Monday Morning Brief for July 24, 2023: Special Peace dollars!
- Published: Jul 24, 2023, 7 AM
The surprise that a few customers of the U.S. Mint received, learning with the delivery of their long-awaited Uncirculated 2023 Peace dollar that one was specially struck, accompanied by a certificate of authenticity, has garnered mixed reactions in the collecting community.
Mint Director Ventris Gibson personally struck 200 of the Uncirculated 2023 Peace dollars and then signed and numbered a certificate of authenticity for each coin. The 200 coins themselves, however, are indistinguishable from the other tens of thousands of identical examples of the product, and that lies at the heart of the negative reactions being voiced online at collector forums. (It should be noted that everything you read here is based on what collectors and dealers are reporting. We have bombarded the Mint with questions, but as of the close of this issue on July 19, no response had been received.)
The COA for each of the 200 coins was put into the box for the individual coin but not sealed in with the Gibson-struck coin in any way (a “Congratulations” card describing the coin’s origin was also tucked into the box). That fact and the fact that the coins are indistinguishable mean the certificate of authenticity is pointless. Mint customers who find one of the Gibson-struck coins in their delivery can easily switch the COA to go with a different coin. Once a coin leaves the Mint fulfillment center, the connection between coin and certificate of authenticity cannot be guaranteed. There is no inherent proof that a coin represented as one of the 200 Gibson-struck coins was actually struck by her, even if said coin is accompanied by one of the 200 COAs. Any careless or unscrupulous individual can switch coins with a COA.
A better approach would have been to make each of the 200 coins distinctive. The Mint could have struck the coins from an obverse or reverse die bearing a privy mark. The coins could have been struck from a special collar, one that was plain rather than reeded, or from a collar with a gap in the reeding like that found on recent American Eagle coins, both bullion and numismatic issues. Each coin’s edition number, from 1 to 200, could have been engraved into the edge gap. Such coins, like 2019 and 2020 America the Beautiful quarter dollars with privy marks and the W Mint mark, and special coins distributed with various annual sets, are popular with collectors today. Something, anything, could have made the 2023 Peace dollars even more special.
The only way for a coin to be identified as having a Gibson provenance would be to send an unopened box to a major grading service and have the employees there open the box to look for one of the COAs, which could then be certified as, for instance, No. 95 of the 200, and both the coin and COA could be slabbed together. As of this writing, third-party graders were weighing how and whether to do this. Even in this situation, graders will have to make sure that, should a coin with COA arrive as part of a bulk submission, it is properly paired and encapsulated together with its COA.
Mint officials deserve credit for trying something special. At least one is reported to have been sold on eBay for $1,200, though such transactions can be difficult to independently verify. The marketplace will determine just how special these coins will be in the future.
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