Gold First Spouse Coins: Will Future Buyers Demand Them?
On April 16 the U.S. Mint began selling the Bess Truman First Spouse gold coin in proof and uncirculated finishes. This is the first 2015 gold spouse coin, and the release of the first issue for this year comes much earlier than the first spouse coins issued during each of the past couple years. Collectors will be pleased about that, especially since gold prices have been lower recently, although the coins do sell at a substantial premium over their gold content.
I have always supported the issuance of these coins because the first ladies of our country often played important behind-the-scenes roles and the series increases interest in this part of our history, and because so few real American women have appeared on our coinage.
But interest in this series from collectors has decreased substantially over the years, and this is primarily a function of the difficulty for most buyers of purchasing four or five half-ounce gold coins each year.
The series began in 2007, when mintages were 40,000 per issue including both the proof and uncirculated versions. Nine years later mintages have been reduced to a maximum of 10,000 per issue based on sales levels over the past four years of about 7,000 coins per release.
For the Jackie Kennedy coin, slated to be issued later this year, the Mint has indicated it will mint up to 30,000 coins if the demand is there, which it may well be as that is the coin so many people have been waiting for since the series began.
Fans of the series who can afford to keep collecting these coins continue to believe they will be long-term winners, especially the coins with tiny mintages of about 2,000 per coin.
But if you ask any dealer who sells precious metal coins and even modern numismatic issues, they will tell you there is hardly any demand for these coins, and most of them trade at about their melt content.
So the long-term question remains: Will the collectors of the future want coins that so few buyers want today?
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