Entries from March 2011 ↓

2011 America the Beautiful Quarters Proof Set

Much like the separate set for the 2011 Presidential Dollars, the US Mint offers a separate set containing just the quarters issued for the year. The 2011 America the Beautiful Quarters feature Gettysburg National Park, Olympic National Park, Glacier National Park, Vicksburg National Park, and Chickasaw National Recreation Area.

The separate quarters set is priced at $14.95. It might be useful if someone was only interesting in collecting the proof quarters each year and had absolutely no interest in the other coins issued. However, for most people, I think the full 2011 Proof Set, containing 14 coins and priced at $31.95 presents a much better option.

The US Mint changed the packaging style for the 2011 America the Beautiful Quarters Proof Set. This comes in the second year of the program, making last year’s set look decidedly different with a flag theme, compared to this year’s primarily black colored theme.

In a few weeks, the US Mint will also be issuing a separate quarters set containing coins struck in a composition of 90% silver.

Both of these products, I will be passing on. If the US Mint wants to make sets with the same coins repackaged, they should provide something else as an enticement. Perhaps an illustrated folder with history and information on each of the parks?

2011 Gold Buffalo Coins

Early this week, the 2011-dated American Gold Buffalo coins made their first appearance. The coins went on sale through the US Mint’s network of primary distributors, who will then resell the coins to the broader public.

The Gold Buffalo coins feature a classic design and are struck in 24 karat gold. This has proven to be a popular combination. The design is from James Earle Fraser’s Buffalo Nickel, which was produced for circulation from 1913 to 1938. On the obverse is a portrait of a Native American chief, while on the reverse is an American Bison.

The 2011 Gold Buffalo features the same design as when the series was originally introduced in 2006. It’s interesting to note that the authorizing legislation allows for design changes to either the obverse or reverse after the first year of issue. Thankfully, the US Mint has not exercised this option.

For collectors, the US Mint will release a proof version of the coin later this year. Based on the current price of gold, the collector coins would be priced at $1,710 each. The final price will be based on the average price of gold closer to the release date.

With gold recently reaching a fresh all time high, will the popularity of this series continue? Or will some start to get priced out of the market?

Andrew Johnson Presidential Dollar Mintage

The US Mint has provided the final mintage figure for the Andrew Johnson Presidential Dollar. It shows a decline from the temporary spike experienced for the release of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Dollar.

The Philadelphia Mint struck 35.56 million coins, while the Denver Mint struck 37.1 million. This makes for a combined total mintage of 72.66 million for the Andrew Johnson Presidential Dollar.

Since the launch of the Presidential Dollars program in 2007, there has been a general decline in mintage figures for each release. This has been interrupted by brief rises for some of the more popular Presidents like Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln, but the general trend has been down.

Last year, there were more than 300 million of the $1 coins struck by the United States Mint.

2011 Presidential Dollar Proof Set

Who will buy the 2011 Presidential Dollar Proof Set? The individual offering containing the proof versions of the four $1 coins issued during the year for the Presidents has lost some of its relevance.

This year, the US Mint released the 2011 Proof Set in mid January. This was a positive change for collectors who were used to waiting until mid-year or later for the popular annual set to be released. However, it threw off the dynamics and perhaps the main marketing point of the separate proof sets which have generally been issued first.

Last year, I bought the 2010 Presidential Dollar Proof Set just to get an earlier look at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Dollar. Since I was getting the full set later, this set became redundant and I actually just gave it away as a gift.

This year, the incentive of getting coins earlier has gone away. Also, following a price increase, the 2011 Presidential Dollar Proof Set is $19.95. I will definitely pass on this offering, as I suggest other collectors will.

(In case anyone is wondering, the image is from the 2011 Presidential Dollars included in my full annual set.)

2011 Mint Set

My 2011 Mint Set arrived from the United States Mint a few days ago. This year’s set represents a big shift from recent years as the finish of the coin has been changed from satin like to brilliant.

From 2005 to 2010, the satin finish was used for set. For the first couple of years, coins included in the sets were immaculate and made ended up grading MS69 at the major grading services. Certain of the State Quarters are so abundant in this top grade that the premium is very small.

At some point, it seems that the US Mint may have changed their packaging procedure or coin handling procedure, which resulted in more coin on coin contact. This type of contact left a lot of marks on the coins and correspondingly the average grade and general eye appeal of coins included in Mint Sets declined.

This was not without something of a silver lining. Coins that had managed to escape contact marks and grade MS69 were in the distinct minority from perhaps 2008 onwards. This meant that some diligent searching could uncover top grade coins worth a nice premium.

Well, the mechanics of Mint Set collecting have changed again. The new brilliant finish most likely won’t be differentiated from circulation strikes. That means high grade circulation strike coins will be easier to find (lower premiums), and the great satin finish experiment will have concluded, creating short sets of 2005 to 2010 across the various denominations.