U.S. Mint Can Learn from Other Mints
There has always been, as I have suggested before, a substantial difference between modern U.S. numismatic coins and the typical collector pieces issued by other world mints.
The U.S. Mint tends to issue coins that are more traditional in appearance and does not follow all the latest fads and trends in advanced minting, although it does innovate and follows what other mints are doing. For example, the enhanced uncirculated technique borrows from the Royal Canadian Mint’s pioneering of laser frosting to make certain elements of a coin’s design more distinctive.
And as many collectors know our mint consulted with the Paris Mint and Royal Australian Mint to produce the award-winning 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative since those mints had experience producing curved coins that the U.S. Mint did not at that point.
When it comes to some of the more unusual types of coins other mints produce such as odd shapes, or the use of crystals and other materials as inserts, the U.S. Mint has hewed to a more conservative approach that seems to suite most of its buyers just fine.
Another technique, namely, selective gilding, or gold plating, which is popular on world issues from other mints, may or may not prove popular with U.S. coin buyers, but one approach I know they do like is high relief striking, which has become very popular with world coin buyers because it gives coins the appearance of three-dimensionality.
Until now just two gold coins, the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle and 2015 American Liberty High Relief $100 coin have been issued in high relief, and a silver medal version of the 2015 coin is planned for later this year.
But it is time for the U.S. Mint to also issue silver coins in high relief, perhaps starting with the 30th anniversary of the American Silver Eagle and extending to other programs as well. In fact, a two coin set of high relief American Silver and Gold Eagles would be a nice way to mark the third decade of both programs.
Until now it was necessary to make high relief coins thicker and with smaller diameters than non-high relief issues, but all that has changed thanks to a new technology called smartminting that has been developed by the prestigious private mint, Coin Invest Trust, in Lichtenstein. CIT is well-known for producing gorgeous, highly intricate pieces like the award-winning Tiffany series.
Smartminting allows high relief coins to be made with much larger diameters and makes it possible to produce coins with a depth of relief that was not previously possible.
At the recent World Money Fair in Berlin CIT unveiled a dazzling array of coins struck with smartminting that will be hitting the market over the next couple months. For example, there are two versions of a coin commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Great Tea Race in 1866, a 2-ounce silver piece with ultra high relief in the billows of the ship, and an 8-gram version of the same coin with the diameter of a 1-ounce coin and considerable relief, which is impressive for a coin of that weight.
It would be a good idea for our Mint’s officials to consult with CIT about smartminting and with other world mints like the Perth Mint that have extensive experience issuing high relief coins.
And this would not be anything new or unusual since as Jeff Starck wrote in the February issue of Coin World, the U.S. Mint has been inspired by the work of other world mints for a long time.