US Coins

Looking back at the year that was at the U.S. Mint

December sees us at Coin World looking at the year that was as we put together the Top 10 stories of the year to appear in the first weekly issues of Coin World in 2017. With transactions in the secondary marketplace being the primary focus of Coin World’s Coin Values and its market analysis, we often forget that the U.S. Mint is still the world’s largest coin dealer.

The U.S. Mint is in a unique position among numismatic retailers in that it is restricted by law about many of the products that it can produce. It can only strike commemorative coins as authorized by Congress and signed into law by the president and is limited to just two programs per year. The Mint has more flexibility with gold issues. This is why we saw the 2014 Kennedy gold half dollar and, in 2016, gold dimes, quarter dollars and half dollars celebrating the centennial of the Winged Liberty Head (Mercury) dime, Standing Liberty quarter dollar and Walking Liberty half dollar.

While Coin World’s editors were coming up with the Top 10 stories of 2016, it was almost as if the first issue in the three-coin gold “Classics” series, the dime, was a separate story from the later two issues.

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The U.S. Mint offered 2016-W Winged Liberty Head gold dimes at noon April 21 at $205 per coin. At a household order limit of 10 coins, the maximum mintage of 125,000 tenth-ounce .9999 fine gold coins was purchased in less than an hour. But after order returns and cancellations, the Mint retained nearly 9,000 examples, many of which went back on sale Dec. 15 for a second sellout. Meanwhile, examples sold in the secondary market for $250 to $280 in original Mint packaging, a modest gain for fast buyers.

The Standing Liberty gold quarter dollar went on sale on Sept. 8 and sales of the gold half dollar started on Nov. 17. Neither will likely reach its total maximum mintage and the secondary market looks sleepy for both, at least short-term. Examples remain expensive for average collectors, however, because they contain a quarter-ounce and half-ounce of gold, respectively.

A bright spot was the Mint’s two 2016 American Liberty silver medals, which quickly sold out on Aug. 23 at $34.95 and today sell for nearly $100 each, with ones graded Proof 70 bringing more.

The Mint’s two commemorative programs for 2017, honoring the centennial of Boys Town and Lion’s Club International, will likely not generate widespread attention beyond those interested in the groups being celebrated. More interesting to collectors is the Mint’s 2017 American Liberty gold $100 coin, but depiction of Liberty as an African-American woman has attracted some controversy and the 1-ounce .9999 fine gold coin will be expensive.

A set containing four American Liberty silver medals with the same designs as the gold coin marking the 225th Anniversary of the U.S. Mint will be more affordable and, depending on the issue price and maximum mintage, could be a winner.

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