US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Dec. 24, 2018

Sales of American Eagle gold and silver bullion coins in 2018 were down from 2017 totals, though the prediction was that sales would rebound somewhat.

Original images courtesy of U.S. Mint.

A year ago in this column, I made several predictions about 2018 and promised to revisit them at the end of the year to see how well I did at prognostication. As it turns out, I am not that great at predicting the future. Here’s how I did.

Prediction #1: The United States Mint will, finally, acknowledge that its precious metals coins are being counterfeited and those counterfeits are entering the marketplace, and will announce some first plans to adapt 21st century anti-counterfeiting technology into its American Eagle and American Buffalo coinage. 

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What happened: Mint officials sponsored a counterfeiting segment at its Oct. 17, 2018, forum in Washington, D.C., and the new Mint director, David Ryder, has worked in the development of anti-counterfeiting measures for coins and paper money and served as Mint director previously, in the 1990s. However, no concrete anti-counterfeiting measures were announced, and when Mint officials at the forum asked the 100 or so participants whether they had encountered a counterfeit Mint product, the officials seemed surprised that nearly every person raised their hand. 

I got this prediction only partially correct. 

Prediction #2: The Treasury Department will officially announce that it has overturned the decision of the previous administration to redesign the $5, $10, and $20 notes with a portrait of Harriet Tubman and allegorical scenes celebrating the Women’s Suffrage and the Civil Rights movements. 

What happened: Treasury officials spent the year mostly avoiding public discussions of the issue, even to the point of sending a noncommittal response to a member of Congress who sent a formal letter to Treasury officials seeking an answer. It still seems clear to many that the Treasury will not implement the design changes announced in the Obama administration; Treasury officials just will not admit to it. 

I did not get this one right.

Prediction #3: The U.S. marketplace will continue to be split, with strong interest in fresh older and rarer coins, contrasted with continued lower sales for most U.S. Mint products like annual sets and 2018 commemorative coins, and a market for the lower range of U.S. coins that reflects a declining collector population that continues to age.

What happened: Dealers are having a tough time selling many kinds of coins. While some rarities are doing well, prices for a lot of coins continue to fall, as they have been for years, as shown in the “Coin Values Spotlight” column now appearing in the weekly issues of Coin World. Mint officials remain concerned about sales levels of their products.

I got this one right.

Prediction #4: We will see a rebound of sorts in American Eagle bullion coin sales after a dismal 2017 market, but we will not see any new records in 2018. 

What happened: Although 2018 sales have not been audited, most are down from 2017 figures. The Mint sold 302,500 ounces of American Eagle gold bullion coins in 2017; in 2018, the total stands at 244,500 ounces. For the American Eagle silver bullion coin, 2017 sales totaled 18,065,500 coins; the 2018 total stands at 15,560,000. 

American Eagle platinum bullion coin sales in 2017 totaled 20,000 coins; 2018 sales are higher, at 30,000 coins.

Although I did not make a prediction for American Buffalo gold bullion coin sales, the 2018 figure of 121,500 coins does top the 2017 total of 99,500 coins.

I missed this one, mostly.

In an upcoming weekly issue, I will make some predictions for 2019. 

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