer die being the obverse and the lower or anvil die being the reverse. The medals were struck with a smooth, plain edge.

The silver medals are an extension of a silver arts medal program championed by CCAC members. 

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