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.

Gettysburg Quarter Mintage

The US Mint has indicated the preliminary production figures for the Gettysburg National Military Park Quarter. If no further coins are produced, this will be the lowest mintage of the new quarter program for the series to date.

The Philadelphia Mint struck 30.4 million coins and the Denver mint struck 30.8 million coins. That makes for a combined total of 61.2 million.

The previous mintage low for the America the Beautiful Quarters Program was held by the Yellowstone National Park Quarter, which had a combined circulation mintage of 68.4 million.

It’s possible that the US Mint might make more Gettysburg Quarters before the end of the year, or that other 2011 issues will have even lower mintages. This makes the current low figures less important, although on a historical basis, this is a fraction of the typical circulating coin production for the quarter.