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    Modern Numismatics

    Louis Golino has been a collector of American and world coins since childhood and has written about coins since 2009. He writes about modern coins and other numismatic issues for Coin World. He is a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum.

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  • 2016 U.S. Mint Coins to Watch: Part 1

    As the end of 2016 approaches, it is worth considering that there are U.S. Mint products that will either no longer be available after the end of the year, and others that can be sold next year but only produced until the end of this year.

    The first category is coins that are part of this year’s two commemorative coin programs for Mark Twain and the National Park Service centennial, which will only be sold through Dec. 29 at the latest.

    As has been the case in recent years, sales of these coins have been rather sluggish.  That is partly due to some of the designs not being very popular and to other factors like all the other coins competing for collector dollars.

    While the trend has not been quite as linear as some people believe, there has been a trend toward lower mintages from year to year, particularly for the $5 gold coins.

    In fact, the 2016-W NPS uncirculated and proof gold coin sales are currently way below those of the previous low mintages of those type of coins, which are respectively the 1997-W Jackie Robinson uncirculated coin with a mintage of 5,174, and the 2013-W Five Star Generals proof coin with a mintage of 15,834.

    The latest sales of the NPS coins are 3,456 for the uncirculated, and 4,509 for the proof.  Both are shaping up as new lows, but proof coin is substantially below the previous low, and it is extremely hard to imagine 10,000 coins being sold in a month.

    Whether that will mater in terms of premium for that coin, or for the NPS gold uncirculated if it maintains its lead over the Robinson coin, also remains to be seen, especially since in recent years that has not been the case.

    The proof gold Five Star Generals coin never developed a premium when it took out the previous low and can still be had for about $400, and the uncirculated version that came in about 500 over the Robinson, making it second lowest, only carries a small premium and mainly in MS70.

    And with four weeks to go, we may well see a big bump in sales before the end of the year for the NPS coins.  There is also the possibility that the Mint may end sales early if they run out of the coins produced so far since there would not be time to make more.  The Mint typically estimates how many coins it will need based on sales levels and produces them in batches.

    So chasing those coins in the hope they will come out winners later is of course a gamble, but it is worth keeping an eye on them, especially with both gold coins shaping up as possible winners.

    It is also worth considering that the NPS gold issue, which were designed by Don Everhart, the U.S. Mint’s top sculptor-engraver, is a gorgeous coin whose design has been well received and that future collectors will likely want examples of this coin.

    Besides, this year many collectors were saving up for the gold centennial coins, which likely depressed sales of the gold commemoratives.

    As for the silver NPS coins, there is no chance of any new lows there, as the uncirculated coin whose latest sales were 19,461, is around 5,000 over the all-time series low, which is the 1996-D Wheelchair Olympic coin at 14,497.

    But the clad half also seems certain to set a new low, as the previous low was 38,095 for the 2013-D Five Star Generals uncirculated half, and current sales of the NPS uncirculated half are only 17,610.  It is virtually impossible that 20,000 coins would be sold in December, or that such a large number is even struck.  Whether, or how much, it matters also remains to be seen, but it is a low risk gamble given the cost.

    Next week I will discuss some other coins to watch.